Today's electric guitar practice session, unplugged on the Strat, leaning against the kitchen counter:
- 24/7 - long scales in all twelve keys and relative minors using patterns and right hand finger combinations from the Segovia "Purple Book",
- Single note tremolo picking exercise (16th notes with gradual increase in speed using a metronome,
- Strumming chord progression "From the Day" with metronome as above,
- ii-V-I progressions in all keys using drop 2 and drop 3 7th chords and inversions,
- Sight reading practice using Ricci Adams' online music theory exercises,
- Preparing from the written guitar score for an upcoming performance of "Bye Bye Birdie" at my daughter's high school,

And almost nothing having to do with memorizing worship music.
Or practicing tapping in a delay tempo. Or fiddling with overdrive settings. Has my electric guitar skill set become irrelevant to modern worship?

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First, welcome back! :)

Second, a half-diminished 7th chord with a b9 is neither irrelevant or irreverent. Like any other extended tertian chords, they are used everywhere, but in the right song... the right place... they can bring a sound that a more simplified chord would be lacking.

So, my opinion, if the chart has the chord there, that's how it was intended. if you can play it... then go for it!

Of course, you don't have to just because it's in the chart either. Plus, what is the source of your chart? If it came from 90% of online sources, it's incorrect anyway and was posted by someone that THINKS that's what the chord is that they are playing. hahahaha!

To create a chord chart, the "parser" must make a thousand decisions about what chord will most resemble the chord (or stream of overlapping chords) perceived by the ear.  I've made dozens of charts for the Star-Spangled Banner, Holy Holy Holy, various Christmas carols, all of which have linear harmony - voices moving which have obvious chord "feel", but are wretchedly difficult to say, "ah!  this chord goes right here, that chord goes right there."  It's kind of like theology.

Generally, if a player doesn't know a chord, they will simplify to the nearest good-sounding one.  Online charts typically dumb down the chords so people won't be afraid to try them.  CCLI charts tend to painstakingly put in every possible chord, even if the page is slathered with tiny little chord symbols and slashes to illustrate every single place where the bass differs from the lead guitar.  So I painstakingly type these out on my computer and put simpler chords in big, bold type - or use a Sharpie on CCLI's masterpiece.  (CCLI also tries to represent the singer's every melisma, an honest but sometimes comical effort).

I wonder what counts as an incorrect chord: one that sounds horrible in the context of the song or one that just differs from the stuff on the CD (I've seen quite a bit of 'officially' published music with different chords compared to recordings).

To me, a chord is only 'wrong' if it actually sounds bad - otherwise it's just another arrangement. ;-)

Big props to Greg for actually knowing & being able to play a m7b5b9 chord.

Within, all charts are custom-made and guaranteed accurate based on the associated recording. So, whatever is played in the recording, that's what the chart has. There is no "dumbing down". Often times, people want to replicate a sound and have no idea what chord is being played unless a good chart can tell them. Of course, if you don't WANT to play that extended chord, then you don't have to. You can always simplify a chart if needed or wanted, but most people can't take it the other direction.

Most chart sources have a steady stream of "wrong" chords, and not just because it's not exactly what is heard on a recording. They are just simply wrong... not the right notes completely. Even those "official" charts from an artist or publisher... rarely do I find them to be worth too much.

Personally, I'm pretty anal about charts and music theory. I have a friend who is a great songwriter and he'd send me recordings and charts for his songs. Then I'd send him back a different chart and say "well, this is what you are REALLY playing." :)

Guess I'm neither anal about music theory or about reproducing recordings. Generally I work on the principle that as long as people could meet God and nothing about the music put them off then it's all good.

I was going to finish that with a wink smilie, but realised that actually I'm serious. I love playing with great musicians, but it's often more fun and produces a much more 'live' worship time when I have to be less concerned about getting it exactly right and instead able to make music. Music seems to have a lot of flexibility in it, and while the exact correct chord is required to get the exact right feel as guided by a specific version, very often as noted, just playing a Dm7 is enough to make it sound fine.

I've a feeling we've been here before. Perhaps this is how we are able to stay alive in a small-church setting, where we're glad to have people able and willing to play, who can all get along and are glad to give their playing on a Sunday. Perhaps if we had lots of churches of 1000+ congregations then we'd be hiring musicians and 'worship pastors' and it would all be super-professional and because that's what we had it would be what we loved.

One of the things I've been wondering about was whether it's time to hang up the guitar for worship, and this makes me think it may be time to consider that again.

I wasn't referring to any of this on a spiritual level so please don't think I was putting correct chord usage above the things that really matter. 

Of course if someone plays a Dm7 while the bass is covering the B, that exact sound intended by the original chord is being created. No one listening is aware or cares how it is written on a chart. As long as the job is getting done, that is all that matters... even if the fully intended chord isn't played at all.

I have never been one to push to my band "play it like the CD". I normally say the opposite. :) I always say the recording is a guide... an example. But we will learn each part of the song and then do it the way that works for us.

I think I get anal on the side of charting because, while I will chart based on what I need, I will not "dumb down" a chart just because certain team members may not know what a certain chord is. I try to push my team to actually learn and grow in their abilities. If I always bring things down to the level they are at, they won't grow. I have found, unfortunately, most church musicians seem to be completely content at their present skill level and see no need to improve. Of course, their heart and willingness to play is more important than their skill level... BUT I also believe that God desires our best. The psalmist wrote "play skillfully unto the Lord". I think we should ALL be continually learning and growing in our musical gifts... including gaining more understanding of theory. The more we grow in each area, the more we will have to offer in our ministries.

Is playing a Bm7(b5b9) vs a Dm7 going to make the difference of someone in the congregation encountering God or not? Certainly not! However, it definitely doesn't hurt at all to play that original chord... and to have the know-how to do so.

Well, I could just play Dm7 instead of Bm7b5b9 as long as the bass has the root.

That is true... same notes... with a B thrown in on the bass. :)

"Bm7b5b9"  Is that kind of language allowed on this site?  Or did you just accidentally paste in one of your passwords?:)

"That chord in C major which goes B-D-F-A-C" seemed a little wordy, but thank you for your concern. Next time I'll just play G7 and in true humility call it close enough.

Where's the 'like' smilie?

A progress report, of sorts: I'm still caught in the middle between a most insistent online contingent who still urge me to simplify and simplify yet more, but from a large church perspective that has plenty of volunteers at its disposal, and a local reality in which I'm one of very few who speak electric guitar as a native tongue among some who still wonder what all 'em whars an' gadjits is fer. And why can't I just strum chords, you know, the reg'lar way? To which I respond, "So why's the organist have all those levers and buttons? Can't he play the organ, you know, the reg'lar way?" Little do they know how much the organist and the electric guitarist appreciate and applaud each other's efforts.


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