I'm looking for information about a particular style of notation for representing the chord progression in a song. I've heard musicians just call it a "chord chart". But when I search, "chord chart" seems to mean a chart of finger positions.

It's kind of a like a lead sheet or fake book, or even closer to slash notation, but with the staves and other unnecessary things removed to make it more compact. I've seen Nashville notation written this way, but this isn't that since it's using lettered chord names.

What is this chart called? And if possible, what software and file formats are used to generate a chart like this?

Chord chart for Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'"

4 Answers 4


The way this is written (with just time signature and chords and no slash notation or rhythm notation) I would call it "chord changes" or maybe "pocket changes," in reference to the Jamey Aebersold product which is written in this exact style1. If I were between sets at a gig and wanted the bassist to write this out for me, I would say: "Hey Jenna could you write out the chord changes to Ain't Misbehavin'?"

It looks like you can create these sorts of charts on MuseScore. I've never used that software, but there appear to be a lot of tutorials online, and the software is free! Here's an example of a chart done on MuseScore similar to the one you posted. The author is calling it a "chords only chart," which also seems like a good name:


1 You're probably familiar with pocket changes, but just in case your'e not, here's an example of how they look:



I'd call it a/the "chart" or a "chord chart" or "the chart of the song" -- when I search I tend to get references to the lyrics+chords version of a chord chart, like here, not chord fingering charts. The wikipedia page includes a reference to chords+rhythm notation, and what you have seems to be a stripped down version of that.

It might also be called a lead sheet, though I suspect that in many circles, that term would imply a fakebook style lead sheet (lyrics+melody+chords) and not this chords-only chart.

I don't think that there is a single short descriptive term that differentiates this, chord names + barlines only, form of a chart from the lyrics+chords chart, or from a fake book style chart.


'Chord chart' is fine. As you say, a cut down version of a fake book style, though less useful - the melody DOES matter! You could make something close to it in Finale or Sibelius, though the exact style of time signature and repeat barlines might be tricky to reproduce.


In Australia we call it a chord chart, and the question, 'Can you lug?' means, can you make up your own part on the fly following a chord chart?.

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