Music Guide

Guitar Chord Diagrams for the Chants (by Natesh)

I love the sound of the guitar in chanting, and I consciously keep the chords in my chants simple while also allowing for harmonic interest. Simple chords make it possible to play a chant at a much faster speed while still making the necessary chord changes with proper timing.

In total for all of the chants in this book. I utilize only the 21 guitar chords illustrated in the diagrams below. assuming a guitar capo is used where indicated in the chants. Typically, each chant only uses a few chords, even as few as two.

If you are not familiar with reading a this type of chord diagram, here are a few tips. View them as if you are looking at the end of the guitar neck closest to the "nut,'' where the strings cross from the fretboard toward the machine heads used for tuning.

The nut is represented by the thicker line. (It also represents the capo if one is being used in a particular chant, with the capo of course positioned just behind the indicated fret.) The low E string is on the left and the high E string is on the right. and standard tuning is assumed throughout.

An "x" marks a string that is not played while an "o" indicates a string that is played open. The black dots show finger placement at the appropriate combination of string and fret.

Most fingerings are obvious, but the important thing is to find something that works, because the best fingering will also depend on such factors as what chords come before and after the one in question in a progression or whether particular fingers need a break from being overused.

The curved line you see in a few chords (like a "parenthesis" on its side) represents a bar across two or more strings with the forefinger. Bar chords are more tiring when playing for a long time, so I don't use them very often.

Basic kirtan guitar chord diagrams

About the Sheet Music

The purpose of this section is to give some tips on using the sheet music in this book. The music for each chant is shown in traditional Western notation, and the words and suggested chords are also shown. When simpler guitar chords can be played using a guitar capo, those adjusted chords are also listed as well as the guitar fret number at which to place the capo (which is the 3rd fret in the vast majority of cases).

If there are no guitar chords specifically listed with the capo at a particular fret, then the chords are the same for guitar, piano or whatever. There is also a Guitar Chord Diagrams page for those less familiar with guitar chords.

In most cases the guitar chords with capo are in a separate row above the actual chords to the chant and are shown in italics. Sometimes to save space the guitar chords are listed in line with the main chords, separated by a slash and still italicized, with an indication in the upper left corner of which fret the capo is placed on. (For instance, with a capo listed as being at the third fret and a C minor chord in the chant you would see "Cm / Am" when the chords are listed in the same row above the music.)

There are other uses of standard music notation including repeat marks, alternate endings and so forth which may be best learned if you are not familiar with them by simply listening to the chant, but I have annotated a sample sheet music below for a number of these elements.

Typically there is also an indication of how many times a particular musical section is repeated to the right of the end of each section (unless there is an alternate ending for that section, in which case the number of repetitions are given in the alternate endings for the section). The chants typically have a call and response followed by another call and response for each section (a total of 2 calls and 2 responses) which is noted as "4x" to repeat the music a total of 4 times.

For convenience, I also show section numbers and brackets on longer sections to show that all those measures represent one section of music. Finally, below the music on the left is an indication of what note I recommend be used for any drone instrument. Usually it is the same as the first actual chord of the chant but not always. Again, the annotated music below references these elements.

One element that is not depicted is "D.C. (or cont.)" (and sometimes "D.S." which is similar), which means to return to the beginning or optionally continue to the next section that is done only occasionally rather than every pass through the chant. A few chants have "port." next to a line between notes, meaning "portamento" which is a gliding of pitch between those notes.

There are also a few chants where there are alternative sections, labeled “Alt” under the section number. These are mostly changes in melodies (and maybe chords) that I do on occasion as an alternative to the standard music for that section number, but may be other changes in which case there is normally a note to that effect.