Reading Chord Charts/sheets

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by progrmr, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. progrmr


    Sep 3, 2008
    Columbus, Ohio
    Ok, I have my first audition next Wednesday (w00t! :bassist:) for a local worship band. I've got 5 songs to learn in the 6 days, so rather than go into detailed tabs for each of the songs I just want to be able to play along.

    The gui**** (haha, I finally get to say that! :) ) sent me a few MP3's of songs we're going to play and the chord sheets, at least I think that's what I think they're called.

    There are chords over the words in the songs, a section for the verse and chorus. I am assuming that where the chord changes this is where I need to be right? And this is what's referred to as "playing the root notes"?

    I'm guessing that I just need to practice and get the timing down. Any tips for getting the most out of these?
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    First thing, you want to call your fellow musician who was kind enough to supply you with these helpful bits and let him know that you called him a gui****. But that might limit how helpful he'll be in the future. He might even decide that he can find a bassist who not only doesn't need to insult him, doesn't actually need somebody else's help to learn a few freaking songs.


    Anyway, yes, the chord chart (which is generally called a "lead sheet" because it has not only the chords but also the melody) will show you where the chord change is supposed to happen, it's lined up with the melody/words. So you have the sheet in front of you and the mp3 ready to play, press PLAY and follow along. You should be able to pick up the basic rhythm that the bass is playing, hear what notes other than the root of the chord they are playing, where they play and where they leave space, stuff like that. And then pick p your bass and play along.
    You'll want to check in with whoever the musical director is to find out if the sheet music and recording you have are in the same key that you'll be performing in, check for any changes in the arrangement (no guitar solo, extra guitar solo, twice through the bridge on the way out, whatever) and in general be a responsible freaking musician.
  3. progrmr


    Sep 3, 2008
    Columbus, Ohio
    hey thanks! Oh, and sorry about the gui**** thing - guy actually sounds pretty cool :)

    Only asking because I've never used these sheets before - I'll get them down and work though the details at the jam session.
  4. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    That is the only sort of sheets I have ever seen at the synagogue. It makes playing root-of-the-chord a bit simpler since I don't have to filter out the staff of a sheet of music.
  5. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I generally think of a chord chart as the chords and lyrics laid out on staff paper; withe the arrangement of the song laid out with all the bar lines/ repeats/ D.C. al Coda's/ etc.

    If it's just lyrics and chords but no structure indicated...I wouldn't think of it as a chord chart.

    Just me, though, YMMV.
  6. It's probably fake chord sheet music. I bet the lyrics and chords are all that are shown on what they gave you. From that you are expected to fake it. That's why it's called fake chord. In the old days the pros passed hand written scraps of paper between themselves with just the lyrics and chords shown and they faked a melody from that.

    Pretty simple. Follow the lyrics on the sheet music - sing them under your breath so you know when the chord changes are coming. When the chord over the words change you play the Root- 5 of that chord or a R-3-5-3 or a Root-3-5-7 what ever riff you think will fit the music best (you're faking it). A basic Root-5 will play thousands of songs. Your job is to lay down a steady beat, fancy can come later. If they have a drummer, you and the drummer are the rhythm section and you two work together laying down the beat.

    Have fun.
  7. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    This describes me to a T! And for every song I've played with at the synagogue, root and root-5 has worked like magic. Simple, elegant and steady.
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