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Thread: Reading chords over lyrics

  1. #1

    Default Reading chords over lyrics

    When you are playing along with a song by reading the chords over the lyrics do you always change at the beginning of the lyric the chord is over or do you sometimes find the change is a little after?

    I frequently find myself changing after the lyric is sung, it sounds right to me but I don't really trust my ear

    Hope this makes sense didn't really know how to word it....

  2. #2
    Registered User
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    Jan 2010
    Fort Worth, TX

    Default Re: Reading chords over lyrics

    That's very common, especially if you're using lead sheets done in "doc" or "rtf" format (or even a PDF if it's rendered as text instead of an image) because even if the person who prepared the sheet originally had the chords in all the right places it's not at all uncommon for slightly different fonts (i.e. if your machine doesn't have exactly the same font the author used) the operating system "guesses" at the closest equivalent and often spacing suffers. (This is why I like to see lead sheets done in a fixed font like Courier.)

    Plus, often the person doing the lead sheet doesn't get it right, and often the people you are playing with may not be playing it exactly the way the recording was done. This last thing is very common. Many bands "lose" syncopation that was present in the original.

    Generally, I begin by listening very carefully to the recorded song while I have the lead sheet open. I'll move the chords around as necessary. Then, if I get to rehearsal and find out that it's still not right, I'll adjust on the fly. After you've been playing with a group for a while you get to where you can "feel" where most chord changes are coming even when they aren't written down correctly. That skill comes to some of us (notably myself) more slowly than to others...

  3. #3
    Cambridge Mandolinist Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Mar 2004
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    Default Re: Reading chords over lyrics

    Took me years to figure out that my ear is more trustworthy in playing song than someone else's lead sheet.

    Start by trusting that the chords are accurate but the timing is off.

    Hope this helps!

  4. #4
    Registered User
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    May 2009
    London, UK

    Default Re: Reading chords over lyrics

    I agree. Trust your ear. Anyway, when you're playing that song, it's your music, so what sounds right to you is right.

  5. #5
    George Wilson GRW3's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    San Antonio, TX
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    Default Re: Reading chords over lyrics

    If you check out the chord and lyric sites you might wonder why they all use that old-timey typewriter font. It's because it is not leaded and not proportional. Every letter and space takes up ths same room. When you cut and paste you need to put it in your document the same way.

    The font of choice is usually Courier. Sometimes you can 'fix' a chord file by copying it and pasting into Word (or some other word processor) and forcing a conversion into Courier. Sometimes the websites don't support true Courier and the product is leaded, even if it not proportional. (I think this was a problem with the Cafe in the past but it's been a long time since I tried it.)

    On the other hand, sometimes the people who write it down are just crazy. Sometimes they are too smart and write it down in the singers key instead of a 'standard' form noting the capo position. (I.E. writing in Bb instead of G capo 3) This is particularly annoying in songs with lots of chords.
    George Wilson
    Weber Bighorn Mandolin
    ca. 1900 Clifford Mandolinetto
    Martin Guitars

  6. #6

    Default Re: Reading chords over lyrics

    If you need to go to someone elses transcription for the chords, I don't think that you should complain that they don't put it in the form that you like. Beggars can't be choosers.

  7. #7
    Registered User toddjoles's Avatar
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    Oct 2002
    San Diego, CA

    Default Re: Reading chords over lyrics

    When I first started playing mando with others, I had some issues too. First I realized I need to feel the change and not be tied to the lead sheet. Then I realized that some times when you are chopping chords feeling can sometimes deceive. It "feels" like you are changing late when in actuality you are changing at the right point, the 2 or 4, while everyone else already changed on the 1 or 3.
    Todd Joles, handyman and aspiring luthier!

    San Diego's own Rock Bottom Bluegrass!

    Traditional music played without talent!

    The greatest band you've never heard!

  8. #8
    Michael Culliton mculliton123's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    Aurora, Illinois

    Default Re: Reading chords over lyrics

    I try to cue in on the note change, i mean, if the lyric is multi-sylable where does the note change 'trigger' the chord change? most lead sheets put the chord at the begining of the lyric but the actual change might be a beat OR two later. FWIW
    All the Best

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