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Spring 2024 • Newsletter


Spring Greetings! For this newsletter we begin by sharing an excerpt from Barbara Franklin’s book, My Life with the Chord Chemist.

Ted's Early Years

There must have been something magical happening in the universe, a unique convergence of stellar energy formed for a split second and focused a radiant glow for a moment at 5:06 p.m. on September 26, 1946, for the birth of Theodore Howell Greene at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, California.

For the first five years of his life Ted and his family resided in Los Angeles. During these very early years, his mother wrote some interesting musical observations about Ted in his Baby Book, “From the time he could sit up, Teddy would rock back and forth, or bounce in rhythm. No matter how cross or unhappy, he never failed to respond to songs or records.” She also noted that Ted had decided opinions on what he wanted to hear at any time, and that at about 18 months, he would improvise a little tune on request. Often she would hear him humming or singing songs to himself at play, and recalled that he was carrying the tune quite well. Remarkably even at this very young age, Ted already enjoyed many different types of music, “sometimes even turning on the radio himself, and if it was especially pleasing (as with Beethoven’s 5th one day) he would sit in a big chair rocking himself back and forth until the music was over.”

On the other hand, she also provided insight into another aspect of Ted’s behavior at this very early stage; the first entry was when he was two and a half years of age, and the second entry about two years later: “What are we going to do about Teddy’s mischief? He just can’t seem to keep out of mischief. Somehow, he breaks, tears or ruins everything he touches, and some of the damage is quite costly too. We hardly dare take him anywhere. I thought by now surely, he would be past this stage. Every piece of his furniture is in splinters” and later at about 4½ years of age, “By now the destructiveness had somewhat tempered itself and feelings of aggression were expressed verbally.”

Considering Ted’s temperament at such a young age, it was no wonder that one of his most vivid recollections was smashing up all his uncle’s jazz records, although he did not recall what incited this violent behavior. However, it did leave an indelible impression in Ted’s psyche. Ted told me he had what he termed “a dark side” and that he took great measures to keep it from ever surfacing. He was well aware of the intensity of his nature and his potential for losing control and he took great pains to maintain his composure. I was astonished to hear this, and it might well seem quite astonishing to all those who knew and witnessed an extraordinarily calm, patient, and soft-spoken person.

Irwin Greene, Ted’s father, was a successful salesman and the nature of his occupation caused the family to uproot and move quite a few times during Ted’s childhood. Sometime during 1951, the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio.

His father Irwin often reflected back on a rather significant incident at this time in Ted’s life. According to Irwin, while Ted was attending elementary school, he shocked his teachers with a display of unusual mathematical wizardry. Ted’s aptitude for math was so impressive the school principal actually paid a visit to the family home and suggested that Ted should have special testing. The subsequent tests revealed that Ted had an Intelligence Quotient of 160.

In the future, Ted’s extraordinary powers of organization and analysis would prove worthy of this score. This innate ability was the foundation upon which he was able to build and develop his studies which were based on his in-depth analysis of music and an exploration of the seemingly infinite possibilities for guitar, which few others, if anyone, ever accomplished.

Soon, there were more changes on the horizon; once again, Ted was uprooted due to another family move, this time to a beautiful mansion in White Plains, New York. During this particular time in his life his love of music really began to blossom. It was in this house that Ted fondly recalled the countless hours spent sitting under the piano in ecstasy while his mother played Gershwin tunes.

In 1957, at age 11 his father bought him his first guitar. Shortly thereafter, he began lessons. Ted recollected, “My first teacher was Sal Tardella, a good jazz guitarist who tried to steer me in this direction, but the sounds of rock and roll were pulling my ears even more than the also appreciated jazz guitar sounds.”

Nonetheless, with Sal Tardella’s guidance using various guitar books, including the Mel Bay Method of which Ted completed the entire series, he learned to read music. Contrary to what many of Ted’s friends and students thought, Ted found his early learning experiences quite difficult. In his own words, “I found guitar extremely frustrating – thought it would be easy or at least not as ridiculously hard as it seemed to be at first. I had a horrible guitar with the highest action in the world, especially down at the nut – I almost quit, but parent’s encouragement and a true love of music carried me through.” In 1960 Ted acquired his first “pretty fine” guitar, a Gretch 6120.

Ted was born a lefty, but chose to play the guitar “right-handed,” because, as he told me, he felt the extra dexterity would be more beneficial for use on the fretboard.

(To be continued….)

* * * * *

And now Nick Stasinos gives us some background info about the two Ted audio lessons which he is sharing with us this month:

It is my pleasure to present to you two audio clips from my lessons with Ted on the song “Baubles, Bangles, & Beads.”  The first time I had ever heard this beautiful song was when I first started taking lessons from Ted in 1977. To clarify my statement in the 1993 audio clip, this song is anything but boring. My boredom was due to my own lack of imagination regarding performing this song with all the “charms” it deserves. After 16 years, I returned with the sheet Ted gave me and asked him to dress it up. That chord melody sheet “Level 1” in F, in 4/4 time, is available for download, which serves as a basis for these two lessons. Here is a little background on this song.

“Baubles, Bangles & Beads” is a popular song from the 1953 musical “Kismet,” credited to Robert Wright and George Forrest. Like all the music in that show, the melody was based on works by Alexander Borodin, in this case the second theme of the second movement of his String Quartet in D.

The “Kismet” setting maintains the original’s 3/4 waltz rhythm; pop music settings change the rhythm to a moderate four-beat accompaniment. Jazz musicians are especially drawn to the song’s beguiling melody and advanced harmonic structure.

Audio Clip Commentary:
November 1977 – “Are you pulling the neck?” I said in my surprise as Ted did so frequently to create that lush “vibrato” sound he used for ballads. And by doing so he launched into this wonderful chord-melody version of “Baubles” based on that sheet dated 10-16-77.

April 1993 – I asked Ted how he would play that same “Baubles” chord-melody sheet for a restaurant gig. He answered, “I would play it out-of-time first. These days I would add more modern harmony….” He mentioned he was bored with the walking bass line approach, but he does so later. He changed the rhythm into what he termed an “American Latin,” very similar to the style he played on the recording of “Watch What Happens” for his “Solo Guitar” album. Wow! Listen to those tasteful bass lines! He sounded as if he were closing with some tight chord voices, no melody, when he landed on the flat VI as a key change. At this point, Ted whistled the melody as he played some choice accompaniment chords that morphed into walking chords and…yes, walking bass. After all this, Ted wanted to explore the original meter with a few of his favorite rhythmic feels, a Gospel waltz and Doo-Wop ‘6’.

There are a lot of great ideas and tools to extract from these clips. Enjoy!
~ Nick Stasinos

* * * * *

Special thanks for the contributors to this quarter’s newsletter and new items:

  • Nick Stasinos – for his audio clips and commentary of lessons with Ted.
  • Tsuyoshi Ichikawa – for his “Gospel Style” lesson with Ted.
  • Mark Levy – for some Ted lesson pages write-ups.
  • Tomas Campbell – for notes on Ted’s “Chord Forms for Visualizing Scales, Arpeggios, and Runs.”
  • Mike de Luca – music proofreading on most of the new lesson write-ups.
  • Barbara Franklin – for extracts from her book, My Life with the Chord Chemist.
Leon, Jeffrey, and Paul – for everything else, and for keeping the TG site runnin’

~ Your Friends on the Team


In the “Lessons with Nick Stasinos” section:
* Baubles, Bangles, and Beads – 1977. [mp3, stereo, 320 kbps; length: 1:45. See comments above]
* Baubles, Bangles, and Beads – 1993. [mp3, stereo, 320 kbps; length: 8:51. See comments above]

* 2-to-1 Baroque Counterpoint, 1983-04-12. [forty-two one-measure phrases for Baroque exercises, plus six examples in E Melodic Minor for “Learning Intervals for Counterpoint” with accompanying grid diagrams. New notation and redrawn grids.]

* Baroque 2- and 3-Part Counterpoint Rhythmic Figures, 1984-02-03, 1983-10-07. [Fifteen one-measure exercises in 4/2 time in the key of G, and three other exercises in cut time. New notation provided.]

* Baroque in A, 1984-02-15. [This is a short piece in 3/4 time in the key of A. Ted did not title this page other that “#7.” We gave it the title, and gave it new notation and added “suggested” grid diagrams for easy interpretation.]

* Bass in Ascending 6ths, 1984-02-14. [Ted’s original page for this lesson is just 7 measures. Each measure is a separate exercise in 2/4 time, with 4:1 counterpoint: the bass in quarter notes, the melody in 16th notes. The bass moves up in 6ths. Each exercise is a “starter” for a longer melodic pattern. The patterns have been expanded in the write-up so you can see a diatonic continuation or “follow-thru” that Ted instructed was to be done with the “etc.” note at the end of the first example. New notation is provided, but no diagrams or TAB are given, since each exercise can be played in multiple positions on the fretboard.]

* Soprano Harmonization or 1, 2, 3 (and 7), 1984-02-04. [Ted gives us 20 examples of harmonizing a melody based on 1, 2, 3 (or Root, 2nd, 3rd of the scale – sometimes including the 7th). He uses a variety of counterpoint harmonizations. He also included some harmonizations using block chords. All in the key of G. New notation plus newly generated “suggested” chord diagrams.]

* 1st Inversion – Various Spreads and Voices, 1984-02-08. [Three exercises that utilizes different voicings, many of which are 1st inversion chords (3rd in the bass). Ted wrote: “for teaching and me.” New notation plus newly generated “suggested” chord diagrams and chord names are provided. Other chord forms may also be possible. Investigate.]

Under the “Triads” sub-header:
* 3-Note Chord Voicings – Voicing Chains, 1988-01-02. [This page was to be used for a new book Ted intended to write, titled: “The Guitar Layout.” Here he looks at 3-note chords (triads), and groups them according to the interval of the Outer Voices: the lowest note (bass) to the highest note (soprano). This is not a definitive collection, but rather triad voicings that he deemed “choice, apt, and/or important.” Also on this page are some nice studies utilizing pedals (sustain notes). New notation provided.]

* All the 3-Note Chord Types, 1997-2005. [This is a combination of three of Ted’s worksheets for mapping out all 15 diatonic 3-note (triad) chord types, and different ways to organize them. Most of these “triads” are fragments from larger chord types. In addition to the 15, he also included 3 with non-diatonic notes, and one with “3 chromatics.” These pages would certainly been used for a book he intended to write on “Choice Voicing Course.” New notation provided for easy reading and study.]

* Descending Root in Minor, 1974-05-31. [Ted wrote: “One of the most common progressions on a minor chord or in a minor key…” and he provides several examples with grid diagrams. He also explains how various chord substitutes can be used in this progression. Good food for thought. Newly drawn grids and typed text. If you’re a guitar teacher, this might be a good lesson to give to your students. (Page 1 of the write-up is very informative and straightforward and relatively easy to play, but page 2 has some chords that are rather advanced.)]

* Harmonic Devices, 1975-10-12. [This page comes from Ted’s Personal Music Studies files and was not intended to be a lesson, but rather notes and reminders for himself for arranging and composing. It is offered here in the hope that others may benefit by seeing some of the possibilities Ted studied, catalogued, and utilized in his playing. Retyped text for easy reading.]

* New Book Ideas – Bachian Counterpoint (1), [Ted wanted to write a book for improvising Bach-like (“Bachian”) counterpoint for guitar. Over the years he collected many ideas, written spontaneously on whatever paper he had handy. We are collecting them and making them legible, and hopefully, approachable. While these ideas don’t fill the role of a regular “method book,” or of an in-person instructor, they do give many valuable exercises for the student to work on, and to try to tune in with Ted’s thinking. I’ve heard him say that by playing thousands of exercises like these, your fingers get into the habit of playing like this, and thus builds a foundation upon which you can begin to improvise in that style. New notation for easy reading and study. No grid diagrams are provided for most of these pages, as you’ll need to work out your own fingerings. And Ted certainly would also advise to do them in many positions, on different string sets, and in a variety of keys. Good luck…more will be coming in future TG Newsletters.]

* Melodic Patterns Worksheets. [This PDF contains several of Ted’s pages on “Melodic Patterns” from his Personal Music Studies files. Many of these are worksheets he created in attempting to catalogue all the variations of 3-note (or 4-note) single-note sequences. These pages were never intended to be shared in that state. In a very simplified nutshell, what Ted was doing here was creating small groupings of notes (or “units”) that can be used as a “starter” phrase for longer sequential patterns. Each unit is usually 3 or 4 notes, written inside a single measure. This “starter” was to be elaborated upon (i.e. followed-thru or continued) by several means…. The introductory page contains a translation for most of Ted’s handwritten notes on these pages. But we did not put in new notation. Read the intro piece, and good luck.]

* Single-Note Student Practice and Teaching Ideas, [This is a collection of miscellaneous pages from Ted’s Personal Music Studies for single-note soloing studies and thoughts for teaching soloing. These are from 1977, 1978, and 1992. Translated text for easy reading.]

In the V-1 section:
* Choice V-1 Dominants, Root on Top, Top 4 Strings
, 1986-10-19
. [As a semi-final step in his process of finding all possible voicings for V-1 Dominants with the root in the soprano and using only the top 4 strings, Ted then arrived at this stage: selecting his favorite or “choice” voicings for each of the 35 chord types. Because these are V-1 chord, they tend to be very long-stretch chords, best suited high up on the fretboard. Ted subtitled this page, “Worksheet – Step 3, Grouped by Color or Mood.” Redrawn grids for clarity. Most of these chord forms are extremely challenging. Fear not!]

* V-1 Voicings – All 35 Types on Top 4 Strings, 1985-01-22. [This is the complete collection of V-1 chords for each of the 35 types, using systematic inversions. Ted wrote this page as a worksheet for himself, possibly eyeing this to be included in his unrealized book on the V-System. Being V-1 chords, these are almost always extremely long stretches. They were all listed here, not with the intent that one would learn them all, but as a catalog for reference. If you find one or two chords that you like and can use, then the page may be considered a success. Redrawn grids to save your eyes from squinting and trying to decipher Ted’s itsy-bitsy tiny writing.]

In the Combined Groups section:
* V-System – Chord Numbers 6, 21, and 5, 2003-07-19, 2003-08-01. [In discovering and developing his V-System of chord voicings, Ted found that there are 43 4-note chord types. On this page Ted elaborates on chords #6, 21, and 5, by writing out all 14 V-system chords, each one presented with its systematic inversions. He does this in notation only here. We did not attempt to provide grid chord diagrams for each – that is left up to the student. However, don’t be discouraged if you can’t finger each chord, since some may be unplayable unless using some unconventional techniques, such as: using the right-hand to fret certain notes, using the left-hand thumb over the top of the fingerboard, or using natural or artificial harmonics. These pages are meant as a reference catalog – not a lesson to learn each form. One thing we can take away from this page is an appreciation for Ted’s systematic and mathematical organization for discovering all the chord possibilities. Re-notated for easy reading and reference.]

* Regular Major and Regular Major Extensions V-1, V-2 Top 4 Strings, 1985-02-02. [This page is another organization of chords based on the soprano note, using just the top 4 strings. Here Ted is looking at the outer voices: the 1st and 4th strings, the soprano and bass notes. He then organized them accordingly: 3rd in bass – 1st inversion; 9th in bass; Root in bass and soprano (a doubling); 7th in bass – 3rd inversion; 6th in bass; and 5th in bass – 2nd inversion. These are all major unaltered types, so no 4th or #11th chords are included. Ted intended to continue this study by next putting the 9th in the soprano, but never finished this series. Redrawn chord grids for clarity.]

Posted in the section, “Contributions from Tomas Campbell.”
* Chord Forms for Visualizing Scales, Arpeggios, and Runs and Runs by Ted Greene. (compiled by Tomas Campbell). [This file explains in detail the voicings and chord tones for each string of each chord that Ted illustrated in his original grid diagrams HERE.]

Posted in the section, “Contributions from Tsuyoshi Ichikawa.”
* New Orleans Style by Ted Greene, 1997-01-27.  [Tsuyoshi Ichikawa shares his write-up of a private lesson he had with Ted in January of 1997. Written in standard notation and TAB, he also created a YouTube video demonstrating the lesson: ]

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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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