Using Chord Chemistry by Ted Greene?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by drummondrs, Jun 14, 2006.

  1. drummondrs

    drummondrs Member

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    This book goes completely over my head in a way to use it. I really have no idea where to start and in which order to study it. If you guys have any tips of what would be the best to learn out of it and any tips for using it, that would be good.
     
  2. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    This should be an interesting thread. I've often pondered this myself.

    What exactly do you find overwhelming though? He does give you a huge list of chord voicings he considers essential. That's a pretty hard core list, but if you're in the habit of practicing 3-4 note voicings and inversions to most of the common chords, it will be a lot less overwhelming. It's still a lot of work though. From what I recall off the top of my head, the rest of the chapters are pretty good at explaining the objective (moving voicings up a 4th, voice leading, chord melody, etc.)

    Anyway, stating what you're having trouble comprehending will probably yield better answers.
     
  3. spencerbk

    spencerbk Member

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    good question!

    An exercise I've found somewhat helpful is finding a cool voicing and working it up and down the scale diatonically in different keys.

    For example: TG gives you a cool Cmaj7 voicing you never thought of before. Take that voicing up the neck diatonically through Dmin7, Emin7, Fmaj7, G7, etc. as far as you can and then back down. Then do the same thing in a different key (or eleven of them). This way every time Ted shows you a voicing you are learning the related major/minor/dominant/etc. voicings at the same time. Every now and then my exercise leads to a chord I don't like or can't reach.

    I'd love to hear other responses.
     
  4. rwe333

    rwe333 Supporting Member

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    I'd say, read through the text of the whole book to get a feel for it, then go back and start working on specific chapters. It's an incredible resource (as are all his books), but it can be overwhelming. As for all the chord shapes, start by finding a few that you can incorporate into your vocabulary, then add more when comfortable...
     
  5. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    I have to use chords in a tune or I forget them. So I typically take some voicings and apply them in a song or three. After I feel like I've got it down I'll go back and grab some more and so forth.

    As an aside. When I first started using Greene's book I decided I need to get back to basics. So I figured out major, minor, diminished and augmented triads in every inversion with the lowest note on the E, A and D string.

    A major root
    x
    --------
    -----5---
    -----6--
    x--------
    x--------
    -----5---

    A major 1st inversion
    x
    --------
    -----10---
    -----9--
    x--------
    x--------
    -----9---

    A major
    2nd inversion
    x
    --------
    -----14---
    -----14--
    x--------
    x--------
    -----12---

    For practice I'll go to a position like fifth and arbitrarily call out a chord and finger it as quickly as possible.

    For example:

    A minor
    x
    --------
    -----5---
    -----5--
    x--------
    x--------
    -----5---

    D major
    x
    --------
    -----7---
    -----7--
    x--------
    x--------
    -----5---

    F minor
    x
    --------
    -----6---
    -----5--
    x--------
    x--------
    -----4---

    I love these little triads. They are very flexible.
     
  6. drummondrs

    drummondrs Member

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    Firstly, I don't get when you are supposed to use each one of his essential chords. E.g. say I was reading a big band piece why should I use a TG voicing over a standard barre chord? Is it just choice for sound? Thats the main thing I also don't get in which order to read the chapters. For example triads is section 15 but it seems pretty key to the whole chord business.
     
  7. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Very often with big band stuff you play partial chords and/or open voicings for a couple of reasons.

    One, the band is already outlining the chord so you shouldn't clog the sound and two, it's easier to make quick changes with smaller voicings.
    In a big band context you are the rhythm to keep the music driving. Check out some Freddie Green for reference.

    I don't use the book sequentially but more like an encyclopedia. I just go through and pick out stuff I like.
     
  8. gennation

    gennation Member

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    I've written MANY a "how do you use Chord Chemistry" replies over the years...the best suggestion it to PLAY the examples, and LISTEN to what they are telling you. Sure Ted alsi give some great advice but the answer is in the examples...like that page od A chords: if you realize A has the notes A C# and E in it he then helps you realize that those three notes played ANYWHERE on the fretboard in ANY order, regardless of how complicated the fingering, is just just a plain old A triad.

    I've been using that book since about 1978, been through three copies, I swear by it and still find fresh things in based on the ideas he presents. And, I hope you find it to be the same holy grail as I have.

    Here's little collection of replies to your question I have posted over the years...(sorry for any typo's)...Good luck...

    --------------------------------------------

    Those chord sheets in Chord Chemistry are very intimidating for sure. But, plow through them dilagently and memorize what you can..but...

    the real thing you want to take away from that massive amount of chord is what he's doing with it...

    He's taking a simple A triad, and he's looking at it a three notes...A, C#, and E. Then he's finding those 3 notes EVERYWHERE on the fretboard and playing them in all sorts of form, pattern, areas, etc...

    So when people learn chords they learn patterns, finger placements and they call it a chord...but the musician knows the notes, the Intervals, of the chord and how to find them all over the fretboard to create "voicings".

    I have to leave right now...but I'll be back with some tips that can help you make it through Chord Chemistry. That book alone is probably the most important item, other than listening and playing to music, that helps me learn what's is all about. It opens a lot of doors, and windows for me. I've had 3 copies of it.
    ----------------------------------------------------

    So now, the important thing is...you can play either of those notes all over the fretboard, in as many whacky ways you can contort your fingers...and if it's those three notes, it's STILL a basic A chord regardless of how the notes are arranged.

    Anytime you are playing an A C# and E (ad A is the Root)...it'll be an A chord.

    Think of it kind of like this...

    The notes for an A chord are A, C# and E, right...you always need to know what notes you're dealing with...now A and E can be found on a few Open String...the low E string, the open A string, and the open high E string.

    So if we use those open strings and find A or C# or E notes on the other strings you can come up with some pretty cool chords...

    E--0-- = E
    B----
    G----
    D----
    A--0-- = A
    E--0-- = E

    So, we can find and A or a C# or a E note on the remaining D G and B strings. And, regardless of where we find those note we are doing nothing more than still playing a simple A chord.

    Like this...

    E--0-- = E
    B--2-- = C#
    G--2-- = A
    D--2-- = E
    A--0-- = A
    E--0-- = E

    E--0-- = E
    B--5-- = E
    G--6-- = C#
    D--7-- = A
    A--0-- = A
    E--0-- = E

    E--0-- = E
    B--10- = A
    G--9-- = E
    D--11- = C#
    A--0-- = A
    E--0-- = E

    And if you could possibly do it...even though it's difficult, it's still just a basic A chord...

    E--0-- = E
    B--14- = C#
    G--9-- = E
    D--14-= E
    A--0-- = A
    E--0-- = E

    Now look at this note displacement...again, not very feasible, looks difficult, but it's still just a basic A chord...it's still just A, C#, and E:

    E--5-- = A
    B--17- = E
    G--2-- = A
    D--14- = E
    A--0-- = A
    E--9-- = C#

    This is the main thing all those chord he has laid out are showing you. The KEY is to first FIND all the A, C#, and E notes on the fretboard...then use your ear and imagination to find the best chord for the tune.

    You'll find many many more than even Ted lists, but you need to get that basic idea of what he's showing.

    Ok, hopefully that shows you you want to "get" when your eyer uncross
    If you look at the book Ted does do some talking/writing, BUT...you notice there are more chords in that book then even all the letters themselves counted up...it's 100% about the CHORDS...how they and made...how you can make yours better...how chord relate to each other...and another big things he's showing you, Chord Voicings.

    He shows you a number of common chord concepts...the ii-V-I, moving chord in 4th, and again Chord Voicings.

    Your best bet is the read a bit, and play a lot.

    Personally I love the very first page in the book, the one where he shows you the "horrible sounding chord", then drops it between some other chords in a progression and shows you how that chord is "the perfect voicing" for that progression. I end up coming up with four other sets of chord voicings of the same progression. It's a great progression and exercise to try to "futher think" Ted.

    You don't have to start at the beginning, you can jump in just anywhere. But, slow yourself WAY DOWN and play all those chords. It's the only way to get the life long lessons out of the book...and without knowing it, it will accel your fretboard knowledge.

    The book you have there is a legend. Everyone from Larry Coryell, Steve Vai, Andy Levy, and others have used this book. Steve actually lists it as his #1 book suggestion.

    Just remember to not be overwhelm but just play the stuff, and slow yourself down to do it, you'll learn some VERY important information. Even after 30 years of playing I still turn to that book to take me somewhere else.

    Good luck, I hope it hits you like it did me...let me know in 10 years or so :)
    --------------------------------------------------------------

    And yes, once you grasp the idea of the A major chord, find the notes and Intervals for Am, Ab5, Aaug, etc...and Amaj7, Am7, Adim, etc...through the 9's to 13's.

    But take it slow and compare what needs to change in the A chord to make these other chords. Mna, you knowledge of chords and the fretboard it going to be good.


    ---------------------------------------------------------------


    Well, I'm glad it came out alright in text
    I really can't say enough about Chord Chemistry it's been the bible to me for decades. I can beleive I can keep going back to it rerunning stuff and it it humbles me at first and then coexes something out of me and I wander down a trail that is complete due to Ted's insight and him planting that seed.

    Hey, here's a really nice Ted Green lesson that Guitar Player magazine reran a few months ago...SabotageTheSys. this will keep you busy while your waiting. Talk about chords...

    all the chord forms are the "Ex." links to the right. Enjoy.
    http://www.guitarplayer.com/story.asp?sectioncode=7&storycode=11345

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    That's only one of the things in the book...but at first view those two pages consisting of 75 to 100 chords are very intimidating and most people have no idea how to deal with them.

    The book is about chords and nothing more, although you gain a great sense of melody/chordal movements, and a thorough understanding of the fretboard.

    The best part about the book is all the Chord Voicings...finding the perfect chord/chords for your progressions.

    You these concepts and more, plus how to USE them instead of just how to PLAY them...Chord Melodies, ii-V-I progressions, how music uses the Circle of 5th's/4th's, substitutions, polychords,... Ted is the Master when it comes to chords. He's like Tal, Lenny, and Joe wrapped up into one. Seriously.

    Here's the table of contents. Check the book out, it'll clue you into to decades of useful knowledge...

    Actually amazon has a few of the first pages from it...when you'r at this site, click the right arrow to see a few of them.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0898986966/ref=sib_dp_pt/102-3707728-0564963#reader-page

    --------------------------------------------------------------
     
  9. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Great replies already, thanks everyone. I did forget to mention that I think his book Modern Chord Progressions is the practical workbook for Chord Chemistry. I hate telling someone to buy a book to better understand another book, but MCP is much more about making musical sense of pretty abstract chords and voicings.
     
  10. drummondrs

    drummondrs Member

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    Big thanks for the response gennation, made it that little bit clearer. I guess I will get MCP dkaplowitz, because I will have all these voicings in my head and nothing to use them on and test them out
     
  11. OOG

    OOG Member

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    when i studied with Ted it was almost scary to ask him a question. he'd walk over to this HUGE filing cabinet and pull out all this paper and you'd be thinking, o man, i gotta learn all this stuff before i come back:eek:

    his suggestion to me was play through all of it (easy for a dumb ass guitar player like me to do in tab as opposed to reading chord stacks and having to figure out where they lay) and pick out what you like.
    if i only really learned one inversion off a page i was happy.

    i use a whole bunch of chords i learned from the master but the most valuable thing for me is was learning to understand chord construction and to be able to the see the individual chord tones all over the fretboard.

    above all be patient and keep going
    this takes time
    and it's really worth it
     
  12. melondaoust

    melondaoust Member

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    I have worked through some of the pages of that book...
    Really great resource!

    I probably did like Ted said "Work through and keep what you like." I have incorporated some of the voicings into my playing and use them regularly.

    I think that the work also pushed my chord thinking in different directions (along with lessons with rwe333). I find I use more "different" voicings (long stretches for piano-like sounds, rather than barres and standard voicings) more often than not.

    After some of this, I found myself hating the sounds of regular barre chords and looking for ways to add spice to 'em (even adding a 7th feels better to my ears than Root, 3rd, 5th only)...
     
  13. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Lots of good suggestions here. It's always been my opinion that this book is a 'must' for any guitar student's library, and I work through it with many of my own students in lots of different ways.

    My favorite thing about this book, though, is that it doesn't present a method at all. You approach it, take something from it, work it in somewhere, then come back and get something else. But the thing is, as you grow and advance, you will come back to it with new ways to work with the material and extract exercises form the material, that is as your own creativity and sophistication grow, you will devise more sophisticated and creative ways to work with it that are as much of what it's about as anything actually in the book (certainly moreso than going through it from page 1 to the end in a linear progression).

    It's a book who's usefulness will actually grow with you. I've been doing this since I got my first copy in 1976, which I still have. I feel the exact same way about Mick Goodrick's The Advancing Guitarist.
     
  14. jdiesel77

    jdiesel77 Member

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    i dont understand the chord voicing part....like the notes leading into the other notes..
     
  15. gennation

    gennation Member

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    "Chord voicing" is one thing...the other, "voice-leading" is another thing. Together they go great but are really two separate things.

    Chord voicing is when you re-arrange, add to, or take away, notes in your chords to get the 'sound' you're looking for. What you have is, the "voicing". It's also why open chords sound so much different than their barre chord counterparts...it's the arrangment of the notes...the "voicing".

    Voice-leading on the other hand is where you play a chord/voicing then change a note in it which moves you, or leads you, to the next chord. You change the voice to get you to the next chord in the song. Chord-melody playing is a perfect example of Voice-leading.

    Hopefully, that makes some sense? Now go back a reread Ted's chapters again with this in mind.
     
  16. jdiesel77

    jdiesel77 Member

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    i was talking abt voice leading sorry...i still dont get it!
     
  17. crazy4blues

    crazy4blues Member

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    I don't have TG's book--yet, but there was some of his ideas published in one of the magazines. It's only about 3 pages worth of stuff, and I've spent the last 10 months working on about 8 measures of it! However, I have to say that I've been able to incorporate some of his ideas into my playing.

    Here's an example:

    C G
    -------------------
    --5-----------8----
    --5----------7-----
    --5---------5------
    -------------------
    ----8--------7----

    Instead of just playing the C and G barre chords at the third fret, you can try these two. Move this progression up a whole step (i.e., D to A), then add an E9 chord with the B in the root at the 7th fret, and you have the basic progression in Hendrix's "Hey Joe." Admittedly, it may turn out to be a hard reach, but the old addage applies: start slow, gradually speed up. Just keep trying it. Eventually you'll get it.

    This is why I haven't rushed out to get Ted's book just yet; I'm still working on this ONE idea. Just grab a couple of chords in this book, get them under your fingers, then see if you can incorporate them into tunes you already know. It'll sure enough crack open your playing in ways you never thought about!
     
  18. gennation

    gennation Member

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    Try this simple chord progression ||: G | Em :||

    Play an open G chord...

    G

    E--3--
    B--0--
    G--0--
    D--0--
    A--2--
    E--3--

    Then a Open Em chord:

    E--0--
    B--0--
    G--0--
    D--2--
    A--2--
    E--0--

    Now try this...
    Code:
    ||: G      G/F# | Em :||
         1 2 3 4
    
    Like...

    G

    E--3--
    B--0--
    G--0--
    D--0--
    A--2--
    E--3--

    G/F# (really only play the F# on the low E string)

    E--3--
    B--0--
    G--0--
    D--0--
    A--2--
    E--2--

    Em

    E--0--
    B--0--
    G--0--
    D--2--
    A--2--
    E--0--

    You are using the F# note to lead you from the G to Em...this line is leading you...

    Low E string --3--2--0---

    This is a VERY basic idea but that sound of moving you in a direction to the next chord is voice leading, or leading tone.

    You can exploit it more using higher notes. But that's the idea.

    Hope that helps a bit.
     
  19. DrSax

    DrSax Member

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    I love all of Ted's books, too. The most important thing, I think, though is to understand chord construction. Once you know this, and it takes time (where are all the 3rds, 7ths, 5ths, roots, etc etc., get to know how they lie on adjacant strings, how the 3rds and 7ths move when you go to the next chord in a ii-V-I, etc), you don't need all those pages of charts with chords!!!! You don't have to remember each separate chord in your brain, you will already know how to construct whatever you want. "Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. TEACH a man how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime". "Give a man a chord, you have given him one chord. Teach him how to construct chords, you have given him all chords!"

    Not completely knocking all those pages of chords in his books, as i do go to them on occasion, but I so much prefer his explanations on when to use them, on substitutions, etc.
     
  20. crazy4blues

    crazy4blues Member

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    +1 that! This is actually how I learned a lot of my chord positions. One little game I like to play sometimes is to take a tune like "Little Wing," and play it in as small an area as possible on the fingerboard. So you end up playing the whole song between, say, the 6th and 8th frets, hardly ever moving your wrist. THEN, move somewhere else on the board and so the same thing. Finally, bridge the gaps. You start finding that there are almost endless possibilities, just as DrSax suggests.
     

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