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August 2019 • Newsletter


August Greetings to all Ted Greene students and friends and fans!

This month Leon White shares a story with us about taking a guitar lesson at Ted’s home.

A Lesson at Ted’s House

Yes, at one time Ted had a house. “Long ago and far away... ”Ted lived at home with his parents and sister. I had come for a lesson, and here I was in a sprawling ranch style home in Woodland Hills, California. The house had a large front yard with grass and a circular driveway with a kitchen that looked out over it. I parked on the street, as my older car tended to leak oil. I walked up the drive, and there were two large orange longhair cats in front. They seemed very big to me, but I took a chance and stopped, and one of them walked over to me. (I think this one was named Leo.) He looked at me and I looked at him. He had extra toes on his front paws! Several on each I think. (If he played guitar...)

I continued to the front door and a kindly lady answered. Ted was in the living room with another student so she asked me into the kitchen, saying she was Ted’s mother. And there I met Ted’s mom and grandmother for the first time. I was trying to be out of the way, and they wanted to welcome me to their home. Awkwardly I received a glass of water, and they began a warm conversation. What did I do? What was I studying? Had I known Ted long? Was I the one that like film scores? I don’t think I’ve ever been welcomed so warmly by strangers.

Ted’s personality, interest, and warmth were all there in his mom and grandma. Looking back I realize how lucky I was to have known these two ladies, and I saw why Ted felt the loss of each of them so very deeply later in his life.

When my turn came, Ted invited me into the living room. We both sat on a large couch. His amp was in front of us, and I guess we must have laid papers on the couch as I don’t recall a music stand that first time. He had an old Tele and a Twin Reverb sized amp there (it could have been a Vibroverb or Vibrolux).

“I thought you said we were going to be in your room?” I asked, wondering if there was to be an audience for the lesson. “Would you like to see it?” he asked. So we walked down a hall and there was his room. It was SMALL, sort of a purple/lavender wall color, with bits of lime green that must have been pillows or his bed on the floor (as I recall). It was dark, but I think there was a large window or a sliding glass door to the outside that was covered by heavy drapes. And there were shelves of course. What there wasn’t, was space. “Tried it, but it’s pretty crowded,” he said.

We had the lesson. I have no idea what we covered. The lessons at his home continued, and I had more wonderful (if short) visits with his mom and grandma. I also met his sister who played piano very well, and then I met his dad. I was waiting one day (in a den, I think, for some reason) when Ted came in and introduced me to his dad, who had just come home from a long day at work. I think I was waiting in “his” room. He looked at me, growled a hello, and kept on walking. The feeling was dark, and then Ted took me quickly back to the living room, commenting that his dad “was like that sometimes.” I never saw his father after that.

I’d like to describe the living room (as best I can remember) because it was so different from everywhere else you usually met him at home. The living room was large, light, and airy. There were sliding glass doors at one end that opened into the back garden. It was very spacious and very welcoming. I think the couch was curved. There was a slight floral feel to the room – it may have had very pale green colors in its décor.

Now, contrast that room with his teaching studio at the music store: small, egg shell crates on the wall, papers all over the place, and rather warm in the room. And then recall his apartment(s): air conditioner in the window, room loaded with music, amps, guitars, records, books, more books, magazines, guitars, amps, cases, and did I say amps? A very dense environment I’d call it. And eventually it was swallowed up by papers, with only a small path in it.

And yet it was the same Ted all the way through it – friendly, musical, and kind.

* * * * *

Just a couple of small side notes to add to Leon’s story. First from Barbara Franklin’s book, My Life with the Chord Chemist:

“In February of 1971, Ted and his family moved yet again to Allentown Drive in Woodland Hills. Here they would remain for a prolonged stay of 7 years. Now, at 25 years of age, Ted felt this juncture in his life was, ‘the biggest musical transformation period.’ By this time, Ted had been playing the guitar and studying music for 14 years…”

And from Terrance McManus’ thesis on Ted, an excerpt from an interview with Ted’s sister:

“…And he basically went into hibernation while he was accumulating all the knowledge and writing his book — and he lived, you know, at our family home. And…I do remember…he had a purple room in this one house where he wrote Chord Chemistry. And that’s where he just took off. And from that he got more and more serious about his teaching; devised his teaching systems — and that was really what he was focusing on.

“…It was in the 70’s, so he was studying a lot, and he was creating his methods a lot, and teaching. You know, when we moved — I’m not sure which house he started teaching, but I do remember he taught at home in the last family house we had. And my grandmother was there, and she loved him so much. It was just this perfect setting because my parents were gone most of the time. And he watched over her and would take her to her appointments and whatever. And he had people coming and going to study, you know, and it was a perfect world at that time for him because, you know, he was doing everything. He was writing, he was teaching full-time, and he was taking care of my grandma if she needed anything.

* * * * *

Enjoy the new lesson material!

~ Your friends on the Team


* Pretty Baby, 1990-08-24. [This song, written sometime around 1912-1916, and underwent many lyric transformations. The original included two verses that are not included in Ted’s version, which is just the most recognizable chorus section. Ted has this one filed away in his “Difficult solo guitar arrangements,” although it is not exceptionally difficult to play. It could be that he was referring to the extensive reharmonization and reading his sustained notes notation with his grid system that made it difficult to learn. We’ve included standard music notation, aligned with Ted’s chord diagrams to hopefully make this arrangement much easier to read and learn.]

Under the header of “Harmonization of a Given Melody”:

* Diatonic Harmonization of a 3-Note Theme, 1985-05-26. [Ted subtitled this page as “Frozen Notes Underneath – no inner voice movement; first note sustained if you can.” This page really asks that you get all the notes to ring and sustain. There are some beautiful subtle differences in each of the 59 examples for Part 1, and the 60 examples for Part 2. I’m sure that Ted would encourage the student to deeply listen to and take note of the differences as you play through them. This is great food for thought when constructing similar ideas for your solo playing. Notation included with Ted’s grids.]

Under the header of “Triads”:

* Sequences Using Root Pos. Close Pos. Triads, 1973-09-15. [This page shows various root note sequences with different triad harmonizations. After the first example Ted asks the student to “continue” the patterns he begins. We’ve taken the liberty to add the continuations of each sequence (added in blue), so you can see where Ted was heading. Of course there may be other possibilities, and Ted would have encouraged you to experiment with other voicings and string sets. You may appreciate that we’ve redrawn the grids, as the original page is from 1973 and a bit difficult to read and follow.]

* Girl From Ipanema (incomplete). [Posting this lesson page was planned before the sad passing of Joao Gilberto last month. I believe this was written up during a private lesson at the request of the student. The comping arrangement is incomplete, without the bridge and last verse. We’ve included notation and lead sheet with lyrics so you can continue and finish it. Note: the chords are meant to be played with a Bossa rhythmic feel – not as sustained chords as is written in the notation. Also be sure to go to the “Arrangements” section and check out Ted’s arrangement of this song in the key of E: Girl From Ipanema.]

* Condensed Tonality Sheet, 1975-07-08. [Ted subtitled this page, “Arranged according to how to think when playing.” This was probably never used as a lesson hand-out page, but possibly just for Ted’s mental organization and classification of ideas. This gives one a hint of what was going on between his ears while he was playing. Transcribed for easy reading (oh yeah, you’ll be glad we did that).]
* Modern and Classical Tonality and Rhythm Types, 1975-04-21. [This is another page where Ted classifies different tonal and rhythmic types according to different styles, namely: Diatonic and Impressionistic, Pre-Baroque (and Modal), Baroque, and Rococo-Classical. Transcribed so you don’t have to squint reading the original.]
* Other Major Type Tonalities, 1975-01-26. [Ted here is defining which chord types and scale degrees go with the various major modes (including “borrowed” chords). He didn’t finish the various Pentatonic and misc. scales. Transcribed text.]
* Tonality and Rhythm Types (Organization for Improvisational Thinking), 1975-05-03. [This page was written less than 2 weeks after his page on “Modern and Classical Tonality and Rhythm Types” and shares much of the same ideas. The early 1970’s was a time when Ted was doing a lot of analyzing, cataloguing, organizing, and listing musical devices, structures, progressions, harmonic types, rhythmic types, etc. Again, this page was meant for his personal music study and for clearly defining concepts in his mind for his own playing and to be able to convey these to students. There are two scan copies of this page, one with additional notes added by Ted years later. We’ve transcribed and combined the text into one document for your easy reading.]

Under the “Contributions by Tomás Campbell” section:

* Ted Greene’s Guitar Accompaniment Pointers. [Tomás has collected his observations and direct quotes from Ted regarding the art of comping. Sources: “Session with the Stars” video, Ted’s seminars at CA Vintage Guitars and Boulevard Music, lessons with Cesar Pineda and March Fitchett.]
* Ted Greene’s Posture. [Ted almost never used a guitar strap. Here Tomás has created a short analysis of a couple of different postures Ted uses when playing guitar.]
* Ted Greene Talkin’ Wes. [This is Tomás’ collection of some of Ted’s insights about Wes Montgomery’s playing — his physical technique and musical technique — taken from some recordings of private lessons as well as seminars.

Note: You can find much more of Ted explaining Wes’ playing on other Ted recordings, especially Mark Levy’s lesson title, “All About Wes” on October 18, 1993, found in our Audio Recordings library here: Ted with Mark Levy, 1993-10-18. Also see Mark’s recorded lessons dated 1991-00-00 (actual date unknown), July 20, 1992, and October 19, 1992 for more on Wes. Also read Ted’s article in Guitar Player magazine, August 1998 issue, found in our “Articles and Interviews” section:]

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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