In the image below, what do the brackets around the chord Em mean?

Looking at the piano part, the notes played are G Bb D and F. Which I believe is a Gm7.

The guitar tab at the top shows an Gm:

  • Shouldn't this be a Gm7 to include the high F?
  • What is the relevance of the Em in brackets?
  • The guitar chord shown is an Em (I believe). Why is this? There are no E notes in the piano score.

Smaple sheet music showing chord in brackets

  • would you post the head of the sheet or tell us the title, please? I wonder if there isn't more information, like Tim says in his answer .... Oct 9, 2020 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


It's not 100% clear, but I'd say that you either use a capo at 3rd fret, and play an Em chord shape, which results in a Gm, or you play Gm with a barre at the 3rd fret. Indeed it could have been explained better...

  • Thank you, I think you are correct. I've just had a look at the rest of the score and it all lines up with your suggestion. Do you have any idea why it would be Gm and not Gm7? Can I also just confirm that I have that right. It is actually Gm7 in the piano part?
    – user72409
    Oct 9, 2020 at 14:20
  • It is a Gm7 in the piano part, yes. Why Gm and not Gm7? It could be they're just simplified the guitar part. The F that makes it a Gm7 is in the 'broken chord' (a kind of figure), from the second beat onward. The music is arranged for guitar and piano, so it's not necessary for the guitar to play Gm7. It will sound fine if you do. If you're playing it without a piano then you probably should play Gm7. But bear in mind that the piano's F is quite high and tinkly, so if you play a Gm7 with a low F it might not sound right for the song. But I don't know what the song is. Oct 9, 2020 at 17:21
  • Why plain Gm? Two reasons off the top of my head, but I'm sure there can be more. Reason 1: (as suggested elsewhere) it's simpler and it's good enough. Reason 2: that's exactly what the composer wanted - only because the piano plays Gm7, it doesn't necessarily follow that the guitar must play the same. The ultimate goal is to have something that sounds good, and whatever achieves that, that's what the composer wants.
    – MMazzon
    Oct 10, 2020 at 9:48

There may well be an instruction at the top saying capo the 3rd fret. Then you can play the (simple) open chords to accompany the song. Actually Em7 would be even more simple!

The other explanation may be that there is a part for a transposing instrument, which would play to provide a key a m3 away, and the bracketed chord would be in tune with that.

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