How to Make a Music Chart

Music charts are compositions that are used in big bands, jazz, dixie and blues music. This is a colloquial term for a musical score. Performers often refer to songs as music charts because in these types of music, they often act more as a guide or chart of how to proceed through the piece. This is in contrast to a symphonic work, where all of the notes are written out ahead of time. Creating a music chart requires extensive knowledge of how to notate music.

Step 1 Determine the instruments that will be used in the music chart. Write out a short score that lists the instruments from highest to lowest and group them into specific groups. For instance, the woodwinds should come at the top the score, brass should come next in the score followed by keyboards and then percussion instruments.

Step 2 Write out all of the individual parts from the full music chart. Determine what sound you want for the melody and write out the melody in the appropriate section. You may want the trumpets to play a melody or a saxophone. Each instrument has a different timbre. If you don't know what these instruments sound like, listen to solo recordings to get a feel for the music.

Step 3 Create a "fake" chart by entering the chords above all of the individual parts. This is important to make it possible for the performers to improvise. By providing the chords used in the piece, the performer can embellish their parts. If you don't know how to write in chords, take a basic introduction to music theory course to learn how to hear and identify chords.

When writing parts, keep similar instruments in close proximity to each other. For instance, all of the trumpets should be less than an octave from the lowest to highest part. Include a fifth between the lowest part and the second lowest part when possible. This spacing will help keep the bass uncluttered and prevent a muddy sound. Use a notation program such as MuseScore, Finale or Sibelius to notate your music chart. These programs will auto-generate individual parts for you, saving you some time.


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