Magazine article Guitar Player

Shortcuts to Reading Chord Charts

Magazine article Guitar Player

Shortcuts to Reading Chord Charts

Article excerpt

SIGHT-READING CHORD CHARTS is a big part of studio work. On a typical movie, TV, or commercial date, you're expected to create a solid rhythm part from a page of chord symbols. This chart is likely to contain altered and extended harmony. If you panic at the sight of D7[flat]5[flat]9, don't worry. There's a logical way to decode and finger the uptown chords you'll encounter in a session.

The key is to master three basic chord types: minor 7, dominant 7, and major 7. You need to know two forms for each type: one with its root on the sixth string, the other on the fifth string. Ex. 1 contains two ii-V-I progressions. The first (a) starts with a sixth-string-root Am7, goes to a fifth-string-root D7, and ends with a sixth-string-root Gmaj7. The second (b) reverses the pattern: Am7 with its root on the fifth string, D7 with its root on the sixth string, and Gmaj7 with its root on the fifth string. Easy.

Once you know the basic forms, learn the various extensions and alterations associated with each shape, as shown in Ex. …

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