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October 2019 • Newsletter


Fall greetings to all Ted Greene students, friends, and fans!

This month we’re sharing with you a few excerpts from an interview with Ted that can be found in Barbara Franklin’s book, My Life with the Chord Chemist. This section touches on some of Ted’s thoughts about his practice/work habits and his performances:

TG: …Talkin’ truth, I couldn’t practice for beans back then anyway. Very little discipline, lots of emotion. Lazy but excited – hmm, that sounds better than “excited but lazy” doesn’t it?

AA: So how on earth did you ever acquire your fantastic work habits and ability to focus so intensely – qualities somewhat legendary among those close to you when your name comes up. Did some thing or someone play a key role?

TG: Yeah. The doctors. They took out a lot of excess catnip from my blood. But seriously, eventually I went through a lot of changes as a person, probably grew up a bit, and reached a dead end as far as “feel” getting me through everything – because the music I really wanted to play asked for lots of discipline. There was no way out. I had to change – I was a sad guy.

AA: You say ‘sad’....

TG: Sad about the state of my playing not providing a zing any more, and sad because I didn’t want to work, certainly not work hard. Especially not at music, which I started up with to have fun. I fought with the work part of it – I still fight with it. But I dig results an awful lot so I’ll stay in there. Most people like me don’t have any choice really, you know. Music is too great to say goodbye. Terrible grammar but I know you can dig what I mean. Even when the work knocks a person out of their sleep over and over: “Wake up, there’s work to do, Toneman.” “I don’t think so.” “Alright, just forget the whole thing.” “Wait a minute, I’m up, I’m up.” “Now you’re talkin’. What are we workin’ on today?”

AA: Did you set goals?

TG: That’s exactly it. Goals, little goals. Step by step. That gets it done. No news to anyone I guess, but it’s sometimes good to remind oneself. Time out for playing too – groovin’ – so I wouldn’t get too grouchy about it all. That’s still me. My work habits aren’t that strong.

AA: What did you study?

TG: Everything I could get my hands on that seemed to have any knowledge I was attracted to.

AA: In many fields of music?

TG: Yes, it’s true, many fields.

AA: Were you trying to develop your mind?

TG: No, I just wanted to be a righteous player. I did have to develop my mind some in order to help my playing. I don’t regret it. I found out it’s a good thing to do.

AA: You wrote books.

TG: Yeah. It happened. I couldn’t stop it. No kidding, I often do seem to behave like a cat, and this is close to catnip when it happens. No shakin’ it. Close the doors and put in 5 to 15 hours a day until it’s done. My mom used to say when she’d see me in this state, “Ah, you’re pregnant with a new book, are you?” Terrific lady, my mom was.

AA: What’s the story on those great organizational skills you’ve shown? Were they there as a kid?

TG: Nah, except for a school project once, they were hidin’ out. But they just seemed to gush up huge suddenly, God knows from where. I was certainly overjoyed to see them, showing up and all, like they did, right when I needed them most. Maybe it’s about just wanting something so much.

AA: I know you believe in this.

TG: I think human beings have pretty deep unsuspected reservoirs of strength that kick in when they really love something and have to work to get it. I know I certainly was surprised. Anyway, I’m grateful for the passion I’ve been given. I need it.

* * * * *

TG: I’m out there playing and enjoying it when I can get a party, wedding or something... though I’m still not real keen on concertizing.

AA: Why, Ted?

TG: Aw, it’s embarrassing. I’ve had trouble handling that much love coming at me. It’s a bit overwhelming. Everybody showering me with praise when I only occasionally think I deserved it. Crazy. People are crazy. ‘Course, I know that includes me! A wise person might say, “Take it you chucklebunny, even if you don’t think you played well – it makes up for the times when you played so beautifully and nobody cared. Lord knows you’ve had some gigs like that.” This is a not-without-some-sense attitude, and I normally embrace it outwardly, but I know inside when I’ve played up to my potential, and my mind wants to know why when I haven’t – so I can do my part towards making it right next time. This is more important to me than basking in the praise of others when I haven’t earned it by my standards. I do console myself in such a situation with the glow that at least I made other people feel good.

AA: …Many famous guitarists I’ve talked with about you just lit up when I mentioned your name. And they said things, continue to say the most wonderful things, statements of praise that I think would make even you sit up and feel proud. Can’t you find it in your heart to accept this?

TG: It’s very flattering, but...I’m afraid not, not all that often. I do feel some pride when I do really well, but since that’s not too common for me, most other pride I might start to feel usually feels near-instantly like false pride and I have to say goodbye to it or try to beat that sucker down if it keeps coming back. Sometimes it lingers and gets the best of me for a little while, and sometimes I let it because praise is such a nectar. But ultimately, I have to chase that drug away each time and go forward.

AA: But Ted, you are one of the greatest of guitarists. How can you deny this – and deny others the pleasure of hearing you? Why can’t you accept this?

TG: I sure wish I could, I certainly did when I was younger – when my playing at the time was close to everything I dared ever dream it could be. Ah, now that was sweet, and it lasted for years, actually so many good years of loving my playing, and receiving such heart-warming high compliments from others about it. It was really something. This was from about 1965 to 1977. But life moves on, and gradually, as I was able to really better hear more of what the very greatest players, arrangers, and composers were doing, my playing paled before me, and wouldn’t sound even adequate to me on any consistent basis again for many years. I’ve been fighting to come up with sounds and ways to play that I could enjoy again for quite some time now, and I’m happy to say that it’s working some of the time. So I’m excited to be on the right track. All I need is more consistency and then I’ll be ready to try to share it more. Given my nature, I do know there’ll still be some problems – things I haven’t mentioned – but I’ll try to deal with them as best I can.

AA: You can mention them. Someone else may draw comfort in knowing that even respected players have to deal with the same problems they do. It might provide hope.

TG: Let me try to put it this way: when things are working well for me, I like the way I play very much, am genuinely thrilled and honored to make others so happy, and I know that there are accolades and applause that come with this. But it’s a strange feeling to have a lot of love directed at you at once. Maybe it’s something one gets used to. I never have. So I’ll have to do better there. Another big trouble is, playing in public: I often have to turn up way too much for the sound I like getting, so I’m unhappy about that from moment number 1. I’m working to find ways to deal with that. Additionally, the feels that I love can, too often for my taste, refuse to show up in anywhere near their full form. Not a good thing. This is a huge part of the consistency thing I had just mentioned. And, last but far from least, if my hands aren’t working right – which happens too much – I’m in big trouble. I’ve limped home from a lot of gigs. But then there’s always hope that the next one will be a thrill. I never gave up hope altogether. Well maybe at one point. But that’s the past. We were talking about the future.…

* * * * *

We hope you can find something in the new lessons that will inspire you to become a better musician and player. Enjoy! And please feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences about these lessons in our Forums. We’re always happy to know that people are digging into Ted’s lessons, and if there are questions that arise, we’d encourage you to bring these up for discussion.

~ Your friends on the Team


* Hey Jude, 1992-10-15. [Here’s yet another Beatles song that Ted arranged. He loved the Beatles, but many of his arrangements were written up during a lesson at the request of the student, and are not always elaborate arrangements, and are sometimes incomplete. This song falling into that category. Ted transposed it from F to the guitar-friendly key of E. Notation with lyrics combined with Ted’s grids provided for easy learning.

* Progressions Using Open and Incomplete Triads – Sample Solutions, 1980-11-02. [Apparently this lesson sheet provides “solutions” for exercises presented in one of Ted’s other lessons, but we don’t know which one he is referring to. Nevertheless, there is some good open triad exercises with moving lines. New notation, grids, and chord names are given for easy reading and study.]

* Chord Patterns for Dominant Suspended Color. [This is a very short lesson for a few Ab7sus and Ab7 sounds that Ted liked the way they sounded together. Try this in different keys and with rhythmic phrases in order to give them some “life.”]
* Multi-Style Progressional Colors. [Another short lesson. Of course, the chords for the 2nd and 3rd examples are: C – Eb – F – Eb, and G/C (or Cmaj9no3) – C/D (or D11) – Bb/Eb (or Ebmaj9no3) – G7/6sus. This page may have been intended more for ear-training purposes rather than a chord study.]

* Haunted Heart, 1984-07-18. [This sheet was filed away in Ted’s arrangements cabinet, but it’s really a comping page. The song is from 1948, and Ted write-up – made during a private lesson – is a bit difficult to follow. Hopefully our new compilation will make it more approachable for you. If you’re unfamiliar with the song, go to YouTube and listen to Jo Stafford (in key of Bb), or Frances Langford (in key of Ab) sing it. (And Bill Evans did a real nice instrumental version, of course.) Notation provided with lead sheet combined with Ted’s grids to make it easy to follow.]
* How High the Moon, key of F, middle 4 Strings, 1987-04-11. [Compare this to last month’s comping lesson: same song, different key, different string set, but the same voicings. This is great for advanced comping with rhythmic punches. Notation, lead sheet with lyrics combined with Ted’s grids.]

These all are under the “Ear-Training” header:

* Ear-Training: Focus on 1 or 2 Tones at a Time, 1992-12-06. [Lines for singing and hearing.]
* Ear-Training for the Students, 1992-12-30 and 1992-08-02, 3. [Ted wrote out lines for singing/hearing for descending diatonic 5ths and 4ths, but the assignment was to do all intervals as descending and ascending. New notation for easy reading. Also included is Ted’s page on “Understanding How to Draw Melodies from Chords” – which he never completed, and was intended as an ear-training lesson.]
* Ear-Training thru Melodic Moves, 1984-10-02. [This page contains ides Ted wanted to expand upon in a book or lesson series on ear-training. In the first example Ted shows The I-IV progression (Bb to Eb in this case). The rest of the notes after the squiggly lines are target notes to be played on the IV (Eb) chord AFTER playing the I (Bb). The idea is to hear the melodic differences with the same progression. Nothing difficult to play on guitar or piano, since this is a lesson for the ears. Similar follow-throughs are needed for the other examples on the page…each one staring with a Bb chord. These “idea kernels” could be vastly expanded. New notation with chord names provided.]
* Fingerboard Hearing or Hearing the Fingerboard, 1986-09-28. [Drone an open 4th string D, and play/sing the melodies. Hear and say the intervals as Ted indicated. There’s also some notation for unrelated chords on this page that we didn’t notated. These are no doubt some ideas that Ted jotted down for himself.]
* Inner Hearing - Acquaintance Page. [It’s a bit of a mystery of what is being shown here. Not exactly sure what the numbers in parenthesis for. New notation provided.]
* Learning to Hear i Diminished Colors, 1991-03-04. [This page goes with Ted’s other “Learning to Hear” series. Notation provided for Ted’s grids.]

Under the “Contributions by Tomás Campbell” section:

* Bass-Enhanced Triads (Slash Chords) Primer – by Tomás Campbell. [A few months ago we completed posting all of Ted’s “Bass-enhanced Triads” pages. He intended to write a small book expanding upon this concept and giving examples, but he never got beyond the pages we posted. In this “Primer” Tomás is giving his explanation for getting starting in understanding and using these chords. Thank you, Tomás!]

Ted on YouTube

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The Official Ted Greene Forums

* Of course, most of the videos are posted right here in our Video Section

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- - - - - - - - - - - - - - My Life with The Chord Chemist - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

My Life with The Chord Chemist
A Memoir of Ted Greene, Apotheosis of Solo Guitar
By Barbara Franklin

BUY NOW - Available at

Publication Date: Nov 24 2009
Page Count: 276
Trim Size: 8" x 10"

A retrospective of Ted Greene, virtuoso solo guitarist, beloved music teacher, world-renowned author and innovator of unique music concepts for guitar. This book also includes an overview of Ted Greene's early life and musical development, plus an insightful narrative of the 13 years prior to his death

Six agonizing months after losing my beloved Ted, I slowly emerged from a state of profound disbelief, almost coma-like. At that time I didn’t know what to do with the remnants of my life; then a path began to unfold before me. This website was started and became a saving grace.

During the ensuing years, I organized and categorized Ted’s material and personal studies. Upon completion of that massive undertaking, once again, I didn’t know what to do, so I began writing.

I wrote pages, and then threw them away, until once again a path began to unfold. What I wrote is mostly a personal memoir. I suppose it was what I had to write first.

From the preface:

“The decision to reveal parts of our personal life was something I deliberated over for a long time. Because our lives became so inextricably bound, I included what I felt necessary, but not without a considerable amount of apprehension. This book illustrates the many parallels between Ted the musician and Ted the person. I felt it was important to convey how Ted was driven compulsively not just to pursue music, but so many other things he loved.”

With this in mind, here is our story. It IS very personal and I still have apprehensions about publishing it. My hope is that it brings you closer to Ted, as you begin to get to know and understand this unique and extraordinary man and musician.


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