In the popular music field, many guitarists have moved away from using standard musical notation to represent their own and other songs. Rather than notating individual notes of the guitar chords, and the exact manner in which they will be played, the structure of a song is notated in terms of its ‘chord sequence’, with each movement of the harmony (each ‘chord’) named, and shown with a broad indication of its duration within the song, such as one bar, a half bar, quarter bar, etc.
This leaves the player the latitude to determine their own interpretation of the song, and is far quicker to notate than standard musical notation. Songs illustrated as e-chords tend to show lyrics with guitar chords names above. Guitar chords have been the subject of many instructional books over the last few decades, with many publications either publishing lists of guitar chords in dictionary form, or presenting them in sequence form to show variations on chordal sequences.
If particular voicings of guitar chords are required, this can be shown with a notation known as ‘guitar tablature’, or ‘guitar tab’. This uses six horizontal lines showing the six guitar strings, and numbers are placed in stacks on this lines, in a similar style to standard notation, showing which frets are to be used in the chord. Duration is generally indicated by the amount of space left between each stack, rather than by symbolic means.
Alternatively, another form of chord symbol notation utilises a box graphic, with six vertical lines to represent the six strings of the guitar, and five or six horizontal lines representing the frets of the fingerboard. Dots are placed on the vertical lines, between the horizontals, and these indicate placement of the fingers on the fingerboard to achieve the specific guitar chords voicing required. Additional numbering can indicate which fingers should be placed where, and whether or not the guitar chords should be played in certain ‘positions’ on the fingerboard.