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Question about guitar chords in sheet music
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Honolulu, HI

December 2, 2014 - 1:36 am
Member Since: August 28, 2014
Forum Posts: 376
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Aloha everyone,

I was attempting to finish my latest tune with the new MuseScore 2.0b1 app, and I noticed that I can now include guitar chords, the ones showing the strings and frets, with the sheet music.  Instead of just typing "A", "Em7", and so on, I can put in the actual chord as seen on the guitar.  I looked up the chords, not being a guitar player, but I would like to have them verified by someone who is a guitar player.

I checked out the A and E major chords.  Attached is the screenshot I took of them as shown in the MuseScore app.  Please let me know if these are correct.   Also, do guitar players prefer this style, or the text equivalents, as shown in the above paragraph?

Thanks in advance for any and all responses.






Brora, North-east Scotland
December 2, 2014 - 3:38 am
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 3741
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Yup, correct.  There are of course other positions, and barred versions.  I don't use the digrams (any more).  For guitar piece I think the best way is just to notate using the chord name A, E etc, and, if felt necessary, append, at the end of the score the fingering diagrams for each unique chord in the piece  (for those who may require it)

That's my thoughts.

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)


December 2, 2014 - 3:39 am
Member Since: May 4, 2012
Forum Posts: 2379
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Usually either the letter name or the little chart is fine.  

There are some cases where you definitely want to use the little chart, though.  If you want a guitarist to play one very specific voicing of the chord, then it is best to chart it.

Like in the examples you show, that is an A major, but the E major you are showing is a variation that could be notated as a E/B.  Meaning an E major chord (E G# B), with the lowest pitched note that is played being a B.

If that was the exact sound you wanted for some reason, and it would mess stuff up somehow to have the E as the lowest note, then the chart would show exactly which voicing you intend for the guitarist to do.  Any chord can be played in many different places on the neck and in different voicings/inversions.  Usually a guitarist will pick the voicings to fit well or do the version of the chord that they know best or that is the most economical transition.  If you use a chart like that, it indicates a very specific one that you are saying must be played.

Which is good in some cases, obviously.  But if you don't play the instrument, it may not actually be one of the voicings that would sound the best there, or one of the ones that is easy to play, which could be important if you intend it to be playable by beginners.

In one of your compositions that I read through, where I recall the chords are changing every couple of beats, that could be an awful lot of little diagrams to look at closely to see if there is anything specific like "don't play the low E string as you usually would on this E major, let the B note be the bass note instead" for each and every change. 

So it is kind of a judgement call.  If you feel you know the instrument well enough that you are making specific choices based on taste to get a specific effect, then yeah, the little fingering diagrams are a way of specifying that.  It can make it more difficult to follow though, if that isn't what you actually need. 

If you're just having it score chords played on a piano into guitar chord charts, it may not sound as much like a guitar when actually played as you might be expecting.

Bet you were hoping for a simple and easy answer to your question, right?  LOL

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

Honolulu, HI

December 2, 2014 - 10:46 am
Member Since: August 28, 2014
Forum Posts: 376
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Aloha @BillyG and @DanielB,

Thanks for your responses.  It is actually easier to just use the text vice the chart (you still have to go into each individual chart and move the fingering dots to the correct position), so I'll continue to do what I've been doing in the past.  

I went to a website that had a chord chart with a good number of chords.  These were  all akin to a guitar's "1st position" - they were relative close to the tuning pegs of the guitar.  I realize that it has a much longer neck and you also have the capo that effectively lessens the length of the strings, but that website didn't have, for example, a C chord in any other position.  I am not a guitar player, so I really should leave it up to them cool

Thanks again for your responses.  This makes it easer to wrap up my latest tune, which should be out today.





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