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July 2020 Newsletter


Summer Greetings to all Ted Greene friends, fans, students, and lovers of harmony!

This month Ken Lasaine shares with us some of his recollections of times spent with Ted over the 30 years that he knew him.

Ted Greene Remembrances
by Ken Lasaine

I met Ted Greene in 1975. I was 13 years old, spent my Bar Mitzvah gelt on Guild D-35, and I began taking guitar lessons at Dale’s Guitars in Canoga Park where Ted taught. I had been playing for a couple of years and knew my basic cowboy chords. Dale’s shop had several outstanding teachers, and my first instructor was Daryl Caraco. Daryl introduced me to Ted and my father bought me my first copy of Chord Chemistry. (I’m on my third copy at this point.) Both Daryl and my dad encouraged me to have Ted sign this tome, which I’m not embarrassed to say was completely incomprehensible to me at the time.

I would usually get to my lesson a few minutes early, and I could hear Ted playing in his teaching studio, or sometimes he’d be in the showroom trying out a new amp or pedal. Needless to say, there was always a crowd around him, and he would be playing this transcendent stuff that you never heard any other guitar player even attempt. This was right before he recorded his “Solo Guitar” album, and I distinctly remember hearing him play through “Danny Boy” and “Summertime” quite a bit.

My teacher Daryl, a lifelong student and friend of Ted, knew how to interpret Chord Chemistry, and he would assign me little bits within the book and suggest here and there how to use one of the “Ted” voicings within a song I already knew. What Daryl was doing was showing me how to use the book – a “road map” so to speak. He also gave me some “Ted sheets” about chord scales or chord streams as Ted liked to call them, and beginning harmony and theory – triads and seventh chords stuff.

Ted’s schedule was always completely full but he didn’t like cancellations. If you were a student of Ted and had to miss a lesson you had to “send a sub.” Daryl and the guys at the shop knew that I was eager to study with Ted. His waiting list was quite long and there were always scheduling issues, so when Ted had a cancellation without a sub from the student, they would often call me. I was really just a beginner, but I liked jazz. During most of those sub lessons Ted worked with me on his Chord Stream pages, especially learning the major 7, m7 and dom7 in all keys. Knowing all those “jazz chords” really helped me when I auditioned for my high school Jazz Ensemble a couple of years later.

Both Daryl and Ted left Dale’s (then Bob’s) Guitar Shop, and I then started lessons with Dana “Chips” Hoover. Chips was another Ted disciple and a fabulous chord melody player in his own right. He is really the one that got me started on solo guitar playing. In fact, Chips showed me my very first TG arrangement – Neal Hefti’s “Girl Talk.” He also told me to buy Ted’s book, Modern Chord Progressions. Like many others, that book at that stage of my development blew my mind!

I continued to study with Chips for several years, but I was also still on the Ted “sub list.” When I would take a lesson with him, he would ask me where we’d left off and then continue on as if no time had elapsed. Ted encouraged me to continue studying with Chips because at that time I was really interested in focusing on my single line playing and Ted, being the ever-humble guy that he was, felt that Chips was a better teacher for me at that point in my development. Needless to say, I always jumped at the chance to take a sub lesson with Ted.

Fast forward a dozen years or so after I’d finished high school: I attended college as a classical guitar major, started working as a musician, teaching guitar at few different guitar shops, and I found myself working at Guitar Ville in Sherman Oaks. The owner, Bruce was good friends with Ted. Ted would usually come in at least once a week to kibbutz, to try out some of the cool vintage archtops and 50s black guard Tele’s that Bruce had, and to just “hang out.” Many times, when Ted was there and in a playing mood, Bruce would close and lock the front door and turn on the “Closed” sign. Whoever was in there would get a free TG concert and master class.

Ted would also sometimes be up for jamming with one of us or with a customer in the shop. He would play anything, and he seemed to know every tune ever written, regardless of genre. You don’t get to hear it much on any of the extant Ted recordings or videos, but trust me, he was a monstrous single line player, especially conceptually. He was as hip as they come in regard to harmony, and man, he could really play the blues! Sometimes he’d play with his fingers, or sometimes he’d grab a pick.

This photo (above) is Ted and me in the Guitar Ville shop I mentioned. I'm the dark, curly haired guy, and the other cat is Michel ? who used to own a shop called "Guitar Guitar" also located in Sherman Oaks. He was a student of Ted's and a fantastic player.

And speaking of harmonically hip, one of my favorite moments and memories of Ted during the Guitar Ville days was one of those times when Bruce locked the shop and a particularly inspired Ted graced several of us with an eye-popping display of drop-tuned Gershwin and Cole Porter songs. He would alter his tuning within the segues from one song to the next. He would drop the G down to F#, and maybe the B down to A, etc., all the while talking about what was unique and cool about each individual selection as well as the tuning.

After about 90 minutes Ted had to leave, and as he was saying his goodbyes, when the owner, Bruce asked him, “Ted, is there anything about harmony or music theory that you don’t know?” Now, keep in mind that Ted Greene, as revered and respected as he was then and is now, was one of the most humble and respectful people that you could ever meet. Ted just kinda looked down for a second, and then looked back up at Bruce straight in the eye, shook his head a little and said, “No.” Yes, Ted was humble and even a bit shy, but he knew what he knew. He said this without any sense of ego or boasting. Harmony and its applications are one of the things he absolutely knew.

Between 1992 and 2004 I was working a lot out of town, so I was only able to take a handful of lessons with Ted those years. At that point Ted would either load me down with enough lesson sheets to last a lifetime, or he wouldn’t write down anything at all! The times when he wouldn’t give me a sheet or write anything down, I would get in my car and frantically write down everything I could remember on a piece of scratch paper (or even on a less populated page of the Thomas Guide!).
I took my last lesson from Ted on November 11th, 2004. I still keep my notes from that lesson handy. We talked about how he would approach a long, static one-chord or modal section of a tune. He used Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” as the template. He showed me a voicing for a dom7susb9 (Phrygian chord) that I still use all the time. Anytime I’m struggling with a voicing or a modulation, I always say to myself, “What would Ted do?” My notes from my last lesson with Ted are now posted in the “From Students” section under my name.

Anyone who ever witnessed Ted playing live in a comfortable environment always came away with the same impression: Ted Greene is the greatest guitar player ever. Though if you asked Ted, he probably would have said it was Lenny Breau.

Here’s to you Ted. We all miss you every day.

~ Ken Lasaine

* * * * *

Special thanks to Ken for sharing those wonderful stories, the photo, and his notes of his last lesson with Ted. We hope to hear more from Ken in the future. Be sure to check out Ken’s YouTube channel for his playing, reviews, and explanations of some of Ted’s lessons and arrangements. Even though many of his YT videos are not directly related to Ted, you can see/hear Ted’s influence in his harmonic approach. (By the way, anyone care to guess the exact name of the chord Ted is playing in Ken’s photo?)

Now, just a word or two about the Ted lessons this month. Most of the pages this month deal with Ted’s study of the EIS Murphy System, the Equal Interval System, also known as the System of Horizontal Composition based on Equal Intervals. Please read the brief Introduction to Ted’s Pages before jumping in, and realize that Ted was just doing some initial investigation into this system before deciding if he wanted to pursue it more deeply. Some of his notes are straight out of the early Murphy text books; some are some examples Ted devised for himself to apply the principles he was reading about. Ted’s pages were not meant as lessons for his guitar students, but just notes to himself. Dan Sawyer has reviewed these pages and made a few brief comments about them. Dan studied extensively with “Spud” Murphy and introduced Ted to this system and tried to get him to dive deeper into its study. Since these pages are part of Ted’s Teaching Archives, we wanted to share them with you in the hopes that they may reveal one angle of how Ted studied new ideas, and perhaps that they might inspire you in some way. Enjoy!

~ Your friends on the Team


* School Days (Chuck Berry), 1995-05-25. [This is Ted’s page showing how to play Chuck Berry’s riffs and fills for “School Days.” We present this exactly as Ted wrote it for a student who was interested in this song. No notation is provided, so you’re on your own for interpretation and rhythmic execution of the grids. Listen to the song and it may unfold for you.]
* Sleepwalk (Some Chords Used by Brian Setzer), 1990-08-08. [This page was filed away with Ted’s other arrangements, but it really is about chord forms. It was probably written down as a special request from a student who wanted to learn how to play this piece or how to play like Brian Setzer. We didn’t provide any notation for this page, so we leave it up to you to glean what you can from it. If anyone goes deeper into this version of Sleepwalk by Mr. Setzer (and there are several versions by him) and are interested in sharing any additional notation that might be helpful to others, please send us your notes.]
* Stray Cats Strut, 1996-10-10. [Here we have yet another lesson for a tune by Brian Setzer (probably requested by the same student who was interested in Brian’s “Sleepwalk.” This is an outline of the song with some possible chord forms to use and some riffs and fills that Ted transcribed. Once again, we leave the notation and interpretation in your hands. Good luck!]

* Expanded Key via Major (Extensions) Colors, 1996-05-18. [This is just a quick note Ted wrote for the key of Eb. He didn’t include the fret numbers for all of the grids on this page, so you’ll need to interpret them yourself...keeping in mind that he was thinking “expanded key.”]

* Introduction to Ted Greene’s Pages on the EIS Murphy System. [A brief general description from Wikipedia, and notes for Ted’s pages from Dan Sawyer.]
* EIS - Bass in Motion thru Harmonized Melodic Patterns, 1982-10-30. [This page has several ideas that were pasted on to one page, dated 1982 and 1984. Even though Ted didn’t write that these were EIS studies, the term “bass in motion” is one that is used in the EIS Murphy teachings. We’ve provided new music notation and typed text to make this page easier to read, but you’ll need to work out the chord forms and fingerings for each example, since Ted wrote: “For use in all sequences, all string sets, and fingerings, many keys.” So there are many, many possibilities for playing these.]
* EIS - Important Notes, Facts, Resources, and Devices of EIS Murphy System, 1977-10-07, 08. [These are Ted’s notes he wrote out while studying the early Murphy textbook. Retyped for easy reading.]
* EIS – Interesting Progressions Using Dominant 11th Chords, 1979-05-27. [11th chords progressions that Ted like, and he listed these progressions with the E3↓ and E5↓ symbols, showing that he was thinking of the EIS system. New notation given, but again, you’ll need to work out the fingerings. And since these examples are on the grand staff, move it up an octave for guitar.]
* EIS - “Spud” for Guitar, 1977-10-14. [More exercises for applying some of the EIS concepts. New notation and chord grid diagrams provided for easy playing. Although explained in the other sheets, the C.O.P. here = “Change of Position,” and S.V.L. = Substitute Voice-Leading. Some of the examples end with Ted’s comment, “And open.” This means that the example should be also played with open triad voicings, not just the close voicing that he wrote.]
* EIS – Variations on Basic EIS Murphy Triad Progressions, 1979-05-26. [More exercises of Ted working out some of the EIS concepts in notation form (grand staff). These are all for major triads. We re-wrote the notation and added grid diagrams for one way of playing on guitar.]
* EIS Concepts for Harmonizing a Melody, 1978-11-18. [These are probably the notes that Ted extracted directly from one of the early Murphy books. Re-typed text.]
* EIS Lesson #4, 1975-07-13, 20. [More of Ted’s notes from EIS “lesson #4”. Re-typed text.]
* EIS Murphy System – Guides or Rules, 1978-07-07. [More notes that Ted extracted from the EIS book he was studying. These are “rules” that were propounded in the early parts of the Murphy 12-book series, later to be consciously broken by the student.]
* EIS Murphy System - Resources and Devices, 1977-09-30. [A simple list of some concepts and terms used in the EIS Murphy teachings.]
* EIS Practice – Various Concepts, 1975-07-06. [Another page of Ted taking note of and applying some of the EIS concepts. New text and notation provided for easy reading.]
* EIS Resources for Writing, 1977-10-14, 1978-07-20, 1978-07-07. [Another collection of notes and lists that Ted collected for application of the EIS concepts as pertains to music writing. Note: 3P, 4P, 5P probably refers to 3-part, 4-part, 5-part harmony, and as you can see by observing the stacks of numbers at the end of page 2 and on page 3, the bass notes are not included in the number of harmony parts, thus 3P can mean 3 harmony notes and a bass note. Typed text for easy reading.]

Under the header: “Contributions by Ken Lasaine”

* My Last Ted Greene Lesson, 2004-11-09. [This is Ken’s notes that he wrote down immediately after his last private guitar lesson with Ted (see this month’s Newsletter message).]

Ted on YouTube

Ted on Facebook

Ted on Twitter

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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