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February 2020 Newsletter


Welcome to our February Newsletter!

This month we’re posting some excerpts from Barbara Franklin’s book, My Life with the Chord Chemist. These quotes focus on Ted’s kindness – in particular, to strangers with whom he happened to cross paths.

From Barb:

“Ted’s compassion for humanity was boundless; he was ultra-sensitive to the injustices on the planet, and to the plight of the poor. In fact, he was so filled with concern for anyone in trouble or need, friend or stranger, he would go to great lengths to help in any way that he could. Through knowing him, his compassion was so intensely felt, one often became infused with his sense of empathy and kindness. Consequently, that aspect of Ted’s nature was passed on from person to person.”
(from the Preface)

Ted wrote on 5/12/1974:

“…Imagine that 10 people were kind to you on a certain day – you would be more prone to be kind to someone else (the contagious aspect). A cynic might say, ‘I would be surprised if 10 people were kind to me.’ Well, eventually kindness wins out because it reaches that essential spark of goodness in all. (I must confess to just a few doubts, but I am confident time will hold the answers).”


“…What is needed instead is more music that inspires kindness, service, unselfishness, compassion, and similar virtues to help mankind to live amongst each other in a harmonious way.”
(p.8 & 9)

Again from Barb:

“Unquestionably, the pleasure he [Ted] derived from small acts of kindness was immense, and as much a necessity for his own wellbeing.”

“Soon I discovered something else very special about Ted: the extent of his humanitarian nature. While out doing errands, we noticed a girl trying to push a large full-size car. We drove on for a few blocks, but his intuition told him to go back and see if she needed help. Ted was right: when we drove back, we discovered a young couple in trouble, the boy was in a wheelchair, they were lost and out of gas. Somehow, we made room in our car, Betsy, for them and the wheelchair and then took them to a gas station for a can of gas. I offered to let the boy use my cell phone to call his grandmother whose house they were looking for. He was incredulous and exclaimed, “You have a cell phone!” He arranged for his grandmother to meet them at the gas station in fifteen minutes. We took them back to their car, waited until they got it started and followed them to the gas station to make sure they made it there. Afterwards it dawned on me why they were so surprised that we had a cell phone: I surmised it was because they thought we were a homeless couple living in our car.  And that is exactly how we appeared, driving around in an old dented-up Plymouth four-door, the interior and the trunk completely filled to the brim with everything you could imagine, besides the fact that we were both dressed in somewhat of a ragged manner.  When I mentioned this to Ted, he also thought this to be the case, and we had a great laugh.

“Ted’s compassion for humanity was boundless. Many times when we were out and about, we would encounter homeless people pleading for assistance, and Ted was ever sensitive to their plight. He never passed by someone in need. He always stopped, not just to help them a bit financially, but also to chat, to inquire as to how their lives had taken such a difficult turn, and to offer encouragement. They always appreciated his caring.”

“There were always some unique and humorous experiences while we were out on our errands. One incident in particular gives some insight into Ted’s fascination with just about anything. We had planned to make one brief stop at Tower Records then go home. We parked in back where Ted noticed a man servicing fire extinguishers. Ted thought this was a great opportunity to learn something and walked over to talk with him. The serviceman was delighted by Ted’s enthusiasm and interest. They conversed at length about fire extinguisher use, function, care and longevity – basically everything there was to learn about fire extinguishers. Ted was very excited about this discussion and pleased to have acquired new and useful information.”

“A week later the Ford Bronco took what we thought would prove to be its last blow. Ted was heading east on Ventura Boulevard, went through a yellow light and collided with a Lexus turning left. No one was hurt, but apparently the Bronco took the brunt of it. Ted was able to make it to my house, only because he didn’t need to make a right turn! A friend came to help, and, armed with a crow bar and a two-by-four he pried at the fender for over an hour as Ted periodically turned the wheel to check for clearance.Eventually they were successful. However, the radiator was leaking and then we noticed the fan blades were pushed into the housing, not allowing the fan to turn. Ted and his friend were able to cut the housing out, enabling the blades to rotate, but still the radiator would not hold water.

“Ted was quite shaken by the experience; he just sat on the curb and stared at the Bronco for a long while. When he came in, we attempted to discuss the ramifications and options, but soon both of us were frustrated as our opinions differed. Ted insisted he wouldn’t file a claim against the other party. He reasoned it was both of their faults and felt it wouldn’t be right. No matter how I tried to explain how the “insurance system” worked he held his ground.

“This was Ted’s point of view: The other driver was a very nice man, had a young son, and Ted didn’t want to further inflict difficulties on this person.  Ted gave the man his word that he wouldn’t file a claim, and must uphold it.  He felt since they were both at fault the other man should not have to compensate him (Ted) for the damage to the Bronco.  He said this is what was right in his heart and must follow that feeling. There was nothing I could say to change his mind.”

* * * * *

So now the question arises:  was Ted able to play beautiful, uplifting, and inspiring music because he practiced and lived the qualities of kindness, compassion, unselfishness, etc., or did he acquire these personality traits from studying, listening to and playing that kind of music?  Is it possible for a person who is often filled with anger, envy, jealousy, and hatred to play beautiful music?  If a person is established in peace and love for his fellow man, does he thereby have a foundation from which to express beauty in the art that he practices (talent and training taken into account as well).  Does extended exposure to certain types of music change us from the inside out?  Is it possible to be completely emotionally detached from the music you’re playing/expressing and just “play the notes”?  What do you guys think?  What is your personal experience or what have you witnessed in others?

Enjoy the new lesson material!

~ Your friends on the Team


* I’m Just Wild About Harry, 1991-04-30. [Here’s Ted’s arrangement of an old Eubie Blake song (words by Noble Sissle) from the 1921 musical, Shuffle Along. Ted loved the Great American Songbook type of songs, and this is one example of the kind of tunes he loved to play. He actually wanted to write a book on that subject, but it never was realized. As with many songs in musicals, there’s a verse that precedes the refrain, or chorus – which is often excluded when the song is performed separate from the context of a play or film. Ted’s version simply begins on the refrain – so the first part of the song is omitted. We’ve notated Ted’s diagrams and added chord names and the lyrics in order to make it easier to follow/read. However, he wrote on his original page, “Many anticipations are available and natural rhythmically (i.e., the top notes may sound first before the bass in certain spots to help give it more zip.” We suggest that you first learn the arrangement as notated to get a send of the song and its basic sound and chord forms used. Then experiment with rhythmic variations and anticipations, etc., as Ted described.]
* My Blue Heaven. [This arrangement is incomplete, and possibly one Ted wrote up during a private lesson, with the second half to be finished in the following lesson. Or it could have been a homework assignment for the student to finish. Some of the melody notes are in octaves, so I’m guessing that Ted intended it to be played à la Wes Montgomery. We’ve notated Ted’s diagrams and married them to the score, and included the portions that Ted didn’t do. And we also added the chord names and lyrics. You’ll notice that we removed the “counting” numbers on each of Ted’s grids – this was done to unclutter those diagrams to make them easier to read. The notation tells the full story of the rhythm he was indicating.]

* Baroque Practice Program, 1975-04-01 &1975-02-11. [This schedule was probably for Ted himself, not for any student, but may have also been given to some of his more advanced players studying classical/Baroque. Some of the exercises may be unclear, being cryptic reminders for himself. Typed text included for easy reading.]

* Major 7th Chord Voicings, 1975-03-30. [This may have been one of Ted’s early attempts to define and number the many different voicings/chord forms for one type of chord. This page predates his V-System of cataloging all the 4-note chords, so you’ll notice that the two systems are completely different. We have regenerated Ted’s notation and combined it with grid diagrams. The chord forms that are drawn were derived from Ted’s fingering numbers that he wrote for each chord. All the chords are Amajor7. For further study Ted advised to do all the diatonic chords in the major, minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minors – and in various keys! That’s a big task!]
* Resolutions of V7b9 - i, Incomplete – (diminished triads to i), 1976-03-20. [In this lesson Ted presents 44 different E7b9 (or just E7) chords and shows how they can resolve to various Am or Am6 chords (one E7 to 2 to 5 different Am’s). As stated in his title, that E7b9 chord may also be considered as a diminished triad. The “incomplete” refers to the E7 chord as not containing all the notes of the chord – sometimes omitting the R, sometimes the 3rd, sometimes the 5th. The times that the b9 is omitted, it is just an E7 chord. We re-drew the grid diagrams to make it easier to read….(you’re welcome!)]
* Resolutions of V7b9 - i, 1976-03-19. [In this lesson Ted presents 32 different E7b9 chords and shows how they can resolve to various Am or Am6 chords (one E7 to 2 to 6 different Am’s). This E7b9 may also be thought of as a diminished 7th chord built on the seventh degree of the key (or the vii). Ted called this a Rviio7 – the “R” referring to a “raised” 7th, not a flatted 7th as would be the case in some minor keys). Re-drawn grids provided for clarity.]
* Resolutions of V7 - I, Some of the Most Common, 1974-06-13. [Here Ted gives use 43 different A7 to D resolutions. He grouped them into different “densities” – small, medium, large, and no density. He also includes “incomplete 7ths.” Many or most of these chord forms will be familiar to you – the lesson is mostly about the voice-leading used. Study how each A7 flows to the D. Ted advises, “Practice these exercises to train your hands, ears, mind, and eyes (visual knowledge of the neck). Do also in the relative minor key.” Re-drawn grids added.]

Under the “Harmonization of a Given Melody” section:

* Harmonization – Studies in the 4 Main Ingredients, 1982-11-30. [Ted subtitled this page as “Studies in the 4 Main Ingredients: 1) Color, 2) Texture, 3) Harmonic Rhythm, and 4) Register.” Some of the grid diagrams do not include Ted’s usual X, square, triangle notation for moving melody lines on the chord. Instead he just wrote, “Add melody,” so you’ll need to work that out. The seven groups range from “one chord, one form” to “two forms” to “four forms” or “Chord on every melody note.” And in 9 different keys: C, E, Eb, B, G, Bb, D, Gb, and A. Standard music notation added and combined with Ted’s original grids.]

Under the “Triads” section:

* Major Triad Voicings, 1975-02-09. [How many A major triads can you play? Test yourself before reading this lesson, and compare them to Ted’s. (someone recently made a YT video showing how they could play 100 C major chords. Well, here we have Ted mapping out 134 different ones – only two of which include open strings. New notation provided along with chord diagrams, constructed by using the fingerings given by Ted.]

* Once You’ve Been in Love, 1993-08-02. [This page was written up during a private lesson. It was filed in Ted’s arrangements folder, but it turns out that it’s actually a comping study. The student’s assignment was to add the chord quality to the letter Ted wrote…at least that’s how it started out. For the second half Ted included the full name of the chords. Some interesting instructions that he penned in the left margin: “Please avoid using the infamous + sign, except at the end of a chord where it near universally is understood to mean #5 or ‘aug.’ ” Notation of Ted’s accompaniment chords, combined with his grids and with a lead sheet of the melody, basic changes and lyrics.]

* Chord Construction (Formulas) and Symbols – Reference Page, 1977-10-15. [This is a similar page to one that we already have posted, but this one includes commonly used chord symbols. This is the fourth version of this lesson, previous versions are from 1973, 1974, and 1976. Both posted versions are somewhat unique and are good reference pages. Newly typed text for easy reference and searches.]

* Misty (from Mark Levy’s Ted Recording #1)
– Transcribed by François Leduc (Notation/Grids/TAB). [Here we have another wonderful transcription by François, taken from Mark Levy’s recorded lessons with Ted. This is Mark’s tape #1, from 1975. LessonsWithMarkLevy
The sound quality is a bit rough, so François admits that there may be some errors, but “I sure it’s pretty close.” Notation + diagrams + Tab makes this transcript accessible to all. Special thanks to FL for sharing this with us. Be sure to check out his website for more transcriptions.]

* You’ll Never Walk Alone (Joey B Wedding) – Transcribed by Robert Smith (Grids). [Robert shares with us his transcription of Ted playing during Joey Backenstoe’s wedding on March 4, 1989. This is a “grids only” write-up, so you’ll need to watch/listen to the video to correctly interpret the rhythmic figures if you want to play it as Ted did. Sorry, but you’ll need to listen beyond all the background noise and chatter as Ted plays. Video/TedGreene_JBWedding. It’s from a medley with “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “Our Love is Here to Stay.” It starts about 2 min.+ from the start. Thanks, Robert!]

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* 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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