Preparations for recording

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I am only four weeks away from a big day in Nashville where we are recording the orchestrations for my new project.  I will be playing that day along with the orchestra to set the mood, but we are “scratching” the piano track and re-recording it again a month later.  Even so, I will have to be on my game in Nashville or the orchestra is going to be very confused.

When I play with the orchestra, it is not entirely necessary that I play exactly what I am going to record the next month.  However, it is critical that I use the same chords and the same rhythm. 

To keep myself playing the right chords and rhythm, I am practicing these days from a rhythm chart.  Steve create the rhythm charts from my rough recordings and he is using them to build the orchestrations. 

When Steve sends me a rhythm chart, I check it to make sure what he heard me do was actually what I heard myself do.  For example, he might write in a chord change on beat 2 when I actually wanted it on beat 3.  Because I use a lot of rubato, this kind of discrepency often happens.  However, once we agree on a final rhythm chart, we can both write what we want to and have every hope it will sound good together.

Here is a page from one of the rhythm charts.  You can click here to get it in full size.


The rhythm chart has the chords and rhythm.  In places where the rhythm is a bit more intricate, it contains actual notes.

Note that the chords he notates look simple.  In most cases, it is not necessary to notate the chord exactly.  He often does not note all the color notes I play. 

You will often see Steve simplify chords by writing them as slash chords.  For example, note the chord in measure 19.   He has it labelled G diminished 7th over A.   My preference would be to label this chord A7(b9).  But, that is just a preference.  I think it is more common to write those kinds of chords as slash chords in Nashville.

So, as I play, I watch to make sure I am counting according to the rhythm chart and playing the same chords as are on the rhythm chart.  Doing so keeps me from changing things over time as I am prone to do.

2 thoughts on “Preparations for recording

  1. Jim Whitten says:

    Greg, why are the color notes in the chords not written on the rhythm chart? It seems like the orchestrator would need to know those.

  2. Greg Howlett says:

    Well, it does not matter as much as you think. For example, if I play a 9th, it is irrelevant to the rest of the orchestration if they are just playing the base chord. Now, there would be a problem if I for example played a flat 9th and they played a natural 9th.

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