The Seven Diverse Forms of Written Music

Aug 23, 2021 Others

As a bassist, bandleader, teacher, and music copyist, I’ve worked with hundreds of singers throughout the years. Although functioning musicians know hundreds of tunes, singers will need to have very good charts in order to have their music played the way they want. I define a “superior chart” as a piece of written music that properly tells the musicians what they ought to play.

Written music comes in seven basic types: chord charts, sheet music, songbooks, lead sheets, fake books, master rhythm charts and completely notated components.

As a musician has a responsibility to play the chart just before him appropriately, the supplier of the chart has the duty of delivering the right kind of chart. Realizing what kind of chart to use for what type of tune or gig is very vital.

This short article explains what the various varieties of charts are, and beneath what circumstances to use them. I hope you uncover it beneficial.

Varieties OF CHARTS

Charts can be straightforward or elaborate according to the style of music and sort of gig. Cover tunes are traditionally learned from recordings classical and choral music can be located in sheet music stores as nicely as in various music catalogs quite a few tunes will be located in music books of all kinds and lots of public libraries carry recordings and written music for your use.

The word “chart” refers to any piece of written music or any arrangement (music that has been adapted in a exceptional manner) of a tune. Decades ago it was strictly a “cool” slang term for a tune, but any piece of music could be referred to as a chart these days, although a classical buff may not refer to a Mozart function as a “chart.”

Figuring out what type of chart to use for what kind of tune is really crucial. When you are playing a gig and an individual hands you a chart — it is what it is and you either study it nicely or not. But, if you buy charts, have them created for you or give them oneself, you need to know which kinds to use for which circumstances. Years back, although performing singer showcases, singers brought in all sorts of charts: excellent ones, bad ones, incorrect ones, inappropriate ones, and it was a actual pain. Saxophonist in Atlanta GA who offered the correct types of charts got their music played the way they wanted. The singers who had the wrong sorts of charts did not, and weren’t really pleased about it. Unless a musician currently knows the certain components, he can only play according to what’s on the chart prior to him. Though a excellent musician can improvise a very good part in any style, if a distinct musical line needs to be played, it wants to be written out.

As a musician has a responsibility to properly play the chart ahead of him, the supplier of the chart has the duty of supplying an appropriate 1.

With out getting into as well a lot of music notation specifics, here are the unique kinds of charts and when they are employed:


A chord chart contains the chords, meter (how the song is counted, e.g., in 4 or in three (like a waltz), and the kind of the song (the exact order of the sections). This variety of chart is primarily used when: 1. the distinct musical parts are improvised or already identified, but the kind and chords will need to be referred to, two. to offer chords to improvise over, or three. when a last-minute chart wants to be written, and there is not time for anything additional elaborate.

A chord chart does not contain the melody or any precise instrumental parts to be played. To play from simple chord charts a musician fundamentally requires to have steady time, know the chords, and improvise his part in what ever style the tune is in.


Sheet music is a retailer-bought version of a song printed by a publisher, which contains the instrumental element, chords, lyrics, melody and form. An instrumental piece will, of course, have just the music. Sheet music is written for both piano and guitar. Guitar sheet music is in normal notation (often classical), as properly as in TAB. A great piece of sheet music will usually say no matter if it really is for piano or guitar. Most sheet music is not meant to be totally representative of the actual recording, and the actual arrangement that you’ve heard on a recording is seldom present.

Many individuals have seasoned the aggravation of having the sheet music to a song they like, playing it, and discovering that the chords are unique from the recording, and occasionally the type is also. Sadly that is the way it is a lot, and it could be for a quantity of diverse causes. To get the exact arrangement and chords, you need to have to do a “takedown” of the song: learn it by ear. A takedown is when you listen to a piece of music and create it down. Takedowns can variety from very simple chord charts to elaborate orchestral components or anything in between. In order to do superior takedowns, you require to have great ears, recognize and be fluid with music notation to the complexity of the type of music you are functioning with, and preferably fully grasp music (the much more the far better). Possessing “good ears” consists of recognizing and understanding the music, whether or not heard on the radio, played by a further musician, or heard in your head.


Songbooks are compilations of several tunes and typically contain the very same information and facts that sheet music does, along with the chords and arrangement being unique from the recording most of the time. Sheet music generally has full introductions and endings, whereas songbook tunes are usually shortened to make space in the book for additional tunes. Sheet music is usually written to be played on a keyboard, but songbooks come in distinctive types and for various instruments. They are compiled by artist, style, decade, and in numerous collections like movie themes, Broadway hits, and so on.

Songbooks are a fantastic reference source when other, much more precise charts are unavailable. For example: I needed two movie themes for a gig as soon as (client request). As an alternative of spending $8 for two tunes of sheet music, I bought a book of film themes for $16 that contained over a hundred tunes. Sheet music and songbooks are pretty unusable at gigs due to the fact of cumbersome page turns and bulkiness but in an emergency you use them and do what you can. If obtaining to use sheet music or songbooks for live functionality, either: 1. recopy the tune onto 1-3 pages or two. photocopy it and tape the pages together (though, strictly speaking, this may well be regarded as copyright infringement). Make positive to generally give a copy for every musician.

To play from songbooks and sheet music, a musician needs to be able to read the music notation, or at least improvise a component from the chord symbols, i.e., a guitar strum, bass groove, piano groove, and so forth., or better but, both. A vocalist can sing the words if they know the melody, or be able to study the notated melody if they never know it.


Lead sheets include the chords, lyrics and melody line of the song and are primarily made use of by singers, accompanists and arrangers, even though they seem on the bandstand now and once again. Songwriters use lead sheets to copyright their songs, and quite normally sheet music includes a lead sheet of the tune as a condensed version to use. Instead of possessing 3 to six pages of sheet music to turn, a lead sheet is ordinarily a single or two pages lengthy. Lead sheets do not include any music notation except the melody and chords, so a musician demands to know how to improvise when reading from one. A lead sheet is typically written out by a music copyist, who is a person who specializes in preparing written music. Playing from lead sheets minimally calls for playing an accompaniment from the chords and understanding the kind directions and symbols (the markings telling you to go to the verse or the chorus or the finish, and so on.) and maximally getting outstanding accompaniment expertise and reading notation fluidly.

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