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Discussion in 'Music to Your Ears' started by Matt Sarad, Apr 17, 2021.
I will text chord changes for 'new old songs' to band members.
But honestly anymore,
everyone is just used to me yelling chord changes to them on the fly in the middle of a song at a gig- until they sink in!
( we don't play anything hard and are old enough to sort of know stuff in our heads)
That's our 'rehearsal' anymore, Ha!
But good enough, to just pull simple stuff off on the fly.
From a slightly different perspective, years ago I read that Stephen Sondheim always composes to sheet paper "because it forces you to make decisions". I started doing it ~10 years ago, and I love it.
So, my songs look a lot like a real book entry - melody written out on staff paper with chords written above the staff. Then later I write lyrics on a piece of notebook paper.
My recording partner is literally on the other coast of the US, so when I write a song, I just send him pics of my transcribed song along with scratch takes of piano and voice.
The only real gigging band I had one member was OCD and computer whizz so he did the whole book. It was amazing.
I have a simple app on my iPhone called VoiceRecord that makes pretty decent audio recordings. Once we work out a song in rehearsal then we do a run through from beginning to end and I record it. Sometimes it takes a few tries, but that's all part of the rehearsal learning process.
I then post it to a DropBox we all have access to. So at any given time there are current, latest version recordings of all of our songs on DropBox. Between that and a few judicious crib notes it is pretty easy for all of us to practice on our own along with our recorded tunes, or to share them with others if we need a substitute or want someone to sit in. If we have a higher quality studio recording of a song that we've done then that goes into the DropBox and the scratch live rehearsal recording gets superseded by that higher quality audio version. For covers we are usually aware of which particular version we are trying to emulate and know where to find a YouTube link or whatever. If we've altered it we have a couple of crib notes on that, such as a change of key or the addition of an extended solo section or whatever.
Another tip if you record live in the studio with the whole band is we will put up the song structure on a whiteboard where everyone can see it. That way we can follow along while performing live and everyone is much more likely not to blow a transition from one section to another. If we do that live no big deal but when recording it's best to avoid any of those stupid clams.
we usually have two or three rehearsals before
so yes I make charts and write out important material, esp. BGV harmonies
charts on stage hamper the vibe and make things sound more like a recital
I'm the official 'band archivist' -- each song in the setlist gets a chart, noting starts/stops/solo spots/outros, in addition to chords & lyrics. A chart may go though multiple revisions before it goes into the setlist bank, and the most recently agreed-to one goes up to a shared Dropbox folder so everyone knows what's going on, vs. different versions of reality. Also really handy if you need to bring in a sub, or in our case, whenever we eventually reconstitute after a year-plus 'vacation'.
There's a wide difference between a full-on chart and a simple cheat sheet. A cheat sheet is a lot easier to write out than a traditional chart, no question. In some ways a cheat sheet can also be easier to follow once someone has walked you through it. I remember playing in a symphonic band and jumping around through first and second endings, key signature changes, following the D.S. al coda to the Coda, etc., could be confusing, especially if it was a multi-page chart that required flipping the page. Especially if it was a medley of Broadway tunes!
I do it for my band. I have a system I like, which keeps everything to 1 page, with big type so you can see it. Cheat sheet style, not a full chart. It's rock and roll, the most you need are a couple cues here and there. I find they are most useful to have for the arrangement.
I scribble out the Nashville numbers on the verse chorus arrangements then when a band mate (vocalist) wants to switch keys. No problem we can continue.
That's a nice example of what I'd call a 'chart'. With this, I can see the structure and know when to play each chord without even knowing the song. I make similar charts for the band, which allows them to remember songs, or quickly learn new songs.
An added bonus is that it sets in stone the basic structure of the song and helps the band play better together.
The earlier example of lyrics with chords isn't something I'd call a chart. For me, you need to be able to count the number of bars, which isn't possible by just writing chords above the lyrics.
So.. Verse, Chorus, Bridge etc...122bpm. Nashville number system
Here's a chart I once made.
I do it like @Peegoo for our cover band
I start with the lyrics, getting them right, in tbe right structure
Then the chords above, in bold, placed exactly at the lyric syllable where they happen. Internet chord sites are a clue, but check the key you want to use, and most chord charts are at least a bit wrong!
The whole song on one page.
That's generally enough to keep us together, and beats, leads etc can be worked out on the fly
I worked as musical director for a singer for a while. He had frequently changing line up of players, so everything was charted out. It was standard notation with some lines written out, slash notation for rhythmic figures, and chord changes on staff paper.
I`ve done a lot of gigs where there was a book of charts and you played through those. Makes it easy to do the gig but harder to memorize.
Most gigs I played, people learn their parts. I might write out some charts with short hand notation, cheat sheets for nme while learning the parts.
For a jam group we had going before the pandemic, I was writing out sh÷ts with chords over lyrics. The online ones vary in quality and accuracy so I usually do a lot of edits.
Nice. That's very close to what I ended up doing, as well. Four bars to the line, and just 'hints' for the lyrics. I found a font I like a little better than Courier, called Lucida Console. Any monospaced (constant space) font works well for this.
I’m not in a band but sometimes play at my local church, and I’ve been using musescore some to write arrangements, here’s one of them:
Me and a bunch or my musical pals have OnSong on our iPads. If one person has the chart, they beam it to everyone and then everyone instantly has it on their iPad. Here's a screenshot:
You can use an Airturn foot switch (Bluetooth enabled) to advance the chart by page up or page down, or scroll up or down, or jump as many lines forward or back as you like (you preset that in preferences).
I keep all my charts in Dropbox and have OnSong sync'd to Dropbox to load the tunes I want on the iPad. It is a really cool app. If someone is singing and the chart is in a key the singer can't reach all the notes in, it takes two seconds to flip the song to the preferred key and the chords all shift and everyone instantly has the updated chart in front of them. Editing on the fly and adding yellow 'sticky' notes is simple too.
Charts can be imported from formats such as plaintext, Rich Text, MS Word, and several other text editors.
Many church bands use OnSong. I'm not in a church band, but it works so well my soul just might be saved by it.
Thanks @Peegoo, you answered my next question which was "How do you use this stuff in real time to help you while you're playing?" I appreciate you reading my mind!