Lead Sheet Music

A lead sheet is a type of music notation that typically consists of the melody line of a song, with the lyrics written underneath and the chord changes indicated above the staff. Lead sheets are often used in jazz, pop, and folk music, and they provide a basic outline of a song that musicians can use to improvise or arrange the tune in their own way. Lead sheets are typically written in a condensed format, with just enough information to convey the melody, chords, and lyrics of a song, but leaving plenty of room for interpretation and improvisation. They are often used as a shorthand way of communicating a tune to other musicians, and they can be a useful tool for learning and performing music.

All musicians can benefit from lead sheets. Small ensembles, especially jazz ensembles, often use lead sheets so everyone is working from the same music. Each musician can then flesh out which notes they wish to play as they read the indicated melody and chords. This is particularly useful for jazz musicians who wish to improvise on a given melody and chord progression. Lead sheets are therefore a sort of shorthand for music pieces that save quite a bit of page space. Whereas a full arrangement of a song might use several pages to display the whole piece, a lead sheet often only uses one.