Charts (lead sheets)

Song charts, also called 'lead sheets', are useful for finding out how to play a jazz tune.

They usually consist of the melody, written in conventional musical notation ('the dots'), plus the chord symbols, normally written above the bit of melody they apply to, but sometimes below. Here's a piece of a chart showing the first 4 bars of 'Giant Steps' by John Coltrane. It's taken from my battered old Real Book.

chart of Giant Steps

Sometimes the tune isn't supplied, and you just get the chords. This may be for copyright reasons, or it may be to save space (e.g. on a smartphone screen). Sometimes you get the lyrics.

Books of chord charts are available as 'real' books (aka 'fake' books).

Advantages of charts: Disadvantages of charts:

The chord sequence of a tune is sometimes called the 'chord changes', or just 'changes'.

Of course, to play from a chord chart you need to know how to interpret chord symbols.

It's worth pointing out that not all charts will agree on what the correct chords are.

Here's a discussion of extensions - chord symbols that have a 9, 11, or 13 in them.

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