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Summer 2024 Newsletter


Summer Greetings to all Ted fans, friends, students (past and present), and lovers of harmony!

Continuing from where we left off last time with our excerpt from Barbara Franklin’s book, My Life with the Chord Chemist:

Ted's Early Years (continued)

By 1961, with the sounds of Rock ‘n Roll “tugging at his ears,” Ted would sneak off to New York City where he would haunt the record shops and small diners that had tiny jukeboxes at each table. He was enraptured by the sounds of early Rock ‘n Roll, and “especially Gospel influenced Rhythm & Blues and Gospel, which lasted ‘strongly’ through 1965.” He would maintain a love of this sound throughout his life. When he came home from his jaunts to the city, he would spend hours on the guitar trying to imitate what he heard. By Ted’s own admission, he could barely pick out the chords at first. As Ted later recalled, “I didn’t have the ability to make sense of the guitar until I was almost 19 yrs. old.”

However, Ted became well noted for his refined musical ear, his incredible ability to hear everything: what key a piece was in, what chords were being used, modulations, or individual voices in an orchestra. This ability was not a gift from birth, it was nurtured and developed over many years through various methods Ted devised to hone each area of hearing into perfection. Ear-training was a very important part of his teaching, and he stressed the importance and advantages of ear-training to his students.

One day I asked him how he taught himself to hear so well, and he explained to me how many years ago, he chose what was then his “favorite” pitch – E. He drilled the sound of E into his head, humming it all the time, checking to make sure it was correct, until the sound of E was so ingrained he could hear it, and pick it out anywhere, anytime. With that E sound being unequivocal, he could use it to determine any other note. Hence, he developed perfect relative pitch.

Because Ted loved music so passionately, listening, understanding, and analyzing music were always integral parts of his life. For instance, at first whenever we would watch a movie, inevitably Ted would say to me, “I have to stop the tape for a moment, I’ve got to figure out what those chords were” and he would stop the movie and listen over and over until he got it. This would happen so often, that many nights we never finished watching the movie!

In 1962, his family moved again, first for a short time to a small apartment in White Plains, then in late June to Atlanta, Georgia. This proved to be the most difficult move for Ted as a 16-year-old boy. He had fallen in love with New York City and had to leave many friends behind. The adjustment to Atlanta did not come easily. He longed for New York so much that once he actually ran away to be back in his beloved city and amongst his old friends. His parents soon realized what had happened, and he was brought home.

Although despondent, Ted tried to settle into his Atlanta home. Soon he discovered the drag races and his fascination for hotrods was ignited, and he spent many days at the racetracks. He continued playing guitar, but by his own admission he still had not accomplished much. However, he did admit to possessing a natural sense of rhythm and that coupled with his rudimentary chord knowledge was sufficient enough to impress his friends that every so often they would drag him off to parties to provide the entertainment.

Ted’s stay in Atlanta was a brief one. In late September of 1963, he left his family and returned to Los Angeles by himself to live, first with his Uncle Cy and Aunt Clare, then to the Colonial West Motor Lodge & Motel on the Sunset Strip, and for transportation his parents gave him a brand new silver Corvette Stingray! This gift should have been heavenly for the recently turned 17-year-old Ted, well one might think so anyway, since he had more than a fondness for cars, especially Corvettes, yet the only note he jotted down about his return was this: “R & B Gigs – the shock of hearing Linc Chamberland on his old Tele, old Bassman set-up.”

However, while compiling the notes for this book I came across this very detailed reflection about his Corvette and how he felt about his guitar playing at that time. Ted noted in his datebook in December in 2001, “University High student in my one year (grad.) 1963-1964 – with my Silver ‘63 split window Corvette 360hp Fuelie with American Mags & Goodyear Blue Streaks all around (initially) and the 27-gallon gas tank, road racing suspension. What a time in my life. Of course, I was NOT happy, no, BECAUSE: I yearned so to be able to find all the glorious sounds on the guitar, which I love, and I didn’t have a clue. Even though I had been playing for 7 plus years!!!!”

He completed his senior year at University High School and graduated on June 19, 1964 with a Major in Liberal Arts Mathematics.
Meanwhile, Ted’s family had returned to Southern California and had moved into a house on Mulholland Drive high above the San Fernando Valley. After graduating high school, Ted moved back in with his family. By now, already considered an accomplished guitarist (by others standards, not by his own admission), a good part of that summer was spent playing with local R&B bands. He also began giving guitar lessons.

In the Autumn of 1964, to appease his parents, Ted enrolled at CSUN (then called Valley State College), as a business major, but before completing the first year he dropped out, thus incurring the wrath of his parents (who eventually forgave him) and began the permanent pursuit of his true passion, a career in music.

* * * * *


As the sun warms our strings and the days stretch into sultry evenings, it’s time to dive into this timeless beauty. Themed for this summer’s newsletter, I am thrilled to share with you Ted’s take on accompaniment chords for George Gershwin’s iconic composition, “Summertime.”

Gershwin’s masterpiece, originally an aria from the opera “Porgy and Bess,” captures the languid essence of summer—the heat, the longing, and the promise of endless nights. As jazz musicians, we have the privilege of interpreting this classic in our own unique way, adding our harmonies to the warm breeze.

Accompaniment chords are the rhythmic pulse that propels a tune forward. They provide the harmonic foundation, supporting melodies and improvisations. In my taped 1990 lesson, Ted shares his voicings, inversions, and stylistic nuances that breathe life into “Summertime.”

Whether you’re a seasoned player or just dipping your fingers into the jazz pool, this lesson promises inspiration and growth. Let’s explore the lush harmonies, syncopated rhythms, and soulful voicings that make “Summertime,” a perennial favorite. Stay tuned for Ted’s insightful analysis and practice tips. Let’s make this summer unforgettable—one chord at a time.


Your fellow jazz guitar student and enthusiast, Nick Stasinos

* * * * *

Finally, let’s all send some special appreciation to the folks who helped to make this Newsletter and new items from Ted possible:

  • Nick Stasinos, for providing Ted’s lesson on “Love Walked In,” and his “Summertime” recording, sheet music, and walk-thru commentary.
  • James Hober, for V-System pages proofreading and consultation. James wrote us: “I’m trying to work on the V-1 document you sent [“V-1 Search for Melodic Minor Tonics”], but it is just so beautiful that I get lost in the sounds. Of course, many of the V-1 shapes are impossible for the left hand. But if you use open strings and descending sustained scale technique… Oh my god! The sound is just heavenly. I’m trying to tear myself away from these gorgeous sounds and do the [proofreading] work.”
  • Mike Deluca, for being our ever-faithful and diligent music proofreader.
  • Alan de Mause, for the “Star Chemistry” arrangement from his book.
  • Barbara Franklin, for excerpts from her book, My Life with the Chord Chemist.
  • Leon, Jeff, and Paul, for keeping Ted’s music and legacy alive for you and for future students/players.

~ Your Friends on the Team


In the “Lessons with Nick Stasinos” section:
* Summertime – Comping, 1990-06-07, and
* Summertime – Comping (1990 sheet music and commentary) [Ted Greene Audio Lesson with Nick Stasinos reviewing some comping chords for this classic song. Please go to the Audio section / Lessons with Nick Stasinos.See Nick’s comments in this Newsletter message above.]

* Baroque Contrary Motion Sounds, 1982-05-07, 1983-10-17, 1980-05-29 [Sixteen examples of a single note (or dyad) moving with ascending and descending motion simultaneously. Ted fills in with other notes. Some very cool movements and sounds. Ted also included a couple of examples of what he called “Pyramids.” New notation with suggested chord diagrams to assist your absorption of this material.]

* 1st Inversion Voicings and System of Progressions, 1980-06-24. [Ted digs deep into first inversion chords (given for C major) and smooth voice-leading to D minor. New notation provided for ease of reading and study.]

* All 4- and 5-Note Chords Using Major and Minor 3rds, 1989-06-16. [Using stacked 3rds, Ted maps out all possible 4-note and 5-note chords, and lists various ways to name these monster stretch chords. Typed text and redrawn grids for page 2 only.]

* Bb7 Altered 9, Root on Top, 1987-10-13 and 14. [This is Ted’s collection of various Bb7 altered chords with Root as the melody note. A separate page provides the names of each.]

* Chord Evolution G7 and Dm7 Types in Voicing Group 2 and 1, 1983-12-12. [Starting with a simple dyad, Ted shows the evolution, or expansion, of the chord by adding and moving notes around that nucleus. Additional page included that puts names to the chord diagrams.]

* Chord Voicings on the Middle 4 Strings – Level 1, 1977-02-26 and 1977-05-04. [This group of lesson pages was posted years ago as a two-page series, containing grid diagrams for Major types, Minor 7th types, and Dominant 7th types. However, we recently discovered page 3 of this series. It had been misfiled with Ted’s “Personal Music Studies” papers. Page 3 contains grids for Minor 6th, Minor-major 7, Minor add9, Minor 7b5, Diminished 7th, and Augmented types. We have recombined all three pages on this new PDF.]

* Progressions Starting from Lots of My Favorite Forms, 1983-06-17. [A collection of ii-V-I progressions with some of Ted’s favorite (and often challenging) chord forms. Notation with newly drawn grid diagrams.]

* Love Walked In – Comping, 1977-12-28. [This is an early comping study for a Gershwin song. Ted added at the top of the page: “Analyze the reason for every chord.” We combined Ted’s original diagrams with their notation, and aligned it with the lead sheet with lyrics. This is an easy study to play. It has no challenging stretch chords to agonize over. Enjoy.]

* Examples of Modulation, 1975-04-08. [Looking for a way to modulate from C to Eb? Well, look no further, Ted’s got you covered on this subject. Many of his chord names include figured bass notation, so in our write-up we included a key for determining which inversion is being referred to with those crazy figured bass numbers.]

* Examples of Romantic Modulation, 1975-04-08. [More chord progressions to illustrate various modulation pathways. Typed text for easy reading and reference.]

* Some Favorite Film Scores, 1982-04-16. [Ted’s all-time favorite music was film scores. Here he lists some he especially loved. Retyped for easy reading.]

* Some Great Film Scores by Max Steiner, 1980-09-17 and 1981-04-03. [Ted really loved Max Steiner’s music. Here is a list of some favorites. Retyped for easy reading.]

* 4-Note Pentatonic Melodic Patterns for Single-Line and Harmonized Studies, 1985. [Four pages of 4-note patterns. Ted wrote: “Do sequences (of all types) of each idea to find the great ones. Also use Rhythmic Displacement. Try phrase idea in all kinds of Polyrhythms.”]

* New Plan for Me to Finally Learn Double Line Textures, 1984-05-09 and 10. [Ted wrote for himself these four exercises with detailed instructions for learning to play two-note, or “double-line” soloing. New notation with TAB and typed text for easy study.]

* Newest Organization of Pentatonic Favorite Scales, 2002-04-14. [Here Ted presents over 30 pentatonic scales, with some comments about how to use them. New notation and typed text added.]

* Useable Pentatonic Scales. [In his usual mathematical approach, Ted maps out all pentatonic scales (80?) and then highlighted the “useable” ones. He then added possible chords for which these scales could be used with. Typed text for easy reading and reference.]

In the V-1 section:
V-1 Search for Melodic Minor Tonics, 1989-06-12. [Using the V-System “Method One” formula, Ted maps out all variations of a Melodic Minor tonic, organized according to the top (soprano) voice. This page features many arcane chords that, for the most part, are mostly impractical and too big of a stretch for the left hand. But, if you make the first string note the open E and fret the three remaining notes, you can play some of the most wonderful, beautiful sustained scale / arpeggiated chord sounds! There are some truly amazing, inspiring sounds on this page. Try it! Newly drawn grids and text for easy reading.]

In the V-2 section:
* V-2 Search for Melodic Minor Tonics, 1989-05-25. [Similar to the above approach to discovering all possible variations of a Melodic Minor tonic, this group of chords are much easier to play (fewer long stretches). Newly drawn grids and text for easy reading and reference.]

* Our Love Is Here to Stay - Ted Greene transcription by Francois Leduc (Notation, TAB, Grids). Taken from Ted’s “Messin' Around at Home” recording.]

Posted in the section, “Contributions from Alan de Mause.”
* Star Chemistry - In the Style of Ted Greene – by Alan de Mause. [This is a reworked version of Alan’s arrangement of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” from his book Solo Jazz Guitar, using Ted-style chord grids and new notation.]

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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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