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Sight Reading Big Band and Commercial Charts?


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  • Sight Reading Big Band and Commercial Charts?

    I have a lot of books that cover sight reading melodies and chord changes. But I don't have anything that can compare to the type of reading required in big bands or in show bands. Big band and commercial charts include of a lot of chord symbols with rhythmic hits, notated melodies, notated intervals or chords, and a lot more that you can't get out of typical sight-reading material. Any ideas or books that involve sight reading real charts would be much appreciated.

    Books I already use for sight-reading...

    William Leavitt - Modern Method for Guitar Series - great for reading melodies, notated chords, and chord symbols.

    William Leavitt - Melodic Rhythms - great for melodies, rhythms, and chord symbols.

    William Leavitt - Reading Studies - great for melodies and difficult key signatures. Nothing happening rhythmical and no chords.

    David Oakes - Music Reading for Guitar - great for melodies and learning how to sight read. Good for rhythm. Minimal chords.

    Adam Levy - Jazz Guitar Sight-Reading - great for melodies.

    Any real book, The Hal Leonard Real Books, the New Real Books, whatever - excellent for melodies, as these are real melodies, often vocal melodies and therefore not written with the guitar in mind. Real books are the best practice for reading the types of melodies that you'll actually encounter in real gigs. Also, great for chord changes but no rhythmic hits for these chords.

  • #2

    I often play big band charts as I am a jazz pianist and know what you mean! However, in my opinion, there is not substitute from just grabbing a load of charts and just hacking your way through them. It might be hard in the beginning but it is the best way, and I am sure most jazz musicians learn this way.

    It will get easier believe me!

    I find reading chord symbols much easier than the actual dots, so if there is a choice of the two, I will always comp with the chords and hope it sounds ok! However, if there is a clearly something very specific written out, I will try my best to play it.


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    • #3

      Swing and big band guitar by Charlton johnson. I like that book. 


      I played in a big band for two years and one thing I learned is that you are not required to read the whole chord with all the extensions/alterations. shell chords will often do the job. the chords often reflect the arrangement but the band is there and your job in the context of a big band is more rythmic than harmony (unless you're Brian Setzer). You're barely heard anyway, more "felt".


      Jkater big band

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