A Guide To Lead Sheets

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1 Fakebooks are large collections of songs written in the form of lead sheets. A lead sheet is a piece of paper which outlines the structure of a composition. Typically, a lead sheet contains a song's melody, chord changes, and lyrics if it features a vocal line. It may also consist of an introduction, ending, rhythmic hits, and more depending on the arranger and the degree of detail included in the lead sheet. However, lead sheets generally supply a minimal amount of information, and much of it is written in a form of short-handed code which must be deciphered by musicians. Bassists are often required to navigate through lead sheets, and in order to successfully complete this task, you need to be able to quickly identify several components including: - Chord Changes - Song Form - Melody - Key Signature - Time Signature - Clef - Style - Tempo - Introduction - Coda - Repeated Sections - Vamps - Articulation Markings - Signs - Symbols - Dynamics - Terms Not all of these variables will be present in every lead sheet, but when reading a lead sheet of an unfamiliar composition, bassists should first review the chord changes and song form. Unlike a singer, horn player, pianist, or guitar player, bassists are rarely expected to perform the melody of a tune during a live show. While it is a very important step for bassists to memorize melodies when studying songs, the chords and form are more significant when playing with an ensemble since bass players are required to improvise bass lines and solos over the changes. Even though fakebooks are excellent tools for learning songs, many of them are filled with inaccurate melodies and wrong chord changes. Unless you have access to the songwriter's original manuscript, sometimes it can be practically impossible to determine a composition's original chords. The only way to make sure you are playing the tune properly is to transcribe the music from the recording. If a recording isn't available, you can analyze the chord changes by comparing them to the melody. If the melody contains a note that is not a part of the chord symbol, then the chord change is incorrect. Depending on the particular song and the number of chords it contains, the changes are usually the most challenging to memorize. While many tunes are highly structured and written using basic chord progressions such as the ii-v-i, ii-v, V-I, I-vi-ii-V, or iii-vi-ii-v, others are not as easy to follow because the chord changes seem completely random. Try to identify larger chord progressions instead of memorizing changes individually. Rather than viewing BbMaj6-Gm7-Cm7-F7 as four separate chords, you can think of all four chord changes as a basic I-vi-ii-V chord progression in Bb major which is one of the most common chord progressions played in jazz music. If you can connect changes together in this fashion, it will make memorizing larger sections of the song much easier.

2 Although the classic 32-bar A-A-B-A song form is the most popular in jazz, there are many common forms including A-B-A-C, A-B-C-D, A-A-B-C, A-B, A-B-C, A-B-A, and A-A-B among others. Lead sheets for songs written in other styles of music such as pop, rock, or country will follow a similar outline, but instead of classifying sections of a song A, B, C, or D as in instrumental or jazz music, songs may consist of verses along with prechorus and chorus sections as well as a bridge. Once you have determined the form of the composition, play the melody a few times on your instrument and sing it as well. For ease of reading, the melody is usually notated in the middle register of the treble clef on a lead sheet. This minimizes the usage of ledger lines which can make the melody more difficult to read. However, you can play the melody in any register of your instrument. Break the melody down into small one, two, and four-bar phrases. Learn each phrase separately, and then put them together until you have the entire melody committed to memory. Since most melodies are fairly repetitive within the same sections of a song form such as the "A" sections of an A-A-B-A form, this task is relatively easy. If the tune features lyrics, memorize them because they will help you recall the melody and tell you what the song was written about. As you analyze melodies, be aware of their contour and how the notes outline the chords. If you have a recording of the song, use it as a play-along track, and play it over and over again until you can play and sing the song solo without any accompaniment. One component that often confuses musicians is the key signature. In a lead sheet, the key signature only affects the melody of the song. It isn't applied to the chord changes. For example, the key signature of the tune may indicate D major (F#, C#), but there might be a chord symbol of CMaj7. The most difficult pieces of information to capture and convey on a lead sheet are rhythm and phrasing. If you are already familiar with the tune, you will have an idea as to what it is supposed to sound like before you play it. If you are performing the song for the first time, you need to search for clues such as the style or tempo. Labels including "swing," "bossa," or "rock" will tell you stylistically whether the song should swing or is to be performed with a straight eighth-note feel. Lead sheets don't usually include tempo markings, and if a tempo is indicated, it is typically an approximation like "ballad," "medium," or "fast" which is placed above the first measure. These expressions will provide you with an idea as to how fast the composition is to be played. In addition to reading lead sheets, bassists are often presented with just a composition's chord chart. Chord charts provide a basic template for playing a piece of music and generally include only a song's chord changes and form which is just enough information to permit bassists to improvise bass lines and solos. When you navigate through a lead sheet or chord chart, try to position yourself in a manner so that the neck of your bass is in a close visual line with what you are reading. This will allow you to shift positions with your fretting hand while using peripheral vision without taking your eyes directly off the music. Read at least one measure ahead of where you are playing, and don't forget to listen to everything going on around you. As a member of the rhythm section, it is especially important that bassists pay particular attention to the drummer or percussionists because they will often signal the start of a new section or the end of the song form with rhythmic accents.

3 Chart With D.S A 5 % To Coda 27 B

4 D.S. Al Coda Take Repeat 57 Coda

5 Road Map With D.S. Play Measures 1-4 (Introduction) Repeat Measures 1-4 Play Measures 5-12 Repeat To Rehearsal Letter A & Play Measures 5-10 Skip 1st Ending & Play 2nd Ending (Measures 13-14) Play Measures Continue To Rehearsal Letter B & Play Measures Repeat To B & Play Measures Skip 1st Ending & Play 2nd Ending (Measures 39-40) Play Measures D.S. Al Coda (Return To D.S. Sign, Play To Coda Sign & Play Coda) Play Measures 5-12 Repeat To A & Play Measures 5-10 Skip 1st Ending & Play 2nd Ending (Measures 13-14) Play Measures (To Coda Sign) Jump To Coda & Play Measures Measure 59 Is Repeat Of Measure 58 End Measure 60

6 A 1 4. Chart With D.C Fine B D.C. Al Fine Take Repeat

7 Road Map With D.C. Play Measures 1-12 Repeat To Rehearsal Letter A & Play Measures 1-8 Skip 1st Ending & Play 2nd Ending (Measures 13-16) Continue To Rehearsal Letter B & Play Measures Repeat To B & Play Measures Skip 1st Ending & Play 2nd Ending (Measures 29-30) D.C. Al Fine (Return To Measure 1 & Play To Fine) Play Measures 1-12 Repeat To A & Play Measures 1-8 Skip 1st Ending & Play 2nd Ending (Measures 13-16) End Measure 16

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