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Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #1 
Another noob question.  Sorry if this all seems obvious.

I have MCP, and am beginning at the beginning.  Of course I find the voicing for the I iii IV V progressions on pages 15-16 to be really beautiful.  That's the point of the book, I believe.  But I don't fully understand what Ted G intended us to do with the material.  I can play through the exercises, but I don't really understand how he envisioned practicing or applying them.

I can play through an example.  Aha, yes... that is very nice.  Then I try then next.  Hmmmm, another pretty one.  OK.  Next... But that doesn't seem to have any meaningful learning going on.

What next?  I can't really just play five chords over and over again without any musical context.  Or is that exactly what I'm supposed to do?  Play them ad nauseam with a metronome?  Is there a part two where there are etudes or pieces where these are applied?  I am not expecting to make instant music with this material, but what would be the anticipated path?

A little background, I've been playing for 30+ years and can read standard notation passably well.  I have almost always played solo guitar, never in an ensemble.  I have loved players like Bert Jansch or more recently Tony McManus and Martin Taylor.  It has been 20 years since I played a classical guitar, but I still listen to it regularly.  I like the music of early Jazz like Armstrong and Lester Young and grew up with parents who loved Stan Getz and Dave Brubeck, so I have that cool jazz sound very much in my heart. The goal, quite simply, is to be able to arrange and play solo guitar using modern jazz harmonies and sensibilities.

Posts: 267
Reply with quote  #2 
The simplest and most straightfoward thing to do would be to insert the progressions you are practicing into turnarounds of favorite pieces and/or pieces you already know well; regardless of what changes happen to be written in the sheet music you use (As long as the key is major). If there is a melody on the turnaround, then in some cases there might be a conflict, you need to try it, but if there isnt a melody, then it should work no problem, plus you can use them during the solo section on the same turnarounds if they conflict with a melody. For example, if you are playing "what a wonderful world" you would transpose the examples into the key you play the song and insert them at the turnaround (when the word "world" is pronounced) . there won't be any conflict because there is no melody during the turnaround.

Another good application is to use them as intro/outros and interludes. All this will probably involve transposition, which also a very good thing to do with the examples in MCP.
and i guess the most obvious use would be to find a song with these changes (I iii IV V ) and use them to solo or expand the piece.

Dmolished = Egads

Posts: 337
Reply with quote  #3 
In addition to what kontiki said, I would add:

There are a lot of chords to learn, yes?  And it's nice to learn them in progressions instead of just in isolation.  To me this is huge and the main reason I favor MCP over Chord Chemistry.

Also, the progressions in MCP are melodic, with attention to voice leading.  So these are models for your own work.

As always, with Ted material, you can practice the way he taught me:

First teach the fingers to play straight through.
Then teach the brain to follow the chord names.
Then visualize the roots on the fingerboard as you go.
Then watch the soprano, realizing the chord tone there.
Then the bass.
Then maybe the inner voices.
Finally, extrapolate and apply in situations, change up rhythms, etc.


Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #4 
Thank you for your suggestions.  I admit I am struggling to see how to apply these to a known standard.  The melody seems so strong and the voicing rather delicate.  I don't see how I would just plop this in.  Should I be using MCP more like a reference or dictionary rather than work through it?

Let me give a concrete example.  Say I am working with some Rhythm Changes.  More or less something like this for the first 8 bars:

||Bb6-Bdim|Cm7-F7|Bb6-Bdim|Cm7-F7|Bb7 %|Eb-Ebmin|Bb6 %|Cm7-F7||

Would I look for I-vi-ii-V7 progressions and try them over the first 4 bars?  Eg, grab something off of page 48? Then what about the I-IV-iv-I plagal cadence in bars 5-7? Grab something off page 15?  Try to combine them?  I'll try that, but I was hoping there was a more established method.


Posts: 267
Reply with quote  #5 
OK, let's just stick with the I iii IV V for the moment since that was your original question, and they can be a little less obvious to use compared to many of the other more obvious "turnaround progessions like I VI ii V.

Rhythm Changes are always tricky due to the sheer speed they're usually played at, but if you analyze the changes you'll see that the whole thing is based on "turnaround" changes, so you could always substitute other chords under the melody, but, for the moment I was just talking about using the examples of MCP during the "actual" turnaround. Now in "I got rhythm" rhythm changes the actual turnaround (on the word "more") lasts for only 1 measure. So that's 4 chords to get into one measure = 1 chord per beat. Depending on your tempo, that's pretty fast or even too fast to get in the MCP examples. If your playing at a slow tempo (somewhere under 100) then it's possible. 

So the 1st section of "Ive got rhythm" would look like this: (using your chords more or less) remember to transpose the mcp example into Bb

      ||Bb6-Bdim|Cm7-F7|Bb6-Bdim|Cm7-F7|Fm7 Bb7|Eb-Ebmin|Cm7 F7|MCP example I iii IV V||    

if you're playing chord melody, then you need to find an example that has the top note starting on the root (like example 2) because the last melody note of the phrase at the turnaround on the word "more" is on the root. or you could adapt one of the other examples to start on the root.

As i said, rhythm changes is a tough example because of the speed and the small space one has to play a turnaround. There are numerous other tunes where the conditions are much easier.

Now, all this was just to use the MCP examples at the turnaround, but if you're just comping (not playing the melody) you can subtitute the I iii IV V changes (and mcp examples) everywhere .

it could look like this:
||Bb6-Dm7|EbMaj7-F7|Bb6-Dm7|EbMaj7-F7|Fm7 Bb7|Eb-Ebmin|Bb6-Dm7|EbMaj7-F7||

you could conceivably do it everywhere (in the A section) but of course that would sound very bland and repetitive.

Hope this helps. Could you give us another example of a tune you play, in order to help you on a less extreme example? is there a specific rhythm changes tune you had in mind?

Dmolished = Egads

Posts: 337
Reply with quote  #6 

You might clarify what your interests or goals are.  If you like the progressions in Modern Chord Progressions and you feel a benefit of working through them, why not just do so?  Get them in your blood and enjoy them.  Trying to find applications of them in tunes may be the most advanced and final step.  If you've learned to walk and are ready to run, great.

But if you want to study, say, comping, you might do better with lesson sheets on comping from this web site.  Or if you want to study chord melody arranging of standard tunes, you might learn Ted's arrangements of standards available here on this web site, and take them as examples.  Or if you want to work on rhythm changes, you might enjoy working on Ted's A Session With The Stars video and the accompanying sheets.

In other words, if MCP is a round peg that you are trying to fit into a square hole, there are a ton of other pegs here that you might really like.

On the other hand, if you like MCP and finding applications of it are of interest, then great.  You are on your path of discovery and following your heart.

Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #7 
Thanks, so much helpful info!

I picked Rhythm because it has all those I-iv-ii-V's and one chord per melody note:

(I)I've (iv)got(ii)star-(V)light, (I)I've (iv)got(ii)sweet(V)dreams,(I)I've (iv)got(ii)my(V)man,(I)Who could(I7)ask for(IV)anything(iv)more?(I)Who could(V)ask for anything(I)More...  

MCP seems to demonstrate one chord per melody note, so I thought it might apply.  However, I am not wedded to Rhythm.  If that is trying to apply a round peg to a square hole, can you offer a concrete example of where it would be appropriate?  Likewise, I've only just picked up MCP.  It is hard to know what it is, or for, until you work through some of it.  It was my understanding from the cover that it would lead me through examples of chord progressions and how to construct them when arranging for solo guitar.  Maybe I'm looking for the wrong things in MCP?

I didn't want to overwhelm the first post with a long bio and musical goals.  I'm exploring.  I do this for love.  I have no need for anything in particular.  However, my broadest goals are to develop a finger-style solo guitar repertoire that I can perform for family/friends and on the occasional solo gig.  I do not often play with others (more's the pitty).  Beyond that I would like to be able to play fun and familiar tunes and create interesting arrangements --much like the early jazz players took tin pan alley tunes and created more sophisticated and engaging arrangements.  Initially I would like to focus more on the lighthearted familiarity of the music from the early 20th century, although I would like to incorporate the same techniques to any familiar pop tune regardless of period. Even beyond that, rather than just making a straight ahead solo arrangement (which is hard enough to do) I would like to incorporate some of the sophisticated harmony and melodic phrasing of jazz without getting too deep into the bebop weeds.

I came to this site because of the book.  I've seen some YouTube of Ted Greene solo playing and thought it was something I would like to know more about.  His seem to be more lush and delicate sounds than what I had in mind, but still very much what I like.  I thought MCP would be an underpinning to the chord-melody arrangements.  I thought it would be better to start there over just jumping in and learning some transcriptions.  It is always better for me to know HOW an arrangement was made and THEN copy, rather than just learn a bunch of tunes and hope to sus out the thinking.

So those were my expectations and goals.  Again, I'm flexible.  I learn this stuff for joy.  I am not a professional musician and I have no demands on where my music goes.  There are not a lot of players/arrangers of solo jazz guitar who are also good teachers.  For example, the Joe Pass books are not particularly useful and could use some editing despite his obvious virtuosity. I was looking to MCP and Ted to help me as a solo guitar player.

Posts: 337
Reply with quote  #8 
How is an arrangement made?  Ted is not here any longer so he can't answer.  I'm not sure he could have completely even when he was alive.  We bring the sum total of our musical experience to our musical endeavors, don't we?  And when he arranged, he brought his vast chord vocabulary, his feel for the style, his attention to melody and bass and smooth connection, etc. to the arrangement.  When you create your own arrangements, you will bring the sum total of your musical experience to the process and it will be different than Ted's and different than mine.  So the how - other than the obvious of sticking chords under melody notes - is something you explore and grow with by doing, yes?

If I wanted to be a writer, I'd read great literature, in addition to trying to write.  So if you want to play chord melody arrangements, why don't you just dive in and play some of Ted's?  Some are hard and some are easier and some start easy and get harder.  You'll find them at:

You can have your cake and eat it, too.  You can pull chords or progressions out of MCP and apply them to I Got Rhythm or whatever tune you want to work on.  And you can learn a Ted arrangement of a tune or two.  Welcome and enjoy!

Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #9 
Thank you James.  That certainly answers my initial questions.  There isn't a resource where TG himself applies these progressions to actual music and explains a method for their application.  I won't keep looking for that.

Posts: 455
Reply with quote  #10 
Regarding your work with MCP: 

One thing I've noticed is that a little more familiarity with the sounds can help apply the sounds.  When there is a mismatch it isn't so much a problem as it is simply a sound that don't work for you at the time.  Slowing down and just listening might help. 

The other approach could be to flip your logic around: instead of forcing chords into a tune, listen to his examples until you hear some sounds that remind you of a song.

Many players have opened micky baker's jazz books, (which are rather simple), and been reminded of many standards. (Simple isn't bad by the way.)  The baker chord sounds are not as diverse and subtle as Teds because he has so many more. 

I'd try listening until I found some sounds that "rang the bell" for a particular song or arrangement, and then go from there.  And I'd be taking my time as I did this.

Good luck.


Posts: 337
Reply with quote  #11 
Also, rirhett, at some point I think you will be interested in substitution.  You may already know the basics of chord substitution such as that a dominant chord can be replaced by one with a root a b5 away.  But Ted gets quite deep into the topic which you will likely find useful and enlightening.  One place Ted discusses chord substitution is the Session For the Stars video and accompanying sheets.  There are other places.

Chord substitution is not exactly what you are asking, applying MCP progressions to tunes, but it is somewhat close because it is an important principle in applying chords to tunes.

Posts: 1,773
Reply with quote  #12 
I have a different take on this issue.  I find that working thru a lot of various chord progressions like in MCP (as well as other lessons pages in the "Guitar Lessons" section of the site), and Chord Chemistry is a training for our ears, minds, and hands - that goes deeper than just using some new chord for one song only.

It's like you're expanding your musical vocabulary by adding more words, phrases, and sentences.  You might not have an immediate use for a particular chord sequence, but the sound of it gets registered in your brain when you play through it, and at least attempt to understand it, and possibly label in some way (i.e. give it a description: melancholy, uplifting, tense, dark moody, cheerful and bright, etc.).
Then, sometime in the future when you're working on a song - either comping or an arrangement, or whatever - and you find yourself in a situation where you need a specific sound, then that's when stuff like MCP moves may come to the surface and be exactly what you wanted/needed/was hearing inwardly. (Depending on how deeply you concentrated on hearing/understanding it during the "input" stage.) But, if you never exposed yourself to those sounds in the first place, you might not be aware that they even existed.

I think a lot of what Ted was doing in his lessons and books was exposing us to new sounds, new ideas, and new combinations of chords. If previously we were living only in a world of rock and blues, we might not be familiar with a 13b9#11 chord, much less how it could be used in the context of a song. And you may not like it today, or as an isolated sound - and that's okay - but given the right circumstances it just might be the "Oh, wow, that sounds cool!" sound that you're looking for.

Just some ideas....

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