Tag Archives: chord melody jazz

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

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Chord Melody – The 2 Positions You Need to Know

We don’t think too much in positions when it comes to Chords and Chord Melody Guitar. That is something that is connected more to scales, but it does make sense to have this perspective especially if you want to work on ways to improvise in a solo guitar setting where you want to use full chords with a root.

In The first video I did on this topic I was working on one position and exploring some options there. In this video I am going to look at the other one and show you how to improvise there on a II V I giving you a way to look at the chords so that you can take a voicing and add a melody on top of that.

The 1st Position from the Previous Lesson.

This lesson is continues from a previous video I made on the topic. You can check out here: Chord Melody Solo Process

The position I discuss in that lesson is the one use in that lesson is around this set of notes:

The best way to think of this “position” (since it isn’t really a position) is as a set of root notes.

The “other” Chord Melody Position

By starting with the root of the II chord on the 6th string you get this position. Showed here with Shell-voicings.

Examples and “Chord melody Solo Scales”

The way I am going to explain this is by looking at some examples and use those to make some scale positions of notes with one main chord voicing.

The first example could be something like this:

Finding scales for each chord

The notes that can be used for each of the chord are found in the C major scale. I am leaving out notes that don’t fit the chord or it’s function.

You can find another example with the same note-pool is shown here below:

Adding an altered dominant

A similar set of chords and notes but using an altered dominant would look like this:

An example of how this is used is shown here below.

Notice that sometimes the chord voicing changes to allow for the rest of the line to be more playable. This is how I am playing the line on the Dm7 chord.

Another example of how the altered dominant can be used is shown here below. The melody here is a motif stated on the II chord and then developed on the Valt chord.

Joe Pass Chord solo book

A book, that I have used and learned a lot from is this book of transcribed chord solos. I mention it in the video.

Joe Pass – Chord solos
 http://amzn.to/2kk2zei (affiliate link)

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 includes 3 arrangements and video lessons describing how they are made.

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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.

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:

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

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

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.