Ted Greene Chord-melody Arrangement - September 1, 1984
Compilation pages by Paul Vachon
Ted's Original Lesson sheets
My Compilation Pages
This is Ted’s arrangement of the classic song by George Gershwin. Make no mistake about it - this is a difficult arrangement to play on the guitar, but it’s doable if you put in the time and make some slight modifications according to your current ability. Ted utilizes several long-stretch, close-voiced chords that will prove challenging for most hands—not impossible, but difficult to play smoothly for most of us “mere humans.” Don’t shy away from this piece; give it a chance and work on those difficult chords. You may surprise yourself to see that you can play those monster chords, and you just might learn to love the sound of those close-voicings.
Find ways to make this piece (or any of Ted’s arrangements) playable by utilizing alternate voicings that are true to Ted’s chords but perhaps tweaked slightly to make them easier on your hands. However, for this song you’re going to have to do at least some stretches, and all I can say is that the more you play them the easier they get. I’ll offer a few “workarounds” below for some of these monsters. Once you’ve learned the chords, you may wish to break up the rhythm a bit so it isn’t so stiff. Sometime adding “delays”, as Ted called them, helps to separate the melody line from the harmony and/or bass line.
You’ll notice that most of the chord movements in this arrangement involve passages with ascending or descending bass lines. I believe Ted was focusing on this aspect here. And you’ll find it interesting to compare the “basic” chord changes against Ted’s re-harmonized chords. Also check out his other pages on “I Got Rhythm, Comping.”
Some comments and fingering suggestions: (referring to the compilation pages)
P.1, line 2: The Cm7 sounds pretty good without the Bb on string 5, if that’s too much of a stretch. It keeps the descending bass line going, so you really don’t lose much. If you want to enhance this movement further, then play a Bb after the C on string 4. The next chord is F7+, which is a monster stretch. Here I play a 3-note chord on strings 4,3,2. I play A,C#,F—but A,Eb,F also works, but without the augmented sound. Both work well, and follow the descending bass line.
P.1, line 2: For the Fm7 in the second measure, go for the stretch and then keep your fingers planted on the 5th and 4th strings for the B13 that follows; just do a little flip-flop with your 1st and 2nd fingers. You can do it!
P.1, line 2: For the Ab7/6 at the end of the line, finger it as: 1,2,2,4 then lift your 4th finger to get the X note with the side of the 1st finger (utilizing the George Van Eps 5th Finger technique).
P.2, line 1: To play the Bb13 chord finger it: 4,3,1,2,1 (GVE 5th finger tech.). If this is too much, then try this as an alternative: Ab, D, G, Bb—played on the middle 4 (or on the top 4 strings).
P.2, line 3: At first I didn’t think I was going to get comfortable with the voicing of theG7 in the first measure, but it turns out fine after I put in the time to get used to the spread. If you want an alternate fingering play the same notes on strings 5,4,2,1. For the G7 in the second measure, I opted to play it as a G9, replacing the B on the 2nd string with an A.
P.2, line 4: Try this for the Cm7(b5): 2,1,3,4,1 (GVE 5th finger). For the F9 I simply dropped the low F note.
P.3, line 1: The Gb7 at the end of the line (lower level) requires the GVE 5th finger technique to get the Bb on the top string. I prefer the alternate Gb7 (on the upper level).
P.3, line 2: Bb11—Whoa…that’s a stretch! I prefer the B9(#11), and I also sustain the low F on the 6th string from the previous F7/6 chord.
P.3, line 2: The Ebm6 at the end of this line could be fingered a couple of different ways: 1,4,4,4 then left 4th finger completely off and catch the C note with the fully barred 1st finger. This is the easiest way. If you want to sustain the notes on strings 2 & 3 you could finger it: 1,3,3,4 then lift the 4th finger off to catch the C note with the fully barred 1st finger. This is a bit more awkward, but it wouldn’t be unusual for Ted to do something like this.
P.3, line 3: The Bb – Bb7/Eb – C\9 – F7b9#11 offers some interesting possibilities for the best fingering with economy of motion. Here’s a couple that work well: (GVE means it uses the George Van Eps 5th finger tech.)
1,1,2,1 to 1,4,2,1 (GVE) to 1,3,4,1 (GVE) to 3,1,2,1.
1,1,2,1 to 1,4,2,1 (GVE) to 2,3,4,1 to 3,1,2,1.
1,1,2,1 to 2,4,2,1 to 3,2,4,1 to 3,1,2,1. (I use this, but it’s a real finger-bender!)
P.3, line 3: For the G7b9+ you could use a barre at the 13th fret, or what I prefer is this fingering: 1,3,2,2 then add the 4th finger for the G note on the top string.
P.3, line 3: If you’re having a hard time with the G7#9+ (at the end of this line), then try dropping either the D# on the 3rd string or the B on the 2nd string.
I added the final Bb chord at the end since Ted didn’t include anything here. Just lower the Cbmaj9 a half-step and then add the 6th string Bb for some bottom…some harp-harmonics sound great too!