When to switch Chords with Lyric Sheets/Chords


paulcavaliere
Full Access
Joined: 11/05/20
Posts: 118

Hi All,

For context, I just finished Guitar Fundamentals 1. Lisa recommended to go explore songs that would fit GF1 skillsets learned. I went offsite and downloaded a lyric/chord sheet. I want to learn "Small Town" by John Mellencamp. It has chords above the words. It indicates strumming pattern. However in GF1 the learning songs are composed in a way to make it easy to know when to change chords. e.g. A full measure then switch. In "Small Town" the chords are not played for full or half measures sometimes just a beat and a half.

Anyway, my question is with a lyric/chord sheet how do you know when to change chords? (For "Small Town" I viewed some Youtube video's where people teach the song and it made it make sense). But for songs where I download a lyric/chord sheet how is it done?


# 1
faith83
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Joined: 04/23/20
Posts: 414

You feel it and hear it. That probably sounds vague and unhelpful, but I'm not sure there's a better answer.

On a more practical note, chords on good charts are noted at the point where they change. So for example, here's a few lines of Prisoners (JD), just because that's what I happen to have up at the moment: (the dotted line is not standard, it's just to maintain the spacing which the GT forum won't do without actual characters in the field)

D [br]Josie works the counter at the downtown five and dime,[br]------G ---------------------------------------D[br]anything at all to help her pass the time.[br]-------D---------------------------------- D[br]Her mama keeps the baby and grandpa rambles on[br] G---------------------------------------------- D[br]about the good times playing in his mind.

Chord changes usually (though by no means always) happen at the beginning of a measure. Sometimes they happen on the third beat of a measure (assuming 4/4/time), in which case it's a split measure. There are lots of variations to this, but for simple songs, this will mostly cover it.

So in the example above, the First D chord covers the first two measures, and the change to the G chord comes just where it shows -- at the beginning of the next line on the word "Anything" (more specifically on "thing", which is the accented part of anything in the song, where the first beat of the next measure falls). Then a full measure later, a change back to the D chord right where it shows, on the word "time."

Sometimes a chart will be a bit more imprecise, but it's still likely that the chord change is on the first beat of a measure (or as discussed, on the third beat).

But mostly, you can hear it. Pick your favorite song (something simple -- Ultimate Guitar is a good website for reliable chord charts, on the whole). Then just listen to it while following along with the chords, and see if you can start to hear the changes. Then play it, using the chords lined up with the words as described above, and see if you can start to feel it.

I hope that helps. I know sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to describe in writing.


"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

# 2
paulcavaliere
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Joined: 11/05/20
Posts: 118

Thanks for the reply Faith.


# 3
faith83
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Joined: 04/23/20
Posts: 414

You're quite welcome. I hope it was helpful.


"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

# 4
JeffS65
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Joined: 10/07/08
Posts: 1,600
Originally Posted by: paulcavaliere

Hi All,

For context, I just finished Guitar Fundamentals 1. Lisa recommended to go explore songs that would fit GF1 skillsets learned. I went offsite and downloaded a lyric/chord sheet. I want to learn "Small Town" by John Mellencamp. It has chords above the words. It indicates strumming pattern. However in GF1 the learning songs are composed in a way to make it easy to know when to change chords. e.g. A full measure then switch. In "Small Town" the chords are not played for full or half measures sometimes just a beat and a half.

Anyway, my question is with a lyric/chord sheet how do you know when to change chords? (For "Small Town" I viewed some Youtube video's where people teach the song and it made it make sense). But for songs where I download a lyric/chord sheet how is it done?

Something to keep in mind, reiterating what Faith said, when you see it on a sheet, it's is an 'estimation' of a chord change.

There was another thread where a similar question was asked too so this is similar to what I'd mentioned in that thread: If you're going to Ultimate Guitar, know that it is alike a wiki of songs and chords. Meaning that the transcription is only as good as the transcriber and you have no idea who that person is. This also mean that the transcription might be inaccurate. Also, timing for the changes might not be exactly here you need to be.

I'm actually not bagging on Ultimate Guitar at all. A very useful tool but does have some downsides.

So, as Faith said, you have to feel it.

What I'd add is that feeling when that chord change should happen, feeling the groove, is a very, very important skill. In the other thread, I'd mentioned some church band memebers at my previous and very small church, had no sense of time and would either; (A) plow headlong in the the next section ahead of everyone, or (B) Would change/play the note literally from the Ultimate Guitar sheet irrespective of what everyone else arounf him as doing.

Great music has a groove and a swing so it's best to use a tool like Ultimate Guitar to be a rough map of what you want to play but ultimately, play along with the song as that will teach you not only how to play the chord and when to play the chord changes. You'll also notice that there is a common thread of feel on western music grooves that it becomes a second sense after you've been playing for a while.


# 5
paulcavaliere
Full Access
Joined: 11/05/20
Posts: 118
Originally Posted by: JeffS65
Originally Posted by: paulcavaliere

Hi All,

For context, I just finished Guitar Fundamentals 1. Lisa recommended to go explore songs that would fit GF1 skillsets learned. I went offsite and downloaded a lyric/chord sheet. I want to learn "Small Town" by John Mellencamp. It has chords above the words. It indicates strumming pattern. However in GF1 the learning songs are composed in a way to make it easy to know when to change chords. e.g. A full measure then switch. In "Small Town" the chords are not played for full or half measures sometimes just a beat and a half.

Anyway, my question is with a lyric/chord sheet how do you know when to change chords? (For "Small Town" I viewed some Youtube video's where people teach the song and it made it make sense). But for songs where I download a lyric/chord sheet how is it done?

Something to keep in mind, reiterating what Faith said, when you see it on a sheet, it's is an 'estimation' of a chord change.

There was another thread where a similar question was asked too so this is similar to what I'd mentioned in that thread: If you're going to Ultimate Guitar, know that it is alike a wiki of songs and chords. Meaning that the transcription is only as good as the transcriber and you have no idea who that person is. This also mean that the transcription might be inaccurate. Also, timing for the changes might not be exactly here you need to be.

I'm actually not bagging on Ultimate Guitar at all. A very useful tool but does have some downsides.

So, as Faith said, you have to feel it.

What I'd add is that feeling when that chord change should happen, feeling the groove, is a very, very important skill. In the other thread, I'd mentioned some church band memebers at my previous and very small church, had no sense of time and would either; (A) plow headlong in the the next section ahead of everyone, or (B) Would change/play the note literally from the Ultimate Guitar sheet irrespective of what everyone else arounf him as doing.

Great music has a groove and a swing so it's best to use a tool like Ultimate Guitar to be a rough map of what you want to play but ultimately, play along with the song as that will teach you not only how to play the chord and when to play the chord changes. You'll also notice that there is a common thread of feel on western music grooves that it becomes a second sense after you've been playing for a while.

Thank you Jeff.


# 6