Symbols: Chart Reading Master Class I


Quite often a good guitarist can look bad because he or she may be confused by a piece of sheet music or something contained within the sheet music. This situation, which can cause you go to someone else can easily be remedied with a little careful study. This will let you know how the pros write out their sheet musical parts. A musical part or a generic lead sheet given to you for playing purposes is called a Chart.

This lesson is your Chart Reading Masterclass I because once you complete your Chart Reading Masterclasses you’ll have all tools you need to be a ‘chart eater’.

Example 1: Style, Tempo & Special Instructions

Before attemptimg any piece of music get an idea of the ‘big picture’. In other words the style of the song, the tempo (beat or speed) of the song and any special instructions the composer or arranger feel are needed to have the song performed in the spirit in which it was written. This is an excellent habit to form and musically can make all the difference in the world.


Example 2: Rhtyhmic Notation

The two measures you see below mean exactly the same thing: Play a C Major Chord for for even quarter notes. Most guitarists and writers prefer to work with the Rhythmic Notation because it looks cleaner and is easier to read.

You could play any form of a C Major chord which you know. As all guitarists all use the same common knowledge chord forms you would select the C Major chord which best suits your purposes at the moment.



Example 2: Bar Lines

Normal bar lines simply divide the measures of music, Repeat Bars demand that whatever is inside of them be repeated, Double Bar Lines indicate that a new section of music is begining.


Example 3: Repeat Bars & Measure Numbers

Image4324789 Keep your eyes open for Repeat Bars. They’re easy to miss and can really create havoc if you don’t have an awareness of and respect for them.
If you draw charts by hand, giving the Repeat Bars ‘wings’, as in the drawing below, can make Repeat Bars easier to spot.



wingedrepeatMultiple Repeats are indicated by a number drawn in the repeated section. This number tells you how any times to play the repeated section. In the example here, you’d play an 8 bar section.

|G7 | C7|G7 | C7|G7 | C7|G7 | C7|


Example 4: Repeat Marks & Slash Marks

Image7975914This symbol, which looks sort of like a percent sign is called a Repeat Mark. It means to repeat the same chord, or melodic line from the previous measure. The Slash marks tell you to play in tempo, using an E7#9


Example 5: Multi Measure Rests

A rest, encased in repeats, can often be accompanied by a number which tells you how many measures of rest you need to count before you come back in playing music. The rests in the example below could be counted like this;

1 2 3 4, 2 2 3 4, 3 2 3 4, 4 2 3 4, 5 2 3 4, 6 2 3 4, 7 2 3 4, 8 2 3 4


Example 6: First & Second Endings


Here you’d play the first two bars immediately followed by the first ending (two measures colored green), then return to the beginning again and repeat the first two bars (Dmi7, G7) now skip the first ending and go directly to the second ending (two measures colored blue).

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