How to read chords on sheet music?

Posted by: Tech 5

How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 07:49 AM

How can one tell if a chord is blocked or broken when it is written as a single letter above the ledger lines? Also, how can you tell when to play it? Is it to be played on the left hand when the right hand plays the entire line or just that one measure where it first appears, or just the note where it first appears?

Thanks in advance for your help,
Virginia
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 08:53 AM

It's entirely up to the performer, Virginia. You can pound out the bass on a single note, bounce out four note chords at foot tapping syncopations or you wander lovingly up and down four octaves of arpeggiation.

Enjoy!
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 12:13 PM

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
It's entirely up to the performer, Virginia. You can pound out the bass on a single note, bounce out four note chords at foot tapping syncopations or you wander lovingly up and down four octaves of arpeggiation.

Enjoy!




I guess that's what is meant by improvising. I think I may be a little too new at this for that to work for me. I still need clear precise instruction. Maybe I'll just play the right hand until I get a handle on chords.

Thanks
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 12:37 PM

Originally Posted By: Tech 5
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
It's entirely up to the performer, Virginia. You can pound out the bass on a single note, bounce out four note chords at foot tapping syncopations or you wander lovingly up and down four octaves of arpeggiation.

Enjoy!




I guess that's what is meant by improvising. I think I may be a little too new at this for that to work for me. I still need clear precise instruction. Maybe I'll just play the right hand until I get a handle on chords.

Thanks


Can you link to (or upload a scan of) the sheet music you're
attempting?

So much depends on the composition, the way it might adapt to different styles and your objectives.
Posted by: Elkayem

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 01:21 PM

Check out this thread:

Autumn Leaves Jazz Study Group

Even if you aren't ultimately interested in playing jazz, this thread shares some great techniques that can be used to voice any chord underneath a melody. You definitely want to get away from block chords as soon as you can.
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 02:22 PM






Can you link to (or upload a scan of) the sheet music you're
attempting?

So much depends on the composition, the way it might adapt to different styles and your objectives. [/quote]

This is not the exact sheet music of "Somewhere My Love", http://www.wikifonia.org/node/4999 I'm working from but its very similar so if I knew how to interpret the chords on this one I could possibly figure out the arrangement of the same song in my music book.

Thanks,
Posted by: malkin

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 02:28 PM

There is some pretty clear description of what to do in one of the For Dummies books.
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 02:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Tech 5


This is not the exact sheet music of "Somewhere My Love", http://www.wikifonia.org/node/4999 I'm working from but its very similar so if I knew how to interpret the chords on this one I could possibly figure out the arrangement of the same song in my music book.

Thanks,


For something like that, as a piano solo piece, I would do all the bass and chord work with my left hand and play the simple melody with the RH. So, using the 4/4 time sig of the music you’ve linked to, that would be:-

beat 1: G bass note
beat 2: G chord; reading from lowest note D,G,B just below middle C.
beat 3: D bass note.
beat 4; G chord (as above).

Do exactly the same for the first 3 bars. Then do similar for bar 4 (D7), alternating the root and 5th bass line (notes D and A) with the D7 chord (from lowest: D, F#, middle C). You can keep playing the D7 pattern for 4 bars (the A in bar 5 of your score is wrong) before returning to the tonic (G).
Does that make any sense to you? Is it what you’re trying to do or are you aiming at something more elaborate?

(FWIW, I prefer the Dr Zhivago version which is in 6/8 or waltz time depending on how you write/read it. Similar idea, except you play 2 chords for every bass note... hope that’s clear!)
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 04:00 PM

Originally Posted By: dire tonic
Originally Posted By: Tech 5


This is not the exact sheet music of "Somewhere My Love", http://www.wikifonia.org/node/4999 I'm working from but its very similar so if I knew how to interpret the chords on this one I could possibly figure out the arrangement of the same song in my music book.

Thanks,


For something like that, as a piano solo piece, I would do all the bass and chord work with my left hand and play the simple melody with the RH. So, using the 4/4 time sig of the music you’ve linked to, that would be:-

beat 1: G bass note
beat 2: G chord; reading from lowest note D,G,B just below middle C.
beat 3: D bass note.
beat 4; G chord (as above).

Do exactly the same for the first 3 bars. Then do similar for bar 4 (D7), alternating the root and 5th bass line (notes D and A) with the D7 chord (from lowest: D, F#, middle C). You can keep playing the D7 pattern for 4 bars (the A in bar 5 of your score is wrong) before returning to the tonic (G).
Does that make any sense to you? Is it what you you’re trying to do or are you aiming at something more elaborate?

(FWIW, I prefer the Dr Zhivago version which is in 6/8 or waltz time depending on how you write/read it. Similar idea, except you play 2 chords for every bass note... hope that’s clear!)


Wow! Thanks for the info. but I've got to study on this for awhile before I'll get a handle it. It seems very complicated to me. I have the right hand notes memorized so I can play the right hand without too much difficulty but that left hand chord stuff is not penetrating my thick skull. I'll keep at it though. I have ordered another book with Dr.Z sheet music, maybe it will be the one to which you referred and have clear instructions for the left hand. In the meantime, I'll work on the current sheet using your suggested procedure.

Thanks again!
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 05:22 PM

Maybe this chord chart will be of help. These are deep waters for a newbie, and understanding chords will require some study of music theory. But certainly you can learn from associating the chord name with the sound. It is the way we learn our mother tongue, after all: we hear the words and learn to associate them with the sense they carry.

Chords are the mother's milk of music.



This chart is from book of score paper, published by Amsco Publications. I hope they won't mind my reproducing it; the knowledge of chord names is hardly proprietary. I can recommend their manuscript paper for its good quality, and the convenience of its binding; it's the one I always buy.
Posted by: TheodorN

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 05:46 PM

A great chord chart, very helpful. I might even make it better if I can find the time, by listing those same chords an octave higher and/or lower, even in first and second inversions as well. Does so much to speed up one's sight reading, to be able to recognize quickly how the different chord patterns render themselves out on the piano itself.
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 06:08 PM

I've played piano a number of years. Being primarily classical I would not be able to just play a melody while improvising something that sounds nice by looking at chord names like that. I could play them as chords - clunk, clunk, clunk - but I don't yet have the instinct of by ear players who do things with chords. I think there are common patterns that gets into their ear and bodies, and they move on from there.

I picked up a bunch of cheap old "popular music" magazine type publications. They show chord names as well as a written out left hand. I thought of using these for picking the brains of the arrangers to get a feel for it. Originally I bought them simply because I saw them and wanted to get familiar with letter name chords.
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 06:19 PM

Wow, Jeff...thanks! I was glad to see your reference to "deep waters for a newbie"..I'd say this is deep muddy water for this newbie. Its more like Greek than the mother tongue, but I'm not going to give up on learning it. I've printed the chart you provided and will discuss it with my piano instructor on Tuesday.

I wish the sheet music I'm working on had the bass clef portion on a ledger instead of showing the chords with their respective letter names above the treble clef ledger. I think it'd be easier for me to figure them out if that were the case.

Thanks again. I'm sure this chart will be helpful!
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 06:27 PM

"I could play them as chords - clunk, clunk, clunk -"

Now that's a very good descriptive statement of how I play them.:)

Thanks, for saying that.
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 06:41 PM

Virginia, I'm taking ideas from some by ear players in order to expand. One idea is to learn to play all your major chords in root position by ear, then inversions. You can get minor keys not just by memorizing charts, but simply by lowering the middle note by a half step. I see a light switch with a middle toggle. CEG - toggle is up: CEbG - toggle is down = C (major) and Cm. You play inversions. You see what happens if you moves notes in and out -- being playful. You bring the familiarity that you build into this other thing we're exploring. I suspect that "clunk clunk clunk" is as good a beginning as any.
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 07:31 PM

That's cool information! I just tried it on the piano. It also coincided with the chart. Also, I discovered in this little practice you suggested, that the A chord has a sharp in the middle, so to toggle to the Am, you drop the sharp and go to regular C. Now I'm thinking the reason for learning the scales is not just for finger dexterity and note names but also teaches the chords, sorta.

Thanks!
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/09/12 10:29 PM

"...I wish the sheet music I'm working on had the bass clef portion on a ledger instead of showing the chords with their respective letter names above the treble clef ledger...."

If you get a book or pack of score paper, you can write them out any way you like. The chords, the inversions, the scales, the arps. It will do you nothing but good; it is even fun.

I use the book of score paper to make notes from my piano lessons--- just pencil and words.
Posted by: JamesPlaysPiano

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/10/12 12:09 AM

Originally Posted By: Tech 5
That's cool information! I just tried it on the piano. It also coincided with the chart. Also, I discovered in this little practice you suggested, that the A chord has a sharp in the middle, so to toggle to the Am, you drop the sharp and go to regular C. Now I'm thinking the reason for learning the scales is not just for finger dexterity and note names but also teaches the chords, sorta.

Thanks!



Hi Virginia,

You're definitely on to something! Scales and chords are very closely related. They are like two sides of the same coin.

Also, chords and scales are both very standard, important "tools" in an improviser's "toolbox." That is, when you see someone playing very well from a lead sheet, playing all sorts of chord shapes in the left hand and perhaps improvising some nice runs and things in the right hand, it's usually not quite as mysterious as some people would make it out to be. It's very likely that he or she has spent a LOT of time first learning lots of chords and scales separately. There is a "system," of course, of which ones to learn and how to use them- but my point is that learning chords and scales is a very important part of the process. I'm not implying anything about your current playing, of course, but if you don't happen to currently know lots of chords, especially, in all 12 keys, then doing something like playing from a lead sheet could seem particularly daunting and tedious (the "deep water"!). The good news is that the more you learn and the more pieces that you play, the more you start to recognize things you've already seen/played before. At first, learning a piece is like, "oh, look at all these shapes I have to learn!" but after several pieces, you find yourself going "oh, there's that chord I played in that other piece."

Also, I was going to say that you're correct, that there are many patterns that "by-ear" pianists use. They are kind of like a guitarist's picking patterns, in that a guitarist could keep picking the same pattern in the right hand, while changing chord shapes in the left. There are different patterns for different styles, different meters, and so on. When they are learned/practiced well, they can be very empowering, giving a pianist the ability to create an "instant arrangement," as it were, of a piece.

James
Posted by: Brian Lucas

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/10/12 01:07 PM

Playing chords in the LH and melody (sometimes an octave higher) in the RH is one way, and great for solo piano. If you are accompanying a singer or singing yourself, the most common pop style is to play the root in your LH and a chord in your RH. You can also play the melody plus some chord notes in the RH and a LH pattern as you get more comfortable. Lots of options in this style of playing.

I'm going to encourage you and anyone else wanting to get into chord theory to not memorize a bunch of chords. It will slow you down later on, when you are trying to invert and alter chords. Instead, try to understand how you build a chord. Give yourself a root and see if you can visualize the chord growing up from that root. Chords are Root-Third-Fifth. For a major chord, it's 4 half steps from the root to the third and 3 half steps from the third to the fifth.

You've already figured out a good trick that will save you hours of memorizing, that to get a minor chord, you simply lower the third one half step. That kind of understanding will help you learn this concept faster.
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/10/12 03:35 PM



Originally Posted By: Brian Lucas
Playing chords in the LH and melody (sometimes an octave higher) in the RH is one way, and great for solo piano. If you are accompanying a singer or singing yourself, the most common pop style is to play the root in your LH and a chord in your RH. You can also play the melody plus some chord notes in the RH and a LH pattern as you get more comfortable. Lots of options in this style of playing.

I'm going to encourage you and anyone else wanting to get into chord theory to not memorize a bunch of chords. It will slow you down later on, when you are trying to invert and alter chords. Instead, try to understand how you build a chord. Give yourself a root and see if you can visualize the chord growing up from that root. Chords are Root-Third-Fifth. For a major chord, it's 4 half steps from the root to the third and 3 half steps from the third to the fifth.

You've already figured out a good trick that will save you hours of memorizing, that to get a minor chord, you simply lower the third one half step. That kind of understanding will help you learn this concept faster.



Thanks, Brian. I have written notes from your paragraph two on the chord chart sheet I printed, so that I'll remember the concept. I'm sure this info. will be very
helpful! So, is the concept the same for the minor cords, also, what about the 7-key chord structure. Is there an equally logical pattern to those? I love logic.

Thanks again!
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 09:50 AM

Virginia, you can find out the half-steps between each pair of notes in a type of chord by counting them for the C chords at the top of the chart. Then check with some other keys to see that the half-step count is the same for other chords of the same type (i.e. in the same column).

Another way to understand chords is by interval. For example:
  • major chord has root, note a major third from the root, and note a perfect fifth from the root.
    .
  • minor chord has root, note a minor third from the root, and note a perfect fifth from the root. Move middle note in major chord down a half-step.
    .
  • augmented chord has root, note a major third from the root, and note an augmented fifth from the root. Move top note in major chord up a half-step.

There are lots of patterns and relations between the types of chords; let me know if this information here makes sense and I'll go on about the 6 and 7 chords.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 09:57 AM

(And if it doesn't make sense, please ask questions!)

Also, try this out at the keyboard: pick a root, construct the major triad (three-note chord, stacked like a snowman) with that root. Toggle the middle and top fingers to form the minor and augmented triads. Listen to the sound of these. Check the notes you've found against the chart. Check the half-step counts. Repeat with another root. Etc.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 11:38 AM

I left out one more little bit: on the chart of chords,

The first column is the root: the note the chord is built on

The second column, labeled "Major", is the major triad.

The third column, labeled "m", is the minor triad.

The fourth column, labeled "+", is the augmented triad.
Posted by: DinaP

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 01:07 PM

Virginia,

I’m sure there are a million or more basic introductions to chords and using them in “popular” music – but one I have found to be clear, concise, and fun is a pdf book available at the Music With Ease site –

The link is:

http://www.musicwithease.com/play-popular-music.html

It is a good beginning for me and gives a basic set of musical knowledge on which to build, including a short section s embellishing – using the chords in a different way.
Posted by: LoPresti

How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 01:39 PM

Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
Maybe this chord chart will be of help. . .


Jeff, and everyone who might be printing it,

It is a small detail, but since we are learning here, we may as well be correct. The chords in the tenth column are not diminished triads, as the º symbol indicates, but are in fact diminished seventh chords, and most (all?) are spelled incorrectly.
While, as diminished SEVENTH chords, these enharmonic spellings will sound right, if one attempts to use PianoStudent88's perfectly correct start to building these, the chart will not make sense.

Virginia,

Now that you are armed with some information, and some terminology, I would encourage you to visit a good music store, and let them know the sort of reference book you are looking for. There you will be able to browse a wide variety of stuff, and select intelligently.

Ed
Posted by: Brian Lucas

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 01:44 PM

Originally Posted By: Tech 5
So, is the concept the same for the minor cords, also, what about the 7-key chord structure. Is there an equally logical pattern to those? I love logic.!
Yes, theoretically you could build minor chords with a formula too, but I think it wastes time. Like PS88 suggested, if you get used to altering a major chord to the other 3 chord types, you really only need to be able to build the 12 major chords from scratch. Major and minor account for 95% of what you'll see in pop music (except for jazz). So once you can get to the major chords quickly, just make the minor by dropping the third down a half step.

For some more logic, once you know your major and minor chords, you can figure out how they fit into the 12 keys. Each chord will naturally exist in 3 keys. If you can play a major scale, the chords built on the first, fourth and fifth note of the scale are major, and the chords built on the second, third and sixth note are minor. So for a C scale:

C Dm Em F G Am

Don't worry about the seventh note, it's technically a diminished chord, but rarely seen. So if you know what an F chord is, it would be the 4 chord in the key of C. But it can also be the 1 chord in the key of F and the 5 chord in the key of Bb. Same F chord in all 3 keys.

If you want to take chord recognition a little further, I teach chord categories, which are chord shapes. Most people know that C, F and G are all the same shape (all white keys). D, E and A are also the same shape (I call it tent shape). When you get to the point where you are inverting your chords, it helps to group these chords together, since physically they will feel similar. You'll be able to apply 1 concept to all the chords in that category quickly.

Enough logic for you? wink
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 02:06 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
It is a small detail, but since we are learning here, we may as well be correct. The chords in the tenth column are not diminished triads, as the º symbol indicates, but are in fact diminished seventh chords, and many are spelled incorrectly. While, as diminished SEVENTH chords, these will sound right, if one attempts to use PianoStudent88's perfectly correct start to building these, the chart will not make sense.

As far as spelling, I was going to identify dim7 chords as keys on the keyboard first, and think about spelling later. And then indicate why different spellings might be chosen for the same say Cdim7 that one might see on a lead sheet.

As I understand it, lead sheet convention often uses plain Cdim to mean the diminished seventh chord, or perhaps to mean that the player should choose which sounds better, the triad or the seventh chord. If that's the case, I can imagine that a similar convention has arisen around the diminished notation that uses ° instead of "dim": C° and C°7.

I am not a lead sheet player, but what I have been told about lead sheets is that the conventions for letter-naming chords are not identical to the roman numeral conventions that I learned in strict academic music theory. Different arenas, different purposes, different scopes, different conventions. Doesn't bother me.

Quote:
Now that you are armed with some information, and some terminology, I would encourage you to visit a good music store, and let them know the sort of reference book you are looking for. There you will be able to browse a wide variety of stuff, and select intelligently.

This, I agree with. I'll put in a plug for Edly's Music Theory For Practical People, by Ed Roseman. I don't think it covers how to realize a lead sheet (or if it does, I was so not ready for that that I totally don't even remember it), but it does cover all the music theory basics for chords, and I enjoyed reading it.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 02:16 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
As I understand it, lead sheet convention often uses plain Cdim to mean the diminished seventh chord, or perhaps to mean that the player should choose which sounds better, the triad or the seventh chord. If that's the case, I can imagine that a similar convention has arisen around the diminished notation that uses ° instead of "dim": C° and C°7.

PS88,

Since I am no longer allowed to post on this Forum, and happened to "sneak one in" here, I will simply say this: Following that liberal logic about extemporaneous chord construction, I see not a single augmented seventh chord in the Chart's column marked "+", yet every single diminished triad ( º ) in the column sports a diminished seventh (or major sixth) also. Could be wrong - looks like a MISTAKE.

Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 03:57 PM

I will start by being in agreement with BrianLucas. Chords should begin with an understanding of how chords work, not with chord charts. These charts may have their uses, but they can become a crutch like constantly using a dictionary to look up every word because the principals of spelling aren't known. If you understand how chords work and can construct your own, then the charts become unnecessary.

I suggest that when understanding how chords work, even with a good reference book, that you spend a lot of time on the keyboard understanding them as sound and how sound and spelling go hand in hand. The spelling part is tricky because music has its "grammar". For major, minor, ordinary seventh chords (the kind commonly known as "dominant 7"), the spelling is standard. When you get to things like augmented and diminished sevenths the "grammar" kicks in for real music. But the SOUND will always be there. It's too much to explain here. You'll get it through proper study.

Ed, I understand that in some places they use the "dim" symbol to mean "dim7" and that it will be found in music, but I disagree with it when that happens because it leads to confusion. There is a difference between a diminished triad and a diminished seven.

Btw, if you were not allowed to post in the forum, we wouldn't be seeing your post because then admin. would have blocked your access.
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 04:05 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
(And if it doesn't make sense, please ask questions!)

Also, try this out at the keyboard: pick a root, construct the major triad (three-note chord, stacked like a snowman) with that root. Toggle the middle and top fingers to form the minor and augmented triads. Listen to the sound of these. Check the notes you've found against the chart. Check the half-step counts. Repeat with another root. Etc.


This procedure of counting half steps doesn't seem to work with B Major or I'm I just confused? Isn't B Major (B,D#, and F#)? If so, this gives 5 half steps if B is counted as the 1st...so you don't count the root, right? What are augmented triads? Also, are the chords the same when played with either hand?

Thanks so much for your help!
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 04:52 PM

When counting half-steps, it's like counting steps walking: you count each step you take. Don't count your starting point as a step.

So, to figure out B major chord.
Start at B.
Take 1 half-step, arrive at C
Take 2nd half-step, arrive at C#
Take 3rd half-step, arrive at D
Take 4th half-step, arrive at D#

OK, we just found D# as the second note of the B chord.
Start at D#.
Take 1 half-step, arrive at E
Take 2nd half-step, arrive at F
Take 3rd half-step, arrive at F#

So from B to D# is 4 half-steps, and from D# to F# is 3 half-steps. So B major chord is B D# F#. So you were right that it is B D# F#.

Does that make sense? Check it on some other major chords.

~~~~~~
Augmented triads are the three note chords illustrated in the fourth column of the chart. They are indicated with either "aug" (as in Caug) or "+" (as in C+). I think major and minor are much much much more common than augmented chords, so you could easily ignore augmented chords for now. But I could be wrong.

~~~~~~
As to whether the chords are the same in either hand: yes and no, depending on what you meant by your question.

Yes, when you're simply playing the simple forms of the chords shown in the chart, play the same notes with either hand, or both hands.

No, when you start to find more creative ways to play from a lead sheet you probably won't play the same thing in the RH as in the LH, and you probably won't play the chord in the basic position shown here. For example, Cm, would you play C Eb G all squashed together? Probably not. Maybe you'll play C and C an octave higher in the LH, and Eb and G high up in the RH. Maybe you'll play C and G in the LH, and Eb and Eb an octave higher in the RH. Maybe you'll play C in the LH, and C Eb G spread out in the RH. Or any of many other possibilities. Those would all count as Cm, even though the notes have been scrambled up and spread around from the plain presentation of C Eb G on the chart all squashed together.
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 05:44 PM

Woe!! This way beyond my ability to comprehend ( the last two paragraphs), but maybe someday. I understand the first part. Thanks for clarifying the counting of 1/2 steps. I really appreciate all the info. I will print it and refer back to it a little at a time.

So, am I to understand that all this chord activity is for popular music only. Chords are not played the same in classical music, right?

You never have "lead" sheets in classical music?

Thanks again!
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 06:03 PM

Sorry for the last two paragraphs being incomprehensible. Said more succinctly: Yes, while learning these just play them the same in RH and LH. This is a basic simple outline. Later on, as with everything in music, things will look more complex. But I'm trying to stay simple.

Answering your other question: These chords appear in both popular and classical music.

Normally classical music is not labeled with the chord names. As part of analysing the music, someone learning the music might very well write in the chord names implied by the music.

Classical music is sort of the reverse of a lead sheet. On a lead sheet, you get the chord names and have to make up an accompaniment. In classical music, you get all the notes and have to figure out the chord names if you want them.

Last week I saw a Bach Fake Book (Bach in lead sheet format), so anything's possible! grin
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 06:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Tech 5
You never have "lead" sheets in classical music?

In the Baroque era they had a version of lead sheets, called "figured bass." Just like lead sheets, this was a system which told the accompanist what harmonies to play in the accompaniment, but didn't specify exactly how to play the accompaniment.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose! (The more things change, the more they're the same thing.)
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 06:46 PM

Hey, KeyString, this is a Red Letter Day! I agree with absolutely EVERYTHING you wrote here!!

Originally Posted By: keystring
. . . These charts may have their uses, but they can become a crutch like constantly using a dictionary to look up every word because the principals of spelling aren't known.

A perfect simile!

Originally Posted By: keystring
Ed, I understand that in some places they use the "dim" symbol to mean "dim7" and that it will be found in music, but I disagree with it when that happens because it leads to confusion. There is a difference between a diminished triad and a diminished seven.

Absolutely. I am not the one who brought up this notion - it was our esteemed colleague who has a username too long for me to write. I chose not to dispute the idea in this thread because of the detailed explanation it requires. I did point out, for those who might understand it, that the augmented triads were not similarly bastardized.

Originally Posted By: keystring
Btw, if you were not allowed to post in the forum, we wouldn't be seeing your post because then admin. would have blocked your access.

I believe exclusion was by acclamation, or popular vote, or something like that.

O.K. I'm ready for your rebuttal . . .
Ed
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 07:00 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
When counting half-steps, it's like counting steps walking: you count each step you take. Don't count your starting point as a step.

So, to figure out B major chord.
Start at B.
Take 1 half-step, arrive at C
Take 2nd half-step, arrive at C#
Take 3rd half-step, arrive at D
Take 4th half-step, arrive at D#

Does that make sense?

It absolutely makes sense, UNTIL the semantics get sticky: Virginia will eventually read somewhere that the interval from B to C is a second.

Ed
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 07:05 PM

Ed, there is only one thing I'd like to explore - namely augmented chords. In music itself I see varying spelling choices. The aug chord happens along with whole tone passages (among others), and writing a whole tone scale in and of itself is a tricky business. I've run into augmented chords where it was a toss up between G# and Ab for a given note, and there were reasons why the composer made this or that choice. That is the bottom line for diminished seven chords as well: what else is going on in the music.

Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 07:12 PM

Quote:
It absolutely makes sense, UNTIL the semantics get sticky: Virginia will eventually read somewhere that the interval from B to C is a second.

Yes, and when that comes up I'll point out that there is a different way to wrap one's head around that terminology.

You have to be able to count two ways in music: cardinal (as in 4 half-steps) and ordinal (as in major third). But I'm only explaining one of those ways at a time.
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 07:17 PM

To Virginia:
I have found in teaching that the most effective way is to go from the known and familiar. So with that in mind I'd like to go over some of the ideas already presented and what I think is crucial for a start.

1. You are familiar with the C major scale. On the piano we can see and hear the notes of C major without worrying about black keys, and those notes are also there in written music the same way. We can use the C major scale and white keys as a model.

2. Concept of "steps". Consider these to be a unit of measurement in the same way that inches are a small unit of measure. An interval is a distance between two notes (pitches), and if so, we want to be able to measure the distance.

Print this out and go to the piano. Play C. If you go to the closest piano key touching C, you'll have moved up to the black key (C# or Db). THAT is a step. If you have moved over one key, then you have moved one step (also known as semitone).

Now consider D, which is the next note in the C major scale. If you were an ant that had to crawl from C to D, you would climb up the C# piano key, and back down to the white D key. You have moved two half steps. This is how we use that unit of measure.

Why do we bother with this? Consider the adjacent black key. If we play those two notes one after the other, then we might say we went from C to C# or from C to Db. For the way notes are spelled (written down), the NAME of the interval would be called something different. But the SOUND is the same. The DISTANCE between them is the same.

It is handy to have some kind of measuring unit. I don't use "half step" very often, but it is absolutely useful to understand.

(to be continued)
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 07:24 PM

(continuation)
Go back to your C major scale. Starting on C, which is the "tonic" or starting note, we can call D, E, F etc. note number 1, note number 2, note number 3. These are the "degrees" of the scale. E is the 3rd degree of C major, F is the 4th degree, etc. always counting from the bottom.

Explore C to D - there are those two half steps. D to E - you're climbing over a black note again - two half steps - E to F, you only travel one half step.

You will find the same pattern in B major: B to C# = two half steps - C# to D# = two have steps, D # to E = one half step. every major scale will have the same pattern.
A half step = H; two half steps are a whole tone = H. The pattern in any major scale is WWHWWWH.
C(W)D(W)E(H)F(W)G(W)A(W)B(H)C

If for any reason you need to find such patterns, go back to C major on the piano, knowing that your white notes give all the notes of the scale, and explore the patterns.

If people talk about half steps, go back to a visual model.

Also use SOUND: A half step has a very unique (and jarring) sound. Play a bunch of half step intervals together all over the piano. Then try two-step (whole tone) and notice the unique sound of that.

(continued)
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 07:35 PM

(continuation)
Now let's explore the relationship between scales and chords. We'll start with our major scale, and again we'll use C major as a model.

If we take notes 1,3,5 (1st, 3rd, 5th degree) then we get CEG which is a major chord. The minor chord would be CEbG (our light switch toggle). Now, is the I chord (chord built on the first degree of that scale) major because those are the notes of the major scale? Or is the C major scale what it is because its I-chord is CEG? The fact is that they interrelate.

Play the first 5 notes of C major: C,D,E,F,G. Then alter it: C,D,Eb,F,G. Did the second version sound as if it was about to become a minor scale, and did it have a sadder mood? Did you notice that notes 1,3,5 of the second would give you Cm as chord?

For the rest I'll leave you to explore theory on your own. Start by exploring chords: major and minor as I described. Try inverting them, meaning that you put one of the other chords on the bottom. Listen. Notice where you find what in music?

-- In regards to your other question: In popular music and by ear music people learn to understand these chords since they need to be able to put in the right chord. In classical music the composers have chosen chords that work in music, following similar principals. When you start to understand music theory, then classical music becomes more predictable and understanding. It makes reading and interpreting easier.

I'm done. (phew)
Posted by: Bob Newbie

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 07:51 PM

It would be beneficial if lead sheets indicated which inversion of a chord should be used
(1st 2nd or 3rd) in the chord symbol..unfortunately they don't..leaving it to the player to figure it out.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 07:53 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Ed, there is only one thing I'd like to explore - namely augmented chords. In music itself I see varying spelling choices.

The composer is primarily interested in the SOUND. Also, s/he typically strives for clarity and smoothness within each "voice" unto itself, or between inversions of chords; and will therefore choose the note (accidental) that READS easiest. Usually this will mean using flats in descending lines, and sharps in ascending lines - GENERALLY. So here, a C - E - Ab - Bb, that were brought together by various voice lines, are perfectly legitimate.

When we move into the realm of theory, where we are constructing chords, we do that by a pretty strict set of rules. In fact, there is one, and only one way, to spell virtually any common chord. In this realm, C - E - G# - Bb in THE only correct spelling of a C augmented seventh chord.

And in the arena of analysis, wide knowledge and flexibility are key. So, the analyst sees the composer's C - E - Ab - Bb, recognizes it as sounding (functioning) as a C augmented seventh chord, names it C aug. 7 (C+7). The analyst would never SPELL a C augmented seventh chord with an Ab, however.

Diminished chords are no different: The composer writes the voices expediciously; the theorist constructs each and every one in a precise way; and the analyst attempts to resolve these by stacking the notes in thirds and seeing what it looks like.

(Poor Virginia . . .)
Ed
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 08:10 PM

Wow! Amazing! Thank you so much, Keystring. I have saved and printed your extensive post. I'm certain it will help alleviate much of my confusion.

I really appreciate the time you put into responding to my post. How long did it take you to learn all this stuff?
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 08:46 PM

Virginia, my path is an odd one. It influences some of my thoughts on learning to understand theory.

The only thing I learned in music as a child was singing Do Re Mi around grade 3. The teacher pointed to solfege names and we went up and down in patterns. So I had an ear version of the white keys of the piano representing the major scale, and natural minor scale (going from A to A will give you natural minor. The key of A minor shares the same key signature with the key of C major). I got a little electric keyboard the blew air over reeds and a 10 page booklet that introduced the C, F and G chords which I sounded out as "do mi so", "fa la do" and "so ti re" and then listened the sound. Then later I was given a piano and inherited some piano books which were all sonatinas, and I sounded these out too. I found the piano note, listened to where "Do" was, and played.

I didn't have lessons until I was almost 50 - not piano - and we didn't know that I didn't know notes until a few years after that. I started to study theory a few years ago.

When I was young I experimented and listened. I would play GA and listen to what that sounded like. I'd play CE and CEb and the Cm and C major chords. None of it had names for me, but these became toys to play with.

So decades later when I learned theory, starting with note names and key signatures, I was studying things that I had explored. They held meaning. Later on I ran into teachers who stressed the need to explore theory, having it in the ears and hands before paper. Given my experience, this seems the right way to go.

I've been studying theory intensely for about 5 years now. I think I have a head start because of my background.
Posted by: JamesPlaysPiano

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 08:51 PM

Hi again, Virginia,

First: you don't count B because what you're counting are the half-steps, which are in-between the notes- not the notes themselves. You're counting "how many times you stepped forward," as it were. If you start on B, and then "step forward" four times, you'll land on D#. In doing this, you'd say "one" on the note C, (because it's the first step), "two" on C#, and so on.

This will always work, in all keys. I wonder if you might have just gotten confused on this one, as you said.

Second: you asked about augmented triads. They are like a major triad with the top note (assuming you're in root position) raised by one. For example, a C major triad = C E G. The C augmented triad = C E G#.

Next: yes, the chords are the same when played with either hand. That is, the chords are still made up of the same notes. However, the fingering will be different, since the hands are symmetrical.

Finally: I think it's really great that you're asking so many good questions! However, if you're feeling overwhelmed at all, it may be helpful to start at the beginning with major triads, and systematically work through the different chord types, each in all 12 keys. This is no small task, of course! However, it would give you a solid foundation, and a thorough understanding of the simpler chords makes it easier to understand the more complex ones.

If it's any help, here is a lesson I wrote on major triads, using a combination of different illustrations and methods. There's a chart you can download at the bottom of the page:

http://www.betterpiano.com/archives/major-triads

Good luck with all your studies!

James
Posted by: JamesPlaysPiano

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 08:56 PM

Ha! I first started typing that post like an hour ago, in response to Virginia's question about the augmented triads. I typed away a little at a time in-between feeding the kids dinner. I hit "Post" and a whole "page" worth of responses have been posted! You all are on the ball today. smile

James




Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 08:57 PM

James, you might want to add to your definition that in root position, a triad must skip letter names. We get the same sound with CEbG and CD#G but only the first is a triad even though they are both "three letter chords". Here we get into spelling and grammar of written notation.
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 09:22 PM

Ed, I'll respond once since these are more in the area of teaching than ABF matters. I understand your explanation, and it makes sense to me. You also mentioned composers, theorists, and analysts.

Here is how I see it:

First we have music which contains things like chords. The composer has composed it so that the performer will play it and the audience will be moved by it. The composer must bring his intention across to the performer as clearly as possible. Our humble chord sits in the middle of all this. And the student is the future composer or performer who must now, at this stage, play music that has been composed, as part of his learning.

Our chord (played together - not broken) is a group of pitches heard at the same time, giving it a unique quality that we might name major, minor, augmented, etc. That is what it is. The pianist presses piano keys that will produce those sounds. Whether we want to call one of those F# or Gb, the sound and piano key stays the same.

Meanwhile our chord sits in the context of music. It is in a key, coming from a preceding chord and moving to a subsequent chord and it may be part of some pattern or idiom. Some chords such as fully diminished and augmented chords will have choice of spelling influenced by these patterns. The reason these exist goes back to the first purpose: that what the composer writes will be understandable to the performer. Also these grammar rules help make the whole system work smoothly.

So now we come to our student who is learning about these chords for the first time: and I was such a student recently, and am still learning. We can give a one-and-only spelling to an augmented or diminished chord: stacked thirds, skipped letters, etc. The danger is that the student will then think that this is how such a chord will always present itself.

The question becomes: what do you teach when and for what reason? There is no single answer. Personally I would want to start with "what it is": the sound and the pure intervals. Then I would want the student to see that different spellings are possible for this "sound" - choosing Ab or G# enharmonically. And then for the student to know as a general idea that he will encounter different spellings which are due to grammar and practical considerations. This sets the student up for a general idea as a starting point. The rest then comes as the student encounters these chords in music, and either discovers their spellings, or they are pointed out.

Here my interest is in the practical world of performer and composer. I don't see much point in analysis for the sake of analysis, and so as a specialization it's not something I'm into. The same goes for theorizing.

Your overview of the various ways these chords can be seen and spelled seem spot on.

Posted by: JamesPlaysPiano

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 09:25 PM

Hey, keystring.

Actually, this distinction varies according to the source. However, I'd be the first to admit that your definition is more commonly found and accepted. Thanks for reminding me, as I don't want the article to create any undue controversy. I just amended it.

James
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 10:15 PM

I found at last week and thought if it was a common definition you might want to put it into your article. You certainly put a lot of time in, and given an extensive overview. smile
Posted by: LoPresti

How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/11/12 11:57 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
James, you might want to add to your definition that in root position, a triad must skip letter names. We get the same sound with CEbG and CD#G but only the first is a triad even though they are both "three letter chords". Here we get into spelling and grammar of written notation.


Originally Posted By: JamesPlaysPiano
Actually, this distinction varies according to the source. However, I'd be the first to admit that your definition is more commonly found and accepted.


Most theoreticians would state this a little differently. “All triads are composed of a root, a third, and a fifth. The nature of the third and the fifth define the type of triad.”
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/12/12 02:31 AM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti


Most theoreticians would state this a little differently. “All triads are composed of a root, a third, and a fifth. The nature of the third and the fifth define the type of triad.”

I would want to make very sure that the concept of root, third and fifth are understood. Books teaching concepts - at least well written ones - will give examples and have exercises. Understanding the second sentence involves working with the material which I think comes first. The definition itself is a good summary.
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/12/12 03:39 AM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
I left out one more little bit: on the chart of chords,

The first column is the root: the note the chord is built on

The second column, labeled "Major", is the major triad.

The third column, labeled "m", is the minor triad.

The fourth column, labeled "+", is the augmented triad.


Thanks! You've provided very helpful information. Some of this stuff is beginning to make sense. I really appreciate all your help.
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/12/12 04:02 AM





(Poor Virginia . . .)
Ed
[/quote]

Why I'm I referred to as "poor Virginia?" Does this mean I have too far to go before I can really play the piano as it was intended to be played?
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/12/12 05:21 AM

Originally Posted By: Tech 5

Why I'm I referred to as "poor Virginia?"


Information overload IMHO.

Originally Posted By: Tech 5

Does this mean I have too far to go before I can really play the piano as it was intended to be played?


Don’t give that a moment's consideration. There are so many different ways of playing the piano and enjoying the music you can make with it.
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/12/12 05:26 AM

Originally Posted By: Bob Newbie
It would be beneficial if lead sheets indicated which inversion of a chord should be used
(1st 2nd or 3rd) in the chord symbol..unfortunately they don't..leaving it to the player to figure it out.


Slash chords, where the writer has included them, can help.
e.g G/B (first inversion)

-that said, the denominator usually refers to the bass.

Beyond that, there are two frequently employed conventions regarding inversion where accompaniment is concerned.

i) it occupies a register on the instrument which doesn't dominate, or interfere with, the lead voice.

ii) inversions are chosen which minimise movement. A simple example:-

C to G triads; play C root position, G first inversion.
(there are 2 other options).

- this was referred to as 'slithering' on the Chopin prelude thread (seemingly a dark art) but it's quite common in modern pop accompaniment (RH) and very common in jazz (LH during improvisation). IOW, the 'best' inversion is determined by the context of the chord in relation to its neighbours.

It's not a universal and sometimes an accompaniment will need to break out in order to draw attention to itself.
Posted by: Bob Newbie

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/12/12 10:08 AM

Or a small font 1,2 or 3 above the chord symbol would be sufficent.. smile
Posted by: jotur

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/12/12 11:04 AM

Go Virginia! You're doing/will do great smile

I think you're picking up lots of good stuff from this thread, from what I can tell.

dire tonic's post describes the way I started playing chords in the left hand - what's the easiest thing to do next?!? It's been a good guide for years now, and now I have some variations, too.

Cathy
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/12/12 11:50 AM

"Poor" Virginia? Oh, I don't know about that.

One good thing about PW is that, every so often, people who really know something will turn on the lights for the rest of us. It does not happen every day, but it can be worth slogging through a lot of dross to get there.

I was looking through the offerings on Amazon, to see if there was something I could suggest for you (or myself). It's such a problem with these 'virtual books,' not being able to see or glance through them. Still, it was not long before my head was spinning and my purse was screaming for mercy. It is a familiar sensation with such a big subject. I say, absorb what you can as it makes sense to you. We always find ourselves returning to the important subjects; I don't think we ever harvest the whole field in the first pass.
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/12/12 12:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Tech 5

Why I'm I referred to as "poor Virginia?" Does this mean I have too far to go before I can really play the piano as it was intended to be played?

Virginia, we've been stressing that that theory helps in playing music, and also a practical hands-on way of studying theory first. Like anything, music and the theory behind it can get more complicated and as you progress you'll natural keep stride. There's advanced, and then there is geek-speak, and the side issues Ed and I were discussing yesterday were on the geek side. It isn't necessary for practical purposes, and could be confusing.

Well here's an equivalent, in a sitcom episode with ready-to-assemble furniture.
episode - analysis paralysis
Posted by: Brian Lucas

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/12/12 02:02 PM

Just keep in mind that there is academic theory and what I call practical theory. We have to remember that all of this theory is designed to explain what we hear so another can replicate it. Knowing all the theory in the world won't help you unless you can translate that into practical knowledge to connect what you hear in your head or on a recording to what you play on the piano. That's why lots of people read a bunch of books and are still discouraged when they can't play.
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
One good thing about PW is that, every so often, people who really know something will turn on the lights for the rest of us. It does not happen every day, but it can be worth slogging through a lot of dross to get there.
I like turning on lights. That's why I'm here and that's why I teach. smile
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/12/12 03:42 PM

Originally Posted By: dire tonic
Originally Posted By: Tech 5

Why I'm I referred to as "poor Virginia?"


Information overload IMHO.

Originally Posted By: Tech 5

Does this mean I have too far to go before I can really play the piano as it was intended to be played?


Don’t give that a moment's consideration. There are so many different ways of playing the piano and enjoying the music you can make with it.


Thanks for clarifying. I agree about the information overload 'cause it was giving me a headache, but I'm better today and ready for some more studying of chords and such.
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/12/12 03:50 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: Tech 5

Why I'm I referred to as "poor Virginia?" Does this mean I have too far to go before I can really play the piano as it was intended to be played?

Virginia, we've been stressing that that theory helps in playing music, and also a practical hands-on way of studying theory first. Like anything, music and the theory behind it can get more complicated and as you progress you'll natural keep stride. There's advanced, and then there is geek-speak, and the side issues Ed and I were discussing yesterday were on the geek side. It isn't necessary for practical purposes, and could be confusing.

Well here's an equivalent, in a sitcom episode with ready-to-assemble furniture.
episode - analysis
paralysis



"Analysis paralysis"....I'm going to have to remember this because I do tend to over analyze things and I've ordered 3 books that if I take the time to read them I won't have time to practice....at least not 2hrs per day while I'm working full time.

Great advice and info.

Thanks!
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/12/12 04:03 PM

How something is presented also makes a big difference. A simple thing can be presented using formal technical language that can send a student's head spinning. It makes everything seem complicated, but the writer sounds clever. In good teaching you leave your ego at the door, and your primary concern is that the student will get the picture. Concepts always come before terminology, and those concepts are best learned through live experiences.

The foundation of theory lies in simple things. They are often skimmed over or carelessly taught, yet they are not trivial. Take for example the idea of an interval, which is the distance between two notes. If time is spent exploring this, with experimentation; or the idea of playing with the middle note of a major and minor scale - this opens insight into many other things. Then if you come across fancier things, they'll relate to what you know.

The best wording came from a student studying theory with me who had first self-taught, "I used to think that simple things in music were complicated. Now I know that complicated music happens through simple things." If you get to that kind of space, then the world opens up.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 03:07 AM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti

It is a small detail, but since we are learning here, we may as well be correct. The chords in the tenth column are not diminished triads, as the º symbol indicates, but are in fact diminished seventh chords, and most (all?) are spelled incorrectly.

Ed, it is ironic that I agree with you, and I believe this has not been evident in the past. The problem is this medium, having to present incredibly complicated ideas to people who are on every conceivable level, from rank amateurs to highly sophisticated and experienced musicians.

As always there are two very different ways to look at the dim7 chrord, and I want to present both views – as best I can.

1) In a fake book or lead sheet, a composer would definitely write C°7 for chord that, when written out, would have to be written C Eb F# A. Why? Because he is not going to write F#°7/C, which THEORETICALLY is what the chord really is.

Now, since only a melody note will be there for such lead sheets, an experienced musician who also has been involved in a lot of notation will mentally “compute” the spelling of this chord, notated as C°7, based on context.

2) To use a practical example, the tune “What’s New” will start on D°7 to C or C6 or C something. That does not mean that the chord will be spelled D F Ab Cb. It simply means that this chord will move to C, and that demands the spelling of D FAb/B.

3) Again, this D°7 chord COULD be written as B°7/D, but I have never in my life seen that done. I DO recommend that students write it that way, as an intermediate step to bridge the gap between theory and practical needs, but always with the warning that they will see D°7 in practical usage.

4) There are some very famous and very fine arrangers who use ° for both a three OR four note diminished chord. I don’t like this notation, but anyone reading charts had better know that it is common.

Here is specifically what Dick Hyman says on the subject, quoting:

“Arrangers and players usually deal with four-tone diminished chords [C Eb Gb A] rather than diminished triads [C Eb Gb]

Some writers refer to the four-tone chords as ‘diminished sevenths’. Diminshed chords, whether of three or four tones, are often indicated by ° instead of dim.”

In my experience he is on solid ground when stating that countless fake books will use ° for the four-note diminished chord. The fact that I don’t like it and don’t follow that “convention” is not going to change how lead sheets are written.

Now, the case AGAINST this notation:

1) Using ° to express both three and four-note chords is very imprecise and leads to the conclusion that the three-note chord does not exist and is not important. If I see B D F, vii° in the key of C, I am not going to assume an Ab. I want chord symbols to be more precise than that.

2) Jeff’s chart is practical, but a student who is advanced enough to slog through all that info, in all keys, is advanced enough to understand the concept of C°7 THEORETICALLY being written C Eb Gb Bbb, which would at least make the spelling of the chord, as presented, consistent in all keys.

3) For very practical reasons, IF the symbol C°7 is used for C Eb F# A, and it would be in lead sheets, at some point students need to know that THEORETICALLY that notation is based on the bass note and not the root, because:

4) The THEORETICALLY root of a diminished chord is the note on the bottom when the chord is stacked in 3rds.

5) Again, to complete the foundation, and this is really tough for me as a teacher, this idea has to be taught at SOME point: C Eb F# A = F#°7/C: C D# F# A = D#°7/C: C Eb Gb A = A°7/C: BUT C Eb Gb Bbb = C°7

6) Finally, we THEN have to explain that F#°7/C, D#°7/C, A°7/C as well as C°7, the THEORETICAL chords, will all be written simply as C°7 in a lead sheet, and in many they will all be written as C°

It takes me MONTHS to cover all this info with really sharp students. But it only takes me five minutes or so to get students to PLAY dim7 chords in all keys, simply by pattern, feel, sound.

So all this fuss about notation is necessary, for those who are writing music, and I teach it. I am not in any way arguing with you or making light of the points you are making.

Instead I am trying to present the vast CHASM that separates the theoretical world of notation from the practical needs of all players who are merely reading music, charts included, with the intent of improvising but not setting down what they are doing on “paper”.

Finally this:
Quote:

While, as diminished SEVENTH chords, these enharmonic spellings will sound right, if one attempts to use PianoStudent88's perfectly correct start to building these, the chart will not make sense.

I fully agree. PP88 is essentially presenting the spelling demanded by VII°7 chords, with the preference of using the “mid-point” of expressing such chords as inversions, using a slash. Thus she is exactly in sync with what I teach, and I think with what you teach.

Again, I would only point out that any “inversion” of a dim7 chord will always be written with chord symbols that reflect the bass note, not the root. The important thing to remember is that chord symbols do not show function and so are used to represent “it is what it is” sound, which leaves us to be as precise as we wish about spelling based totally on experience.
Posted by: LoPresti

How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 11:38 AM

Hi Gary,

YES! to all the above. I especially appreciate that quote from the venerable Dick Hyman, which I had not heard previously.

I would make this observation: For all the convoluted complications in TEACHING the diminished seventh chords, the actual (theoretical?) construction of each is quite simple:
(Following the convention for any chord construction, where you always build referencing the root) -
*Pick a root
*Superimpose a minor third
*Superimpose a diminished fifth
*Superimpose a diminished seventh

Obviously, I know you already know this, but perhaps others can benefit from it.

Ed
Posted by: Batuhan

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 12:33 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
When counting half-steps, it's like counting steps walking: you count each step you take. Don't count your starting point as a step.

So, to figure out B major chord.
Start at B.
Take 1 half-step, arrive at C
Take 2nd half-step, arrive at C#
Take 3rd half-step, arrive at D
Take 4th half-step, arrive at D#

OK, we just found D# as the second note of the B chord.
Start at D#.
Take 1 half-step, arrive at E
Take 2nd half-step, arrive at F
Take 3rd half-step, arrive at F#

Does that make sense?


Thats the long way. I recommend using whole step instead of half step.

As we know a major triad consist of M3 + m3

M3 = 2 Whole Step
m3 = 1.5 Step

So

B to D# is a M3 because includes 2 whole step.
D# to F# is a m3 because includes 1.5 step.

If you wanna find C Major do the same

Find C first and add M3 to it so you are on E and add m3 to it you are on G.
Posted by: jjo

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 12:58 PM

GaryD. Sorry to jump in on a discussion that's over my head, but could you explain this:

"2) To use a practical example, the tune “What’s New” will start on D°7 to C or C6 or C something. That does not mean that the chord will be spelled D F Ab Cb. It simply means that this chord will move to C, and that demands the spelling of D FAb/B.

3) Again, this D°7 chord COULD be written as B°7/D, but I have never in my life seen that done. I DO recommend that students write it that way, as an intermediate step to bridge the gap between theory and practical needs, but always with the warning that they will see D°7 in practical usage."

Why is is that the chord before C is not really a D diminished 7th? If I'm playing the tune in a piano trio, by bass player will play D, which I gather is correct, but why does it matter how the chord I'll play is spelled?

Thanks!
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 02:20 PM

Originally Posted By: Batuhan
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
When counting half-steps, it's like counting steps walking: you count each step you take. Don't count your starting point as a step.

So, to figure out B major chord.
Start at B.
Take 1 half-step, arrive at C
Take 2nd half-step, arrive at C#
Take 3rd half-step, arrive at D
Take 4th half-step, arrive at D#

OK, we just found D# as the second note of the B chord.
Start at D#.
Take 1 half-step, arrive at E
Take 2nd half-step, arrive at F
Take 3rd half-step, arrive at F#

Does that make sense?


Thats the long way. I recommend using whole step instead of half step.

As we know a major triad consist of M3 + m3

M3 = 2 Whole Step
m3 = 1.5 Step

So

B to D# is a M3 because includes 2 whole step.
D# to F# is a m3 because includes 1.5 step.

If you wanna find C Major do the same

Find C first and add M3 to it so you are on E and add m3 to it you are on G.

There is another way to go about finding chords, and that is to find a "home base" chord, memorize it in all keys without notation, then associate the feel of the chord with the colors and the sound.

I teach all the chords mentioned here to kids by the end of elementary school, and the very youngest play major chords in all keys, but they do it this way:

C E G
F A C
G B D

All white

D F# A
E G# B
A C# E

Black note in middle, reverse oreo

Db F Ab
Eb G Bb
Ab C Eb

Oreos

Gb (or F#)

Gb Bb Db
All black, triple chocalate

Bb D F
B D# F#
Odd-balls

We just memorize these. While I am teahing major by rote, both hands ASAP, root position, I am also working hard on reading, so these chords start appearing in our music everywhere.

But teaching them apart from reading, getting them nailed down first, as a skill, allow me to move from this easy chord to minor, diminished, augmented, sus4, sus2 and sus4(add2).

Once major is in place, I simply add a note to form what is often called a dominant 7, in all keys, and we use that to "slither" to all other forms of the 7 chord.

It's the exact opposite of over-thinking. It relies on touch, feel and sound. The notation can come later, and I don't have to get into the theory of intervals, which is a HUGE can of worms.
Posted by: Brian Lucas

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 02:26 PM

Yes Gary. I do something similar. I call them chord shapes (straight line, tent, V, weird). I agree that mastering the major chords and then altering them to form other chords is the fastest way to learn. The only thing I do differently is when I teach 7ths, I teach students to drop it from the root. Pretty much any extension 7-13 I relate to one of the 3 triad notes. Much easier to see it that way.

And like you said, it's fast. I get most kids playing along with their favorite song in a few weeks. True, it's basic block chords, but they get excited and will practice more for you when they see results.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 02:31 PM

Originally Posted By: jjo
GaryD. Sorry to jump in on a discussion that's over my head, but could you explain this:

"2) To use a practical example, the tune “What’s New” will start on D°7 to C or C6 or C something. That does not mean that the chord will be spelled D F Ab Cb. It simply means that this chord will move to C, and that demands the spelling of D FAb/B.

3) Again, this D°7 chord COULD be written as B°7/D, but I have never in my life seen that done. I DO recommend that students write it that way, as an intermediate step to bridge the gap between theory and practical needs, but always with the warning that they will see D°7 in practical usage."

Why is is that the chord before C is not really a D diminished 7th? If I'm playing the tune in a piano trio, by bass player will play D, which I gather is correct, but why does it matter how the chord I'll play is spelled?

Thanks!

The answer: if you are an ear player and you see Ddim7 in a lead sheet, the D tells you what the bass is. If it is Ddim7 going to C, it will be spelled D F Ab B because of voice-leading. If you are reading music, an arrangement of "What's New", and the arrangement is in C, that's the spelling that will be used.

If you are reading the music, you don't care. If you are playing by ear, you don't care, most likely. If you are writing the music, you do.

But this opens up a HUGE can of worms. All this talk about something like Bdim7/D is only for spelling. THEORETICALLY dim7 chords are often taught first as "stacked". That means they are built every other letter: B D F A. D F A B can't be stacked. So stacking them gives us a function, VIIdim7, which is taught in theory. In the key of C a VIIdim7 is B D F Ab.

Looked at in this very specific way, D F Ab B is an inversion because the THEORETICAL root is B.

What makes our dim7 chord different is that it is NOTATED by the bass note, not the root. So if we write Bdim7/D, which is logical and helps some students who are analying and learning to write music, we write something that does not exist in letter notation.

In other words, you will see Ddim7, I will see Ddim7, we will both know how the chord is supposed to sound, and we will both know that the bass note is D.

I'm assuming your question is not really about how to play the chord, just why so much confusing junk is being written about it.

I don't teach ANY of this confusing theory to my beginning students. I teach them to play dim7 chords first, then to recognize them in music. We don't worry about spelling until problems occur in music, then we talk about them.

Sorry to have been confusing. smile
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 03:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: jjo
GaryD. Sorry to jump in on a discussion that's over my head, but could you explain this: . . .

But this opens up a HUGE can of worms.

I am not the least bit interested in RE-opening that proverbial can, but for jjo's question, here is the theoretical problem to contemplate:

Any seventh chord must, by definition, have some sort of seventh above the root. (That's what makes it a seventh chord!) Where is our seventh in the stack D - F - Ab - B ?

It is the self-same problem in jazz theory as in classical. When Gary, or you, or I see the figure Dº7, we all THINK of it the same way. It is when we go to CONSTRUCT the chord, or to analyze the chord, that the messiness begins.

Ed
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 03:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Brian Lucas
Yes Gary. I do something similar. I call them chord shapes (straight line, tent, V, weird). I agree that mastering the major chords and then altering them to form other chords is the fastest way to learn. The only thing I do differently is when I teach 7ths, I teach students to drop it from the root. Pretty much any extension 7-13 I relate to one of the 3 triad notes. Much easier to see it that way.

And like you said, it's fast. I get most kids playing along with their favorite song in a few weeks. True, it's basic block chords, but they get excited and will practice more for you when they see results.

Brian, I do the same thing re 7ths, but I use the octave. Play C with the LH, play octave with RH and drop down two keys. It's almost instant. Play the four note chord with two hands, get comfortable with that, then refinger to play with LH if hand is big enough. Then "clone" into RH.

Then play them at random, once they are all there, kind of a primitive "parallelism". Add sustain pedal and a lot is learned.

The only "7" chord I don't teach that way is the dim7. Since I am teaching it by feel, look, sound, I start from a 6 chord, have them lower the two middle keys, example:

C E G A-->>> C D#/Eb F#/Gb A/Bbb. Since at this point I am not talking about spelling, I don't worry about the "grammar" part until we hit these chords in music.

By the way, I need to give Keystring credit for the term "grammar". I never thought of it, but it is a lot like grammar, I think, getting the spelling "right". wink
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 03:56 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: jjo
GaryD. Sorry to jump in on a discussion that's over my head, but could you explain this: . . .

But this opens up a HUGE can of worms.

I am not the least bit interested in RE-opening that proverbial can, but for jjo's question, here is the theoretical problem to contemplate:

Any seventh chord must, by definition, have some sort of seventh above the root. (That's what makes it a seventh chord!) Where is our seventh in the stack D - F - Ab - B ?

It is the self-same problem in jazz theory as in classical. When Gary, or you, or I see the figure Dº7, we all THINK of it the same way. It is when we go to CONSTRUCT the chord, or to analyze the chord, that the messiness begins.

Ed

Ed, you are really not opening a can of worms. That can is already open. smile

There are at least three ways to go.

1) Teach the chord without notation, in which case the spelling is a non issue at FIRST.
2) Teach the chord without playing it, purely theory, in which case the spelling is crucial from the get-go.
3) Do both, in which case it is all about the timing of introducing principles.

If I am working with a talented seven year old who is successfully PLAYING a Cdim7 chord, it is rather obvious why I am not hammering on the C Eb Gb Bbb spelling. Will I get to that? Of course.

If I am working with an experienced player, tween teen or adult, I will immediately jump into the who dim7 problem, because it goes beyond the chord. It has to do with intervals.

As is true of an aug6 vs m7(intervals), the problem of dim7 vs M6 very soon becomes "the elephant in the room".

To me the can of worms is all about which worm you examine first.
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 04:39 PM

The idea of starting with the term "fully diminished chord" was bandied about. I think that fits well with the student's first need which is to get a feel for what the chord's character is: the "thirds" (I'm including aug2 - hence quotation marks), the unique sound, characteristics, the total equal distribution within an octave. I'm staying with the idea of starting with physical experience and understanding, and then meshing it with the reading/writing aspect. They have to fit together hand in glove, rather than being two separate sets of knowledge.

The challenge is not for a teacher to know what it's about, because most teachers do (should). The challenge is to gradually bring all this together in a way where it will still make sense to the student and it won't lead to musical geekdom (a bunch of facts not connected to music.)

Obviously all of the grammar rules of music cannot be taught at once. Hence my suggestion for the beginning:
- understand the chord by experiencing it
- have the idea that there are many ways of spelling it which will still reflect this experienced "fully diminished" chord
- at some point the idea of enharmonics come up, and probably early. You run into it as soon as you hit any black key.
- eventually the spellings and their reasons will come up, but with the first two or three points in place, it won't be confusing.

You cannot teach everything at once.

The problem that I have run into with both method books and theory books is that because you cannot teach everything at once, they simplify things. The student will get the idea that the simplified picture they get is how music actually works. Then when they get to advanced music, it's confusing. It is also irritating to have to unlearn a picture that was carefully studied.
Posted by: jjo

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 04:49 PM

Ed: I understand that the following chord has a seventh: B D F A, whereas D F Ab B has no seventh (the B is a sixth). If you spell it D F Ab Cb does that solve the problem? I'm still not seeing why the chord is really B diminished over D, as opposed to D diminished properly spelled.

Sorry to be going back to this, but it the long discussion, this point interested me. I recognize that it doesn't affect what I'd play, but from a theory point of view I'm curious.

thanks,
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 05:38 PM

Originally Posted By: jjo
Ed: I understand that the following chord has a seventh: B D F A, whereas D F Ab B has no seventh (the B is a sixth). If you spell it D F Ab Cb does that solve the problem? I'm still not seeing why the chord is really B diminished over D, as opposed to D diminished properly spelled.

Sorry to be going back to this, but it the long discussion, this point interested me. I recognize that it doesn't affect what I'd play, but from a theory point of view I'm curious.


jjo, there are two things involved. One of them is what a chord or interval is and does (what we hear, what the distance is between keys), and the other is how it is spelled. For fully diminished chords it depends on what is happening "grammatically" in the chord. (What key is it in, where is it going, what is its function, etc.)

The "naming" of chords usually goes by letters. A "seventh" is the seventh letter name of a chord. B(*)D(*)F(*)Ab(*)Cb means we are using letters 1,3,5,7 so according to the idea of "seventh", the spelling would have to be Cb. That is also why it is probably better to refer to this generically as a "fully diminished chord" to get around this.

In reality in music you will see all kinds of spellings for the chord that has this sound, and that series of intervals (in the sense of how many half steps) between the notes. That depends on the grammar (above).

For people learning to work with music, such as students learning to play written music or write out music, understanding what it is and how it works should be primordial.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 05:40 PM

Originally Posted By: jjo
Ed: . . . . . If you spell it D F Ab Cb does that solve the problem?

Yup, jjo - problem solved!

Going back to what Gary wrote, he is working with some little ones who may not be ready to think in terms of Cb, and most are not ready for all types of intervals. Then, the problem of enharmonics magnifies itself as we get deeper into the flat keys. You, Gary, I, and many others, can instantly play a Gbº7; but I need to stand on my head to correctly spell it.

Ed
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 06:03 PM

Ed, I once asked you in the teacher forum about teaching fundamentals. At the time you were giving a student some good advice on how to approach whatever question he had in music. But in order for the student to use your approach, that student had to draw on fundamentals in music, and therefore had to have these fundamentals. I asked how you would go about teaching these, and you wrote that you had hoped I might have an idea. As I understand, you have actually taught here and there, but it has been of students who already have these foundations. The giving of these foundations in a real meaningful way is a challenge.

I'm looking at this part:

Quote:
working with some little ones..


I believe strongly that anyone of any age must first get foundations in a real and concrete way. The biggest mistake that is made with adult students is to teach abstract concepts right off the bat. Adults do reason abstractly and are used to concepts and theories. But this is wrong thinking. It becomes "head knowledge", divorced from music, and it interferes with being able to absorb what music is about. Adults who have never studied music need to draw on simple concrete experiences just like children.

I am capable of understanding the idea of Cb and the idea of "7". But if I start with these rules and exercise "musical algebra exercises" I will remain divorced from the actual picture. I have chosen not to go that route, and I think the results are generally positive.

At the same time, this forum is the "adult beginner forum". While it's a mixed group, many will be in an actual beginner starting place. At the same time, others may have gotten the cart before the horse in the sense of theory books and rules before experience.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 06:19 PM

Originally Posted By: jjo
Ed: I understand that the following chord has a seventh: B D F A, whereas D F Ab B has no seventh (the B is a sixth). If you spell it D F Ab Cb does that solve the problem?

Yes. It solves the "stacked 3rds problem" because now the letters are right. For sound it makes no difference, as you know.

The only reason why this is so important is for understanding the concept of written intervals. D-Cb, the interval is a diminished 7th. D-B is a major 6th. So TECHNICALLY we referring to a chord written with a major 6th as a diminished 7th chord.

A curious adult will ask why a chord that has a M6 in it is labeled as dim7.
Quote:

I'm still not seeing why the chord is really B diminished over D, as opposed to D diminished properly spelled.

Again, D F Ab Cb has a dim7 in it, D-Cb. D F Ab B does not. So we silently agree to call D F Ab B a Dim7 in charts or lead sheets, but eventually we realize that this is a shortcut for what REALLY is B D F Ab (a real diminished chord) with a D in the bass.

For those who just grow up with lead sheets, this is a non-issue. At some point they either find out “the rest of the story”, which they need to do to WRITE music, or they just memorize the sound, feel and patterns and do not concern themselves with spelling.

I hope that helps. Again, I have a very step-by-step way of teaching this chord.

1) I teach people how to play the chords, no music.
2) I introduce the concept of naming the four-note diminished chords by their bass note, which is fully in sync with real-time practical usage in lead sheets and chord symbols in full standard piano arrangements, where chord symbols are added for people who can’t read the bass clef.
3) I get into the “grammar”, the spelling, when we encounter WRITTEN chords and I have to answer the dreaded question: “If it says dim7, where is the dim7?”

That last question is the elephant in the room. That’s what opens up the can of worms. smile
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 06:35 PM

Again, what I see in all this is a systematic way of getting students go get a REAL understanding of chords from all sides, gradually, over time, through careful and systematic teaching. This is important for all beginners of all ages.

It is nice reading the various teachers chiming in telling us their various approaches to achieve this: Brian Lucas, Gary, JamesPlaysPiano - I think I've left out a number of names for which I apologize. We don't realize that what is first taught is the hardest to teach, because each involves brand new concepts.
Posted by: jjo

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 06:53 PM

Thanks to Ed and Gary. I think you left out a key part of what you are saying (so primitives like me can understand). In What's New, the problem is that the melody is a B, so if the chord is D dim, assuming the melody is part of the chord, you don't have a real diminished chord (from a spelling standpoint). That's why you need to call if a B dim over D in the bass. Theoretically, if the composer had labelled the melody note Cb, you could have a D dim chord underneath that, no?
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 07:32 PM

Originally Posted By: jjo
Thanks to Ed and Gary. I think you left out a key part of what you are saying (so primitives like me can understand). In What's New, the problem is that the melody is a B, so if the chord is D dim, assuming the melody is part of the chord, you don't have a real diminished chord (from a spelling standpoint).

First of all, jjo, there is nothing "primitive" about any of your work that I have seen.

Second of all, I would like to volunteer to lead a crusade to change classical and jazz nomenclature AND theory. Thenceforth, that all-so-troublesome chord we have been discussing shall be known as Dº add 6. Now is everyone happy?

(I'd sign off with, "Poor, poor Virginia", but that would start another round of what that means . . .)
Ed

Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 07:55 PM

Originally Posted By: jjo
Thanks to Ed and Gary. I think you left out a key part of what you are saying (so primitives like me can understand). In What's New, the problem is that the melody is a B, so if the chord is D dim, assuming the melody is part of the chord, you don't have a real diminished chord (from a spelling standpoint). That's why you need to call if a B dim over D in the bass. Theoretically, if the composer had labelled the melody note Cb, you could have a D dim chord underneath that, no?

That's the gist of it. And using that reasoning, D F Ab Cb is a textbook example of how to write a dim7 chord, in root position.

This is why I explain D F Ab B as Bdim7/D, to explain that B is the root of the STACKED spelling, which is the only one that contains the interval that matches the name of the chord.

In other words, if you (as a student) ask me where the dim7 INTERVAL is in D F Ab B, I have to explain in some way why we are looking at a M6.

We could also invent a new symbol - Dm6-5. Then for every spelling we would have to invent a new symbol. The result would be a bunch of new symbols that no one uses. What are we going to do fo D F G# B? You see sooner or later that by insisting that our chord symbols reflect spelling AND show the base note, we have two choices.

1) Label Bdim7/D. Problem: no one DOES that, so we have a theoretical solution that makes sense but that is not used.
2) Say that we will agree that C D#/Eb F#/Gb A/Bbb, regardless of spelling, will be labeled as Cdim7 with the assumption that the symbol describes the sound in all cases but the spelling only 25% of the time. wink

Posted by: peejay

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 11:39 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
2) Say that we will agree that C D#/F# F#/Gb A/Bbb, regardless of spelling...

I think that should be C D#/Eb F#/Gb.

Off that topic but on overall topic, I've got a question about a specific chord symbol: Db9

Is it a D(b9)? or a (Db)9? or a typo for D7b9 or Db7 or Db7b9? For reference, a D7b9 does show up later in the same song and where the melody repeats, the second time it does show up as a Db7.

Having Db9 alone just seems like not enough info, to me.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/13/12 11:57 PM

Originally Posted By: peejay
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
2) Say that we will agree that C D#/F# F#/Gb A/Bbb, regardless of spelling...

I think that should be C D#/Eb F#/Gb.

Off that topic but on overall topic, I've got a question about a specific chord symbol: Db9

Is it a D(b9)? or a (Db)9? or a typo for D7b9 or Db7 or Db7b9? For reference, a D7b9 does show up later in the same song and where the melody repeats, the second time it does show up as a Db7.

Having Db9 alone just seems like not enough info, to me.

Thanks for catching my typo.

Cb9 is wrong because we can't tell if it is C D G Bb Db or Cb Bb Gb Bbb Db

D(b9) will work But Db7b9 is standard. Db7-9 is also common. smile
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/14/12 02:43 AM

Originally Posted By: peejay
. . . I've got a question about a specific chord symbol: Db9 . . . Having Db9 alone just seems like not enough info, to me.


PJ, this precise question started a three- or four-page hornet's nest on one of the other Forums a few months ago. When most of us write a potentially ambiguous symbol like this, we use parenthesis to make our intention clear, ie. Db(9) or D(b9).

When one is faced with guessing a composer's or arranger's intentions, which happens occasionally, the melody, and the surrounding harmonic progression(s) will usually tell us which is "correct". Do you have an exact instance about which you are puzzling?

Ed
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/14/12 03:03 AM

It’s spelling time again! I’ve been dipping in and out of some of these threads for a week or two and had been meaning to say something for a while, so apologies if it’s a long post – it’s an accumulation.

May I contrast a practitioner’s view with that of the teachers? I spent practically my entire working life (now retired and recreational) in the nooks, crannies and more open reaches of commercial music where chord charts lie in the kernel of production and ‘harmonic analysis’ is a daily drudge. Between a reckless phase of playing in bands and finishing in later life as an orchestral arranger on uk pop records I spent the best part of three years preparing lead sheets for the major uk publishing houses so I can tell you something about the approach and the priorities. At some later date it might be of interest to mention something about the scandalous business of ‘piano sheet music’, a snapshot of the tolerances that pervaded the industry, the rubbish it churned out (I suspect still does), and may offer some insight as to why this constant preoccupation with fine detail – particularly when this is focused as it has so often lately been, on the diminished chord - is misplaced.

Someone mentioned a composer preparing his lead sheet. In fact for the most part this just doesn’t happen. Why? He’s far too busy writing songs so he can fatten his purse. It’s a chore he simply doesn’t want to take on. He’s very likely to be a strumming guitarist or self-taught pianist who doesn’t have the polished script of the professional and the lead sheet must pass muster for the copyright document it functions as. Which leads to the main obstacle; no small minority of composers (we’re really talking song-writers here) are all but musically illiterate. They’d be incapable of doing the work, neat or otherwise.

Of course I was incapable too at the outset and it’s well over 50 years now since I took a few first lessons in chord notation. What I took away from them was how much I needed to learn about the tricky lopsided, jazzy tensions, yet how blessedly straightforward were those symmetric constructions based on the simple divisors, 3 and 4, of the number 12. I learnt that if we look at stacked intervals of n consecutive semitones (and irrespective of starting note!!)

n=3 - diminished … 3 variants
n=4 - augmented…4 variants

(n=2 gives us the whole tone scale, n=6 the tritone)

So, I was taught that there are three different diminished chords – structurally identical of course but different by transposition. For each of those three, there are 4 chords which share identical notes – the inversions. The melodic or harmonic context will usually (but not always) favour a particular inversion, That was it in a nutshell and I have to say I was quite satisfied by that. In sharp contrast, the world of the diminished chord as discussed here appears to be a conundrum.

I spotted four contentions.

How can we know its ‘proper’ root?
How do we conventionally name it?
How do we spell the chord?
Does it comprise of 4 notes or 3?

Let’s take each one in turn.

How can we know its proper root?: I would say we shouldn’t fret about it because a lot of the time the context will determine it but let’s look at a less amenable example. We’re transcribing a lead sheet from a recording of an ensemble or a rock/pop band and there are competing voices in the instrumentation which have taken their own inversion. In such a situation (and it is not uncommon) it becomes meaningless to argue the toss between, for example, G dim and Bb dim when what was originally written on the orchestrator's score as a G bass note has yielded to the bass player's creative choice of Bb and where it has been approved by the record producer who loves the substitution for its singing quality. If that wasn’t difficult enough, the violas, the 1st and 2nd violins are playing (above middle C reading upwards) a wide spread of the notes E, Bb and G while the guy on the rhodes is playing…….one gets the drift. In popular music it is so often impossible to pin these things down therefore it is NOT an issue because it MUST NOT be an issue. So to summarise; If its root is not downright obvious then it is discretionary! Nobody in the studio or in the control room gives a fig what the chord is called. We know that irrespective of its name, it’s going to sound fine.

On nomenclature: I never used Cdim7 in any of the lead sheets I presented using always Cdim or C° but I have seen them on others’ work – usually on piano copies. Earlier work I think. My rhythm charts were always C° and on the London wine bar scene (maybe in the US too, I don’t know) we used a few other shorthands for common chords (e.g. ma7 replaced by a tiny triangle suffix). In my experience Cdim7 is less prevalent. The upshot? Working musicians have seen all variants. Chord labeling is ALWAYS about convention, i.e. that which has evolved, been accepted by the consensus and has stood the test of time. It is far less concerned with consistency or logic. Brevity and familiarity are the prime objectives. So, if tomorrow a new and rather twisted musical form takes root using outlandish harmonic combinations which would – in the current lingo – require some convoluted label, there will sooner or later be a new label, a new shorthand.

4 notes or 3? By now we’ll have seen how it might be difficult for a diminished chord to escape with only 3 notes being played when you’ve got a mob of musicians doing their own thing! Will that 4th note be avoided? Probably not. Someone’s almost bound to play it! It’s a curious thing about the diminished chord that its character, its colour if you will, doesn’t change significantly with either choice. If it’s a closely voiced chord, the 4-note sounds thicker of course but it seems to perform the same function as the triad.

Spelling: My tutor never mentioned it and in the 50+ years that have followed neither have I nor have any of the hundreds of musicians I’ve worked with. I apologise if this seems too outspoken but I think such concerns are a complete waste of time and ultimately non-musical. An hour spent ruminating on such issues would be so much better spent pulling out a reference chart and painstakingly working out some basic, arguably less controversial chords with the aim of locking them into memory. I urge any keen student to not get hung up on spelling.

Looking at chord symbols more generally, it should be clear that their main function as they are and have been used in popular music is to provide a broad-brush description that any instrumentalist/arranger can take as a starting point. In other words, their purpose is to provide a harmonic skeleton which can be fleshed out in a variety of styles and in any ensemble setting. Not all songs will adapt to all genres but it’s worth reflecting on the fact that the humble C major chord can assume markedly different voicings and modes of play when interpreted through the various genres of jazz, rock, ‘light music’, R&B, folk, C&W, soul, gospel, pop and other-world varieties. More to the point, chord symbols have become an autonomous alternative to stave-notation; this is particularly true for guitarists and the like but I know several superb pianists with an enviable harmonic instinct, good with symbols but who are poor readers otherwise. So what flows from this? We must accept that by virtue of their very rough’n’ready-ness, chord symbols in the commercial context will not submit to any kind of straight-jacket, that they cannot be set in the matrix of a water-tight and consistent grammar. If one wants precision, one must return to the stave.

I hope this will be treated as an alternative perspective, not as a correction to anyone’s thinking on the subject. In the light of Virginia’s initial post however, I think it’s fair to ask if the sort of issues being addressed in the latter part of this thread could possibly be relevant to the nature of the initial enquiry and if perhaps they might sometimes run the risk of wilting curiosity’s tender bud.



Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/14/12 03:30 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
I'm staying with the idea of starting with physical experience and understanding, and then meshing it with the reading/writing aspect. They have to fit together hand in glove, rather than being two separate sets of knowledge.

The challenge is not for a teacher to know what it's about, because most teachers do (should). The challenge is to gradually bring all this together in a way where it will still make sense to the student and it won't lead to musical geekdom (a bunch of facts not connected to music.)


You cannot teach everything at once.



I like the way you think. Do you start with teaching by ear with a new adult student then move to reading music?

Too bad I don't live in Canada.
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/14/12 03:35 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring


The challenge is not for a teacher to know what it's about, because most teachers do (should). The challenge is to gradually bring all this together in a way where it will still make sense to the student and it won't lead to musical geekdom (a bunch of facts not connected to music.)



Yes, keystring, I think this is spot-on and sums up what has taken me a couple of pages to express (sorry I missed your post before adding mine).
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/14/12 04:32 AM

Originally Posted By: dire tonic
Originally Posted By: keystring


The challenge is not for a teacher to know what it's about, because most teachers do (should). The challenge is to gradually bring all this together in a way where it will still make sense to the student and it won't lead to musical geekdom (a bunch of facts not connected to music.)



Yes, keystring, I think this is spot-on and sums up what has taken me a couple of pages to express (sorry I missed your post before adding mine).

Ha! It took me several years to get it out sensibly. laugh
Posted by: ROMagister

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/14/12 04:57 AM

In addition to current practice in pop that "dire tonic" described, there also is the older set of conventions of General Bass. An organist sees 1 note written, sometimes a number too and plays 5-6 or even 10-12 (some 2-phase transitions are implied).

A lot of conventions are implied in General Bass - one sees 6+, that also implies 4+ and 2+ - and that's really a 7th chord with the 7th in the bass !
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/14/12 05:34 AM

Originally Posted By: dire tonic

I hope this will be treated as an alternative perspective, not as a correction to anyone’s thinking on the subject. In the light of Virginia’s initial post however, I think it’s fair to ask if the sort of issues being addressed in the latter part of this thread could possibly be relevant to the nature of the initial enquiry and if perhaps they might sometimes run the risk of wilting curiosity’s tender bud.

Very fine post, all of it. Breath of fresh air!

thumb
Posted by: LoPresti

How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/14/12 11:14 AM

Dire Tonic,

Like others, I enjoyed your comprehensive and well-thought-out post. While I do not concur with every detail, I enjoyed reading one person’s extensive experience in the pop industry. Here is one part with which I have the most difficulty:
Originally Posted By: dire tonic
Spelling: My tutor never mentioned it and in the 50+ years that have followed neither have I nor have any of the hundreds of musicians I’ve worked with. I apologise if this seems too outspoken but I think such concerns are a complete waste of time and ultimately non-musical. An hour spent ruminating on such issues would be so much better spent pulling out a reference chart and painstakingly working out some basic, arguably less controversial chords with the aim of locking them into memory. I urge any keen student to not get hung up on spelling.

How does one TEACH the universal construction of, say, diminished seventh chords, without dealing with the underlying architecture of that chord, and therefore its spelling? Let us say we are working with a clarinetist.

Ed
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/14/12 06:42 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti

How does one TEACH the universal construction of, say, diminished seventh chords, without dealing with the underlying architecture of that chord, and therefore its spelling? Let us say we are working with a clarinetist.

I have a feeling that players of each instrument group relate to music from a different perspective. The keyboard player, strings player, percussionist, brass & woodwind player, are each relating to different angles as they produce the notes. The player of a bass instrument will have a different role in the music than one whose instrument typically plays the soprano that often holds the melody, or an instrument that balances the harmony because typically it plays in the middle. So I think, assuming a good teacher, that this answer comes from teachers of these various instruments.

This piano forum deals with keyboard instruments. When I joined, it struck me that several senior teachers were stressing that theory be learned first as a physical experience on the piano, via piano keys, and in some instances, via sound. I've been told "If a good teacher stresses something, explore it. Find out why." In regards to that particular chord, one instrument teacher has already answered this. I have proposed the same idea, namely that you begin with the nature of the chord physically in piano keys, "intervals" in the sense of half steps i.e. minus names, get an understanding that spellings will vary for grammar reasons, and build from there.

Now how is that carried out? I think that you would have to observe an individual instrument teacher to see how he or she meshes the concrete and physical with the theoretical, and makes them real and making sense. A forum like this can only hint. A profession cannot be explained in a few paragraphs; that's why they're professions and take years of study and honing.
------
I cannot answer about clarinetists. I took violin lessons. I experienced the broken chords that we played. Our considerations involved fifths because of the tuning of the strings, and we were very involved in temperament. When you play a scale in thirds, fifths etc. then you tune your top melody note along one system, but you harmonize the lower note to the top along another system. Only geeks concern themselves with calculations of mHz - we use our ear, sense of where the music is going. I.e. I think that players of different instruments will have different theory concerns.

However, every musician going on to college or conservatory has to also play piano. Why is that? Why not just any two instruments? Why not cello, piccolo, horn? Why does the composer writing music for voice sit down at the piano? Is it not because the piano allows us to experience theory (harmony) in action?

If this is so, then maybe the piano approach to theory, holds an answer to the clarinetist question too.

Quote:
....the underlying architecture of that chord, and therefore its spelling?

I'd say that spelling, letters, the written form, are one side to that underlying architecture. The other side is the notes themselves as pitches with intervals between them. Both those sides are needed.

I had a period early in my study of formal theory that I became capable of moving notes around on the page and getting correct answer, with hardly a link left to music or sound. It was becoming a cross between advanced geometry and algebra minus physics or applied science. This is why I'm convinced that the connection to the real thing that is being represented is majorly important.
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/15/12 03:28 AM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti

How does one TEACH the universal construction of, say, diminished seventh chords, without dealing with the underlying architecture of that chord, and therefore its spelling? Let us say we are working with a clarinetist.

Ed


Ed, I don’t know how ‘stacked minor thirds’ together with something like the reference chart posted up earlier can fall short of providing a complete description of the diminished (aka diminished seventh). I do appreciate there is the potential for frustration where enharmonic ambiguity raises its ugly head but frankly I refuse to suffer it, and I don’t allow myself to get fussy about naming constituent notes until I need to commit to paper whereupon I rely entirely on the harmonic context of the chord to chose a ‘best' solution based on ease of writing. That in turn is almost certainly going to correspond with ease of reading.

Regarding teaching (I’ve some experience though not in music unfortunately) I would, above all, want a student to get used to the chord, to be playing it a LOT. The key to all this and far more important than the notation (I suspect we’re polar opposites on all this) is the sense-experience of the chord. One needs ultimately to be able to hear a diminished and know what it is without reference to anything else. In an ideal world, all the chords, the common ones at the very least, should be known this way. For me, notation – apart from its vital and full-time service as a means of communication - should be, for the individual, like a self-dissolving suture, a temporary tool whose function should fade away once it has served its purpose.

I can see that the clarinetist is a quite different teaching hurdle. The pianist has the advantage of the spatial representation on the keyboard and of course the simultaneity of the chord rather than the arpeggio. I haven’t thought about that so I wouldn’t know where to start or even what my or my student's goal should be.
Posted by: JamesPlaysPiano

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/15/12 09:55 AM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti

How does one TEACH the universal construction of, say, diminished seventh chords, without dealing with the underlying architecture of that chord, and therefore its spelling? Let us say we are working with a clarinetist.

Ed



To sort of generalize what others have already implied, I think the best explanation for any student is one that takes into account not only the instrument but also the level of the student. So, with this clarinetist, I'd consider not only the instrument and its peculiarities, but also the level of the student. I suppose the biggest question would be "does the student understand intervals?" If so, you could explain it as a stack of minor thirds and that might be enough. But with different students and differing levels, a teacher should be prepared to explain it in different ways.

If the student happens to be weak on intervals but very attuned to the construction of major scales in all keys, for example, then it might be helpful (at least for diminished triads) to point out that they can be built off of any note as the 7th, 2nd, and 4th notes of a major scale. ("Want to play C diminished? Pretend C is the seventh of a major scale, which means you're in the key of Db. Now, play 'up the scale' from this seventh, but play every other note, so that you're playing 7, 2, and 4 from the Db major scale.") Granted, I wouldn't do this for everyone because this would be a nightmare for some students, but for the right person, this could be the most logical "first step" into constructing the chord. Interestingly, this would also result in correct spelling (again, only of the triad). A similar (generic) idea for a singer could be to use solfege, assuming he/she understands solfege. ("I'll play a note. Now, call it "Ti" and then sing "Ti, Re, Fa.")

For beginners, though, I've often used the chromatic scale as a "way in." That is, if the student can establish how to play up and down the instrument chromatically, this can make it easy to point out all sorts of relationships without getting too heavily into theory at first, if that is your intent. They may not call it the chromatic scale, but many people are aware that a "full spectrum" of notes lies on their instrument, covering all possible pitches from bottom to top. IF the student is aware of this, then a quick way to teach something like diminished seventh chords could be to simply count skips along the series. In this case, "note, skip two, note, skip two, note, skip two, note").

I use O's and X's for this, which makes it easy to get the point across and which seems to do a good job of removing the physical peculiarities of any individual key from the discussion. This can be especially helpful at the piano, too, because it removes the ever-present differences between shapes in various keys at the piano. Granted, this does NOT address even the notion of what a third, fifth, or seventh is, or even note names! However, as everyone's been saying, it's a matter of balancing out how much info is too much, at what point things become too bogged down with theory, what it is you are trying to teach, and so on. If you feel it is appropriate to the situation and you want to include it, you can explain scale degrees, interval names, spelling, and so on. If not, you could use something like O's and X's.

James
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/15/12 01:10 PM

Originally Posted By: JamesPlaysPiano

To sort of generalize what others have already implied, I think the best explanation for any student is one that takes into account not only the instrument but also the level of the student. So, with this clarinetist, I'd consider not only the instrument and its peculiarities, but also the level of the student. I suppose the biggest question would be "does the student understand intervals?" If so, you could explain it as a stack of minor thirds and that might be enough. But with different students and differing levels, a teacher should be prepared to explain it in different ways.

The biggest question to me is: can the student PLAY a dim7 chord? And learning to play dim7 chords can happen by rote or strictly through music, and absolutely no knowledge of intervals is necessary to do this. I taught brass for many years, so an example would be, trumpet:

0 23 2 12, 0 2 2 12 0, two octaves from low C to high C. There you have C/B# D#/Eb F#/Gb etc., and the pitches for 4 different fully diminished chords are there, potentially ready to be notated in stacked thirds.

If the same set of pitches occurs in notation, then most likely it will be something like C Eb Gb A or C Eb F# A. That can be played perfectly without understanding the theory, so at that point you could write out the stacked chords, to introduce the concept:

A C Eb Gb
F# A C Eb
Quote:

If the student happens to be weak on intervals but very attuned to the construction of major scales in all keys, for example, then it might be helpful (at least for diminished triads) to point out that they can be built off of any note as the 7th, 2nd, and 4th notes of a major scale. ("Want to play C diminished? Pretend C is the seventh of a major scale, which means you're in the key of Db. Now, play 'up the scale' from this seventh, but play every other note, so that you're playing 7, 2, and 4 from the Db major scale.") Granted, I wouldn't do this for everyone because this would be a nightmare for some students, but for the right person, this could be the most logical "first step" into constructing the chord. Interestingly, this would also result in correct spelling (again, only of the triad). A similar (generic) idea for a singer could be to use solfege, assuming he/she understands solfege. ("I'll play a note. Now, call it "Ti" and then sing "Ti, Re, Fa.")

That would totally confuse my students. I got confused reading your explanation. Ti re fa is linked to movable do. For those who use that system, it could work. But it is function related, building on the idea of a vii chord. I would prefer to use a six chord as a way in, C6, then lower the middle two notes, just to get the sound, feel, pattern. Once that is in the fingers, it’s easy to talk about various spellings and how only one of them gives us the textbook, stacked answer (C Eb Gb Bbb)
Posted by: JamesPlaysPiano

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/15/12 03:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.

That would totally confuse my students. I got confused reading your explanation. Ti re fa is linked to movable do. For those who use that system, it could work. But it is function related, building on the idea of a vii chord. I would prefer to use a six chord as a way in, C6, then lower the middle two notes, just to get the sound, feel, pattern. Once that is in the fingers, it’s easy to talk about various spellings and how only one of them gives us the textbook, stacked answer (C Eb Gb Bbb)


It's true that ti re fa (used in this way) is linked to moveable do, which is related to function. Nonetheless, what I was saying is that this could be an effective "way in," for some singers- say, a college voice major at a particular level. I wouldn't explain it this way to someone who didn't understand or use moveable-do solfege. So I think we agree: for those who use that system, it could work.

I'd say the same thing about using numbers (another relative pitch-naming system like moveable-do solfege) from a major scale. It could work for someone attuned to seeing scales in this way. For others, it wouldn't be a good approach, and I wouldn't use it. My students generally know much more about chord construction by the time we get to diminished chords, and so I've not needed to avoid referencing intervals, spelling, and construction of other chords when explaining diminished chords, in the way this hypothetical situation has been sort of set up. However, it certainly works well with many of my students when explaining, say, major triads (pointing out that a major triad can be thought of as the first, third, and fifth notes of a major scale, as many teachers do).

I'd also say something similar about your preference of using a C6 chord as a "way in": perfect for many people, but not for others. It would be especially good for a beginner/intermediate player with a rock/jazz type background. On the other hand, a classical piano student in the first year of college could require extra explanation, because he/she has presumably been given a heavy dose of strict tertian harmony, in which chords are conceived as stacks of thirds.

Anyway, no need to beat this to death- I think we're both agreeing to the same thing, that a good teacher has many approaches and attempts to present the information that he/she (the teacher) feels is appropriate to teach, but in a way that the student can best understand and relate to. You seem very capable of doing this. smile

James

Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/15/12 03:56 PM

James, movable do to me is linked to function within a certain kind of music (you'll know which I mean). That's what it was designed for and where it works. It is NOT about intervals per se. For example, So Do is a P4, but so is Do Fa. But if I sing the latter a number of times, after a while it sounds like another So Do because I start hearing V-I and not I-IV. I hear function as well as interval as a singer who started with that system.

Ti Re Fa sounds good until you want to add the next note. And if I am singing a fully diminished chord where the bottom note is not the seventh of the music, my head would go up in smoke. I think that singing in intervals of generic thirds (nameless) or visualizing them aurally as semitones, is a lot safer.

But this begs the question: are fully diminished chords usually played as an exercise divorced from music in the study of any instrument? I have a feeling that they aren't. If it isn't done, then why worry about how to do it?

In the way LoPresti worded his question, I don't think it was a question. It sounds rhetorical, with a foregone conclusion, because of how it ended.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/16/12 02:43 AM

Originally Posted By: JamesPlaysPiano

I'd say the same thing about using numbers (another relative pitch-naming system like moveable-do solfege) from a major scale. It could work for someone attuned to seeing scales in this way. For others, it wouldn't be a good approach, and I wouldn't use it. My students generally know much more about chord construction by the time we get to diminished chords, and so I've not needed to avoid referencing intervals, spelling, and construction of other chords when explaining diminished chords, in the way this hypothetical situation has been sort of set up. However, it certainly works well with many of my students when explaining, say, major triads (pointing out that a major triad can be thought of as the first, third, and fifth notes of a major scale, as many teachers do).

I find that explaining major chords, for instance, as the 1st 3rd 5th of a scale is useless unless all major scales are learned first. I would explain that information AFTER students have already learned chord chord. I used to teach scales first, or always use scales to teach chords. I switched because the other way is faster for me, but I still teach major scales. The timing is just a bit different, the order in which I present things.
Quote:

I'd also say something similar about your preference of using a C6 chord as a "way in": perfect for many people, but not for others. It would be especially good for a beginner/intermediate player with a rock/jazz type background. On the other hand, a classical piano student in the first year of college could require extra explanation, because he/she has presumably been given a heavy dose of strict tertian harmony, in which chords are conceived as stacks of thirds.

Good grief, I am not talking about college students majoring in music! I’m talking about BEGINNERS. I teach this by year two, and I get to it in only a few months with really quick minds, and very young ones. The 6 chord idea is a way to get the chords PLAYED, quickly. I think I have not explained that I cover these things very early. It’s not a classical vs non-classical thing. A kid who fully feels an Edim7 chord, without spelling, will get that same chord in Fuer Elise in seconds because he (or she) already has it in his hands. For him it’s a matter of suddenly realizing that this “chord” is right in his music, and at that point I can just say it’s Edim7, or I can go into the C#dim7/E concept if it is appropriate.
Quote:

Anyway, no need to beat this to death- I think we're both agreeing to the same thing, that a good teacher has many approaches and attempts to present the information that he/she (the teacher) feels is appropriate to teach, but in a way that the student can best understand and relate to. You seem very capable of doing this. smile

Full agreement. A good teacher will have many different approaches and will find the one most appropriate to the student – which takes into consideration age, talent, natural ability for theory, ear, goals, etc. smile
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/17/12 04:46 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
How does one TEACH the universal construction of, say, diminished seventh chords, without dealing with the underlying architecture of that chord, and therefore its spelling? Let us say we are working with a clarinetist.

Well, since I did not get a direct answer (except perhaps from Gary and his trumpet (Baritone Horn, Tuba), let me ask it a different way:

Instead of dancing around the real issue, which is learning the foundation of how these chords are constructed, WHY WOULDN'T a teacher teach this SIMPLE, UNIVERSAL RULE:
>> ANY diminished triad can be constructed with a root, a minor third, and a diminished fifth << ?

Notice that it works for zither, hum-strum, and ooude, as well as the more popular instruments.

Ed
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/18/12 02:59 AM

Here:-

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
How does one TEACH the universal construction of, say, diminished seventh chords, without dealing with the underlying architecture of that chord, and therefore its spelling?

- you insist that construction (architecture?) cannot be taught without recourse to spelling.


And yet, in your very next post you posit (a formula which, incidentally, has already been touted in various guises in this thread around a half a dozen times) -

Originally Posted By: LoPresti

WHY WOULDN'T a teacher teach this SIMPLE, UNIVERSAL RULE:
>> ANY diminished triad can be constructed with a root, a minor third, and a diminished fifth << ?


Do you not see that this approach needs no recourse to spelling whatsoever?


Posted by: LoPresti

How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/18/12 03:25 AM

OK, Dire Tonic, one more time -

I am imagining myself trying to teach my theoretical clarinet player how to play a diminished triad built upon any root that she chooses or encounters.

We can assume that the player understands scales and intervals. I picture saying something like this: "You can build a diminished chord on any note, by playing the root, and then a minor third above it, and then a diminished fifth above the root. Let's try it starting with G."

Without referring to letter names and symbols (without spelling), how will this student proceed?

(In other words, No, I still do not understand.)
Ed
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/18/12 03:27 AM

By counting intervals and then by rote.
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/18/12 04:02 AM

In the playing of a diminished chord from any given note, you play the note, then the sound which is three semitones above that, then the sound which is three semitones above that, then the sound that is three semitones above that. By the fifth note you'll be an octave above your starting note. You don't need note names or fifths for that. To understand written music that you are playing, it's a good idea to know it.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/18/12 09:42 AM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Without referring to letter names and symbols (without spelling), how will this student proceed?


Originally Posted By: dire tonic
By counting intervals and then by rote.


I think it is coming into focus slowly - let me see if I understand your method:
[1] Clara the Clarinetist plays a G (which is sort of "spelling" because we have named the note.)
[2] She next THINKS up a minor third, and plays a second note (hopefully it is something like Bb, but we are not naming it.)
[3] She next THINKS up a diminished fifth from the root, and plays a third (unnamed) note.
[4] Clara repeats this group until she has them memorized, and calls them "a G diminished triad".

Now do I have it about right?
Ed


Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/18/12 10:58 AM

“Ok, Clarence. Today, we’re going to learn about the diminished chord and we’re going to learn to play it as an arpeggio because clarinetists can’t play chords”.

Clarence’s teacher then proceeds to lay out the lesson as follows.

Play any note.
Play another note, 3 semitones higher (he knows his scales).
Play those two notes in a repeating pattern until memorized.
Climb an additional 3 semitones from the higher of the memorized notes.
Play the accumulated sequence of three notes up and down until well under the fingers.

Then, teacher sets him some homework.

“Clarence, for next week, I’d like you to practise what we’ve learnt today. Then I’d like you to add two more additional intervals of 3 semitones to round off the full octave arpeggio and practise that too”.

When next he visits his teacher, he’s beside himself with excitement.

“Wow, that diminished thing you taught me was amazing!” says Clarence. “I couldn’t stop myself! I’ve been able to extend the arpeggio to cover the full range of the instrument. What’s more, I found there are two other arpeggios just like the one you taught me but with different notes. But what’s really weird is, there aren’t any more!! There’s only three different ones! What a fascinating construction, such sublime architecture. I was thinking of naming each of the three of them but I’m a bit spoilt for choice….in fact…do you know…..I don’t think I’ll bother!”

They both smile.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/19/12 07:06 PM

Originally Posted By: dire tonic
“Ok, Clarence. Today, we’re going to learn about the diminished chord and we’re going to learn to play it as an arpeggio because clarinetists can’t play chords”.

Clarence’s teacher then proceeds to lay out the lesson as follows.

Play any note.
Play another note, 3 semitones higher (he knows his scales).
Play those two notes in a repeating pattern until memorized.
Climb an additional 3 semitones from the higher of the memorized notes.
Play the accumulated sequence of three notes up and down until well under the fingers.

And since for brass players ultimately the chromatic scale may be the most important scale of all, I would assume the same is true for woodwinds. We get students to absorb the sound and fingering, independent of notation. It is a rudiment, a foundation step. So this is one way in. Since each “chord” will have to be played in arpeggiated form, obviously it is easier to teach such a concept on the piano. And of course this is why all serious students are at least encouraged to study some kind of keyboard instrument – and why some piano proficiency is always a requirement at musical schools.
Quote:

“Clarence, for next week, I’d like you to practise what we’ve learnt today. Then I’d like you to add two more additional intervals of 3 semitones to round off the full octave arpeggio and practise that too”.

Exactly, because this completes the mathematical series and shows that this endlessly repeating sequence always lands us on the octave.

When next he visits his teacher, he’s beside himself with excitement.
Quote:

“Wow, that diminished thing you taught me was amazing!” says Clarence. “I couldn’t stop myself! I’ve been able to extend the arpeggio to cover the full range of the instrument. What’s more, I found there are two other arpeggios just like the one you taught me but with different notes. But what’s really weird is, there aren’t any more!! There’s only three different ones! What a fascinating construction, such sublime architecture. I was thinking of naming each of the three of them but I’m a bit spoilt for choice….in fact…do you know…..I don’t think I’ll bother!”

They both smile.

This is EXACTLY how I teach. First you get the concepts through sound, through feel, through remembering the patterns.

Then we talk about such chords whenever they appear in music.

Finally, we talk about how to notate these chords, what rules exist, how context determines spelling, and so on.
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/20/12 05:14 AM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.

Finally, we talk about how to notate these chords, what rules exist, how context determines spelling, and so on.


- Yes!

I think earlier, talking about Cdim (Cdim7), you laid out something like:-

C, <D# or Eb>, <F# or Gb>, <A or Bbb>

..and as so much has been said about the diminished's multiple personality I thought it might be timely to jot this out for an illustration and direct comparison of two typical alternatives...




To answer LoPresti’s earlier exception to my apparent snub at spelling, I certainly don’t eschew notation, far from it. We use it to communicate with each other, for some of us to write and others to play wonderful (and not so wonderful) music and I’ve had considerable reliance on it as a memory and writing aid. Others have learned to be great musicians without it, but that is an aside.

In counseling against getting hung up on spelling I meant in particular to avoid obsessing over exactitudes of grammar and enharmonic niceties. It can only make for a dry and dusty academic wrangle. In practice as can be seen above - and to echo what you say in your conclusion, Gary - when taken in context, in a specific key, the movement of neighbouring voices has a habit of regulating the spelling as a matter of routine.


In the course of this thread, I remembered a line which made me hoot. It’s from Alan Bennett’s screenplay about the english playwright Joe Orton…

Kenneth Halliwell: Can you spell?
Joe Orton: Yes, but not accurately.

We know why this is funny in relation to the written word and we should know why, in relation to written music, the joke would fall flat.

Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/20/12 08:05 PM

You guys lost me a long time ago, but I think its cool...the can of worms that has been opened from my simple little post on how to read chord charts.
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/20/12 08:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Tech 5
You guys lost me a long time ago, but I think its cool...the can of worms that has been opened from my simple little post on how to read chord charts.


Virginia, to get up to speed on the essential. You don't need to be a genius or advanced, and that is the most important point - how to get people to learn in a real way. Here's the deal.

A while back I wrote a set of ideas which I hoped might help if you worked through them, and you found them helpful and printed them out. The most important idea was to get familiar with chords by playing with them at the piano, seeing what's happening with the piano keys, and what you hear.

The crucial thing is that when you press down a key you will always get the same pitch. When you press down two keys at the same time, you will always get a certain quality of sound. For example, if you play CD together, you get a grating ugly kind of sound. If you play CG together, you get a smooth, easy sound.

Meanwhile these things have been written into notation. A few hundred years ago a system was invented to put it into code, like spelling and grammar. If we're going to read and understand music, we need to have a handle on both of these worlds. I tend to think that the first one is the most important. The notation symbolizes the sounds and how they work.

So at the level that I suggested, you play three white keys: CEG. then you play the same thing, moving the middle note down by a half step to the next black key. You will hear a major chord the first time, and a minor chord the second time. This gives you a feel for the role of this middle note. Some people cannot hear the difference between major and minor in the beginning, or they can't recognize them to name them. But they still feel "something different", maybe a mood, quality, or colour. These are the essential things. When you get a feeling for these things through experimentation, and then study theory as well, then the theory will make more sense, because it will link to something concrete and real. In language, grammar and spelling work that way.

Back to our CEG (major) and CEbG (minor). Recently I came across a chord in Mozart that was written as CD#G. Take a moment to locate Eb, and then D#, on the piano. You will see and hear that this will be the same piano key. So when I played this "CD#G" chord, I heard the "C minor" sound, and so would any listener, which is the important point. Mozart had some reason for choosing D# instead of Eb. It had something to do with what notes were before and after, or what other notes were in the other voices. The important thing is that as an amateur pianist, I could play those three notes together, and that both my audience and I can hear that "minor third chord" sound --- the real thing that you get by playing at the piano.

If you stay as simple and real as possible, then the complicated things you encounter in music tend to work themselves out.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/20/12 08:51 PM

Originally Posted By: dire tonic
[quote=Gary D.]
Finally, we talk about how to notate these chords, what rules exist, how context determines spelling, and so on.

We are on exactly the same wave-length. You’ve used a key signature, but I don’t think we need one.

In your first example, we have what would be notated as a Cdim7 because of the bass note – C

But if we look at your chord vertically:
A-->>>Bb
Gb-->>>Gb
Eb-->>>Eb
C-->>>Bb

A-->>>Bb
F#-->>>G
Eb-->>>Eb
C-->>>Bb

It’s common sense that our destination chord is either Eb or Ebm here. When ascending, whenever possible notation prefers a letter change. So if it is going to Eb, there will be an F# to move to G. But to Ebm, Gb will be the “common tone”, and so F# would be wrong.

BUT: If we have a B7/Cb7 instead (using the chord symbol for the SOUND), we run into a “German 6th situation”, and traditional rules would recommend this:

A-->>>Bb
Gb-->>>Gb
Eb-->>>Eb
Cb-->>>Bb

A-->>>Bb
Gb-->>>G
Eb-->>>Eb
Cb-->>>Bb

Our generic 7 chord will take on the aug6th spelling (A instead of Bbb) but we will want to keep the Gb simply because that is a standard spelling. Cb Eb F# A is of course possible, and I’m sure it shows up somewhere, but it is not the “default”.

For me these are not THEORETICAL problems. They are real-life, practical notational decisions. Recently I was notating Death of Love and Trust, Grusin, and I did not have the music. By the way, when I finally DID see the music, it was not really what he played.

So right in the middle, in this sophisticated blues tune, he moves from Ab something to Db something (these are open-voiced 9 chords), and he slides down to C7#9 to E6/B to B7 add 13 to Bbsus9. All the theory books in the UNIVERSE are not going to show how to notate that. When you do it, and see it, it is just logical and readable. In the classical world E major would be Fb major, and it would be a “Neopolitan” kind of thing, and then the C7 chord leading into it would be bVI7 in that key and would turn out to be Dbb7, spelled:

Dbb Fb Abb Bb

And that would be utterly INSANE!!!!
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/20/12 08:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Tech 5
You guys lost me a long time ago, but I think its cool...the can of worms that has been opened from my simple little post on how to read chord charts.

Virginia,

Let me boil it down for you. In the end, all the rules in the world are just handy-dandy guidelines for people who are learning. When you have learned all the rules, the last rule is: there ARE no rules.

You have to think of English to understand. We can talk about all the spelling rules in the universe, but in the end there are countless words that are unique. Not only would we have to learn the rules for every language we have borrowed words from in order to apply logic, sometimes we borrow words from languages when THOSE words are also borrowed and do not obey spelling rules in THAT language.

So think of phonetics vs standard English. In a perfect world, everyone would pronounce words the same way, so all we would have to do to invent a phonetic system is to stop arguing about symbols. But we have the additional problem of an incredible range of pronunciation for the same words.

So there are two extremes:

1) There are rules for everything, and if you just learn them all, you will be ready to read and write anything in music.

2) Just ignore all the rules and do whatever works.

One is a lie. Rules are not enough.
Two is usually disastrous because it results in chaos.

Some kind of happy-medium is where we all end up. Rules when they work, figuring out solutions by intuition when the rules just don't work.
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/20/12 09:36 PM

I still think the same as in my previous post. If you start with simple chords by themselves on the piano, observing and exploring, and stay simple, then these things will not be overwhelming. I can argue that in learning spelling and grammar, we also start out by speaking and hearing. We pick up the patterns of language, and this goes hand in hand with the written language. Music is not exactly the same as spoken language, but there are some similarities.
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 02:19 AM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.

You’ve used a key signature, but I don’t think we need one.


there are two simple transitions:-

Cdim to Eb
Cdim to E

they have a lot in common with fragments of a score I had to prepare involving a key change from Eb to E so I wouldn't (couldn't!) have scored those without the key sigs.


Originally Posted By: Gary D.

For me these are not THEORETICAL problems. They are real-life, practical notational decisions. Recently I was notating Death of Love and Trust, Grusin, and I did not have the music. By the way, when I finally DID see the music, it was not really what he played.

So right in the middle, in this sophisticated blues tune, he moves from Ab something to Db something (these are open-voiced 9 chords), and he slides down to C7#9 to E6/B to B7 add 13 to Bbsus9. All the theory books in the UNIVERSE are not going to show how to notate that. When you do it, and see it, it is just logical and readable. In the classical world E major would be Fb major, and it would be a “Neopolitan” kind of thing, and then the C7 chord leading into it would be bVI7 in that key and would turn out to be Dbb7, spelled:

Dbb Fb Abb Bb

And that would be utterly INSANE!!!!


Yes it would.

I know the Grusin piece fairly well and sketched it out some years ago. I saw no problems but that may be because I cast all caution to the wind. It's no surprise that the sheet music isn't a faithful copy - I mentioned before what a travesty the piano-copy industry is. Occasionally an accurate transcription pops up but that's pretty rare.


Other than where he adds upper register RH flourishes to a sustained chord underneath, I don't recall any 9* note chords.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syObAJjtPdk

Which part are you talking about?

(*edit for senior moment! - sorry I read 9-note, I guess you meant 9ths?)
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 02:20 AM

Originally Posted By: Tech 5
You guys lost me a long time ago, but I think its cool...the can of worms that has been opened from my simple little post on how to read chord charts.


- it's just everyday thread drift. Ignore it!
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 03:29 AM

Originally Posted By: dire tonic
Originally Posted By: Tech 5
You guys lost me a long time ago, but I think its cool...the can of worms that has been opened from my simple little post on how to read chord charts.


- it's just everyday thread drift. Ignore it!


This I have done, for the most part.:)
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 03:49 AM

Originally Posted By: dire tonic

I know the Grusin piece fairly well and sketched it out some years ago. I saw no problems but that may be because I cast all caution to the wind. It's no surprise that the sheet music isn't a faithful copy - I mentioned before what a travesty the piano-copy industry is. Occasionally an accurate transcription pops up but that's pretty rare.

First of all, I also had no trouble. My one dilemma was time signature. I was rather shocked to find out that Grusin wrote it in ¾, because the bass notes consistently come on 1 3 and 5 in 6/4 time. But that makes it cool, in a way, because TECHNICALLY it is a waltz, ambiguous, sort of ONE two THREE one TWO three. And when we have notation in mind, we can never be sure that what we hear, in our imagination, is actually what anyone else will hear, just from the sound.

The spelling? Clear-cut. I was just pointing out that IF I followed rules, instead of pure instinct, I would have been in trouble. wink

I do a lot of realizations of this sort for students. I make them buy the sheet music – my support for the music industry – but will give them my view as a supplement, since it is not available, and not all can simply listen and play.
Quote:

Other than where he adds upper register RH flourishes to a sustained chord underneath, I don't recall any 9* note chords.

My writing was probably clear as mud. A typical measure starts with Db Ab Eb in the LH, Bb in the RH melody quickly followed by Gb Ab Db. You put it altogether and you have Db Gb Ab Bb Eb, but voiced Db Ab Eb Gb Ab Db Bb. That’s the kind of chord that I just process as a very tasteful, spacious voicing. The crux of it is a Dbsus(4), and moving from one sus to another, without every having a qualifying major or minor 3rd is a “feel”, and very effective. There is no 7, so if I HAD to give it a name, I would say Dbsus add 9 and 13, but that is a mess. Some chords either have to be written out or listened to an played as they are. You can give the root and a function, but the real deal is just too hard for a symbol. So for that chord I might simply write Dbsus add9 and figure that Bb in the melody, top note, will be heard as what it is. Or figure out that lots of 5ths and 4ths get put in those chords, for atmosphere.
Quote:

Which part are you talking about?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syObAJjtPdk

1:24, Db something to C7#9 but almost certainly written C E G Bb Eb, to E6/B, etc.
Quote:

It's no surprise that the sheet music isn't a faithful copy - I mentioned before what a travesty the piano-copy industry is. Occasionally an accurate transcription pops up but that's pretty rare.

Rant coming:

LAZY LAZY LAZY LAZY. It is the fault of the COMPOSERS. They need to get OFF their butts and WRITE their own music correctly. Grusin is no more improvising in this piece than Chopin was when writing down his nocturnes. What he plays CAN be written down very accurately. It is elegant, beautifully constructed. He has the skills to write out his stuff. But he doesn’t care to. He leaves it to other people.

So almost always these guys leave their music in the hands of HACKS, and in defense of those hacks, they are probably paid very little. In the long run it is really stupid. It won’t decrease the amount of money they make, but they will leave no permanent record, and that makes their music unplayable for those who do not have the listening skills to reconstruct it purely through ear work.

Granted, things that are largely improv, created on the spot, are not meant to be permanently written down. In that case reproducing exactly what is played only creates very inferior copies of something original. But back in the time of Tchaikosky composers took the time to take things written for full orchestra and make their own transcriptions for piano. To the best of my knowledge there is no piano transcription of Princess Lea’s Theme. In defense of Williams, the amount of music the man has composed is frightening, but it would have been nice if he had taken that piece, which really is as much a tone poem as anything written in the 1800s, and had made a fine transcription. wink
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 04:00 AM

Originally Posted By: Tech 5
Originally Posted By: dire tonic
Originally Posted By: Tech 5
You guys lost me a long time ago, but I think its cool...the can of worms that has been opened from my simple little post on how to read chord charts.


- it's just everyday thread drift. Ignore it!


This I have done, for the most part.:)

smile

Believe it or not, what we are talking about is sort of connected, since READING chords means that the chords we are READING are correct. And often they are not.

When you go to play a tune, it is rare that someone will be very careful to give you the right "changes". This leads to what we call dumbed-down substitution chords in lead sheets.

In essence this all started over one chord, and that one chord, usually called a fully diminished chord but written as Xdim or Xdim7 (X meaning ANY root), is really quite easy to figure out or to play.

But because it is one of the most ambiguous chords we have in terms of where it can go (it can go almost ANYWHERE) AND because it is equally spaced by sound (on the piano exactly two keys are skipped between each note), it is our dratted notation system that causes all the problems.

Dire and I have been talking about the fact that when we hear a chord that SOUNDS like a Cdim7 (also written as Cdim), we simply know that the keys are C D#/Eb F#/Gb A, and the A can be written as Bbb.

You absolutely don't have to worry about this until you start WRITING music - or have to pass a very "anal" written theory test for some kind of grade. wink

All the spelling possibilities are just a headache for those of us who DO write music. And if we wrote this chord "wrong", people would still be able to read it, play it, etc. But good readers tend to stumble when the "spelling" is not conventional.

Its sorta like riting fonetikly and xpekting sumwun to figyer it all owt. If you are like me, you can read what I just wrote, but it slowed you down. That's what happens to advanced musicians when strange spellings are used. We glitch before we say, "Oh, so THAT is what that is." And then we rewrite it. wink
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 04:40 AM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.


1:24, Db something to C7#9 but almost certainly written C E G Bb Eb, to E6/B, etc.


Db9s4
LH: Db Ab Eb as arp RH: Gb Cb Db chord

to C7+9
C bass RH: E G Bb Eb

Your E6/B I have as a root position Ama9/B. (In fact this is a bad habit of mine - better written as Ama7(add2)). Lots of notes in common, but with Grusin, whose voicing is always immaculate (check out his strings on Bess you is my woman - fair brings a tear to the eye) it really would be necessary to write this out on the stave as a study piece.

As we know, chord symbols in the modern world can only be a GUIDE - spelling fanatics please note!!



Originally Posted By: Gary D.


LAZY LAZY LAZY LAZY. It is the fault of the COMPOSERS. They need to get OFF their butts and WRITE their own music correctly. Grusin is no more improvising in this piece than Chopin was when writing down his nocturnes. What he plays CAN be written down very accurately. It is elegant, beautifully constructed. He has the skills to write out his stuff. But he doesn’t care to. He leaves it to other people.

So almost always these guys leave their music in the hands of HACKS, and in defense of those hacks, they are probably paid very little. In the long run it is really stupid. It won’t decrease the amount of money they make, but they will leave no permanent record, and that makes their music unplayable for those who do not have the listening skills to reconstruct it purely through ear work.

Granted, things that are largely improv, created on the spot, are not meant to be permanently written down. In that case reproducing exactly what is played only creates very inferior copies of something original. But back in the time of Tchaikosky composers took the time to take things written for full orchestra and make their own transcriptions for piano. To the best of my knowledge there is no piano transcription of Princess Lea’s Theme. In defense of Williams, the amount of music the man has composed is frightening, but it would have been nice if he had taken that piece, which really is as much a tone poem as anything written in the 1800s, and had made a fine transcription. wink


I mentioned several reasons in an earlier post why they shun the lead-sheet/piano copy job. But it's also to do with status. Although it's a job which demands certain skills, it has to be left to the dog's-bodies of the profession!

Yes, I'm certain this is an improv with perhaps a couple of runs through for timing. It's classic Grusin, and for him, like falling off a log.

Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 05:48 AM

I think it's time to demystify things. This thread started with a question by a relative beginner just getting her feet wet. We established that a good way to get an idea about theory is by exploring at the piano, using ears and eyes. Whatever is written on paper is a reflection of that. When things get complicated, I like to go back to simple things. While I agree that there isn't a rule for everything, there ARE solid things that we all hold on to and they are NOT complicated (or scary).

So here's an attempt to demystify this complicated thing they're talking about. I'd like to build on what I introduced before, where we started at the piano and took the three white keys CEG which make a major chord, and moved the middle note one half step lower by playing Eb instead of E. Now we had a minor chord. We also know that in writing, that black key could be called D# or Eb. In other words, the piano gives us the sound and a location for that sound. Spelling can get weird, but piano and sound are constants.

Piano-wise, the picture below is what they are talking about. If you follow the half steps, you'll see that each dot is three half steps away from the next dot. If you take any four of these in a row, you will get a fully diminished chord, and it has unique properties because all the notes are the same distance apart.

If you start at D, then at the 5th dot, you're right back at D again, and the same is true for any other starting note. Yet the distance of 3 half steps between the notes never change. Because this is totally symmetrical, you could say that you always have "the same chord" no matter where you start.

COMPOSERS end up having a problem in deciding how to write the music. PERFORMERS reading the music don't have to worry about it, since they just have to play the notes. Supposing that your chosen chord starts on B. Then the notes are B,D,F,Ab. They skip letters the way chords in root position always do. What if the composer wants the chord to go **BDF? What do we call the black note? If we're skipping letters so that the notes stack neatly, the G#BDF seems better. If we start with F, then do we write FAbCD FAbCbD? What about this CD CbD, and the idea of skipped letters? In many cases the composer will still stack the notes, and it will be FAbCEbb (For Ebb, go down a half step for each flat, and you'll land on D which is the "same note").

Here is the important thing. Composers who have to follow grammar rules must worry about complicated things. But we can go back to what is simple. The diagram below is simple. When you get to complicated music, if you can work out what is happening by remembering the simple basics, then you're less likely to get lost.


Picture thanks to a bookmark, hole punch holes, and scotch tape. grin
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 06:32 AM

Originally Posted By: dire tonic
Originally Posted By: Gary D.


1:24, Db something to C7#9 but almost certainly written C E G Bb Eb, to E6/B, etc.


Db9s4
LH: Db Ab Eb as arp RH: Gb Cb Db chord

I have this fully notated, no chord symbols. I’m going by what I heard, and what I wrote out. Where you have Gb Cb Db I have Gb Ab Db. I don’t hear a 7 there. I just listened again. It would be interesting to find out what other people hear there. wink
Quote:

Your E6/B I have as a root position Ama9/B. (In fact this is a bad habit of mine - better written as Ama7(add2)). Lots of notes in common, but with Grusin, whose voicing is always immaculate (check out his strings on Bess you is my woman - fair brings a tear to the eye) it really would be necessary to write this out on the stave as a study piece.

The reason I said “Db something” was to stress the fact that the voicing is everything. But with or without 7 your Db9sus4 gets the job done. However, because I do not hear the 7 there, that is why I said add 9. I think I’m right about that chord.

But for the other, there IS an A in there, so the chord is A B C# E G#. You’re dead on, I’m wrong. That’s Amaj7(add2)/B. I like that choice because it shows voicing. And I’ve already added that A in there. Thanks!

His voicings are so subtle, it’s very easy to drop a note. There are bass notes in there I did not even hear with speakers, but they are clearly there with headphones.

About the improv subject: I don’t see it as clear-cut. There are things that are “written in stone”, and there are things that are totally off the cuff. But I hear really tight structure, and there is almost an exact repeat but with scales and “ornaments”. Obviously he could play it 100 times and never play it quite the same way twice (I LOVE the way this guy plays and composes), but I believe in this it would be close. Regardless, the final recorded version is a GEM, and for those of us who can’t match his versatility, that version notated, exactly as it is, would be a God-send!

But it would have been much less fun for me. We would not be having this discussion. laugh
Posted by: dire tonic

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 07:51 AM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: dire tonic
Originally Posted By: Gary D.


1:24, Db something to C7#9 but almost certainly written C E G Bb Eb, to E6/B, etc.


Db9s4
LH: Db Ab Eb as arp RH: Gb Cb Db chord

I have this fully notated, no chord symbols. I’m going by what I heard, and what I wrote out. Where you have Gb Cb Db I have Gb Ab Db. I don’t hear a 7 there. I just listened again. It would be interesting to find out what other people hear there. wink
Quote:

Your E6/B I have as a root position Ama9/B. (In fact this is a bad habit of mine - better written as Ama7(add2)). Lots of notes in common, but with Grusin, whose voicing is always immaculate (check out his strings on Bess you is my woman - fair brings a tear to the eye) it really would be necessary to write this out on the stave as a study piece.

The reason I said “Db something” was to stress the fact that the voicing is everything. But with or without 7 your Db9sus4 gets the job done. However, because I do not hear the 7 there, that is why I said add 9. I think I’m right about that chord.


I tried your Ab and that sounds good too. However, until Dave spills the beans I'm sticking to my guns and my Cb.

It might have to be pistols at dawn?


Quote:

But for the other, there IS an A in there, so the chord is A B C# E G#. You’re dead on, I’m wrong. That’s Amaj7(add2)/B. I like that choice because it shows voicing. And I’ve already added that A in there. Thanks!

His voicings are so subtle, it’s very easy to drop a note. There are bass notes in there I did not even hear with speakers, but they are clearly there with headphones.

About the improv subject: I don’t see it as clear-cut. There are things that are “written in stone”, and there are things that are totally off the cuff. But I hear really tight structure, and there is almost an exact repeat but with scales and “ornaments”. Obviously he could play it 100 times and never play it quite the same way twice (I LOVE the way this guy plays and composes), but I believe in this it would be close.


- Yes, I agree with you about the structure, and the broad melodic idea, I'm sure he had that written or maybe just settled in his head. But I think red light syndrome, even for the best session guys, demands that for something like this, there's some open-endedness.

Me too, I've always been a huge fan, especially after a drummer friend insisted we have a go at rag bag on a jazz gig, I gave it my best, but..... He's got some amazing chops.

Quote:

Regardless, the final recorded version is a GEM, and for those of us who can’t match his versatility, that version notated, exactly as it is, would be a God-send!


I might have a crack at it at some point in the (distant?) future. Did you say there's already an unfaithful transcription of this in existence?

Quote:

But it would have been much less fun for me. We would not be having this discussion. laugh


ditto smile
Posted by: Tech 5

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 01:29 PM


Its sorta like riting fonetikly and xpekting sumwun to figyer it all owt. If you are like me, you can read what I just wrote, but it slowed you down. That's what happens to advanced musicians when strange spellings are used. We glitch before we say, "Oh, so THAT is what that is." And then we rewrite it. wink [/quote]


I could actually read that phonically written sentence....that's funny. Anyway, thanks for the explanation. I don't really mind that my initial post branched out into the unknown world of weird music theory....unknown to me anyway. I actually think its fun to watch the posts develop into a variety of conversations even if they don't answer my initial question.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 02:32 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
I think it's time to demystify things. This thread started with a question by a relative beginner just getting her feet wet. We established that a good way to get an idea about theory is by exploring at the piano, using ears and eyes. Whatever is written on paper is a reflection of that. When things get complicated, I like to go back to simple things. While I agree that there isn't a rule for everything, there ARE solid things that we all hold on to and they are NOT complicated (or scary).

Agreed.
Quote:

So here's an attempt to demystify this complicated thing they're talking about. I'd like to build on what I introduced before, where we started at the piano and took the three white keys CEG which make a major chord, and moved the middle note one half step lower by playing Eb instead of E. Now we had a minor chord. We also know that in writing, that black key could be called D# or Eb. In other words, the piano gives us the sound and a location for that sound. Spelling can get weird, but piano and sound are constants.

Also true.
Quote:

Piano-wise, the picture below is what they are talking about. If you follow the half steps, you'll see that each dot is three half steps away from the next dot. If you take any four of these in a row, you will get a fully diminished chord, and it has unique properties because all the notes are the same distance apart.

If you start at D, then at the 5th dot, you're right back at D again, and the same is true for any other starting note. Yet the distance of 3 half steps between the notes never change. Because this is totally symmetrical, you could say that you always have "the same chord" no matter where you start.

I agree with what you are saying, every word. In general I don’t like picture of keys to show chords, mostly because most chords truly have inversions that SOUND like inversions. Keeping it simple, if you show a picture of a G7 chord as G B D F, it doesn’t explain why B D F G is still called a G7 chord but sound different. This is not true of fully diminished chords. So I think your method, making a picture of the sequence is very good for a dim chord, and it would also work very well for augmented chords, for instance, because they also “repeat”.
Quote:

COMPOSERS end up having a problem in deciding how to write the music. PERFORMERS reading the music don't have to worry about it, since they just have to play the notes.

Somewhere I think I wrote the same thing. It’s important to think about. It is a non-issue for ear-players, and for those who learn to read well, in my opinion reading fluently needs to come first. When a student of mine runs into a dim chord, I point out the same thing you just mentioned. I show that there are two keys skipped between each finger. I teach the chord, by rote, in a slightly different way.
Quote:

Supposing that your chosen chord starts on B. Then the notes are B,D,F,Ab. They skip letters the way chords in root position always do. What if the composer wants the chord to go **BDF? What do we call the black note? If we're skipping letters so that the notes stack neatly, the G#BDF seems better.

If you are stacking every other letter, you have no choice but to write it that way. But is this still keeping it simple?
Quote:

If we start with F, then do we write FAbCD? What about this CD, and the idea of skipped letters? In many cases the composer will still stack the notes, and it will be FAbCEbb (For Ebb, go down a half step for each flat, and you'll land on D which is the "same note").

Here you lost me. I THINK you are after this: F Ab *Cb* Ebb, showing how to stack by every other letter so that you will have a four note “snowman” with four spaces of four lines. This sticks with your picture. But did you want to go so far into grammar in this post?
Quote:

Here is the important thing. Composers who have to follow grammar rules must worry about complicated things. But we can go back to what is simple. The diagram below is simple. When you get to complicated music, if you can work out what is happening by remembering the simple basics, then you're less likely to get lost.

I would stick with the diagram for theoretical understanding of the pattern. It shows clearly the spacing of the keys we press. I’m not going to add anything here. It would muddy the waters. I do have another practical POV to add.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 02:43 PM

My slant on teaching people how to play dim chords, rote, by feel, visual pattern and sound only.

1) Learn major chords in all keys, root position, eg, C = C E G.
2) Get those major chords so that they are totally in the hands, instant.
3) Add a note - make the major chord into a major 6 chord, eg C6 = C E G A
4) Remember that the 6 is always a whole step above the 5th or top note of the major chord.
5) Nail these six chords in all keys.
6) Lower the middle two notes (piano keys) exactly ½ step.
7) Do NOT worry about spelling. Do this until you can do it in all 12 keys immediately without even thinking about it.

When you have done that, this becomes obvious that when you lower the middle notes in these chords:

C6
Eb6 or D#6
Gb6 or F#6
A6

The result is that you have four chords that all sound the same and use the same keys.

Students will understand this viscerally when they discover it for themselves. For instance, a student who plays Cdim7 then Ebdim7 will suddenly say, “That sounds the same.”

And then you are in.

It is at THAT point that it is OK to mention that these chords have variable spellings, and that only one of them will produce “stacked thirds”.
Posted by: Brent H

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 02:58 PM

Gary,

I don't know if you've heard of a guitar player named Gene Bertoncini but I have a DVD where he's talking about how he developed his approach to jazz guitar. He specifically uses the example of a C-diminished scale and shows how he learned to see the fretboard "pianistically" (his term) so that, once he gets a C-diminished context in mind he only "sees" the frets on each string that are in that scale. And that gives him all the other scales and chords that overlap C-diminished, I guess in the same way your describing it, which means he can go in and out of other chords (scales?) in the same context.

All that is beyond my (current) ken but I can see that it's the natural goal for someone who wants to play and improve well, especially in a jazz context. One thing I know, it's heck of a lot easier to "see" that on a piano keyboard than on a guitar. So at least I have a prayer of a chance, now that I've made the switch.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 03:35 PM

Originally Posted By: Brent H
Gary,

I don't know if you've heard of a guitar player named Gene Bertoncini but I have a DVD where he's talking about how he developed his approach to jazz guitar. He specifically uses the example of a C-diminished scale and shows how he learned to see the fretboard "pianistically" (his term) so that, once he gets a C-diminished context in mind he only "sees" the frets on each string that are in that scale. And that gives him all the other scales and chords that overlap C-diminished, I guess in the same way your describing it, which means he can go in and out of other chords (scales?) in the same context.

All that is beyond my (current) ken but I can see that it's the natural goal for someone who wants to play and improve well, especially in a jazz context. One thing I know, it's heck of a lot easier to "see" that on a piano keyboard than on a guitar. So at least I have a prayer of a chance, now that I've made the switch.

http://www.freeguitarvideos.com/LJ3/c-diminished-scale.html
That's the scale. It is also called octatonic. It is formed from two dim7 chords (by sound), like this:

C Db-----D# E-------F# G----A Bb---C Db, etc.

One suggested spelling:

C C# Eb E F# G A Bb C

You can see C E G there and C Eb G, so a major and minor chord. You can get other major and minor chords out of that, but you would have to change spellings:

Eb G Bb, fine, but Eb F# Bb would have to be respelled.

Note that you have both a Cdim7, C Eb F# A, and a Cm7b5, C Eb F# Bb. The last chord you would want to spell C Eb Gb Bb, so the point is not the spelling of the scale but the sounds, and where you can slip to.

I see this as just enlarging on the idea that a dim chord will slide to just about anything. smile
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 04:53 PM

Gary, thank you for your response to my post. Rather than going point by point, I'd like to sketch out some general ideas.

About the diagram: I agree that it works for diminished and augmented chords. In fact, I created it out of necessity: we can't sit down at a piano to demonstrate and have people try things. If they are to try them, how do you describe it? Naming the notes of a generic fully diminished chord is impossible; you're stuck right back in spelling-land. The same is true for the augmented that you mentioned.

My hopes for the diagram were not so much as an explanation, as for exploration. I believe that theory starts with exploring at the keyboard and of sound. My first posts in this thread were to that end. If it serves for understanding in and of itself, that is also good. smile

I agree with your idea of becoming fully familiar with simple chords first, and in a real way. The thing is that this thread didn't go that way. But since this fascinating chord is out there, maybe some principals can be drawn from it, including the idea of exploring. If somebody takes that diagram as a model in order to not get lost, sees patterns such as the three semitones (half steps), and plays with it at the piano, I think that some straightforward things will emerge. Then later on when the advanced things come up, there is this idea of simple basic things that can be explored at the keyboard.

The general thought behind all of this is that there were these seemingly complicated ideas floating around. But underneath it was this straightforward chord. The experienced musicians were drawing on that straightforward part. If the SIMPLE part could be brought out, then maybe something could be gained. That is why I used the word "demystification". The spellings and grammar behind them are not simple. But the general structure of a fully diminished chord as it is experienced on the piano is simple.

I think that this is probably a good way of seeing music in general. It stops it from being intimidating, which at times it really can be.
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 06:15 PM

A philosophical thought in general about learning music and theory as an adult. Young children are generally in a concrete world. Even when thinking of such abstract things such as relative size, infinity, it tends to be with real things, and hands on. They get into abstract and complex things gradually. We tend to introduce things to them that way.

Adults can think abstractly and theorize. We are also aware of things that are beyond our present grasp. So what do you do with that? Do you put on artificial blinders? I've seen method books that introduce music in G major but carefully avoid F# since it hasn't been taught yet, but if anyone already has an ear he'd be confused to be hearing G as the tonic when the music is "in C". Or at the other end, complicated theory explained in words when there is little experience with musical things.

I found when I was starting out that I was aware that there were complexities in music. You can't stuff the genie back into the bottle and pretend it isn't there. It can engender a kind of anxiety where you have the overall impression of complicated rocket-science like things that you'll never get. I found it helpful to know that the complicated things are based on simple, concrete things. Every advanced musician participating in this thread is probably feeling some familiar and simple things in his hands, and going out from there. If we can grasp that the complex is built on the simple, then it alleviates this anxiety. It also means that the simple "Dick, Jane and Sally" studies we are doing are actually deep and meaningful. As adults riding tricycles, I think it's a boost.
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/21/12 07:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Brent H

I don't know if you've heard of a guitar player named Gene Bertoncini but I have a DVD where he's talking about how he developed his approach to jazz guitar. He specifically uses the example of a C-diminished scale and shows how he learned to see the fretboard "pianistically" (his term) so that, once he gets a C-diminished context in mind he only "sees" the frets on each string that are in that scale. And that gives him all the other scales and chords that overlap C-diminished, I guess in the same way your describing it, which means he can go in and out of other chords (scales?) in the same context.

That is interesting, because I knew a jazz brass player who took up the violin and was looking for the opposite. Classical violin instruction tends to go "melodically" (along the string, scale-like). I knew almost nothing about chords and the vertical "harmonic" structure so I didn't follow too closely. However, he found a jazz violinist who had invented a system that borrowed from the chord orientation of guitars. This then got applied back and forth to scales, modulations, modes and I don't know what - things that a jazz musicians wants to have up his sleeve. At the time my knowledge of theory was close to zero.

Originally Posted By: Gary
That's the scale. It is also called octatonic.

We learned in theory to form it by alternating whole and half steps. The spelling gets iffy because it no longer fits into the system but you get roughly.
C(W)D(H)D# = Eb(W)F = E# (W)Gb=A#(H)A(W)B(H)C.
or
C(H)Db(W)Eb = D# (H)E.....
If you take every second note you will get two diminished chords. I.e. for the first one C,Eb,Gb,B and D,F,Ab,B
But the cool thing is that you don't have to think note names.

I'm thinking that an important thing might be that scales or scale-type passages and chords relate back and forth.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/22/12 12:42 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
I'm thinking that an important thing might be that scales or scale-type passages and chords relate back and forth.

You might just be onto something here!

* A scale defines a key (or maybe visa-versa.)
* The distances between scale notes define intervals.
* Superimposing scale intervals defines chords.

Do the jazz guys know about this?

(Try not to get mad - I'm just having fun.) I would also review a couple of those spellings above.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/22/12 03:33 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Gary, thank you for your response to my post. Rather than going point by point, I'd like to sketch out some general ideas.

I don’t want to go point by point either. As a teacher my main problem is not that there are not easy ways to cover this subject – there are – but that there are so many angles to use to approach it. In lessons I can quickly sense the learning style of any student, and this is greatly influence by age, but there are other really important factors:

1) Some people are TERRIBLE at key counting. If, for instance, I tell a student to take an octave, split it in half, then split those two halves again, people who are very good at patterns will take the octave C-C, immediately figure out that C F#/Gb C splits it, then figure out that C D#/Eb F#/Gb A C completes the pattern. Bam, they have it.

2) The people who instantly get this logic have no problem recognizing the same pattern when it appears in notation, no matter what the spelling. So for them the only challenge is to explain the rules of notation, why spelling X, Y or Z is appropriate, in what context, etc.

3) Other people just don’t see the keys that are skipped by the fingers. For them key-counting works horribly.

4) Often the non-key-counters turn out to be excellent at memorizing black and white patterns. For instance, some of my students just know that a Gb/F# chord is all black, they know the spacing of the black keys. I can teach them all 12 major chords (not counting enharmonic names) very quickly by patterns of color – D, E and A have black notes in the middle. That sort of thing.

5) Some of the key counter-counters and the pattern-learners depend very little on the ear, but others are very much guided by it. The ones who hear when a major chord, for example, does not sound “right” are the quickest to self-correct and move on to more complicated and sophisticated chords.

6) The students who hear chord qualities very accurately are more likely to also instantly recognize the same chords in inversions, open voicings, and so on.

7) There are people who learn chords in some other way that I don’t understand. Those people get the chords but do not get them from my instructions. I assume they process the whole thing in an unusual way.

I want to set this out first. Note that I am not really giving answers, just observations. But one more subject:

1) Some people seem to master scales, not the physical playing of them, but the theory behind them by moving from chords to scales.

2) Other people seem to understand chords best by reasoning through them through scales.

3) Finally, there are people who seem to work in both directions. For me those people are easiest to teach. AND:

4) I do believe that a balanced approach is best, so that both scales and chords are covered in a way that allows me to move back and forth from one to another.

Now, having said that, I have some general ideas about what methods work the quickest in getting people to the place we all want them, mastering scales, mastering chords, and mastering the complicated rules of how best to notate them.
Posted by: keystring

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/22/12 03:54 AM

Gary, in what you are describing, I am seeing first of all that you interact with your students according to their makeup and so what they can relate to. You've described more than one angle to get at the same thing. Then there is the obvious fact that you do interact, with a back and forth exchange. Also, you are at the piano, demonstrating, having them play and try things. It's physical and hands on, with the "intellectual" theory being part of that.

A forum like this has none of that. It's a disparate group with varying backgrounds and personalities so the best we can do is a generic type of thing. There is no interaction from one moment to the next so that ideas are formed gradually in a back and forth. Whatever is written gets set in stone, and if it's the wrong word or understood wrongly, it's stuck there. But above all, it's words - intellectual ideas understood with the mind instead of being experienced. One can try to counter this by suggesting trying things at the piano. Will it work?

Seeing the different ways that various students can absorb the knowledge does give some insight.

Quote:
Now, having said that, I have some general ideas about what methods work the quickest in getting people to the place we all want them, mastering scales, mastering chords, and mastering the complicated rules of how best to notate them.

Pray tell!
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: How to read chords on sheet music? - 09/22/12 04:06 AM

Scales vs chords:

1) It should not be necessary for a student to master all 12 scales in order to master chords that are derived from those scales.

2) It is theoretically possible to intuitively figure out any scale from several chords that obviously belong to it, in this manner:

a) Any major chord defines 1 3 5
b) Any major six chord defines 1 3 5 6
c) Any sus4 chord defines 1 4 5
d) Any sus2 chord defines 1 2 5
e) Any sus4(add2) or double sus chord defines 1 2 4 5
f) Any maj7 chord defines 1 3 5 7

The above chords, learned in all keys, will blanket cover every degree within those scales.

It is not necessary nor is it optimum to do the above without learning all the scales, but the chords can be learned ahead of at least SOME of the keys. In this way newer scales taught may be intuitively understood more quickly while they are being learned.

Regardless, it is not necessary to read music at all to learn all these chords or to master all 12 scales.

HOWEVER: Because music moves both horizontally and vertically, the goal should always be to master BOTH chords AND scales to the highest degree possible. The only thing that should be in serious dispute is timing, order, how best to achieve that goal.

***But how much of this should be learned through reading, how much through ear alone, ad how much through rote? The elephant in the room is the assumption that reading – and thus all the complexities of notation – are necessary to pick up these foundations INITIALLY.***

This assumption leads to about 99% of the lack of communication between teachers who are teaching skills in different ways.

1) If reading is assumed to be necessary in order to teach scales and chords, notation will be an IMMEDIATE concern and must be addressed from the beginning.

2) If scales and chords are taught by rote first, they can be mastered quite well without notation being mentioned at all – again INITIALLY.

3) For obvious reasons, even when scales and chords are taught be rote, if reading is being pushed as a very high priority from the start, students will run into the rudiments they are learning in music, and at that point some basic rules of notation will be obvious, while others will not be at all.

4) Many rules of notation will be picked up passively through a great deal of reading, before formal study of notation begins,

5) Rules of notation become critical only when WRITING music. Therefore, how notation works in chords and scales becomes important the moment a student begins to write music. But when should that happen? Ideally I would say as early as possible, the sooner the better.

6) In the process of writing music, things that do and do not work usually become apparent for reasons that soon become common sense.

My conclusion: when we begin to discuss sticky points, such as how to notate dim7 chords, augmented chords, whole tone scales, octatonic scales, chromatic scales, there is always a disconnect until we write these things. It is at THAT point that a good teacher can straighten us out in a heartbeat, giving us clues or guidelines that enable us to write music as clearly as possible. Those guidelines involve rules, the reasons BEHIND the rules, and common sense examples of when one set of rules no longer work and another set of rules – or guidelines – are necessary.