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  • Writer's pictureDavid Winkler

Chord Symbols

I'll admit it ... I'm a music theory nerd! Since my early days of playing the piano, I've been fascinated with the sounds of harmony and how harmony is described in terms of music theory.

One of the challenges faced by a rhythm section player involves how to properly interpret the symbols used for various harmonies. Unlike most members of a band or orchestra, rhythm section players (i.e., those who play keyboards, guitars, electric bass, drums, and percussion) are generally called upon to improvise their own parts, using a basic chart consisting mainly of chord symbols and a few rhythmic notations.

Difficulties arise at times when there is confusion in understanding and interpreting the meaning of the chord symbols. Since no standardized notation system exists for chord symbols, often a single chord may be represented by different composers in several different ways. In other cases, a given chord symbol may mean different things to different people, or a chord symbol may be written in a confusing or even incorrect manner.

To assist players in understanding and interpreting these chord symbols, several years ago I wrote a book titled Chord Symbols: A Guide to Interpretation. The book is written in simple language so that even someone not having an extensive music theory background can understand the concepts presented. The book would also be helpful to any composer, music teacher, or conductor. It's available in a beautifully bound form, or you can purchase downloadable PDFs and print your own book. I hope you'll consider obtaining a copy for yourself and for others that you teach or conduct.

P.S. - if you need a last-minute piece for Christmas, please check out the new CHRISTMAS music page on my website:


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