As promised, this followup lesson looks at the verses, bridge, and outro of James Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind”.
Remember, TAB gives you a sequence of events, a series of locations on the neck. And it’s possible to grasp the musical structure from it. But a chord chart is a much more effective way to easily take in the patterns in a song, if you understand how to read it.
Each letter represents a single bar. Parentheses around two chords are a “split bar” meaning the measure is split between two chords. (I’m borrowing this shorthand from Nashville Number System notation; it’s not necessarily standard, and be advised that many internet chord charts won’t even show chord duration. Others will use a staff and measures).
Notice how the sections of the song are clearly articulated across the left margin: intro, chorus, verse. This chart spells out the song form rather than showing a top-to-bottom sequence all the way, with verbal instructions on the order of the sections. It’s also a little scrawled looking, which isn’t unusual either. Some people’s charts are works of art, while others are visually trickier to follow. But the basic information you need is all there.
You might ask, but what about the actual guitar parts? How do you know what to play?
The answer, of course, as it often is, is to listen. The chart provides a framework, while your knowledge of the song fills in the details. But this gives you an opportunity to play a more general, less specific accompaniment – a repetitive strum that evokes the rhythm section feel, for example. As a musician becomes more skilled, it becomes easier to choose what to play based on the framework articulated by the chart, the style of the song, and the parts played by the other musicians. This is how a group of experienced players can perform a song they’ve never heard: by making choices in the moment based on the information in the chart and the notes played by the others onstage.
Here’s the video lesson, which walks you through how to apply the basic picking pattern introduced in lesson 1 to the rest of the song.