In the first part of this series about sheet music types, we looked at the anatomy of a lead sheet. In part 2, we’ll examine the PVG – Piano Vocal Guitar – score.
What is it?
PVG scores consist of a melody with lyrics, a full piano part and guitar chords that are written just above the piano stave. When you purchase sheet music from a music store or online shop, this is the most common format. Many pop songs that are commercially available as PVGs have the melody notated in the right hand to make it easier for the vocalist to sing along with the piano, although it’s often not a true representation of the accompaniment on the recording.
Which styles of music use lead sheets?
Like lead sheets, PVG scores are commonly used in pop/rock, jazz, and folk music.
What’s so great about PVG scores?
A PVG score is able to communicate more information than a simple lead sheet, but it’s still a relatively succinct form of musical score.
When should I use it?
A PVG score is ideal for instances when you want to communicate a riff, the musical “feel”, or when need to be prescriptive about the style of accompaniment for a song. The pianist is able to play what they see, rather than needing to improvise an accompaniment based solely on chord symbols.
When not to use PVG scores
If you only need to provide other musicians with a melody and chords, a lead sheet would be more suitable.
3 Tips for Writing A Great Piano Vocal and Guitar Score
1. Avoid wasting paper tip #1: use repeats
2. Avoid wasting paper tip #2: hide empty staves
If there are sections of your song when the vocalist is not singing, you can save some more space by hiding the vocal stave. Common examples of this might include the song introduction, the ending, or an instrumental section in the middle of the piece. In MuseScore, notate your entire song and then go to Style > Edit General Style > Score. Check the box that says “Hide Empty Staves”.
3. Write guitar chords only when necessary
When writing chord symbols in a score, the convention is to include one only where a chord change takes place. It may not be necessary to write a chord symbol for each beat, or even each measure in your score. So, if there are 4 measures of C major, you can write a C above the first measure and then leave the other measures blank until the next chord change.