Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

writing rhythm charts

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Howard K, Sep 27, 2005.


  1. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    I've landed me a gig in a pure disco function band off the back of a dep I did for an originals band a few months back. The guy who's put the band together has sent round a list of tracks and asked us to contribute rhythm charts, we just split the tracks between us basically. I'm fairly new to this, but I want to make sure I do the best job I can.

    So, what constitutes an acceptable or passable rhythm chart, and what makes an excellent rhythm chart?

    I'm thinking the neccessary basics are, the changes, the form and any specific rhythms that need to be picked up by the rhythm section?

    But, what about voicings? I'm not exactly sure I'll be able to get down all the chords precisely, with all correct extenstions and stuff, let alone voicings! Would this be expected of me, at this level? Everyone in the band is going to work from a CD anyway, so I'm guessing we're just putting together charts as reminders for the gigs, but I'm not exactly sure?

    What about unison parts, you know, those Stevie Wonder style pentatonic riffs you get all over the place in these kind of tunes? Should I notate those as well, or should I assume that everyone will learn the tunes beforehand?

    Any advice very welcome! :)
     
  2. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Could you ask for some examples of what they've done previously? You're not being asked to write a transcription, so I'd imagine a general outline to jog the memory is probably sufficient.

    Of course, if you want a laugh, you could always write it out in tab... ;)

    Wulf
     
  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    It's a totally new band, so no charts exist at all yet

    I just downloaded, paid for, from MSN Music, a load of the tunes, some are easy enough, but some aren't. I think I'm going to just cover basic chords and form. I'll notate bass lines and any key grooves. It will have to do!

    There's some corking bass on some of the tracks too! Luther Vandross - Never Too Much, I get to play slap bass without being frowned upon, yes! ;)
     
  4. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    What are the songs you've got to chart out?

    Wulf
     
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    It's not hard to write a good rhythm chart. All you need to do is be accurate in your bar counts and write the chords accurately when they occur. Look at some rhythm charts in the Real Book to give you an idea.
     
  6. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Thanks, good point, noted. Bar counts indeed, I've fallen foul of my own rushed charts in that respect before now
     
  7. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Good advice .....

    I usually only provide specific notation for unision lines or if there is a signature line in the tune that needs to be played ....... :cool:
     
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think there can be a huge difference between a chart for a Jazz standard and for a funk tune....?

    So I mentioned on here and to Howard, how it totally blew my mind to see Pete Churchill's charts for Stevie Wonder's "Do I Do" - where he had written out everything, for every instrument in great detail and it looked insanely difficult! (Although much less so in practice!! ;) )

    So in a Jazz standard, the feel is often left to the players and only the most general indications are given - like "medium swing" - but for a funk tune, the feel could be crucial to the whole piece - say where you have 16th note syncopations..?

    A lot of funk tunes would sound very dull if played without rhythmic syncopation...or a tightly-defined groove.
     
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's a good point - so in the Funk Grooves classes (at Jazz Summerschool) somebody asked Pete Churchill how he did his charts and he said - something like - from the outside in, from the broadest outlines, gradually working down to the details of actual notes.

    So he said he would listen to the whole piece in its entirety several times first - then get the broad outline of the form - how many parts were there (AABAC...D,E,F etc.) , how many times did they repeat - write out a plan.

    When you are sure of this - go to manuscript and map out bars, with nothing in them - make sure you have the right number of bars and all the sections named and repeats, coda etc.

    Then map out how often the chords change and put these in over the top - make sure they are right.

    Only when you have all this - then start to put actual notes, where needed.
     
  10. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It's about not getting too hung up on the details until you've got the outline in place. I'd probably aim to get all my charts done in draft form before the first rehearsal; one of the goals of the rehearsal would be figuring out which bits then needed to be filled in with more detail.

    Of course, it all depends on the expectations of the other people in the band. I've frequently written more or less detailed charts for my bass parts but haven't really done much for others (although I did do a chord sheet for a guitarist once, just to keep him quiet for a while - I didn't even have to resort to notes! ;) ).

    Wulf
     
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Sure they would, but Howard's writing rhythm charts, not notated charts. Let the rest of the guys put a little effort into what to play. You can write occasional bars out in notation on a rhythm chart, sure, but when someone wants to write rhythm charts, they usually don't want to put a whole lot of work into them, and that's where I was coming from.