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How to Write a Chart for Your Song

Here is a quick step by step guide on how to write your own charts for your songs. There are many different ways to write charts, but after years of experience this is one of the quickest and easiest solutions.

Step 1 - Determine the form

Write out your song's form on a piece of paper. The form is the order of sections in a song so yours could be Intro, Verse, Prechorus, Chorus Verse 2, Pre2, Ch2, Bridge, Ch3, Outro

Step 2 - Write down the chords for each section

For the intro, simply write down the chords you used. Do the same for all the sections of the song but you can skip any sections that are the same (if all the choruses use the exact same chords)

Step 3 - Lay out your chart

Using a fresh sheet of manuscript paper, write out each section of the song on a new line. Intro on its own line, Verse on its own line, etc. If a section uses the same chords, just write out 'same' next to it or 'simil' or even " "

Step 4 - Add any specific notes

If there are any melodies, rhythms, or band hits you would like to happen in the song, make sure to notate those in a clear and easy to understand way.

You should also notate the _feel_ of the song and the tempo. For example 'Latin, 100 BPM' so the musicians can start right away

Step 5 - Form roadmap

At the top or bottom of the page, write out the form of the song like you did in step one. This will save you tons of paper space and the musician a lot of reading. This is a key for the sections.

That's it! Your chart should be complete.

Common mistakes:

- Double check your chart

It's way too often I get a chart from a songwriter that is missing a measure, or doesn't notate the one bar of 2/4 in the song. Double check your chart to make sure it reads correctly

- Make it easy

It's already hard enough to sight-read, so make sure you don't make it harder on the musician! If they are mixing up chords because your hand-writing is sloppy you should probably start making your charts digital.

- Leave some room

You may program your electronic drums note by note, but please don't send a drummer note for note drum grooves unless you really, really, really, want that exact specific part. Because any pro studio musician who sees exact notation in a chart will learn it note for note!


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