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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi all-

I have been getting back into chord chemistry after putting it down for awhile.  I have one burning question though.

I am referring to the "essential chords" section, it starts with a bunch of A chords, then A minor, etc.  This is the section before the chord reference charts. 

My question is: these chords often have 6  tones - are you supposed to play them as written?  Or for each chord, as he writes out in tab, is he depicting more than 1 chord position, to be played separately?  I cannot figure out - even with barring - how to play these chords. 

Any help appreciated.  I'm really want to seriously study this book but I cannot play these chords. 


Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #2 

if any of ted's former students had any insight that would be great- also wanted to add that the way I am seeing these chords written in his tab notation seem physically impossible to play!  I wish I could post an example but i think everyone knows which pages I am talking about - those "essential chords"


Posts: 1,773
Reply with quote  #3 
Hi Starr,
Welcome to this website and Forum!
I see what you're referring to.  First, go to Chord Chemistry, ch. 2 on how to read the chord diagrams.  Here Ted explains that a filled-in dot indicates a note that is to be played, and an unfilled dot (or circle) is an OPTIONAL note.

So for the diagrams you mentioned there are often lots of optional notes that you can play if you want to add them...not necessarily all together!  Try adding one or two in addition to the dots.  For each grid many different variations can be derived.  This is more efficient and space-saving than writing them all out.

The reference pages in CC can be overwhelming if you are thinking of trying to memorize them all.  That's not necessary.  Just familiarize yourself with them and give each one a try.  You'll discover ones you already know, some new ones that you'll love and will want to remember (highlight them in your book), and some very difficult finger-twisters that you hope you never have to play again! 

The main thing is to learn to see each of the notes as chord tones of that chord.  See the root, 3rd, 5th, etc., of each note--either the dot or the circle. 

When you know the chord formulas, and when you can see the notes as tones in the chord -- then you will have the power to create at will whatever chord voicing you want or need.

By the way:  Ted referred to his chord diagrams as "grids," not TAB (which he didn't like).

Hope this helps.


Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #4 
I highly recommend Ted's book Modern Chord Progressions. It uses all the chords you see there in the Chemistry book buts places them in short musical phrases which makes them much easier to memorize and retain because you will hear the chords in context. Ted later developed a way to categorize chords based on the distance between the notes he referred to them as Voicing groups 1-14 which is much more useful for those that feel the need to memorize and categorize chord sounds. At one of my lessons with Ted i asked him how long it would take me to master all the voicing groups he told me Wes Montgomery used only v2 (voicing group 2) for his entire career!!! making the point that memorizing a bunch of chords is not in itself necessary to play well. Learn a few chord's and learn to play music with them before you go forward.


Posts: 63
Reply with quote  #5 
Starr, Welcome to the forum.  I'm glad that you asked this question here.  There are some nice ideas above.  Ted would have suggested the same.  He never intended that anyone should memorize or build a huge chord vocabulary.  That would be a horrible waste of time, kind of running around a cul-de-sac, i.e, you never get anywhere.  Pick the chords and sounds that you love and use them in real music.  Oh, Ted did know and use all of them, but.......come on, he was Ted.

Posts: 118
Reply with quote  #6 
I also found that CC is a bit overwhelming to take in chunks of almost any size.  But working through MCP was much easier and it was easier to learn the chords because I was playing them in context.  Also, in MCP Ted tends to repeat the same chord shapes quite a bit with only slight variations in the optional notes.  This is not a criticism, it's actually a good thing.  I found that I learned the most by simply playing the progressions in MCP without focusing on trying to memorize each progression.  I just let the progressions wash over me and after a page or two they start to coalesce into new ideas. 

If I find a chord progression that sounds particularly cool to my ear I'll try to memorize that.  But for the most part I just let it wash over me.  You'd think that this would mean that I wasn't really learning the chords but I've found myself in jam sessions grabbing a new chord shape before I realized that I was doing it because I was so use to making those movements.

Now that I've played so many of the chords in context I then go back to CC and look at the other ways to play a particular chord.  The 2 books together really do seem to compliment each other.

By the way, the chapter on chord substitutions and the one on the blue in CC are just amazing.


Posts: 35
Reply with quote  #7 
Ive been developing a method to memorizing that is proving beneficial. Its based off of what Ted says on memorizing like forms but "tweeked" as it were. I have found that the same groups of notes repeat themselves a certain number of frets up or down and over to the next string going right or left from wherever you start.

For Instance, an A major triad starting on the 2nd fret on the D, G, B string (notes being E A C#) will repeat itself up the neck 5 frets and over starting on the A string on frets 7 7 6 (A D G strings). The chord then repeats one more time starting on the 12th and over on the E string on frets 12 12 11 (E A D strings)

Hope it makes some sense. The idea is to memorize the same chord in different places easily. Its not full-proof and the overall idea needs tweaking but I have found grouping the same notes in different areas easier to memorize than what Ted has put on the page (not that I am disagreeing with how he wrote out the chords I just dont fully understand some of what he was doing on the essentials

All in all this works for me but it may not work for anyone else.   

Posts: 64
Reply with quote  #8 

Hi everyone!As a newbie to the site find all the above of great interest-had Teds CC &MCP for years but never really understood what he was at until I was given a laptop and saw"himself"playing-so I am now trawling thru MCP and begining to understand string transference and applying it but I do find learning the tones of chords difficult.But the progressions are great.Ted could hear all these before he played them like all good players can

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