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Learn to Read Jazz Chord Symbols (Level 3+)

In Jazz – there is the ULTIMATE FAKE BOOK – called the “Real Book“. These are hand written “lead-line” songs – with only the melody and chord symbols. These symbols have become universal and are used on all music that says “with Guitar Cues”. So when looking for new accordion songs to play – always pick the sheet music with these cues.

Chord Symbols – consist of the letter telling you WHICH CHORD to play – and whatever is written after the letter – is called – the CHORD QUALITY.

Chord qualities refers to the intervals between notes – which define the chord. The main chord qualities are:

  • Major, and minor.
  • Augmented, diminished, and half-diminished.
  • Dominant.

Some of the symbols used for chord quality are similar to those used for interval quality:

  • m, or min for minor,
  • M, maj, or no symbol for major,
  • aug for augmented,
  • dim for diminished.

In addition, to make things sometimes more confusing – these are used:

  • Δ is sometimes used for major, instead of the standard M, or maj,
  • is sometimes used for minor, instead of the standard m or min,
  • +, or aug, is used for augmented (A is not used),
  • o, °, dim, is used for diminished (d is not used),
  • ø, or is used for half diminished,
  • dom is used for dominant.
  • add is used to instruct you to add a scale tone (never is a + used here)

For a more in-depth study of chords and their symbols – please review and even print out these charts:   HOW TO READ CHORD SYMBOLS

Quick Reference ChartPRINT – Jazz Chords Chart

Let’s open these 3 solos – direct from the REAL BOOK – and see if you can ADD THE CHORDS (The REAL BOOK site seems to be DOWN!! – so here are other links for these songs.)

The Shadow of Your Smile

Link – Hear and SEE the Music –


Beautiful – Accordion version – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zq9OfK3sTc4



As Time Goes By