FAO Guitar Experts... Please

• Mar 2, 2017 - 20:06

Ok.. so normally, I may write a piano score, with guitar chords above.

Now which one of these should I write

The second example is strictly correct, but is it possible to play?

When I complete the arrangement I will be adding a Bass guitar :)

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Key is d major
Tuning is standard EADGBE
This is bar 2 of a 4 bar phrase...

Here is the complete phrase.
So the bass line is simply
D - C# - B A - G A

Chord sequence
DMaj - AMaj (first inversion C# bass) - Bmin - (passing note A) Gmajor - A major.

Hope that helps :)



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In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yeah, sorry -:)

My question is really more of an 'is this playable?'

Technically, the strings and frets are corect. (Please double check that to make sure -:) ) However, would a guitarst be able to play this...

A friend of mine suggested that it's not possible, but I would lie to know what others think.

Many thanks

It's playable, but I notice you've got a major 9th / 11th (G#BD triad) going on under your final A, and an A chord going under your G. You may need to investigate your chord shapes - or am I missing something?

In reply to by mkjnovak

Sorry, I don't understand. Are you refering to bar 2 or bar 4?

Bar 4 is simply a G major chord to an A chord

Bar 2 is a B minor chord for 3 beats, with a b minor chord and an 'A' passing note in the bass
on beat 4.

Or at leat that's the way I look at it


In reply to by mkjnovak

HA-HA LOL! (need a rolling on the floor emoticon -:) )

Thanks.... my stupid eyesight... I hadn't noticed the error...

It should be - as you correctly pointed out - a G major chord followed by A Major in the guitar chords as well

rushes off to correct -:)


Ps I think I should hire a proofreader -:)

In reply to by stupot101

No problem. My missing the key sig... it happens to all of us.

I have some further thoughts on your q of how to publish:
What is the nature of who will be getting these parts?
In a jazz-type session, a guitarist might just be working from a lead sheet - chord names and possibly important rhythms only. The details will be worked out in person.
In a more orchestrated session, you would put down precisely what notes you want when; the player will bring up if anything is impossible.
Finally, as a reality check: some guitarists will see an A and not even look at the diagram and give you an A chord they know and is convenient to play at the moment. If you catch it and complain, fine; if not, fine. :)

Final thought:
If a C# bass is important, notating A/C# is important - not just A.

In reply to by mkjnovak

Of course -:) Yes, the A/C# would be standard.

i will probably print it as you suggest.. chords on top of a leadsheet... so work with guitarist will be essential.

The others I have worked with in the past simply did their own thing...

The songwriter wanted to produce the sheet music for future publication.

Thanks -:)

The second version is playable with the proper hand size or with a barring of the pointer finger, but it's not something I'd imagine most guitarists would like to do. If the open high E = String 1, then a possible way would be
1: Open
2: Middle
3: Pointer
4. Pointer
5. Pinky
6. X
Where the pointer finger has to be careful not to touch the open 1st string
I don't really understand a non-guitarist making guitar chord charts; it seems another treble clef or the actual letters (like Am7 etc.) would do instead, but that's just an opinion. On the other hand, forcing yourself to write guitar charts, even if you don't play, could give you more experience with the tuning structure. Either way, good luck with your writing, "dude".

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In reply to by worldwideweary


What I normally do is more or less what you suggested... I may scribble out a melody line for myself. then write the chord names above, eg D, A/C#, Bmin (/A) G, A
(In my neatest handwriting of course -:) )

However, I'm working with musicains I don't normally work with...

How would a music publisher produce the sheet music for example. Would they simply write the fretboard charts above the stave with the 'simplistic' chord (as in example 1) patterns, or would they faithfully reproduce the an accurate transcription of the chords from the piano score? (as in my attempt in example 2)


In reply to by stupot101

FWIW, I can't answer for an other music publisher, but if I were to do this and you handed me a print or file, I wouldn't change the notes - a tone for another tone - due to difficulty (so I'd stick to example 2) unless it was absolutely impossible. Plus, this way the performer/reader gets to know exactly how it ought to be and can choose to perform differently via judgment rather than going by a sheet that isn't necessarily a one-to-one correlation to the actual composition. If it were impossible to play, in this case I'd get in contact with you (the composer) and explain the situation so the composition would be revised for the particular instrumentation used, and if I got no help but only "do what you can", I'd even omit a note in a chord for instance rather than change its root tone. As a suggestion, maybe two chord diagrams stacked could be used: an original and an alternative for playability after getting in touch with your performers.

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In reply to by stupot101

I can answer one question definitively: no one would normally try to produce a fretboard diagram that exactly mimics the specific voicing of the chord used in a piano part. Piano and guitar are different instruments with different ranges, different spacings between notes, different methods of playing, etc. Plus the piano might also be playing the melody and/or bass notes. It is not normally the case that a voicing which makes sense for piano in any given context would also make sense for guitar or vice versa. There is no expectation of that whatsoever. You write for piano in a way that makes sense for piano, and write for guitar in a way that makes sense for guitar.

Thanks for your quick response.

I was trying not have too many root position chords, and produce a smooth bass line (hence the A passing note in bar 3 under a b minor chord)

Yep. That's what i'll do... I will produce 2 copies, see which is playable when offered to a guitarist.

The bass line will be played on a Bass as well -)

I am able to work out the individual notes that make up the chords and inversions on the guitar, for me it's more 'is it physically possible?'
I understand the complexities of making such decisions. Some musicians in the past have come to me to write the piano part for ensembles and various arrangements, without realising what will sound effective with realistic piano style playing (broad term i know -:)
too many notes i one hand etc.

It woud be interesting to know how Music Publishers approach this problem though. Do they simply use a 'best possible match' approach?


Thanks for the help and advice.... :-)

A few weeks time and I will have had a cataract operation... so I hopefully won't make the same mistake wih the guitar chords in bar 4 LOL! :-)

(rushes off to puchase a much larger screen)


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