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Notation Technique? (how you write it down)

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by dcarwin, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. dcarwin


    Feb 11, 2013
    This is embarrassing, but maybe I'll learn something...

    Question is around how you all notate songs, and how you label the various parts (IVCB vs ABCD vs something else)

    My old bass teacher (Jason Muscat - righteous dude) taught me a notation technique I still use when I'm learning a new song. Across the top of the sheet I list the various parts in the song and how many bars in each part. That records the song structure, and lets me know when to change parts - if I'm counting. :)

    Below that I record any detail needed for each part, maybe the chord progression or the rhythm of a given riff.

    System worked very well for me when I was in a blues band and the song structures were typically simple. I'd use "I" for intro, "V" for verse, "B" for bridge, "C"horus, "O"utro, etc.

    In my current rock trio the song structures have many more parts and I find myself arbitrarily labeling parts with random letters.

    1 - Anyone use a similar system?
    2 - Any recommendations on how to extend or adapt this system to more progressive music with lots of parts?


    Here's an example. "Movin' On" by Stampede. This is a simple structure.
  2. I usually write out "Bridge," "Intro," or "Verse," rather than use the first letters, especially since I also use roman numeral notation for the chords, so for me, "I" and "V" are the tonic and dominant chords, not sections of the songs.

    As for your system, it seems like it would work for simpler stuff, but for more complex songs, I'd imagine that you're constantly having to look back and forth at the top part (the overall form) and the bottom part (the specific parts). Why not just bite the bullet and write out the entire chart, notating specific parts or harmonies within the barlines? You might end up with a slightly longer chart, but it also seems like you'd have less risk of losing your place with the top/bottom dual system. With practice you could probably still keep everything manageable.
  3. dcarwin


    Feb 11, 2013
    Thanks for the response, Mr. Stone. :) The chart is done this way because the detail in each section/riff is really only needed when you're initially learning the song. Yes I look up and down for the first couple times we work on a song, but after a few practice sessions the parts/riffs are memorized for the most part and what's left is recalling (for example) what part we go into after the second solo, (and how long is the second solo?) etc.

    After a couple more practices you can just put the chart away into the binder for archive purposes.
  4. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    I like your charting method. May borrow parts of it. But I use Nashville Numbers (1,2,3,etc...) for chords rather than the exact chords (B, C#m, D#m,etc..) since we may do a song in a couple of different keys at my church depending on who's singing the lead
  5. dcarwin


    Feb 11, 2013
    I should be using the Chord-numbers as well, (I IV V) so that I can change keys. I just get lazy, especially on the metal riffs.

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