• Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
  • Started by Bill from November Sound
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Probably has a lot to do with the music I listen to (esp. modern alternative piano pop/rock, alternative contemporary classic jazz, modern jazz) but I typically find myself using chords that use the upper extensions of harmony. It is rare that a chord I use doesn't have the add 9 (2nd scale degree) in the voicing 6's, 9's, #11's , 13"s , etc. Often the chords are more like shapes.

So now to the point: It becomes really clumsy to write chord progressions like Em9 11, CMaj7add9 13, Bm7 11 and so on.
When I write the chords for myself now I usually would just write Em, C, Bm and just know I'll play a more complicated voicing.
I have seen older jazz lead sheet books where the chords look like alphabet soup and even though I could play every single one of those under pressure …. I could get lost in all of that.  :no:
Is all that necessary? Wouldn't one who plays in the jazz style just know to play modern voicings?

For original songs with a lyric and chord sheet (or standard lead sheet) at what point should one notate the more complex voicings?

I'm thinking when I bring other musicians in they might need it … but at the same time people who play with me usually hear it anyway. ( One of my guitarist friends is a former student of mine and he just naturally does those kind of voicings. Another one is someone I used to play with in jazz groups all the time....)

 :)I hope people won't mind me tagging kitcheners who I think would have ideas about this :) also anyone else feel free to join in.  :thumbsup: @Pleudoniem @oorlab @MrBouzouki @M57 @OscoBosco @ProgRockDan @Monty Cash Music @Mar T. @gabrivux @Vince @Olbigead 
 
Bill
Songwriter, Keyboards, Arranger, Producer & Engineer for November Sound

November Sound is based on the Mother, Father & Son musical trio of Melissa, Bill & Will. I'm the father so anything I post will have my wife singing and/or my son playing percussion.


Re: Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
Reply #1 on: January 26, 2020, 17:27:54
« Last Edit: January 26, 2020, 17:30:01 by Pleudoniem »
@Bill from November Sound I hardly ever write chords down. What they are shaped like is all patterned in my head. If someone asks me what I do, I just show it. The name of the chord comes secondary. True, I use a lot of jazz chords, but they can be written down as patterns in the mind, as well as in letters. When I see someone holding a chord, it tells me more than when I see it in writing.

I know the same happens in a lot of gypsy jazz, flamenco and blues. Much of that relies on traditional structures, so these people know their way about, but they also add their own flavour to it.

It does make it a little more difficult to play with people who do rely on written chords. If they tell me what they do I'll try to adapt and fill in. That usually works alright.
Pleudoniem: composer; bass guitarist; guitarist; singer; drummer; tap-guitarist - o, and yes... erm- a bit of keys. Open for collabs.
SoundCloud Page: https://soundcloud.com/pleudoniem


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Re: Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
Reply #2 on: January 26, 2020, 17:54:17
I think I'm with @Pleudoniem on this one.

As somebody who hasn't been trained in music, is primally a guitarist and has picked stuff up as I've gone along, writing down precise chord charts seems a bit of a waste of time. Granted, I'll notate certain things, but just like the old 'jazzers' , a basic 'fake book' idea is often good enough.

Relying more on how things sound, not how they are written, means you instinctively think in 'colour' and over the years develop an arsenal of pleasing shapes, sounds and patterns that work for the music you want to do.

As I've mentioned before on here, I reckon I don't think harmonically, I naturally think in terms of overlapping melodies. I can hear the patterns in my head and the harmony sort of falls out of all this. I wonder if this is a guitarist thing, the concept of lines over stacks ? I don't know.

For some of us, I think making music is serendipity, happy coincidences of lyrics, phrases, ideas your learned, general trial and error, or the sudden inspiration to try something new or different.

For others it might be more analytical, measured, based on known forms (some historical), and using patterns known to be successful in music-making.

In general,, I believe most people are a combination, in varying degrees,  of both of these ways of making music.   

I'm not sure if this helps you @Bill from November Sound ... lol




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Re: Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
Reply #3 on: January 26, 2020, 18:02:57
I’m afraid I cannot be of help here.
But if you don’t mind, why not ask @OscoBosco ‘s help? The very sophisticated way he integrated the bassoon with piano tells me he knows a lot about what you are looking for. Maybe, if theory runs short, he knows people to bring the subject to a satisfying end...

I will read along the magic of this thread. I like these questions a lot.
Thank you for posting @Bill from November Sound .
Kind regards, Gus


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Re: Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
Reply #4 on: January 26, 2020, 18:35:23
« Last Edit: January 26, 2020, 18:37:01 by Monty Cash Music »
I usually write basic chords and expect them to be fucked with... so I see things like the others a bit.

Like C, C7 Cmaj7 etc...

However where specific chord fingerings are paramount for a specific tonality I'd just include the numbers, I actually find this very easy to see and write down. From top to bottom - 575585 - is a variant of Am7

A great app on the phone called 'Chord!' allows you to reverse look up any chord if any fancy pants muso that happens to know everything joins the jam. In that case, I'd look up each of the number sets I wrote down and just put their relevant chord in prep.

However something the number method allows you to be is - specific - because I will tell this fancy pants jazz man to do Am7 and he'll do another Am7 that I couldn't give two shits about.

So the number method. Get used to it and it serves everyone.



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Re: Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
Reply #5 on: January 26, 2020, 19:02:08
Well @Monty Cash Music … I think those are guitar tab?? … so other instruments, keys, etc... might have trouble interpreting that.  ;)  Cool though.  :thumbsup:

Yes @LePlongeur  I did tag @OscoBosco  …. it's sometimes just hard to get him to join in the conversations.  ;) …. @Dutchbeat  ;D

I see what you mean @MrBouzouki  … but strangely enough the "old jazz fakebooks" have the chords written out in a way that is often way too complicated. The "realbook" is now the standard. It's not written with as crazy chord suffixes although it can get out there. It was originally illegal …. I had to by mine bootleg from a shady character at the conservatory cash only ;D

I feel the same way @Pleudoniem  .... I just wonder how much to write of it for the sake of others. I haven't really notated a song now in many years ... for a few different reasons. Mainly I like to feel free to interpret it the way I want and to kind of let it evolve a bit. I might go back to legitimate musical notation eventually.
 


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Re: Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
Reply #6 on: January 26, 2020, 19:13:27
@Bill from November Sound

I didn't realise you wanted for more than just guitar. Well in that case, yes, I'd go to the trouble of writing out the alphabet soup chord specifically as well as the basic version just below it. To make it easy to follow for more than one skill level.


Re: Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
Reply #7 on: January 26, 2020, 19:26:58
@Bill from November Sound

I didn't realise you wanted for more than just guitar. Well in that case, yes, I'd go to the trouble of writing out the alphabet soup chord specifically as well as the basic version just below it. To make it easy to follow for more than one skill level.

I like that @Monty Cash Music   :yes:
I could take this to levels of absurdity at rehearsals!  :D Would you like the basic, the intermediate, the tab, the slightly overly-complicated, the semi-ludicrous chord suffix edition ?  There could be papers everywhere and multiple pdf attachments on every email!!!!  Oh … I'm sorry you're download link on the overly-complicated lead sheet v 2.2 has expired …. there will unfortunately be a $7.72 re-download fee.  :blackgrin:


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Re: Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
Reply #8 on: January 26, 2020, 19:28:05
I wonder if in the end, it's all about context.

If you are playing with a bunch of people who you play with regularly, well you know their idiosyncrasies so you spontaneously adapt to the situation, and only need a rough guide to interact. socially, you've already made a decision to play with these people so you will find a way to do this, no matter what their musical background.

If you are musician doing a session, well you need a reference point, it;s no nonsense, do the job, move on. everybody is literally expected to be on the same page here, its a living, do the job, move to the next one. Sometimes this second context becomes more like the first. It's a living but you know the muso's so well, and you have the chops so you go with the flow.

You are a beginner without musical training , so you study YouTube vids, read books, copy ideas and slowly get into understanding your instrument.

You have been classically trained from a fairly young age, so music is your life. your early exposure means you speak the language of music and things like understanding chords shapes etc. / notation is just part of who you are.

So I wonder if a combination of social, music exposure, lifestyle-choices etc. etc. that shapes the musician and hence what they need as a language ( because notation is a language) to communicate with others in the craft.

Blues in A anyone :-)






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Re: Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
Reply #9 on: January 26, 2020, 19:41:50
Yes, I agree with @MrBouzouki

I've no idea what the context is. Is it for a jam session or a concert rehearsal for the queen?

But it's not so hard to write down a couple of variants on the same space in notation. If it is a rehearsed piece you'll have to all get acquainted with the material anyway, so you'll all have time to make your own notes. Unless you're playing it on the fly all the time.


Re: Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
Reply #10 on: January 26, 2020, 20:23:33
I wonder if in the end, it's all about context.


^^Uhmm,  yeah..

If I'm writing and playing my own music in the studio, almost never.  I don't want or need it.

If I'm bringing a bass player into my studio to play on one of my songs, I write a chart for him because generally my songs are complicated enough that if I don't a lot of time will be wasted.  I'll write down specific notes where I want them, and changes where I want him to bring his ears into the game.  Mostly the latter, and very rarely the former.

When I use the drummer I normally use I write a chart, usually with a few vocal cues, basic hits and suggested spaces for fills. I suspect he uses it mostly for form, but he requires a chart.  If I don't write a chart, he would charge me to write one.  Turn that around, if someone wants me to play on their tune, I almost always write out a chart. Usually just chords over lyrics, but sometimes just chords.

If I'm writing a jazz tune where solos will be taken, I'll include relevant upper-structure information for players, including modal info if I deem it important. Especially with dom 7th chords.  b9nat11,  Lydb7 Alt, etc.  But by and large, the stuff I write these days is so dependent on specific voicings and voice-leading that I woud probably just give 'em the core chord and let them take notes on the chart if necessary.


Re: Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
Reply #11 on: January 26, 2020, 23:13:05
Such a hot topic @Bill from November Sound   I'm really proud that my name was listed with such guitar playing company!   Although I'm mostly a "folkie "  I have taken lessons from time to time during the years. William Leavitt in his "Modern Method For Guitar " series does go over chord substitutions (what you can play and what you can't) a little bit.

I do have a rather large Jazz Fake Book that I love, and your probably familiar with, and it does have the chords - no diagrams. For example Cmin7 add 9 (although I often times have to count on my fingers for the add 9 and am SOL for add 11).  On my own basic stuff I would just write a C chord and the heck with the add 9 but still most times put my little pinkey finger on the D note.

I've never played in a band, but I imagine that unless you can tear a telephone book in half with your hands, playing complete chord forms in context with other players would be difficult to do for an entire gig.

As far a hiring additional  musicians for a night or two, I imagine a tape and a basic song chart would do.

Vince

Vince


Re: Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
Reply #12 on: January 26, 2020, 23:17:41
That's interesting @M57  .... see the drummer charges you a "no chart fee" but you, on the other hand, take the high road and write your own chart out of the goodness of your heart when not presented with one.  :praise:

Now if the bass player will not be soloing on your track will you still write out
something like CMaj6add9#11 or is C enough? I would think you'd have to indicate if a chord is C7 or C7b9 to suggest tonicization of major or minor ... but you wouldn't need to say C9 would you? I mean C7 should be adequate, right?


Re: Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
Reply #13 on: January 26, 2020, 23:28:59
Quote
As far a hiring additional  musicians for a night or two, I imagine a tape and a basic song chart would do.
Interesting you'd mention that @Vince  :) .. not to go too far off topic but 20 years ago there'd never be a gig for us horn players that didn't have sheet music. 15 years ago there wouldn't be a gig that the band leader wouldn't mail you a mix CD to listen to. 10 years ago you'd always get an email with some mp3's attached. Now a days it's look it up your damn self and listen on youtube .... and hope it's the right version and thge right key.

But, yeah, I notice you put some of those added 9th's in your songs but it sounds like you still just call it a C or whatever it is.


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Re: Complicated Chords ..... and writing or notating them
Reply #14 on: January 26, 2020, 23:29:30
I’m afraid I cannot be of help here.

Nor can I. I have never played a complicated chord in my life.  My skill set is pretty much relegated to "cowboy chords" on the guitar.  ;)
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