Chord Melody – This is How To Play Solos

You already play chord melody guitar arrangements of standards, but Improvising in a solo guitar setting where you are playing chords and an improvised melody can be really difficult and seem impossible to learn.

In this video I am going to show you how to use chords as a position to create a scale where you can improvise with and in that way solo in a Chord Melody setting.

This is one of the ways I approach improvising in a solo guitar setting and it is technically much less demanding than trying to for example harmonize every melody note. In fact you can probably get started right away, and a bonus is that practicing this will make you a lot better at making your own chord melody arrangements.

This video came about because I was making videos for my Patrons discussing how I prepared a solo gig. It was a request to demonstrate one of the approaches I use for soloing.

A Practical Approach to improvising

The best way to demonstrate my method or approach is to just give you some examples and in breaking them down showing you what the idea is.

The first example is a II V I lick in C major.

I would assume that you already know the basic chords that are shown as diagrams above the sheet music.

The way I see this II V I lick is basically as a melody using these basic chords.

Try playing this example

Building a Scale for each chord voicing

The way I see the available notes for the Dm7 and G7 vocings I have the two “scales” associated with both chords.

Notice that I actually have two voicings for G7 but again these two voicngs are (for me at least) variations on the same voicing. Probably centered around the 7th and 3rd on the D and G string.

Variations of voicings

One way to build vocabulary is to have several options for the combinations of voicings. In this video I am doing this by using different Dm7 voicings.

The example below is using a different type of chord voicing.

Here the notes available with the Dm7 is a little different and is shown here below.

Variations and more chords 

The example here below is using several voicings on the G7. Again the focus is on using voicings that are variations of the same chord. You can see that it is that thinking that I use on the G7 chord.

The line is using a variation of the previous Dm7 chord, now with a 3rd in the melody instead of the 9th,

I also added some more interesting rhythms to the line and really use a chord to emphasize the top-note of the melody on the G7.

Chord Melody Survival Kit

If you want to develop your skills with chord melody then you can check out this lesson where I break down my basic process for making a chord melody and demonstrate how to turn this into an arrangement.

The lesson contains 3 arrangements and video lessons describing how they are made.

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