Jump to content

Chord Symbols, Theory, and Training . . . .


Recommended Posts

  • Members

One of the challenges in putting a band together is trying to figure out how to share information about a song. This isn't necessary with simple three-chord major-triad stuff, but there are songs out there that are quite complex, if you're into that sort of stuff - Steely Dan, Robben Ford, Blood Sweat and Tears, etc..

 

Some of us have classical training, some don't. Some of us were taught theory. (They tend to overlap somewhat now, but they were less likely to a few decades ago.)

 

Chord symbols are useful, but aren't universally used, nor has the notation been standardized.

 

For the vast majority of rock songs, chord symbols are straight forward. It's either an E, Emaj7, Em7, or E7. When you start adding sus (suspensions), altered notes (typically the fifth or ninth) and extensions (9th, 11th, 13th), the notation gets confusing. For instance, how would you notate and F# augmented chord?

 

I'm also curious to know how often you use Roman numerals in referring to a song structure. I use them a lot, but am never sure if it's useful to whoever is listening.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

I'm also curious to know how often you use Roman numerals in referring to a song structure. I use them a lot, but am never sure if it's useful to whoever is listening.

 

 

Unfortunately, I'm the only one in my band with even a modicum of musical training, so my use of terms and symbols gets lost on them most of the time. Beyond the terms "I, IV, V", they get lost. If I say "VI", they have no idea what I'm talking about. So I have to catch myself a lot and instead of saying "add the 6th" if I want them to play a G6 chord, I have to say "add an E".

 

We were working out a tune the other day and I telling was the bass player that a particular chord change was anticipated and he had no idea what I was talking about....

 

Weird to me because not only are these good players, but I would think such terms would become common to ANY experienced player of a certain age. I'm certainly aware that most rock band players don't read music (hell, I've forgotten a lot of it myself over the years!) but just in the course of learning songs and playing live I would think most players would find a need for such terms as "the sixth" and "anticipated".

 

 

For instance, how would you notate and F# augmented chord?

 

 

I would call it an F#+. But I've seen it as F#-#5 as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I see chords like: Emaj7 / Am / D#sus4 etc... used all the time. It seems common on the internet. There's no other way to "shorthand" type chords that's any easier
:idk:

 

Shorthand certainly is more common and it's interesting (to me, a music geek) why such choices are made. A lot of it has to do with musical context as well

 

"sus4" and "sus2" are very common, but unless they are resolving to another chord, those terms are probably incorrect.

 

Also chords like "D/C bass" are common. Makes sense if the bass part is part of a progression from say, D to Bm, but when such a term is used standing alone, C13 might be the more correct term.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I dont know ,, to me classical trained mean,, you are reading actual sheet music for the left hand on keyboards...... no chord symbols. You have to read both bass and treble notes. I lost those skills way back in the 60s... since you nabbed songs by ear off 45s and LPs. I turned into the classical rock and roll drop out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

hehe...we were once auditioning a rhythm guitar player. I said "we play a 7th one bar before going to the four". From the look on his face, I think he thought I said "This frequency dependence of the susceptibility leads to frequency dependence of the permittivity. The shape of the susceptibility with respect to frequency characterizes the dispersion properties of the material."

 

He didn't make the cut.

 

I guess it comes down to who takes the time to learn this stuff, but there are some basics everyone should know.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

Shorthand certainly is more common and it's interesting (to me, a music geek) why such choices are made. A lot of it has to do with musical context as well


"sus4" and "sus2" are very common, but unless they are resolving to another chord, those terms are probably incorrect.


Also chords like "D/C bass" are common. Makes sense if the bass part is part of a progression from say, D to Bm, but when such a term is used standing alone, C13 might be the more correct term.

 

 

sus4 and sus2 just refer to the 3rd being omitted. It doesn't have anything to with what the chord resolves to.

 

Also your second paragraph doesn't make sense. D/C doesn't share very many notes with C13. D/C is just a way of writing D7 while telling the bass player to play the b7 rather than the root.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

how would you notate an F# augmented chord?

 

 

Depends on what instrument is playing it, and how you want it voiced.

That could be the arranger's choice, or left up to the player.

It's an easy chord to play around with the voicings, since it's merely a symmetry of thee major thirds.

 

 

I'm also curious to know how often you use Roman numerals in referring to a song structure. I use them a lot, but am never sure if it's useful to whoever is listening.

 

 

I don't use roman numerals unless I know the person I am giving the chart to is going to be transposing/capoing.

 

In the Southeast, seems like most all of us can handle a chart.

I don't know of any musician, that I have personally been around, who would be confused by:

Esus2

Edim

Eaug

Eadd9

E5 (easier than writing out "no 3rd")

E6

E9

E69

E11

E13

Emaj7 though some of us will substitute a delta sign (i.e.E?)

E7#9

E9b13

E/F#

...and so on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

"sus4" and "sus2" are very common, but unless they are resolving to another chord, those terms are probably incorrect.

 

You've not listened to much Police or Rush, have you? :cop:

Andy Summers and Alex Lifeson built entire riffs or even entire songs out of ambiguous sus chords, without ever resolving. :)

Many times, those suspensions will become another suspension or extension, as part of the riff (i.e. voice-leading)

 

For instance...

F#7sus4 - where the B is the suspension - followed by:

Asus2 - where the B becomes a different suspension - followed by:

C#add6 - where the B note becomes an extension.

 

It's fun to play around with stuff like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

The original issue in the other thread was what a +11 was and part of the problem is that using a "+" to indicate a raised note is by no means universal. A lot of folks would use "#", but having to quickly decipher F#7#5#9 seems nuts, since the first symbol means something different from the last two. I picked F#aug5 because you might be tempted to write F##5 !?!?!? If you write F#aug, it takes too much space (the reason I like (9), rather than add9) and is inconsistent in your "raising or lowering" convention.

 

Deciphering D/C is one reason it helps to understand roman numerals. Is it a D7 or a C+11? (C13 invariably omits the 11 and 9.)

 

All this can get kind of nutty, but if you're trying to learn "Josie", you need something consistent for yourself so you don't forget what you worked out . . . short of writing out the whole thing note for note.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

This thread is the perfect example of why I am completely intimidated by learning more than just the basics of building chords in music theory. Not even the people who know what they're talking about can even agree on what to call the chords.

 

 

 

....That, and the word, 'Deciphering.' :lol:

 

Thank god for diagrams. :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

This thread is the perfect example of why I am completely intimidated by learning more than just the basics of building chords in music theory. Not even the people who know what they're talking about can even agree on what to call the chords.




....That, and the word, 'Deciphering.'
:lol:

Thank god for diagrams.
:o

 

Everyone is a know-it-all, for sure, but nobody is a know it all to the level of people who know theory. :idea:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

Not even the people who know what they're talking about can even agree on what to call the chords.

 

 

The problem is that unlike piano, guitar has a lot of limitations in terms of the chords you can play. Because of these limitations, notes often need to be omitted, causing it to be able to be looked at in multiple ways; hence multiple names.

 

As to the OP, the problem I find with chord notation is that it does not convey the voicing of the chord, which is the most important part. For example here's a really easy chord change that would scare a lot of beginners

 

Aadd9 to F#min11

 

Sounds all fancy, but it's a fairly common change

 

Starting Low E to High

x02200

2x2200

 

The reality is we do a lot of things as guitarist such as let extra open notes ring through that turn a simple chord into something that sounds complex, but it really isn't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

The problem is that unlike piano, guitar has a lot of limitations in terms of the chords you can play. Because of these limitations, notes often need to be omitted, causing it to be able to be looked at in multiple ways; hence multiple names.


 

So, the musical world, after all, does not revolve around guitarists, but keyboardists??? :confused::confused::confused:

 

 

I'M SHOCKED!!! :D

 

 

Seriously, though, that explanation makes sense to me. It's still not encouraging. :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

The problem is that unlike piano, guitar has a lot of limitations in terms of the chords you can play. Because of these limitations, notes often need to be omitted, causing it to be able to be looked at in multiple ways; hence multiple names.


As to the OP, the problem I find with chord notation is that it does not convey the voicing of the chord, which is the most important part.

 

We can play more dense chords because we aren't limited by the natural intervals between the strings on a guitar. Fortunately, you can leave that texture up to us and simply use three note chords in their various INVERSIONS.;) Think of the top notes of each chord as COUNTERPOINT;) to the melody.

 

Do whatever sounds good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

So, the musical world, after all, does not revolve around guitarists, but keyboardists???
:confused:
:confused:
:confused:


I'M SHOCKED!!!
:D


Seriously, though, that explanation makes sense to me. It's still not encouraging.
:(

 

All this nonsense doesn't apply to 99% of the repertoire in your bar . . . . but you know that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 


All this can get kind of nutty, but if you're trying to learn "Josie", you need something consistent for yourself so you don't forget what you worked out . . . short of writing out the whole thing note for note.

 

 

It really does come down to writing out what makes sense to you. If you're writing charts for others, there will invariably be confusion. We ought to compare notes for "Josie" sometime. I'm pretty certain I learned the part note-for-note, but I doubt our chord names would be the same.

 

(Here's an old recording of me playing "Josie" http://www.sendspace.com/file/xmthhu)

 

I will sometimes mix up my sharps and flats as well. A song might be in the key of Eb, but I'm more comfortable with the chord name "F#m" rather than "Gbm".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

It really does come down to writing out what makes sense to you. If you're writing charts for others, there will invariably be confusion. We ought to compare notes for "Josie" sometime. I'm pretty certain I learned the part note-for-note, but I doubt our chord names would be the same.


(Here's an old recording of me playing "Josie"
http://www.sendspace.com/file/xmthhu
)


I will sometimes mix up my sharps and flats as well. A song might be in the key of Eb, but I'm more comfortable with the chord name "F#m" rather than "Gbm".

Cut and paste from me lead sheet. You probably play it in the original "E".;)

 

BTW, I can't play your file . . . MAC issue !?!?!?

 

Intro: F-C /D . . . . LINE . . . . Bb/Eb E+5+9 C/F Ab13/Gb

D7sus

We're gonna BREAK out the hats and hooters when Josie comes home

We're gonna REV up the motor scooters when Josie comes . . . .

 

Cmaj7(9) Bbmaj7(9) Fmaj7(9) Ebmaj7(9)

home to stay We're gonna PARK in the street

 

D7sus

SLEEP on the beach and make it

 

G9 Bbmaj7(9) Fmaj7(9) Ebmaj7(9)

THROW down the jam till the girls say when

 

D7sus Fmaj7(9) G(9) D7sus

LAY down the LAW and break it When Josie comes home

 

Bb13 Am7+5 D7sus Ebmaj7(9)

When Josie comes home So GOOD

 

Bb13 Am7+5 D7sus G9

She's the pride of the neighborhood

 

Gm9 C13 Fmaj7(9) Bbmaj7(9)

She's the raw flame The live wire

 

Bb+11 A7+5

She prays like a Roman with her eyes on fire

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Cut and paste from me lead sheet. You probably play it in the original "E".
;)

LOL. Didn't think you'd have it so fast! Now I'm curious. I'll have to see if I can dig it up when I get home. And yeah, I played it in "E", but no biggie. I can transpose :p

 

BTW, you probably already knew this, but since it's on topic---Steely Dan referred to their ubiquitious "add 2" chord as a "Mu Major".

 

BTW, I can't play your file . . . MAC issue !?!?!?


 

hmmm...try it again. Might be fixed now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

LOL. Didn't think you'd have it so fast! Now I'm curious. I'll have to see if I can dig it up when I get home. And yeah, I played it in "E", but no biggie. I can transpose
:p

BTW, you probably already knew this, but since it's on topic---Steely Dan referred to their ubiquitious "add 2" chord as a "Mu Major".




hmmm...try it again. Might be fixed now.

 

OK, I can get to Jumpstart . . . but can't find "Josie".

 

Yeah, the mu chord really opened things up. Forget where I first found it . . . . not in his songs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I'm also curious to know how often you use Roman numerals in referring to a song structure. I use them a lot, but am never sure if it's useful to whoever is listening.

 

This is applicable to even "bar" set lists and the bands that play them, because not all players have the same training.

 

It's entirely possible to describe song as: "it's powerchords on the 5th string at the 3rd, 7th, 9th and 5th fret until the chorus" and then play the rhythm for folks once.

 

Plus there's the magic of just writing out the tab.

 

I get lost with all the various shorthands similar to ChordGirl, but I've also taught more than one person how to play various instruments in an informal setting :idk:

 

Don't get me wrong, knowing theory and construction techniques can be very helpful for picking up unknown songs on the fly, writing songs with a specific sonic landscape in mind, or sight reading. But I think for many purposes "writing out the tab" does a better job of not only conveying the structure of the song, but also eliminating ambiguities.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...