What Are Those Funny Chord Symbols Above a Line of Music?

Chord symbols are often a part of sheet music and usually appear above each line (music staff), above each individual measure. There can be as many as five or six of these for the same measure.

For the most part, they are there as a guide for “playing along” with the music in the sense of accompanying the written music whether sung, played on piano, or both. These symbols are essentially designed for a guitarist, but can be played by other instruments such as a ukulele, banjo, mandolin, etc. Sometimes they include the finger positions for a guitarist (to play the proper chord).

Because they are only symbols, it’s up to the musician to play each chord in whatever way they choose. For example, the chords could be played by strumming or finger picking a guitar, playing the chords in Bluegrass style on a banjo, or playing the chords in a very rhythmic fashion on a mandolin.

This, of course, all depends on the accompanying musician knowing how to form and play each chord (symbol). Some times, there are chord symbols the musician is not familiar with (and does not know how to play). Using the example of a guitar player, they will have to look up the chord (symbol) in a chord book, or create the chord using the sheet music as a guide.

An experienced musician will play the chords in a way that compliments the (piano/sheet) music. Their playing should match the tempo of the music and compliment it in style and tone. This requires being familiar with a particular piece of music and how it is intended to be played. One of the challenges of playing along using chord symbols is avoiding “conflict” with the sheet music. Care must be taken to play the proper notes of the chord and avoid disharmonic “clashes” with particular notes of the music. For example, playing the note B when the melody asks for the note C, or playing an E minor chord when the melody asks for an F#.

Using a guitar player as an example, chord symbols allow the guitarist to sing along with their own accompaniment. The guitarist may know the piece of music and how it is sung, or if they can read music, find and sing the melody as it appears in the music. Professional musicians often use chord symbols to perform a piece of music they are not totally familiar with. For example, if a vocalist can sing the melody as presented in a piece of the sheet music, the guitarist needs to know only the chords represented by the chord symbols.

As examples, Fm7 means an F minor 7th chord, Bb6 means a B flat sixth chord, Adim means an A diminished seventh chord, and G means a G major chord. Having chord symbols can also help the piano player. Knowing the chord name as it is played on the piano is a great learning aid. But care has to be taken as the chord symbols are usually a very simple version of the chord on the piano.

Arranging Music – What Does One Do With a Sheet of Fake Music?

So you’ve found a song you like in your music fake book. For the seasoned musician improvising and arranging the music becomes a thought process of what that musician is thinking he or she might want to achieve with the song.

For a vast majority of intermediate to advanced musicians this exposure has been limited and they falter right at the start as to what to do.

So the question becomes, “Now what do I do with this song?”

I’m going to suggest that if you have been studying your music theory and learning the principles of music that you have the tools you need to apply this craft.

Today I’m going to outline a process that will get you well over 75% of the way to an arrangement of a song that will be all you.

10 Steps to arranging your fake music
Here’s a short list you can follow to apply your tools and knowledge. Typically work with a phrase which may be 3 or 4 measures long.

The first step and hopefully it has been given to you on the music score are the base chords that you will use.
Adding bass root notes to your song at each of the chords.
If you are jazzing it up add 7th intervals – at either the full steps or at a convenient inversion.
If you don’t have a lot of chord changes consider adding additional chords movement between the major chords.
In a 4 count measure you might try to work in one extra chord change or even go with four chords in the measure.
Try working backwards in fourths to get to a nice ii, V, to I chord progression forward.
This might take a little thought considering what melody notes you are working with or what scale application you might want to try.
At first just go for what I call some sort of chord. If it is an ‘A’ chord it might be minor, diminished, 7th, added 9th. That will depend on the final outcome later on.
Add the additional bass notes and 5ths or 7ths to these new chords. Remember this is fluid and you can change as you go to get better voicings and sounds.
Look at your bass lines and see if you can smooth them out by walking them down in steps.
Consider the scale of the key you are working in as a starting point.
Adjust chord type to the bass line note or sharp or flat the note to fit the chord choices you’ve used.
These notes may be fifths, minor or major thirds, or 7ths of you base chord.
Next fill out the chords for the bass measures, adding 3rds and 5ths to make up 3 or 4 note chords. Be careful with lower range notes they may start to sound muddy below low C. Use Root and 5th in lieu of root 3rd to keep a little space in the sound.
Working with the melody, consider adding a secondary line with chord notes and extended scale notes below the melody line. This may involve filling in the holes of the chord. Use notes that you have not previously used before. This is often a good time to use those 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths to add color to your chords.
Audition your chords and arrangement, refine the notes, delete, add, vary as it feels in the progression of the song. Look for the ( ii – V – I ) progression. Would changing a chord to a major flat II make a nice substitution for the V7 chord?
The final arrangement, perform and play with it until you get a hip version.

As you get more adept at applying these tools and understanding the complexities of music it becomes easier to apply your craft. This ten step procedure was a way for you to get into it and try it out.

Did You Know that Music is Based on Natural “Laws”?

Did you know that music is based on natural “laws” — like gravity — and by learning to understand how those natural laws work we can actually understand what we are doing when we play — we don’t have to be at the mercy of what someone else has written on a piece of music.

How many of these facts do you know about music & piano playing? Test yourself and then check the answers at the bottom of the page:

Did you know that by learning just 3 chords you can play hundreds of songs?

Did you know that there are only 12 major keys you can play in, but you only really have to master one key to play most popular songs?

Did you know that it is possible to easily match any melody note (tune) to a chord, so you can harmonize any note?

Did you know that Beethoven’s Fur Elise and the blues song “Summertime” uses the exact same chords for the theme of the song?

Did you know that it is quite possible to predict what chord comes next in a song with accuracy approaching 85%?

Did you know you can use the same chords to play boogie, blues, new age, gospel, pop, rock, jazz, country – anything except classical music? (And even some classics!)

Did you know that guitar chords are the same as piano chords — the only thing different is the instrument and the resulting sound?

Did you know that hundreds of songs use exactly the same form, so by learning that form you can know what’s coming next in a song?

Did you know that by coming in through the backdoor of piano playing — chords — you can start making wonderful and satisfying sounds on the piano in just a few weeks instead of a few years — even if you don’t know Middle C from Tweedle Dee?

Answers to piano playing music questions:

True. That’s because there are just 3 primary chords in any key — like family members: Mom, Dad, Child. Get to know those 3 and you’ve got it.

True. It’s like languages. It’s great to be able to speak several, but you can get by with just one. I’d love to speak other languages, but I can get by with just English.

True. Every note is part of several different chords. So it is easy to harmonize any song once you know the secret.

True. Yep. They both use the A minor chord and the E7 chord in their themes.

True. I know that’s hard to believe, but remember that music is based on math. Once you understand a thing called the “Circle of 4ths” it’s a piece of cake. In fact, I can tell you right now that 85% of the time the G chord comes directly after the D7 chord. So next time you run into the D7 chord, you have an educated guess of 85% that the next chord will be some form of the G chord. (G, G7 etc.) If you’re into amazing your friends, that’ll do it!

True. Apply different rhythms to the same chords, and you have many styles of music! With the very same chords I can play boogie, jazz, rock, pop, gospel, new age, ragtime.

True. Chords are chords. Once you know them, you can apply them to any instrument.

True. Musical forms such as “AABA” and “ABA” are the basis of thousands and thousands of songs.

True. Understanding chords and how them form the skeleton of music accelerates the learning curve exponentially.

The bottom line is this: Music is based on natural law and is mathematical in nature. Understanding is the key to both rapid learning and getting more enjoyment out of the process.

Guitar Chords Lesson – A Foundation For Guitar

As the title states this article is going to cover a guitar chords lesson, because chords are one of the most important aspects of guitar playing. Even if you are listening to music with blistering guitar solos or a song with hardly any guitar to be heard at all, the foundation of those songs rest firmly on top of the chords underneath. So no matter what you do on guitar, you are going to have to learn about chords.

You probably found this article because you were looking for a guitar chords lesson, but to be honest what you really need is a little bit of music theory. Yes, the dreaded music theory is hard work, but once you understand the basics, you will know so much more than any basic guitar chords lesson could teach you! So I’m going to explain in this article what a chord is and how it is constructed.

So what exactly is a guitar chord anyway? Well no matter what instrument you play a chord is a chord. It doesn’t matter if it’s played on guitar, piano or any other instrument. Ok, what is a chord? In simple terms, a chord in music is any three notes played together at the same time. So if you were to strum three open strings on your guitar right now, you would have played a chord! It may not sound that great, but it would still be a chord played on the guitar.

In a traditional sense a chord is made up of 3 special notes, which have been named and numbered as the “root”, “third” and the “fifth”. Depending on what these notes are in the chord determine if the chord is a major chord, minor chord, diminished chord or any other variant.

To talk about how or why a chord would be major, minor, diminished, augmented or anything else goes beyond the scope of this lesson. If you would like to know why a chord is named the way it is named, you must study scales, intervals and the names of those intervals. I will cover this in future articles and lessons but for now you have learned a few important things.

We have covered in this guitar chords lesson that chords are the foundation of music. Chords on guitar are no different than any other musical instrument. We have also learned that in order to have a chord, there must be 3 notes played at the same time. Last but not least, we have learned that the traditional chords are made up of a root, third and a fifth.

Of course this guitar chords lesson is not the end all be all of guitar chords, but I hope that gives you a better understanding of chords in general. If you want to learn more about the construction of chords, you have a long road ahead of you, but believe me, it’s certainly worth it! Good luck and have a fun time learning!

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A Few Basic Terms to Remember With Blues Guitar Chords

Ever wonder, how do the famous artists nowadays work with their guitar? Specifically, how do they create such an attractive tune that draws a lot of attention? Today, much of the blues music is only popularized by indie musicians or artists. Most of the music circulating around popular stations is that of ‘Poppy” tunes, rock or alternative, hip-hop, ballad. It’s rare to hear from blues. For even some cultures, it is also discouraged to know more about this musical influence or genre, because of skin color. As such they have created combinations or totally promote a different music.

Blues for the longest time is widely known and popularized by notable artists such Eric Clapton, BB King and Jimi Hendrix. And yes, most of them are renowned guitar players! So, it can be said that if you start learning into blues guitar fundamentals, you’re in the way of becoming one of the legends. Tempting isn’t it? The music on the other hand, is mostly and purely melodic in nature. A lot of the songs played in this platform interpret the artists’ emotions. Who would forget Jimi Hendrix, which is known to be the greatest guitar player of all time? And yes he plays mainly on blues music. Playing your blues guitar chords in no different from playing your regular guitar chords.

Get to know the basics, of the very musical chords, A, C, D, E and F. Find a good buddy or teacher that will help you practice and will show you how musical phrases work and that is through training you essential chord progressions. Other important factor to consider is the chord synonym. Examples of which is “A” minor chord which is a synonym for the “C” major chord, while the “D” minor chord can be a replacement for an “F” major chord. These are the basic you can fervently start with. Learning your blues guitar chords is not difficult, it only requires a few values in order to be firm and get on with it. First have some enthusiasm and secondly, be confident that what you have depth and belief to yourself that you will learn and continue to challenge yourself. Don’t procrastinate get that blues guitar and strum what you really want in life.

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Writing Songs and Creating Music

Humans have been making music a long time

Recently, in the hillside caves of southwestern Germany, archaeologists discovered the beginnings of music and art by early modern humans. These early musicians probably were not writing songs, but they were creating music by playing flutes made of bird bone and mammoth ivory. One of the best preserved bone flutes has five finger holes. Tests determined the instruments were 42,000 to 43,000 years old. This is around the time when the first anatomically modern humans were spreading into the area of Central Europe. Of course, the music creation process has evolved dramatically over time. The implementation of language, certain discoveries, and other types of knowledge had a profound effect on the evolution of music.

An essential building block

You can learn a lot by studying successful music from the past. Writing your own songs, or creating your own music can be achieved by implementing your cumulative music knowledge. You do not need to rediscover the wheel. Music is part melody, rhythm, lyric, and harmony. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction. A big part of this is chord progressions. They are a vitally important building block of contemporary western music. Chord progressions establish the basic framework of a song. Researching popular chord progressions will be quite beneficial.

If you analyze a large number of popular songs, you will discover they contain certain patterns or combinations of chords that are used repeatedly. The reason is very simple. They sound really good together, and are pleasing for most people to listen to. Once you learn and can implement these popular and successful chord progressions, you are definitely ahead of the game. If you are going to be creating music and writing your own songs, it will be very helpful to at least know some basic music theory. Songwriters should have a solid working knowledge of how popular chord progressions are created and used in successful music. Chord progressions can not be copyrighted. You are free to use all, or part of, any popular chord progression in existence.

Song structure is important

Music in general can be up to personal interpretation. With songwriting, there are certain formulas and patterns that have proven to be highly successful over a long period of time. This is true when it comes to popular music and hit songs. Most songs have a recognizable formula concerning their structure. The following is a good example: You have the intro, a verse or two, a chorus, a bridge, then another verse and chorus. You can also insert a solo in the mix. Research tells us one of the most popular hit making structure forms is the Verse-Chorus-Bridge song. A hit song could include a verse, chorus, verse, a bridge or solo, then finish with another chorus. Songwriters realize how to effectively put songs together that are comfortable to listeners.

In conclusion

Writing hit songs and creating music will take some musical knowledge. You will also need to learn a few successfully proven formulas which you can emulate. It would be wise listening to, and analyzing hit songs from many different styles of music. Pick a subject matter, and choose the style of music you want to put your lyrics to. Your song needs to be memorable. Give it an emotional impact. Say something that people can relate to. Come up with a great hook in your song. That is something very catchy that listeners can not seem to get out of their mind. It can be words, a solo, intro, or even something else. Proper knowledge could help you become a successful song writer. There is much to learn, and I have shared with you a few successful basic concepts.

A Brief History of Calypso Music

Calypso music is generally not the first thing one thinks of when daydreaming of the Caribbean islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda. The most common imaginings are sand, sea, and tropical drinks with those tiny umbrellas that hit you in the nose while you’re trying to imbibe. But what would those pleasures be if not accompanied by the pulsating rhythms and satirical lyrics of the local rhythms. Ever wonder exactly what that music was? It’s Calypso! The style that Harry Belafonte made famous, the music that makes you want to sway your hips to the beat and immerse yourself in the celebration of life! Remember the song Day-O from the movie Beetlejuice? That is calypso music.

Calypso music is a style of Afro-Caribbean rhythm which originated in Trinidad at about the start of the 20th century. The roots of the genre lay in the arrival of African slaves, who, not being allowed to speak with each other, communicated through song. The French soon brought Carnival to Trinidad, and calypso competitions at Carnival grew in popularity, especially after the abolition of slavery in 1834. It is from Carnival that today’s popular Soca music arose; made popular by such hits as “Hot, Hot, Hot” and “Who Let The Dogs Out”.

Over 100 years ago, calypso further evolved into a way of spreading news around Trinidad. Politicians, journalists, and public figures often debated the content of each song, and many islanders considered these songs the most reliable news source. Calypsonians pushed the boundaries of free speech as their lyrics spread news of any topic relevant to island life, including speaking out against political corruption.

The first major stars of calypso started crossing over to new audiences worldwide in the late 1930s. Attila the Hun, Roaring Lion and Lord Invader were first, followed by Lord Kitchener, one of the longest-lasting calypso music stars in history — he continued to release hit records until his death in 2000. 1944’s Rum and Cola by the Andrews Sisters, a cover of a Lord Invader song, became an American hit.

Early forms of calypso music were also heavily influenced by jazz such as Sans Humanitae, the extempo melody in which calypsonians lyricise impromptu, commenting socially or insulting each other, without humanity – once again the French influence! Many calypso music chord progressions can be linked to twelve bar jams in jazz as demonstrated by Lord Kitchener, one of the most famous calypsonians and a melodic genius.

Calypso music spread north to islands such as Bermuda in the 1940s and 50s, imported from Trinidad and Tobago. Though geographically far removed from the Caribbean, Bermuda shared a history of European colonization and African slavery with those islands further south. During the 1940s and 1950s, calypso became popular in Bermuda’s tourist hotels and clubs. The proximity of Bermuda to the United States helped to fuel the spread of calypso to America.

Likewise the Americans had their influence on calypso music, and popular sounds and a country and western feel were added to the unique sound which stemmed from the heart of the Bermuda Triangle.

Many calypso artists in Bermuda began to integrate the American influences into their sound, none more renowned than “Lazy Boy” a singer songwriter who wowed the crowds on the tour boat circuit during the 1990’s and up until 2004. His works are original and modern, yet retain the ambience and commentary of traditional Calypso.

Some of the Advantages of Using a Music Beat Maker

Believe it or not, it is possible to create you very own rhythm of music using an online music beat maker.

Due to the advancement of computer technology, it is possible to create your own special beat of music using online music mixing, songwriting and other tools. If you have some basic knowledge of musical chords or such, you may find it much easier to make your own music using these tools. There are online music and dance companies, which offer free use of their musical tools.

So, make full use of it to create your own special brand of music. Even if you never learned how to play any musical instruments, you can still have a go at creating your own music. Simply use the free or paid music beat maker tools to test out the beats of music.

It could be fun and exciting. Apart from that, it is a good way to learn how to create music or improve your musical skills. Some people may have hidden talents, which they might not be aware of until later on. By experimenting with these special musical tools, you might be able to create wonderful music or songs.

Even if you do not, it does not matter. You can use these tools for having a fun and exciting pastime with your family or friends. In the case of music enthusiasts, these tools provide a good training ground to pursue a career in music. For those who are in the stages of learning musical instruments, these tools can make learning music fun and exciting.

Moreover, there are some online music companies, which are willing to carry out reviews of your musical creations. They may even give you an opportunity to display your musical talent. So, spend some time to check out the worldwide web and try out your own brand of music using music beat maker.

Learn Jazz Improvisation With Chord Exercises

If you’d like to learn jazz improvisation, or learn to improvise in general, you’ve come to the right place!

Jazz improvisation is often viewed as the hardest part of learning jazz. The masters have left behind many tips and exercises though. Unfortunately people often hear these tips but never act upon them. So please take action on these tips to “learn jazz”.

When you have a song you’d like to improvise on, follow these preparatory exercises.

1. Listen listen listen! Buy CDs and vinyl records and listen to the jazz masters. Get as many versions of the song as you can.

2. Find sheet music (chord changes are the important thing). Try memorizing the changes, and just go through them in your head.

3. Figure out what the chord is for each chord change. Finding the chord and scale of each change will help you learn to improvise.

4. Once you know the chord, run up the chord 1-3-5-7 in eight notes over the change.

5. Then do 1-3-5-9. These steps may seem silly, but it will help you learn jazz, learn jazz improvisation, and learn to improvise.

6. Try both step 4 and 5 backwards. Go 7-5-3-1 and 9-5-3-1.

7. Then invert the chord as many ways as you like. Go 3-5-7-1, 5-7-1-3, 7-1-3-5, 3-1-5-7, etc. etc. Do every possible combination.

That’s a lot of work right there. And these are just preparatory exercises. And of those exercises, these are just chords! We still have scales AND scale tones to worry about.

This seems like a lot of work, and it is. If you follow this, you will quickly learn jazz improvisation, and learn how to improvise.

For Music Lovers, It Is Never Too Late To Learn To Play The Piano

For people who enjoy playing the piano, they can attest to the fact that it is never too late to learn to play the piano. Playing the piano should be an act of enjoyment and not necessarily age. Learning is a continuous process and piano lessons only gets better when people get to discover new things about the piano regardless of whether one is a learner or an established player.

Life is full of many issues that may stop individuals from pursuing piano classes when they are still young. Others are caught up in family life, that they hardly get time to enroll for the lessons. There are also other individuals whose careers take up most of their time that they don’t get time to play the piano. Taking piano lessons can be challenging for elderly students, but with a lot of effort they discover that the lessons are quite enjoyable and exciting.

Fortunately, the internet has made it easy for people to learn the piano regardless of their age bracket or engagements in life. The online lessons not only offer easy and flexible time schedules, it also offers a lot of expediency for learners. Learners can take the lessons at the comfort of their homes without having to worry about attending full time classes. This flexibility allows learners to learn the fundamental piano lessons including music chords and piano scales among other piano basic ideas.

Taking online piano lessons is very practical and it gives learners a chance to scrutinize the effectiveness of the program with former learners. Mastering the piano fundamentals only requires a student to take the lessons step by step.

This also furnishes them with excellent skills that they need to play the piano to the best tune. An individual thinking of enrolling for the course can select from the various programs available online. Though the teaching methods are different, but the basic concepts remain the same.

It is also advisable for learners to get themselves a keyboard to complement their lessons. A keyboard helps learners to master most of the basics that will be essential in handling the piano. At the end of the day, what is important is to remember that one is never too old to learn how to play the piano. Upon completing the program individuals may just realize that they have what it takes to play the piano confidently.

As much as methods of teaching vary, every online program is created to appeal to every individual wishing to learn. Whichever program an individual undertakes, it should be able to change the view that playing the piano is only for young people. The program should also be to improve the learners to sharpen their skills as well as give them self confidence.

To say the least, it is never too late to learn to play the piano. Taking these programs empowers learners as they also learn how to play the instrument with prowess. The courses are very reassuring for students who believe that they are never too old to learn the piano.