Reference for Guitar Chords on the Staff

Reference for Guitar Chords on the Staff

This week, one of my tasks is to edit the guitar part for Impulso: Concerto for Marimba, Flamenco Guitar, and Dancer, a collaborative project with Chris Burton-Jacome.  Chris is a fabulous flamenco guitarist living in Phoenix. Chris, his wife Lena, and my wife Maria will be performing the concerto in St. Louis and in Phoenix in November.

I was finding it time consuming to figure out what notes to write on the staff for the strummed chords until I started noticing patterns.  For most barred chords, there seem to be only a handful of voicings that are used.  I searched the web for a reference sheet that would show these voicings on a staff, but I didn’t find what I needed.  So, I took some time to make up a reference sheet to help me translate what I had originally written for the guitar part into something that was playable.

This is what I came up with: Guitar Bar & Piano Reference Sheet.

It is a limited reference sheet intended to give me a starting point for creating guitar voicings on the staff.  For example, if I know that I want the 3rd of the chord as the top note, I can choose a voicing from line 3 and transpose the chord on the reference sheet to the chord I am using.

I found the patterns of where the root, 3rd, and fifth lay on the strings with the different voicings and fingerings very interesting.  One can work out fairly decent voice leading by using the appropriate transposed chords from the first three rows.

I also marked which notes on the staff are barred, so that it is easier to see which notes can be changed to add color.

A more complete chart would list all of the chords on the piano staff so that you didn’t have to work out the transpositions yourself.

Feel free to let me know if you find this useful.

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