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October 2020 Newsletter


Fall Greetings to all serious guitarists and lovers or harmony around the globe.

This month we’d like to share with you all a short article/interview with Ted as published in Guitar One magazine’s May 2005 issue. This is probably the last article published before Ted’s passing. The original copy of the article is now in our “Articles & Interviews” section (see New Items below), but we wanted to also post the text here in the Newsletter. Special thanks to Darren Michaloski for finding and sending us a copy to add to our Archives.

Ted Greene

by Adam Perlmutter

“I’ve been branded as a jazz guitar player and a recluse,” says Ted Greene. “But I’m out there all the time playing all kinds of beautiful music. At this gig the other day, I did a fantasy on ‘The Beat Goes On.’ Where’s the jazz in Sonny and Cher?”

Reared in White Plains, New York, Greene was first drawn to jazz and pop upon hearing his mother play piano tunes from the Great American songbook — the Gershwins, Cole Porter, and others. Then, as a teenager, having picked up guitar rudiments from Mel Bay books, Greene got into rock ‘n roll. “In the early ‘60’s,” he says, “the sounds of the ghetto started crossing into White Plains, and I played in as many rock and R&B bands as I could, with an ES-345 through a cranked-up Bassman.”

Later, after moving to California, Greene built a roster of students and became known as a guitar guru. To stay on top of things, he would write out exercises to be used in multiple contexts, for different students. It eventually occurred to him that he should write a book. “At first I was skeptical,” he says. “Growing up, I was a big troublemaker, so I asked myself, ‘Are you gonna write a book before you go to the electric chair, or will you be coming back from the grave?” Still, Greene went ahead with it; he gathered his exercises into Chord Chemistry, which, along with his Modern Chord Progressions, became an essential method.

When he wasn’t teaching, Greene concentrated on solo-guitar arrangements, incorporating his rock and R&B roots into jazzy lines and impressionistic harmonies. “I’ve always tried to capture the vibe that a piece suggests,” Greene says of his approach, “I also consider texture and register — important topics that are often overlooked in the books. Lately, I’ve been revisiting the rhythms that I first heard as a kid — New Orleans piano, with conversational, or straight-8ths, bass — and I’ve found that they work well with lots of different tunes.”

Greene’s clever arrangements can be heard on Solo Guitar, his reissued 1977 debut, which was recorded with a Telecaster plugged straight into the board. While Greene’s take on standards like “Just Friends” and “Summertime” are undeniably jazz-influenced, Solo Guitar, with its myriad influences — Celtic, rock, blues, among others — cannot be neatly categorized as a jazz record. “I don’t really fit it,” admits Greene, “but I’ve come to accept that.”

* * * * *

Another special treat this month is a recorded guitar lesson with Ted and Mark Fitchett. (See below in the New Items description). Here is a brief outline of subjects they discussed in this 37-minute lesson. (Thanks, Mark!)

Debussy style: Dominant 9th chords, Whole-tone, Pentatonic 9th things, 9th chord Rows, Shifting Roots. Beethoven Style: Strength, power, drama; strong bass lines; various progressions. Diminished 7th chords. Curtis Mayfield, Jimi Hendrix, Floyd Cramer – hammer-on fills. More on Debussy: The Girl with the Flaxen Hair. “Dominant chords don’t always have to have that b7.” “There’s nothing wrong with getting rid of the b7 if other tones in the chord work. Your ear will be the judge.” How to visualize and build Dom.7b9#5, Dom.7#9#5, and Dom.9#5 chords.

* * * * *

~ Your friends on the Team


* The Heather on the Hill – Russell Malone, Transcribed by Ted Greene, 2000. [This is a bit unusual for inclusion in Ted’s arrangements library. Ted wrote this up during multiple private guitar lessons at the request of a student who wanted to learn Russell Malone’s arrangement. (I think most of us would want to learn one of Ted’s own arrangements if we could sit with him again!). So apparently Ted and the student listened to the recording together as Ted demonstrated how to play it, and at the same time notated it using his chord grids method. We have added (as best as we could) standard music notation and aligned it to Ted’s grids. There are several points where the notation is left very simple and Ted indicated to “add right-hand fills” or similar instructions. Ted left much of the articulation of the chords for the student to interpret (and he encouraged listening to Malone’s performance). Also noteworthy: the format of the song is true to the original lead sheet. Some of the more elaborate fills are to be done out-of-time, but still staying within the measures and structure of the song – in other words, extra measures were not added. It is highly recommended that you listen to the Malone recording, which is on his “Look Who’s Here” album. (Here is a YT link: The Heather on the Hill). This isn’t too difficult to learn with a little effort, and you’ll find it to be a very nice arrangement. Good luck!]

Under the “Beatles Tunes” header:

* Yesterday (A More Complex Arrangement), circa 1970. [We thought that we finished posting all of Ted’s Beatles arrangements, but then we discovered this one that was originally intended for publication in Ted’s book Chord Chemistry. It was to be a vehicle to demonstrate one way to harmonize a simple song. He chose instead “O Come All Ye Faithful” – probably to avoid copyright issues with using the Beatles melody. Ted didn’t add chord diagrams to his pages, so we added them along with new notation. You may find other ways to play some of the chords we have given (via string transference), but the provided grids are most likely what Ted intended.]

* Guitar One Magazine – Ted Greene - Jazz Joint, May 2005, by Adam Perlmutter. [This short article/interview is probably the last one published before Ted’s passing in July of 2005. See Newsletter message above for full text. You can download the PDF which also includes a single-line “At the Improv, Ted Greene Line” in standard notation and Tab, and also some gear infor.]

* 1990-11-26, Ted Greene Lesson with Mark Fitchett. [This recording comes from a collection of private lessons with Ted and Mark Fitchett. Mark studied with Ted for many, many years, and they shared a wonderful musical rapport. In our Audio section we created a new page for Mark’s lessons, and we hope he’ll be sharing more of these gems with us soon. Thanks Mark!]

* Baroque Minor Key Vocabulary and Exercises, 1974-12-03 and 04. [This lesson was previously posted without the accompanying “Exercises” page that Ted intended to accompany it as practical applications of the chart in the first part. We’ve now added it with typed text for easy reading.
Please note: The progressions on the Exercises page are in Roman numerals, and they are given for a Major key, however Ted wrote that all the exercise should be done in both major and minor keys. Also note: this Exercises page should also be applied to Ted’s lesson on “Baroque Major Key Vocabulary.”]
* Sopranos and Basses to be Harmonized, 1973-10-18. [This is an assignment page for the student who is studying Ted’s Baroque, triads, and harmonization lessons. He asks the student to fill in the missing harmony notes and to name the chords. We’ve provided a sample for possible “answers” for page 1, but the rest is up to you. Some of the examples are not clear as to what Ted expects from the student, since all he provides is a bass line. Perhaps he is asking you to come up with your own melody/soprano lines and then harmonize them. New notation given.]

* B7 Types – Top 4 Strings, 1993-12-27. [A run-down of some B7 altered chords on the top 4 strings, centered around the 7th fret. Also: examples of the similar B7 altered chords resolving to some kind of E chord (major or minor), however, most of these B7 chords include a B bass note. The way Ted usually fingered these was to use the 3rd finger to barre across the 7th fret to catch the B and A notes on the 6th and 4th strings respectively.]
* Modern iii7-VI7-ii7-V7 Progressions, 1977-08-08 and 1977-08-10. [This is an awesome collection of iii-VI-ii-V progressions. The original pages are from 1977 and are difficult to read, so we redrew all the grids to make it easy-to-read reference/ideas page.]
* Non-Diatonic V7-I Progressions, 1976-10-21. [Ted gives us 22 “staring” V7 altered chords, followed by several possible resolutions to I major type chords. All the examples in this less are in the key of F, therefore the progression is always some C7alt. to F. But of course, Ted wrote that these should be practiced in all keys. Newly drawn grids for easy reading.]
* Using 3-Note Voicings in Phrases with Larger Chords, 1987-09-29. [These are some nice soundings chord progressions. Ted asked the student to write in the chord quality to the letter name he provided. We did that and went a step further and added music notation so it is easier to see the voices moving thru the sequences. Add your own rhythmic phrasing to them and have fun.]
* Voice Switches, 1976-03-20. [This is a very interesting lesson. There is an introduction page explaining what is going on. Analyze the notation for each example and follow the voice-leading. [This “switching” process may be a concept that is taught in classical music courses and goes by a different name (voice-exchange?), but we are not aware of it.] Also to note: after learning the principles presented for these E7b9 examples, the same may be applied to other chords (if one is so inclined to pursue this approach). Standard notation paired with Ted’s girds (straightened and “cleaned-up”) provided to make reading and analysis easier. Good luck with this lesson, hoping that it may open many wonderful musical doors for you!]

Under the “Triads” header:

* Learning 3-Note Open 1st Inversion Diatonic Major Key Middle String Voicings, 1989-05-23. [Wow, that’s a long title for a lesson...but it says it all! A simple lesson that sounds great and gets you playing the full fretboard.]
* Long Open Triad String Crossing Passages, 1986-10-12. [The purpose of this lesson is to get you to cross string sets when playing open triads. Simple and fun to play, Ted would probably encourage you to play the examples backwards, with various rhythms, and to move to other keys.]

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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