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Winter 2024 TedGreene.com Newsletter

"The Holiday Race"
By Leon White

The holidays are a perfect time to play music for your family, friends, or someone’s family. But are we ready? Uh-oh! Ted’s love of holiday music was enormous, and he often played the songs at non-holiday events. (At my sister’s wedding he moved to Christmas carols when some of the guests wanted to sing. Who knew?) That prompted me to think about his approach in more detail. Here’s what I think I found.

Many of us here have a deep interest in music itself. By that I mean, we climb into the sound of our music and seek to understand which secret ingredient is present that makes us love that chord so much (for example). And Ted’s lessons provide us a lifetime of discovery in so many different areas – from gear to tunings, from styles to harmony, from the subtleties of rhythmic emphasis, to the simple songs we just can’t give up (“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” for example).

But then the holidays roll around and something totally different happens to us. Many of my students and others enter what I call “the race.” “The race” is that scramble to learn a couple of holiday songs to play in some social setting. In this haste to learn the songs, the beautiful subtle details and nuances that we’ve studied and practiced are lost or disappear – we’re just cramming for a new gig. But surprisingly, we often come away with a lot of knowledge that previously we didn’t have, which we couldn’t have recognized before just learning the tunes.

In a landmark private lesson I had with Joe Pass, I asked him what I should learn to be able to play in his single-line style. He looked at me for a moment and paused. I was sure I’d asked a stupid question. Then he came back with this response: “Learn tunes.” I must have looked blank because he went on to explain in more detail that, “Everything you need is in the songs.” (There was a lot more wisdom there, but I’ll revisit that another time.)

Ow! I wonder if we should all use the “holiday race” approach and just learn whatever of Ted’s arrangements are playable for us. THEN we come back and see what additional studies we feel are worth exploring. This approach will be different than if we focus on a musical idea first, and then later to seek a song to illustrate it. (That’s what some guitar teachers do – we present a musical idea and then find an example to expose it.) But without Ted to guide us, each of us must be our own teacher and guide. And we often make the mistake of putting the musical idea first, instead of the songs first.

At your family holiday gathering, the mother-in-law will be there along with Aunt Bertha. Your wife/mother/girlfriend/ landlord will want you to “play a little something” to entertain everyone. The pressure is on, the chips are down, the game is afoot, and the metaphor is dead. You’ve got to get something together on your guitar! Those who gig regularly usually have a few standbys they can brush up on and pull off rather effortlessly. The rest of us may not. “Should I get some well-known songs for accompaniment for a sing-a-long? What about that ‘Over the Rainbow’ arrangement I started working on earlier this year?” You finally come up with something that pleases the crowd and your own sense of musicianship. You survived with dignity intact. “Now, let me start working on those Christmas favorites in July!” (Wait, didn’t I say that last year...and the year before that?)

Each December our TedGreene.com Newsletter reflects on memories, feelings, and stories of Ted, as well as the many gifts from him that have appeared on the site as new downloads this past year. Below is a summary of some of those items from 2023.

Audio: 2 Harmony & Theory: 3
Arrangements: 1 Other: 1
Articles & Interviews: 3 Single-Note Soloing: 8
Baroque: 12 Transcriptions: 6
Chord Studies: 32 The V-System: 19
From Students: 4 Newsletter articles/messages: 4

The new year is also a time to feel the cheer and warmth of friends and family. This year, like previous years, we are also aware of the many challenges that exist in the world. In contrast, Ted’s music and teachings are here on this site to bring us a taste of beauty, of joy, and as some kind of relief from those world tensions, problems, and conflicts. The beginning of the new year is the most obvious time to celebrate Ted’s many gifts. Maybe we can just “learn tunes” a little more and get some of that joy. The nuggets of Ted’s knowledge will emerge through the tunes just as before, but the joy may clarify them, and hopefully keep Aunt Bertha at bay.

All of us at TedGreene.com wish you a joyful and peaceful holiday. (I’ve got to run – I have an afternoon gig at a department store with a solo piano player I’ve never met. Ah, “play tunes?” Anyone got some charts?)

* * * * *

For their help with this newsletter, we would like to thank the following contributors:

  • Tsuyoshi Ichikawa for his “‘Round Midnight” fragment, and for completing Ted’s “My One and Only Love” arrangement.
  • Mark Levy for his work on the V-3 Voicings page.
  • Mike Deluca, for music proofreading.
  • Tim Lerch, for “Blues in the Night” intro interpretation.
  • Nick Stasinos for his audio lesson with Ted.
  • Site maintenance, management, and updates: Leon, Jeffrey, and Paul.

One final word:
We wanted to let you all know that Tim Lerch has a new book out that you may find very helpful to your guitar playing. It’s called Melodic Jazz Guitar Chord Phrases.
Most of you know Tim from his YouTube videos and that he was a student of Ted’s and has been a long-time contributor, advisor, and friend to the TedGreene.com website.
Visit our Forums for a more details: https://forums.tedgreene.com/post/tim-lerch-new-book. Or to Tim’s site:  https://www.timlerch.com/#news.

Enjoy Ted’s new material!

~ Your Friends on the TedGreene.com Team


* Blues in the Night – Gershwin-esque Intro, 1989-04-03. [This is a fun little bluesy thing Ted made for a student wanting an intro to “Blues in the Night.” Ted didn’t specify the rhythm for his grids, but Tim Lerch offers us a probable way Ted may have played it. Notation added for clarity. We also provided you with the lead sheet in the key of F.]

* My One and Only Love (fragment), 1995-06-08. [This is a very short segment for the second phrase of the song. The four grids that precede this fragment seem to correspond to the first phrase, but only harmonically, as Ted didn’t specify a moving melody here. Notation with Ted’s grids provided.]

* My One and Only Love, 1998-10-09. [This arrangement was posted a few years ago, but it only included Ted’s grids for the first two A sections. and we left the B and final A section blank for the student to complete the song. However, recently we learned that Ted taught the full arrangement to his student Tsuyoshi Ichikawa, and he has shared that with us. So this new updated version is now complete with Ted’s chords. Enjoy!]

‘Round Midnight (fragment, key of Fm), 1995-06-29. [This is Ted’s harmonization of the first phrase in Fm. This was taught by Ted to Tsuyoshi Ichikawa, who has shared it with us. Notation and grids]

* When You Wish Upon a Star, 1993-03-25.  [Here’s an audio clip from a lesson Nick Stasinos had with Ted on March 25, 1993. He is playing “When You Wish Upon a Star” from his chord grid sheet which is available in the Arrangements section. Nick wanted to share this lesson clip as a supplement to that PDF. Please go to the Ted Greene Audio Section / Lessons with Nick Stasinos.

Nick wrote: “Winter 1993, Ted had just moved into apartment #8, still somewhat empty, which gives a somewhat cloudy ambiance to this recording. His next student, Barry (with a cough), is there waiting for his lesson to start and is listening to us. Setting my tape recorder under a squeaky wooden chair didn’t help my recording either. Once I mention changing the key to this tune, Ted launched into a variety of stylistic feels... mostly to no avail. Ted concluded with Chuck Berry playing what I think Ted called ‘WAF’ (Wife Acceptance Factor) which results in Chuck B, Ted, and Barry all being carted off to jail. I couldn't hear why I was ‘let off.’”]

* 1-to-1 Baroque Counterpoint – Organized Over 3-Unit Bass Lines, 1984-01-14. [Just as the title states, here Ted systematically used bass lines of CDE, then CDF, CDG, CDB, CDC, CDA – all with slight melodic variations. It seems that Ted liked to mathematically categorize and practice the endless possibilities in order to expose his ears and hands to anything and everything. New notation provided.]

* 3-Part Baroque Harmony and Counterpoint, 1983-10-07. [Five exercises Ted jotted down showing 3-part counterpoint, Keys of G#m, Cm, and F. He wrote some notes to himself: “Do lots of 3-part studies and experiments. First make that list of all vertical structures (3-part) of the Baroque color.” New notation with suggested Ted-style chord grids provided.]

* Favorite Bachian Type Progressions in 6/8, 1983-10-10. [Nine studies in 6/8 time, some of which are meant to be continued as a follow-through. New notation and chord names provided. Because of the multiple ways to play these, no grids or TAB was added.]

* 4-Part Harmony Triads. [Posted under the “Triads” header. This collection of 53 grids shows major triads with a doubling of one of the notes. Ted organized them according to the chord tone in the bass, and indicated it by putting a number under that string. It’s interesting to note that there are 19 with the 3rd in the bass, and 17 of both 5th and root in the bass. Can you find more? Ted would probably assign the student to write out the minor, diminished, and augmented triads.]

* 5-Note Voicings for Am11 and A9add11, 1980-02-17. [Posted under the “5-Note Chord Voicings” header, this page is from one of Ted’s work pages that are part of a series for 5-note chord voicings. He also indicates the related chord synonyms for these two, and provides a formula at deriving at the Am11no5: “Derived from Amaj9’s by lowering the 3 to b3, 7 to b7, and 5 to 11.” We’ve re-drawn the grids so they are clear and easy-to-read. Mind you, many of these chords are for the fearless player!]

* 5-Note Voicings for Minor 7th Type Chords, 1984-07-04. [Posted under the “5-Note Chord Voicings” header, this page is another attempt (probably quite successful) to catalogue all the 5-note voicings for the 8 basic minor 7th chords (no alterations), using Bb minor as the example. Many of these chords require some special techniques, such as the George Van Eps 5th Finger Principle, fingertip double-stops, right-hand fretted notes, use of open string harmonics, and ever some left-hand thumb under-the-neck tricks. New grids drawn for clarity and to save your eyes from squinting on Ted’s original page. We also added the chord names for each of the grids, instead having to rely on Ted’s numbers that he assigned for this page only.]

* Aeolian Sequences. [Ted gives us 23 examples of progressions using diatonic chords in the Aeolian (or Natural) minor key. Notation added to Ted’s original grid diagrams.]

* Low-End Playing 3-Note Chords on the 643, 653, and 654 Strings, 1986-03-04, 05. [Posted under the “Triads” header. For the “Triads” section: Here are three pages of chord forms for nice, rich, fat low-end sounds. Ted did not write any chord names or fret numbers with these grids, so you may consider this lesson as an assignment or quiz page for you to name them. Notice that Ted instructs the student to name each chord according to roots based on all 12 notes: “Name from all 12 roots where sensible.” Having a command of these triad voicings will give your playing a powerful dimension for comping and low-end chord style.]

* My Funny Valentine – Reharmonization of the 3rd Phrase. [Posted under the “Harmonization of a Given Melody” header. Here Ted wrote nine different examples for the phrase, “You make me smile with my heart.” This lesson shows how one could approach creating an arrangement. Notation provided.]

* Parallel Motion, 1995-01-30. [This untitled page shows some of Ted’s musings with moveable chord forms.]

* Progressions Using Minor 7th Type Chords, 1978-08-29. [As the title states, this is a collection of quite a few progressions with (mostly) minor 7th, m9, and m11 chords. Retyped for easy reading and study.]

* Main Courses for Teaching, 1986-10-05. [This is Ted’s list of important subjects for teaching students about harmony. It is incomplete, as he didn’t finish listing single-note soloing and blues subjects. Retyped.]

* New Book Ideas - 1. [This is a collection of 10 pages in which Ted made preliminary notes for starting new guitar instruction books. Including: 1) Bringing Chords to Life; 2) Developing a Superb Musical Ear; 3) The New (or Advanced) Key Signatures; 4) Wonderful Sustained Scales; 5) Blue Counterpoint; 6) Learning New Chords; 7) New Harmonic Vocabulary Course; 8) Walking Chords; 9) Chord Behavior (and Misbehavior); 10) Tunes by Their Harmony, for my book: The Harmony of American Music.]

* Eb7#9 Pentatonic, 1996-04-21. [Here Ted wrote out six ideas for playing over Eb7#9 using a pentatonic scale. Notation and TAB included with Ted’s original grid diagrams.]

* Sustained Melodic Patterns Coalescing in Modern Chords, 1980-12-08. [This page has two basic parts: the first uses the F Overtone Dominant scale or C Melodic Minor scale (notice the key signature of 1 flat: Eb), and the second part uses the E Melodic Minor scale. Ted would have you pay attention to the notes that are sustained as others are added. Those lower or sustained notes make up the chord at the end of the example. (That’s a F13#11 for the first part). New notation and chord grids added for easy reading.]

* V-3 Voicings Organized by Top Notes (misc. pages), 1984-05-29, 1984-12-02. [Posted in the V-3 section, this page contains three of Ted’s work pages for organizing V-3 chords for minor and major types. Redrawn for clarity, and chord names are given where Ted omitted them.]

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