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Section 6.2 Lead–Sheet Symbols

Lead–sheet symbols (also known as “lead–sheet notation” and “lead–sheet chord symbols”) are often used as shorthand for chords in popular music and jazz. These symbols allow a guitarist or pianist to choose how to “voice” the chords, i.e., how they want to arrange the notes.

Lead–sheet symbols for triads communicate the root and quality of a chord.

Lead–Sheet Symbol Chord Quality Notes in the Chord
\(\left.\text{F}\right.\) major \(\text{F}\)–\(\text{A}\)–\(\text{C}\)
\(\left.\text{G}\text{m}\right.\) minor \(\text{G}\)–\(\text{B}^♭\)–\(\text{D}\)
\(\left.\text{D}^{\circ}{}\right.\) diminished \(\text{D}\)–\(\text{F}\)–\(\text{A}^♭\)
\(\left.\text{C}{+}\right.\) augmented \(\text{C}\)–\(\text{E}\)–\(\text{G}^♯\)

Here is a musical example with lead–sheet symbols and guitar tablature.

Figure 6.2.1 Germanotta, Garibay, Blair, “Edge of Glory”

As you can see in the example above, major triads are represented by an uppercase letter (\(\left.\text{A}\right.\), \(\left.\text{E}\right.\), and \(\left.\text{D}\right.\)) while minor triads are represented with the root in uppercase followed by a lowercase “m” (e.g., \(\left.\text{F}^♯{}\text{m}\right.\)). Diminished triads are represented by including the diminished symbol (\(\left.\text{}^{\circ}{}\right.\)) after the chord root (e.g., \(\left.\text{C}^{\circ}{}\right.\)) while augmented triads are represented by including the augmented symbol after the root (\(\left.\text{C}{+}\right.\)).