Part I: Get your chart together.

I recently was asked by a local musician to play an upcoming CD release show.  “I’ll send charts and a CD to you.” Two days later, a binder arrived in the mail with meticulously hand-notated and arranged charts. Forms were clearly marked and even written under the song titles, repeated sections and endings were all explained. Rhythmic hits were notated. This person had even put all the pages facing each other, so if a chart were two pages long, there would be no page turn.  In short, AWESOME (totally.)

As I tenderly leafed through the pages, my heart swelling a little with happiness, I thought,  “Why, beautiful charts, are you such an odd occurrence? Don’t people realize that having nicely notated arrangements is one of the keys to a successful rehearsal, or even performance?”

I thought about a gig I had done a couple years ago.  I was assured, “Don’t worry, we’ve got charts for everything.” I arrive to the performance ready to read and…Oh look, they’ve given me piano parts! In short, AWESOME (sarcastic.)

My actual experience on stage:

OK, game face. We’re starting. This is ON. At least there are chords written above the staff…Oh wait…those aren’t chords, those are…chord shapes for a ukulele? Seriously?  Is this 1920?  Ok. Can I transpose that on the fly? It might be easier to go back and read the left hand of the piano…Man, there are a lot of notes on the staff. I should probably find the lowest one…look at those effing ledger lines. WHY ARE THERE SO MANY!? I don’t have those notes on my bass! Transpose everything up an octave or two!…what chord is that? Oops, it was an inversion, I just screwed up the harmony.  It would be really helpful if I had heard this song before so I could make it up.  How are we already on page 5,  WHY IS EVERYTHING HAPPENING SO FAST. I think we just skipped a whole section of the tune because we definitely did not play that part…wait, we’re…here now? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON.

I’m pretty sure I drank a beer during the break.

In the end, it turned out to be a fun night. But it could have been an AWESOME night, and much less of a headache, if different music were placed in front of me.  We’ll get more into that next time…