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Arrangement Charting and Musical Notes

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by skin, Mar 17, 2008.

  1. skin


    Jun 22, 2003
    Baton Rouge, LA USA
    No matter how many times we rehearse the tunes, we did a preview gig this Saturday, and the lead singer missed the cues or lost sight of the ending. I'd like to know have seen any type of tune charting that works for you so that everyone has a basis of how it starts, what chords/notes to play on what word and the arrangement (verse / bridge / instrumental breaks / acapella, etc)... catch my drift? If everyone had a standard notation, it might be easier. We typically submit to everyone the list of tunes to practice prior to rehearsal, they each make their notes on the arrangement, and then we come together.

    What works for you???
  2. Wm. E. Evans

    Wm. E. Evans

    Jul 19, 2007
    Southeast PA
    I use my own derivative of Nashville notation (you can google this. :)). I hand everyone a lyric sheet with chord symbols written along side the lyrics, each chord symbol representing 1 measure. For measures where there are 2 or more chords, they can be enclosed in parenthesis (), for instance:

    (G Am) (C D), giving each chord 2 beats in a 4/4 measure.

    Or, for instance, for the verse riff to "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC:

    G (C G C G) D (G D G D)

    Where each chord would get 1 beat in a 4/4 measure (note this is somewhat approximate, as the first chord in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th measures is anticipated by 1/2 a beat)

    For instrumental sections, you can just write out the chord changes with no lyrics, and also make arrangement notes (bass solo, a capella, repeat until cue, drum fill, etc.)

    If you prefer to type (as I do), you can set this up in two columns; lyrics and notes (Intro, Instrumental Break) in the left column, changes in the right. I try to break the lyrics down so the lines represent a consistent number of measures (usually 2 or 4).

    Otherwise you're stuck putting the chord symbols above the lyrics either by hand or by using a proportional font, which takes too much time for me. The disadvantage to my system is that you have to look on different sides of the page for the chords and the lyrics...

    I also give my band mates a week to look at the sheets before we attempt the song in rehearsal. Speaking for myself, this gives me the chance to at least memorize the chords or the lyrics for the next rehearsal.
  3. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Full charts are great to have but for most gigs it's small cheat-sheets - words and chords or just chords and maybe some notes as to the structure.

    Aside from that, a good drummer should be able to make it painfully obvious to the singer when to come in and when to end. In my children's choir gig there are no drums but I try to play some kind of aural cue before a verse starts - often just a loud leading tone or dominant - to make it as obvious as possible that "you're about to sing so wake up!" Even though there is a conductor it helps.
  4. Howlin' Hanson

    Howlin' Hanson Lighter cabs, please.

    Sep 3, 2007
    Austin TX
    My set book (three ring binder, sheet protectors) has the list on the front page. All the individual songs have the chord structure and lyrics, with notes such as BRIDGE, REPEAT INTRO, etc.

    The goal is to try to get all the info on two sheets facing each other, so no page turning is required. Some of them follow the song in order, others look like church hymnals and stack the verses under the chords. The latter usually allows larger print, which I like more and more these days.

    My goal is to get away from the darned thing though. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to memorize the words to "Come Together" yet....

    Crabalocker fishwife indeed. :confused:
  5. KPJ


    Oct 2, 2001
    Methuen, MA USA
    I can see your problem, since those are the lyrics to "I Am the Walrus" :ninja:

    Goo goo ga joob
  6. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    I prefer to have a lead sheet with the lyrics, chords and the order of the parts written out. If there's a special riff somewhere it might be added, otherwise I try to keep it simple, like:

    Intro: Riff on G, 4 measures (only guitar)
           Riff on G, 4 measures (everybody)
               G        D     C    Am
    Verse1: bla bla bla bla....
               G       D     Am - C - F - D
    Chorus: bla bla bla bla bla...
    Verse 2: bla bla bla...
              Eb       F    Dm    Gm
    Bridge: bla bla bla...
    Solo =verse
    Chorus x 2
    Outro: | G  | C   | x 4

    I use hyphens (-) when there are some quick chord changes. I expect the band to know the rhythm of the changes so this is only as a reminder. These lines: "|" are good to use as bar lines.

    Lately I've been starting to leave out the chord notation and only writing the key, especially for simple songs.
  7. jweiss

    jweiss Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    Park City, Utah
    Here's an example of how I do it for my band:


    Obviously you still need to know what to play over the different sections of the tune, but this approach seems to work well for everyone in terms of not getting lost in the form.



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