The Seven Diverse Sorts of Written Music

November 15, 2022

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

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

As a musician has a duty to play the chart prior to him properly, the supplier of the chart has the duty of supplying the proper sort of chart. Figuring out what type of chart to use for what kind of tune or gig is quite crucial.

This short article explains what the distinctive kinds of charts are, and under what situations to use them. I hope you discover it beneficial.


Charts can be very simple or elaborate according to the style of music and variety of gig. Cover tunes are traditionally learned from recordings classical and choral music can be found in sheet music stores as nicely as in numerous music catalogs several tunes will be identified 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 one of a kind manner) of a tune. Decades ago it was strictly a “cool” slang term for a tune, but any piece of music could be known as a chart these days, even though a classical buff may possibly not refer to a Mozart perform as a “chart.”

Being aware of what type of chart to use for what kind of tune is incredibly critical. When you’re playing a gig and an individual hands you a chart — it is what it is and you either read it well or not. But, if you obtain charts, have them created for you or supply them your self, you have to have to know which sorts to use for which scenarios. Years back, while undertaking singer showcases, singers brought in all kinds of charts: very good ones, undesirable ones, incorrect ones, inappropriate ones, and it was a genuine discomfort. The singers who supplied the suitable sorts of charts got their music played the way they wanted. The singers who had the incorrect types of charts did not, and weren’t quite content about it. Unless a musician currently knows the particular components, he can only play according to what is on the chart before him. Even though a fantastic musician can improvise a superior element in any style, if a precise musical line requires to be played, it demands to be written out.

As a musician has a responsibility to correctly play the chart prior to him, the supplier of the chart has the duty of providing an suitable a single.

With no obtaining into too a lot of music notation specifics, right here are the distinctive sorts of charts and when they are utilized:


A chord chart contains the chords, meter (how the song is counted, e.g., in 4 or in 3 (like a waltz), and the form of the song (the exact order of the sections). This kind of chart is mostly applied when: 1. the particular musical parts are improvised or currently recognized, but the kind and chords need to have to be referred to, 2. to supply chords to improvise over, or 3. when a last-minute chart requires to be written, and there isn’t time for anything much more elaborate.

A chord chart does not contain the melody or any particular instrumental components to be played. To play from basic chord charts a musician generally requirements to have steady time, know the chords, and improvise his aspect in what ever style the tune is in.


Sheet music is a shop-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 regular notation (normally classical), as nicely as in TAB. A great piece of sheet music will always say no matter whether 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 have heard on a recording is seldom present.

Many people today have knowledgeable the frustration of having the sheet music to a song they like, playing it, and discovering that the chords are distinctive from the recording, and at times the form is too. Unfortunately that is the way it is a lot, and it could be for a number of distinct causes. To get the precise arrangement and chords, you want to do a “takedown” of the song: find out it by ear. A takedown is when you listen to a piece of music and create it down. Takedowns can variety from basic chord charts to elaborate orchestral components or anything in involving. In order to do superior takedowns, you want to have superior ears, comprehend and be fluid with music notation to the complexity of the sort of music you happen to be operating with, and preferably recognize music (the extra the far better). Getting “excellent ears” consists of recognizing and understanding the music, irrespective of whether heard on the radio, played by a different musician, or heard in your head.


best queen tribute band are compilations of many tunes and frequently contain the identical details that sheet music does, along with the chords and arrangement becoming distinctive from the recording most of the time. Sheet music commonly has full introductions and endings, whereas songbook tunes are generally shortened to produce space in the book for much more tunes. Sheet music is typically written to be played on a keyboard, but songbooks come in unique designs and for different instruments. They are compiled by artist, style, decade, and in several collections such as film themes, Broadway hits, and so forth.

Songbooks are a fantastic reference supply when other, additional precise charts are unavailable. For instance: I necessary two movie themes for a gig after (client request). Instead of spending $8 for two tunes of sheet music, I bought a book of film themes for $16 that contained more than a hundred tunes. Sheet music and songbooks are quite unusable at gigs due to the fact of cumbersome web page turns and bulkiness but in an emergency you use them and do what you can. If possessing to use sheet music or songbooks for live overall performance, either: 1. recopy the tune onto 1-3 pages or 2. photocopy it and tape the pages with each other (while, strictly speaking, this may possibly be regarded copyright infringement). Make confident to usually provide a copy for every musician.

To play from songbooks and sheet music, a musician desires to be in a position to study the music notation, or at least improvise a element from the chord symbols, i.e., a guitar strum, bass groove, piano groove, and so on., or superior however, each. A vocalist can sing the words if they know the melody, or be able to study the notated melody if they don’t know it.


Lead sheets contain the chords, lyrics and melody line of the song and are mostly utilised by singers, accompanists and arrangers, although they appear on the bandstand now and once again. Songwriters use lead sheets to copyright their songs, and pretty frequently sheet music incorporates a lead sheet of the tune as a condensed version to use. Rather of having 3 to six pages of sheet music to turn, a lead sheet is generally one or two pages extended. 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 particular. A lead sheet is frequently written out by a music copyist, who is a person who specializes in preparing written music. Playing from lead sheets minimally needs 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 end, and so on.) and maximally possessing great accompaniment capabilities and reading notation fluidly.

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