Tag Archives: Chord Melody Autumn Leaves

3 Things You Need To Know For Chord Melody

Chord Melody is Melody with Chords, so you take a melody and then you add chords to it. This is a way to play both harmony and melody of a song and you can do a lot of different things with chord melody arrangements and really add a beautiful other dimension to the song you are playing, making it a solo performance.

I am going to go over 3 things that are really important if you want to make your own chord melody arrangements and that you will also find in the arrangements and playing of people who are great at chord melody like Joe Pass and Ted Greene.

#1 Play The Melody on the top strings.

If you want to harmonize a melody then you need to add harmony under the melody. For the guitar This makes it more practical to play the melody on the top strings.

I would suggest aiming for having as much of the melody as possible placed on the E and B strings. That way it is a lot easier to add a chord under it and most of the time you can even use the same voicings you usually do for comping.

In example 1 I have written out the melody for body and soul on the top strings

And if you want to add chords under it you can do so in this way:

#2 Add Chords on the heavy beats

Be practical! Go for the arrangement that is playable. It will get you further and it is important that you can perform your arrangement as a piece of music, not just a technical exercise.

As an example of a melody that moves a lot here is a harmonization of Fly Me To The Moon. Notice how I only use chords when the chords are changing.

#3 Dynamics: I need to hear the melody

In many ways this is almost the most important thing to keep in mind: You are playing a melody and adding some chords when that is possible. Not playing chords and occasionally hinting at a melody that is also there.

The main thing to practice here is to get used to emphasizing the top note in the chord, a skill that you will also find very useful for comping and chord soloing.

The way to work on this is to learn to play the chords while not so much making the top note louder but more making the chord softer. This is both easier and will sound more natural. Another thing that is important is that you want to have some dynamic range to phrase the melody.

Check out an Easy Chord Melody

If you want to explore another chord melody arrangement to work on these skills then you can check out this lesson: Easy Autumn Leaves Chord Melody and Quick How-to-Play!

And of course if you really want to work on your chord melody skills:

Chord Melody Survival Kit

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here by signing up for my newsletter:

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Easy Autumn Leaves Chord Melody and Quick How-to-Play!

Autumn Leaves is a great song to get starting playing an easy chord melody arrangements on guitar. This famous jazz standard is both a great melody and a fairly easy option to play an easy chord melody.

In this lesson I will go over a chord melody arrangement of Autumn Leaves that I made. arrangement. The chords I am using are for the biggest part simple 3-note voicings called shell-voicings and I have also included some exercises to check those out.

You can scroll down and download the PDF of the Arrangement at the end of the page.

Autumn Leaves – The Song and the Chord Melody Arrangement

The key that I am using for Autumn Leaves in this arrangement is G minor. This is not the key from the real book, but it is the most common key for performing the song. The form of Autumn Leaves is AAB where A is 8 bars and B is 16 bars, so it is a 32 bar form.

The arrangement is using call-response to also allow the chords to add some groove to. This also allows for using the melody in the lower octave that often sounds a little fuller.

Learning some useful Shell-voicings for the song

To learn the chord melody we need some chords to play with the melody. The melody of Autumn Leaves is mostly a pick-up with followed by a single long note on the heavy bar. You cna think of the first phrase as an example. This makes it easy to add chords while the long note is sounding.

Most of the chords that I use here are shell voicings, so it is a good idea to check those out in G minor.

In the exercises below I have the diatonic chords of G minor first  with the root on the E string and then with the root on the A string. For each exercise I start with the lowest possible chord and then move up one octave.

Chord Melody – It’s about the melody!

The first place to start with chord melody is learning the melody! In fact it would be a more appropriate name if we turned it around: Melody Chord. This is because we are playing the melody and adding the chords, not the other way around (hopefully).

In example 3, here below. I have written out the melody for the first 8 bars of the song. It is written out in the places where I want to play the melody so that I can easily fit chords under it.

Really knowing the melody well and being comfortable moving it around the neck is essential when you start making your own chord melody arrangements (which should be 20 minutes after checking out this lesson…).

Autumn Leaves Chord Melody arrangement – The A part

The A part of this song has the same structure for all phrases: a pickup and a long note. This means that the chords can be paired together and played in between the phrases.

In that way the chord pairs become: Cm7-F7, Bbmaj7-Ebmaj7, Aø-D7 and a final Gm6 chord.

When I am playing the melody I end on a note that is included in the chord and I make sure to use a fingering where I can add the chord while sustaining that note. In this case that is as much a technical as it is a musical consideration.

As you see above I use a “real” tonic minor chord so a Gm6 which is of course also what is suggested in the original composition (and the famous Miles Davis/Cannonball Adderly version as well)

The B part

The second half of the song is a bit more complicated. Of course the melody has to change a bit not to become boring so in the B part there are other melodic patterns.

In the first bar of there is no room to add a chord until the 4th beat which forces a change in the pattern and the rhythm of the chords. The next 6 bars again allows for adding the chords between phrases.

On the 9th bar of the B part the melody takes up the entire bar and I add the shell voicing under it. This first yields a complete Drop3 voicing for the Aø and then the basic shell voicing.

There is no chord under the D7 and the chord is inserted on beat 3.

The faster moving progression that follows: Gm7 C7 Fm7 Bb7 is harmonized first with a drop3 Gm7 voicing and for the rest shell voicings. This makes it impossible to sustain the melody, but it still works.

The last cadence has an Eb6 with the 6th in the melody and on the last D7 the melody is so low that I chose not to have any chords at all. Since the melody is moving all the time that is not much of a problem, and as I already said: The Melody is more important!

This is a blue print for your own chord melody arrangements

I hope you can have fun playing through my arrangement and start to make it your own with variations and changes to the chords!

For me, the most fun part of chord melody is making your own arrangements! I think you should start trying to figure out how to do so as fast as possible. You can play other peoples arrangements as well, but there is no reason why you should not be creative with your own harmonizations and voicings!

Learning to solo on Autumn Leaves is of course also a part of playing it as a Jazz Guitarist. One approach to this using the arpeggios of the song is covered in this lesson: Autumn Leaves with Arpeggios

How To Make Your Own Chord Melody Arrangements!

If you want to see my structured approach to making a chord melody for a standard then you should consider checking out this lesson:

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

Join 600+ Other Jazz Guitarists 🎸Join us in the Facebook Jazz Guitar Group Community: http://bit.ly/InsidersFBGroup

Download the Free PDF

You can also download the PDF of my examples here by signing up for my mailing list:

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.