The main focus of this website is on the two catalogs of popular music on which it is based. The main purpose of this website is to facilitate learning to play the songs in these two catalogs, the great majority of which are very well known and have enjoyed considerable commercial success. There are numerous free online resources (tabs and instructional videos) for learning to play practically all of the songs in the Popular Music Catalog, and a good many of the songs in the Compatibility Catalog. Nevertheless, these resources are not nearly as effective and efficient as the innovative song charts featured on this website, which make it exponentially easier to learn to play the songs. Even if you have no interest in learning to play these songs, you will likely find that the 22 anthology albums included in the two catalogs contain a wide variety of great music, and make for a very pleasurable listening experience, which you are encouraged to enjoy by making use of the Spotify playlists for these albums.
There are several reasons why most amateur musicians play either the guitar or a keyboard instrument. Guitar and keyboard are among the easiest musical instruments to learn to play at a basic level of skill. Unlike with orchestral instruments, music reading ability is not required to learn to play guitar or keyboard. Guitars and keyboards are among the most affordable musical instruments, and they are also among the most versatile instruments, capable of playing chords as well as notes, adaptable to a wide variety of musical styles and genres, and well-suited to accompany singing. Finally, and most importantly, most popular songs are based on a rhythm guitar or keyboard arrangement.
The main musical goal of most amateur musicians is to learn to play popular songs. Ideally this means being able to play along successfully from start to finish with the original recordings of popular songs. As anyone who has accomplished this can tell you, being able to play along with a favorite recording, and sounding like you could have been there in the studio when it was recorded, is very enjoyable and very musically fulfilling. Not only for guitarists and keyboardists, but also for any musician playing an instrument that makes chords, the only two things you need to know in order to learn to play along with a popular song recording are:
- What are the chords?
- When do you change from each chord to the next?
The innovative song charts featured on this website show the required information (the names of the chords and the exact timing of all the chord changes) in a simple, easy-to-read, and easy-to-learn format. The song charts are all contained on a single page, and music reading ability is not required in order to use them. Because there is practically no memorization required, the song charts make it possible to learn to play songs in a fraction of the time it would take otherwise. The charts are especially useful for fashioning alternate arrangements for songs, and for enabling two or more musicians to learn to play songs together. While the song charts are a useful learning tool for anyone who plays an instrument that makes chords, keyboardists in particular, and especially self-taught beginners, will probably find that they are better able to make use of them after reviewing Keyboard Harmony, a brief description (assuming no prior knowledge or skill) of the process of transforming a song chart into a keyboard arrangement.
The Popular Music Catalog consists of 120 songs, all based on acoustic guitar, in a wide variety of musical styles. Most of these songs are widely considered to be acoustic guitar classics, and are no less popular and well known today than when they were first recorded, even though many of them date back to the 1960’s and 1970’s. The chord docs for these songs show the exact guitar chord fingerings used on the original recordings. The song charts and chord docs together greatly simplify learning to play these songs on the guitar more or less exactly like they are played on the original recordings. Some songs are obviously more difficult to play than others, but most of the songs require only an intermediate level of skill as a guitarist. The song charts and chord docs are also a very affordable way to learn to play these songs, because they can be purchased by the album for only 40 cents each, or for individual songs (chart and chord doc) for $1.
The Compatibility Catalog is a collection of 144 popular songs spanning more than seven decades and in a very wide variety of musical styles. Unlike the acoustic guitar based Popular Music Catalog, only 20 songs in the Compatibility Catalog are based on acoustic guitar arrangements. An additional 15 songs are based on electric guitar arrangements, and the remaining 109 songs are based on keyboard, band, or orchestral arrangements. The Compatibility Catalog is so named because the song charts for these songs are compatible with the original recordings, and therefore allow for playing along with the recordings from start to finish. Of particular importance is the emphasis on female lead vocals in the Compatibility Catalog (86 of the 144 songs), which compensates to some extent for the relative lack of female lead vocals (only 17 of the 120 songs) in the Popular Music Catalog.
As shown in the song charts as well as in the catalog listings, most of the songs in the Compatibility Catalog are notated for guitar in two or three different keys, which is made possible by the use of a capo or a lowered standard tuning. Since the original recordings for most of the songs are not based on guitar arrangements, most of the chord docs contain suggested guitar chord fingerings. Guitarists who have the benefit of an extensive guitar chord vocabulary can embellish the guitar arrangement suggested in the chord docs by substituting alternate fingerings for chords, or by substituting closely related chords. Guitarists who would like to further develop their ability to enhance the guitar arrangements in this way can do so by purchasing and making reference to Acoustic Guitar Chords, my comprehensive manual on the subject.
Experienced guitarists and musicians should be able to start making use of the song charts and chord docs right away after a quick review of the About Charts and About Chords pages of this website.. In addition to the charts and chord docs for the 264 songs featured on this website, charts and chord docs are also available for all of the 516 songs (344 originals, 136 covers, 24 Christmas carols, and 12 cowboy songs) featured on my musical artist website at www.dlstieg.com, and on www.politicalrock.com, which is devoted entirely to my politically-themed original songs. Beginners on the guitar, as well as more experienced guitarists who would like to expand their knowledge of music and the guitar, are encouraged to visit the original Twelvemonth Music website at http://schools.twelvemonth.com. There you will find innovative music and acoustic guitar learning methods based on visualinear tablature, a new type of notation for guitar music. The numerous music learning materials contained on the Twelvemonth Music website, as well as the song charts and chord docs contained on this website and on the dlstieg.com and politicalrock.com websites, are all offered in the hope that they will enable people to expand their musical horizons and make music a more pleasurable and more rewarding part of their lives.
Enjoy the music!
D.L. Stieg, Founder