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Music Reading:
Understanding Stage, Slash and Lead Charts



Q: I like your videos where it shows you going to gigs and playing at them. One thing I want to know about, is how you can learn so many songs so quickly when you have to play as a sub in a band.

You once made mention that you sometimes only get a few days notice to learn an entire evenings worth of material. This sounds incredible. I am 17 years old and I want to do what you do as a career but the idea of learning so many songs with such short notice is really intimidating.

Can you please do a video talking about this whole concept? I am very curious how musicians do this.

Bradley - Murrells Inlet, SC.

A: To do this kind of gig a musician would either receive or have to write out a quick stage chart, (also referred to as; lead sheets or slash charts).

This isn't all that hard to do since what we are after here is simply a rough sketch of the harmony and overall arrangement of all of the songs that are unknown in a set-list.


In the video I cover many areas of doing a gig like this. Including showing real charts that I have used to do gigs where I had to jump in as a sub.

In order to do this type of chart you will need to have a fairly decent level of skill at transcription. It is also helpful to have a decnt piece of audio editing software. The audio editing software you use should be able to change the pitch of a song. This is due to the fact that some pieces are not in standard A440 tuning. A few Examples of this are; Eric Clapton's - Layla, UB40 - Red Red Wine, Michael Jackson's - Beat It, Prince's - Purple Rain. And, there are many others. An enormous amount of time can be saved in respect to re-tuning your guitar by simply using a good piece of Audio Software.

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The PDF document below contains a few lead sheet chart examples.


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