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How to read chords on sheet music? #1956249
09/09/12 06:49 AM
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How can one tell if a chord is blocked or broken when it is written as a single letter above the ledger lines? Also, how can you tell when to play it? Is it to be played on the left hand when the right hand plays the entire line or just that one measure where it first appears, or just the note where it first appears?

Thanks in advance for your help,
Virginia


Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden
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Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Tech 5] #1956272
09/09/12 07:53 AM
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It's entirely up to the performer, Virginia. You can pound out the bass on a single note, bounce out four note chords at foot tapping syncopations or you wander lovingly up and down four octaves of arpeggiation.

Enjoy!




Richard
Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: zrtf90] #1956370
09/09/12 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by zrtf90
It's entirely up to the performer, Virginia. You can pound out the bass on a single note, bounce out four note chords at foot tapping syncopations or you wander lovingly up and down four octaves of arpeggiation.

Enjoy!




I guess that's what is meant by improvising. I think I may be a little too new at this for that to work for me. I still need clear precise instruction. Maybe I'll just play the right hand until I get a handle on chords.

Thanks


Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden
Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Tech 5] #1956384
09/09/12 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Tech 5
Originally Posted by zrtf90
It's entirely up to the performer, Virginia. You can pound out the bass on a single note, bounce out four note chords at foot tapping syncopations or you wander lovingly up and down four octaves of arpeggiation.

Enjoy!




I guess that's what is meant by improvising. I think I may be a little too new at this for that to work for me. I still need clear precise instruction. Maybe I'll just play the right hand until I get a handle on chords.

Thanks


Can you link to (or upload a scan of) the sheet music you're
attempting?

So much depends on the composition, the way it might adapt to different styles and your objectives.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Tech 5] #1956409
09/09/12 12:21 PM
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Check out this thread:

Autumn Leaves Jazz Study Group

Even if you aren't ultimately interested in playing jazz, this thread shares some great techniques that can be used to voice any chord underneath a melody. You definitely want to get away from block chords as soon as you can.


Schimmel 130T
Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: dire tonic] #1956453
09/09/12 01:22 PM
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Can you link to (or upload a scan of) the sheet music you're
attempting?

So much depends on the composition, the way it might adapt to different styles and your objectives. [/quote]

This is not the exact sheet music of "Somewhere My Love", http://www.wikifonia.org/node/4999 I'm working from but its very similar so if I knew how to interpret the chords on this one I could possibly figure out the arrangement of the same song in my music book.

Thanks,


Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden
Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Tech 5] #1956457
09/09/12 01:28 PM
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There is some pretty clear description of what to do in one of the For Dummies books.


I've been trying to change my signature quote for weeks.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Tech 5] #1956470
09/09/12 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Tech 5


This is not the exact sheet music of "Somewhere My Love", http://www.wikifonia.org/node/4999 I'm working from but its very similar so if I knew how to interpret the chords on this one I could possibly figure out the arrangement of the same song in my music book.

Thanks,


For something like that, as a piano solo piece, I would do all the bass and chord work with my left hand and play the simple melody with the RH. So, using the 4/4 time sig of the music you’ve linked to, that would be:-

beat 1: G bass note
beat 2: G chord; reading from lowest note D,G,B just below middle C.
beat 3: D bass note.
beat 4; G chord (as above).

Do exactly the same for the first 3 bars. Then do similar for bar 4 (D7), alternating the root and 5th bass line (notes D and A) with the D7 chord (from lowest: D, F#, middle C). You can keep playing the D7 pattern for 4 bars (the A in bar 5 of your score is wrong) before returning to the tonic (G).
Does that make any sense to you? Is it what you’re trying to do or are you aiming at something more elaborate?

(FWIW, I prefer the Dr Zhivago version which is in 6/8 or waltz time depending on how you write/read it. Similar idea, except you play 2 chords for every bass note... hope that’s clear!)

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: dire tonic] #1956499
09/09/12 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by dire tonic
Originally Posted by Tech 5


This is not the exact sheet music of "Somewhere My Love", http://www.wikifonia.org/node/4999 I'm working from but its very similar so if I knew how to interpret the chords on this one I could possibly figure out the arrangement of the same song in my music book.

Thanks,


For something like that, as a piano solo piece, I would do all the bass and chord work with my left hand and play the simple melody with the RH. So, using the 4/4 time sig of the music you’ve linked to, that would be:-

beat 1: G bass note
beat 2: G chord; reading from lowest note D,G,B just below middle C.
beat 3: D bass note.
beat 4; G chord (as above).

Do exactly the same for the first 3 bars. Then do similar for bar 4 (D7), alternating the root and 5th bass line (notes D and A) with the D7 chord (from lowest: D, F#, middle C). You can keep playing the D7 pattern for 4 bars (the A in bar 5 of your score is wrong) before returning to the tonic (G).
Does that make any sense to you? Is it what you you’re trying to do or are you aiming at something more elaborate?

(FWIW, I prefer the Dr Zhivago version which is in 6/8 or waltz time depending on how you write/read it. Similar idea, except you play 2 chords for every bass note... hope that’s clear!)


Wow! Thanks for the info. but I've got to study on this for awhile before I'll get a handle it. It seems very complicated to me. I have the right hand notes memorized so I can play the right hand without too much difficulty but that left hand chord stuff is not penetrating my thick skull. I'll keep at it though. I have ordered another book with Dr.Z sheet music, maybe it will be the one to which you referred and have clear instructions for the left hand. In the meantime, I'll work on the current sheet using your suggested procedure.

Thanks again!


Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden
Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Tech 5] #1956533
09/09/12 04:22 PM
09/09/12 04:22 PM
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Maybe this chord chart will be of help. These are deep waters for a newbie, and understanding chords will require some study of music theory. But certainly you can learn from associating the chord name with the sound. It is the way we learn our mother tongue, after all: we hear the words and learn to associate them with the sense they carry.

Chords are the mother's milk of music.

[Linked Image]

This chart is from book of score paper, published by Amsco Publications. I hope they won't mind my reproducing it; the knowledge of chord names is hardly proprietary. I can recommend their manuscript paper for its good quality, and the convenience of its binding; it's the one I always buy.


Clef

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Tech 5] #1956546
09/09/12 04:46 PM
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A great chord chart, very helpful. I might even make it better if I can find the time, by listing those same chords an octave higher and/or lower, even in first and second inversions as well. Does so much to speed up one's sight reading, to be able to recognize quickly how the different chord patterns render themselves out on the piano itself.

Last edited by Pianotehead; 09/09/12 04:46 PM.

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Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Tech 5] #1956554
09/09/12 05:08 PM
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I've played piano a number of years. Being primarily classical I would not be able to just play a melody while improvising something that sounds nice by looking at chord names like that. I could play them as chords - clunk, clunk, clunk - but I don't yet have the instinct of by ear players who do things with chords. I think there are common patterns that gets into their ear and bodies, and they move on from there.

I picked up a bunch of cheap old "popular music" magazine type publications. They show chord names as well as a written out left hand. I thought of using these for picking the brains of the arrangers to get a feel for it. Originally I bought them simply because I saw them and wanted to get familiar with letter name chords.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Jeff Clef] #1956556
09/09/12 05:19 PM
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Wow, Jeff...thanks! I was glad to see your reference to "deep waters for a newbie"..I'd say this is deep muddy water for this newbie. Its more like Greek than the mother tongue, but I'm not going to give up on learning it. I've printed the chart you provided and will discuss it with my piano instructor on Tuesday.

I wish the sheet music I'm working on had the bass clef portion on a ledger instead of showing the chords with their respective letter names above the treble clef ledger. I think it'd be easier for me to figure them out if that were the case.

Thanks again. I'm sure this chart will be helpful!


Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden
Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: keystring] #1956558
09/09/12 05:27 PM
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"I could play them as chords - clunk, clunk, clunk -"

Now that's a very good descriptive statement of how I play them.:)

Thanks, for saying that.


Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden
Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Tech 5] #1956563
09/09/12 05:41 PM
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Virginia, I'm taking ideas from some by ear players in order to expand. One idea is to learn to play all your major chords in root position by ear, then inversions. You can get minor keys not just by memorizing charts, but simply by lowering the middle note by a half step. I see a light switch with a middle toggle. CEG - toggle is up: CEbG - toggle is down = C (major) and Cm. You play inversions. You see what happens if you moves notes in and out -- being playful. You bring the familiarity that you build into this other thing we're exploring. I suspect that "clunk clunk clunk" is as good a beginning as any.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Tech 5] #1956580
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That's cool information! I just tried it on the piano. It also coincided with the chart. Also, I discovered in this little practice you suggested, that the A chord has a sharp in the middle, so to toggle to the Am, you drop the sharp and go to regular C. Now I'm thinking the reason for learning the scales is not just for finger dexterity and note names but also teaches the chords, sorta.

Thanks!


Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden
Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Tech 5] #1956666
09/09/12 09:29 PM
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"...I wish the sheet music I'm working on had the bass clef portion on a ledger instead of showing the chords with their respective letter names above the treble clef ledger...."

If you get a book or pack of score paper, you can write them out any way you like. The chords, the inversions, the scales, the arps. It will do you nothing but good; it is even fun.

I use the book of score paper to make notes from my piano lessons--- just pencil and words.


Clef

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Tech 5] #1956700
09/09/12 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Tech 5
That's cool information! I just tried it on the piano. It also coincided with the chart. Also, I discovered in this little practice you suggested, that the A chord has a sharp in the middle, so to toggle to the Am, you drop the sharp and go to regular C. Now I'm thinking the reason for learning the scales is not just for finger dexterity and note names but also teaches the chords, sorta.

Thanks!



Hi Virginia,

You're definitely on to something! Scales and chords are very closely related. They are like two sides of the same coin.

Also, chords and scales are both very standard, important "tools" in an improviser's "toolbox." That is, when you see someone playing very well from a lead sheet, playing all sorts of chord shapes in the left hand and perhaps improvising some nice runs and things in the right hand, it's usually not quite as mysterious as some people would make it out to be. It's very likely that he or she has spent a LOT of time first learning lots of chords and scales separately. There is a "system," of course, of which ones to learn and how to use them- but my point is that learning chords and scales is a very important part of the process. I'm not implying anything about your current playing, of course, but if you don't happen to currently know lots of chords, especially, in all 12 keys, then doing something like playing from a lead sheet could seem particularly daunting and tedious (the "deep water"!). The good news is that the more you learn and the more pieces that you play, the more you start to recognize things you've already seen/played before. At first, learning a piece is like, "oh, look at all these shapes I have to learn!" but after several pieces, you find yourself going "oh, there's that chord I played in that other piece."

Also, I was going to say that you're correct, that there are many patterns that "by-ear" pianists use. They are kind of like a guitarist's picking patterns, in that a guitarist could keep picking the same pattern in the right hand, while changing chord shapes in the left. There are different patterns for different styles, different meters, and so on. When they are learned/practiced well, they can be very empowering, giving a pianist the ability to create an "instant arrangement," as it were, of a piece.

James



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Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Tech 5] #1956928
09/10/12 12:07 PM
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Playing chords in the LH and melody (sometimes an octave higher) in the RH is one way, and great for solo piano. If you are accompanying a singer or singing yourself, the most common pop style is to play the root in your LH and a chord in your RH. You can also play the melody plus some chord notes in the RH and a LH pattern as you get more comfortable. Lots of options in this style of playing.

I'm going to encourage you and anyone else wanting to get into chord theory to not memorize a bunch of chords. It will slow you down later on, when you are trying to invert and alter chords. Instead, try to understand how you build a chord. Give yourself a root and see if you can visualize the chord growing up from that root. Chords are Root-Third-Fifth. For a major chord, it's 4 half steps from the root to the third and 3 half steps from the third to the fifth.

You've already figured out a good trick that will save you hours of memorizing, that to get a minor chord, you simply lower the third one half step. That kind of understanding will help you learn this concept faster.


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Re: How to read chords on sheet music? [Re: Brian Lucas] #1957000
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Originally Posted by Brian Lucas
Playing chords in the LH and melody (sometimes an octave higher) in the RH is one way, and great for solo piano. If you are accompanying a singer or singing yourself, the most common pop style is to play the root in your LH and a chord in your RH. You can also play the melody plus some chord notes in the RH and a LH pattern as you get more comfortable. Lots of options in this style of playing.

I'm going to encourage you and anyone else wanting to get into chord theory to not memorize a bunch of chords. It will slow you down later on, when you are trying to invert and alter chords. Instead, try to understand how you build a chord. Give yourself a root and see if you can visualize the chord growing up from that root. Chords are Root-Third-Fifth. For a major chord, it's 4 half steps from the root to the third and 3 half steps from the third to the fifth.

You've already figured out a good trick that will save you hours of memorizing, that to get a minor chord, you simply lower the third one half step. That kind of understanding will help you learn this concept faster.



Thanks, Brian. I have written notes from your paragraph two on the chord chart sheet I printed, so that I'll remember the concept. I'm sure this info. will be very
helpful! So, is the concept the same for the minor cords, also, what about the 7-key chord structure. Is there an equally logical pattern to those? I love logic.

Thanks again!


Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden
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