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July 2019 • Newsletter


Summer Greetings!

Well, summer is finally here, and we have nine new lessons from Ted to keep your fingers busy. The arrangement-of-the-month is “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” — a fun piece that you may enjoy. You might find it helpful to hear and watch Dan Riley playing it on a YouTube video that he recently uploaded.

Another page we’re posting this month in the “Fundamentals” section is a 1973 hand-out titled, “Major Triad Fingerings.” It’s interesting to see Ted’s evolution as a guitar teacher, based on observing his lesson sheets. In this one Ted is being very thorough in cataloging all of the major triad voicings. He lists Closed Triads, Open Triads, and 4-Note Triads, and then breaks it down further by inversions: Root in bass, 3rd in bass (1st Inversion), and 5th in bass (2nd inversion). Then he takes it to another level by defining the note on top: Root in soprano, 3rd in soprano, and 5th in soprano. Some of the fingerings might be a bit challenging for beginners, so maybe we should have filed this lesson in the “Chord Studies” section under the Triads sub-header, instead of in the Fundamentals section…but we often have lessons with subjects that overlap and can fit into multiple areas. We hope that serious students visiting the teaching archives will explore all of the areas and have fun in reviewing the vast storehouse therein.

I’m guessing that Ted may not have given this major triads page to students in the latter years of his life, but would have instead used one of his other hand-outs on triads. His system of classifying, naming, and organizing chords evolved over the years, which ultimately culminated in his V-System (for 4-note chords). Also, he probably would have changed the wording of the title from “Major Triad Fingerings” to “Major Triad Voicings” or more precisely, “Major Triad Chord Forms” – since he made a distinction between these terms. Fingerings refer to which fingers you use to play a chord. A chord can be “fingered” several ways (and he encouraged students to try different combinations since there will be times when you’ll need to use alternate fingers for various reasons). Voicing refers to the notes themselves: which notes are used, their register, the vertical placement in relation to the other notes within the chord structure — which notes are on the top, bottom, or in the middle; which ones are doubled, etc. The Chord Form is what is illustrated in the grid diagrams.

You can see Ted’s evolution as a teacher by comparing some of his early lesson pages with those from later years. (Ted began teaching in 1964, but the oldest lesson pages we have are generally from the early 1970’s). Ted himself was the ultimate student, constantly exploring new ideas, sounds, concepts, techniques — and because of this mindset, his teaching skills also developed concurrently.

For example, look at Ted’s chord diagram system of playing order (with the dot, X, square, triangle): HowToReadTedGreeneChordDiagrams. This evolved over the years, and it was designed for his students, not for his own music studies (although it served that as well). Ted rarely wrote out arrangements for himself; they were written down for teaching purposes. His own arrangements were constantly morphing and evolving, until he got to the point where he mostly improvised his arrangements on-the-spot.

We’re all fortunate to have such a wealth of Ted’s teaching materials posted on this website, but the pages themselves don’t give one the full experience of taking private lessons with him. Each student’s experience was unique, but if you listen to some of the recorded lessons of Ted with students like Mark Levy or Kevin Griffen, you’ll get an idea of what it was like: Audio Lessons

The following are some excerpts from Barbara Franklin’s book, My Life with the Chord Chemist on the subject of teaching:

In regard to Ted’s teaching ability, he had a unique way of relating to each student on a very particular and individual level. First, and most importantly, he took a genuine interest in each student, musically and personally. This enabled him to establish what type of music the student most desired to learn and to play. With that information, Ted was able to choose the best method of learning suited to each student’s personality and work habits….

Ted’s guitar lessons consisted of teaching any musical knowledge he could impart, and sometimes a popular song that was requested. On an old chord chart for “Poor Side of Town,” Ted noted in 2001: “‘Poor Side of Town’ is a beautiful young pop ballad recorded by Johnny Rivers in what, ‘66 or 67? Apparently when I wrote this sheet, I did a lot of sheets like this. Very basic changes just so I had a short-hand reference page. It was exciting to see my ears getting a little better all the time, and what a self-esteem booster to figure out the popular songs of the day. No great feat but felt great and helped me earn a living. I taught songs like these to students when they liked them, and gained a reputation for having a good ear. This of course, was all on a fairly meager level - this ‘good’ ear. But step by step unfoldment it’s been.”….

He continued to formulate new musical ideas, improve his teaching methods, and find new ways to organize and categorize the material that he wished to expand. Part of this would eventually become incorporated into his second book. Ted often wrote out extensive and detailed “Organization Sheets” to clarify his ideas. This also helped Ted organize the material in his mind and he found making these sheets to be a very satisfying and productive way of thinking….

Despite having completed 4 books, new ideas continued to pour forth. Throughout the new year, Ted set his mind to evaluating new and old studies and formulated a considerable amount of new teaching material….

Towards the end of 1982…he began a reorganization of all his Baroque material and also writing a plethora of new Cumulative Chord Forms pages. In the upcoming year this led to a complete re-evaluation of his teaching program. The following six months were consumed with working on and improving the latter, but incorporated time for his personal studies as well. This included studying George Van Eps Volume III, organizing all his sheet music and fake book photocopies of the past twenty years, and a musical categorizing of all “loose scraps”….

In late summer [of 1985], Ted discovered what he termed “a great new method” and began writing out a gradual presentation of minor 7 and dominant 7 type voicings for himself and for teaching. His path was often led through trying to find ways to show things to the students via different presentations and organizations, which often helped him in self-organizing and retention of the material. Another idea Ted had been pondering for a while was how to teach Baroque harmony on a fundamental level….

In the autumn of 1986 Ted developed a new teaching program comprised of many studies he had refined. He divided the new program into three parts. Part I incorporated a lot of these new studies which he put under the heading of Harmony and Voicings.

* * * * *

Enjoy the new lesson material!

~ Your friends on the Team


* Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, 1990-06-16. [This is a fun tune, and Ted has a walking bass throughout to give it some drive. We’ve notated it and added the chord names to make it easier to learn.]
* Almost Like Being in Love (lead sheet plus arrangement outline), 1977-06-26. [This is Ted’s handwritten lead sheet showing the original chord symbols, “simplified version” chords, and Ted’s reharmonization. This is for the student to write up his own arrangement using Ted’s suggestions. Be sure to move the melody up an octave. New notation with lyrics added.]

* Johnny Smith Style, 2005-05-19. [Ted loved Johnny Smith’s use of close voiced chords (or V-1 chord in Ted’s V-System). This page has 4 exercises for some ideas in the keys of C, E, Ab, and D using Johnny’s approach. Notation and chord names (where applicable) provided.]
* Minor7 Types on Middle Strings, 1985-04-21. [This page was not intended to be a lesson hand-out, but a only preliminary work sheet for Ted’s organization of minor 7 chords – from which other lesson sheets would be created. At the top of the page he wrote reminders to himself for how best to present these chords to the students. Newly drawn girds for easier reading.]

Under the “Harmonization of a Given Melody” header:

* 2-to-1 Diatonic Asc. Stepwise Bass Motion w/Delayed Entrance (part 2), 1985-05-03. [This lesson continues the lesson that was posted several months ago. Notation and chord names provided.]

Under the “Chord Streams” header:

* Overtone Dominant Chord Rows, 1979-04-13. [Examples given for A7, Eb7, C7, E7, and Bb7. Notation provided combined with Ted’s grid diagrams.]

* Pennies From Heaven (middle 4 strings), 1984-01-22. [Here’s another comping study for this song. Last month we posted Ted version that focused on the top 4 strings. This one is almost identical except that he moved all the chord to the middle strings. Notation and lyrics combined with Ted’s grids for easy reading/learning.]

* Major Triad Fingerings, 1973-02-19. [See Newsletter message above. Ted gives us 99 different chord forms for major triads, organized by open, closed, or 4-note triads, and grouped according to inversion and/or soprano voice. Good for students of all levels. Newly drawn grids for easy-on-the-eyes reading.]

* Single-Note Scales for All Diatonic Chords from Scale, 1974-12-18.
[In this lesson Ted details 3 major scale positions and shows the diatonic chords and arpeggios in relation to it. This is another lesson that could have also been filed in the Fundamentals section, yet it has helpful information for students of all levels. Newly drawn grids for easy reference.]

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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