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Discovering The Benefits of Playing Chord Melodies

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Jazz guitarist Vince Lewis continues his JGT Arrangement Series with ‘Some Of These Days’.

Many guitarists find themselves intimidated by the prospect of playing solo guitar.  The chord melody style of playing is beneficial in several respects.  Being able to play the melody and harmony together has always been my favorite way to learn Jazz Standards.  Building the extensions of the chords in order to accommodate the melody notes and the possibilities of chord substitutions is truly fascinating and almost endless.  Each player will hear different harmonies and colors, and thus individual voices come to the forefront when various players arrange the same songs in this style.  ALWAYS keep your melody notes on top of the chords and clearly state the melody there.  It generally means taking the melody up an octave from where it is originally written so that you can put the line on the first two strings ( 3rd if necessary) in order to fully voice your chords underneath as much as possible.

Play through this old standard “Some Of These Days” as an example.  The basic rhythm chords are mixed with some substitutions that were necessary to make in order to voice the melody on top of the chord shapes.  ALWAYS keep the melody as the most heard note of the chord, and try to move through the single note phrases as smoothly as possible while sustaining the chords as long as you can.  I have included an MP3 of the arrangement so that those unfamiliar with the melody can hear it and follow along with the pdf.  I also suggest that you research the basic lead sheet to see the simpler harmony in the original chart, then go and listen on youtube to many different versions of the song in order to get a feel for how different musicians approach the tune.  

One of the biggest results of learning a new song this way is being able to experiment and hear the harmony along with the melody rather than just learning the single-note lines and rhythm accompaniment separately.

Enjoy….


Some Of These Days

Arrangement by Vince Lewis Words and Music by Shelton Brooks

Vince Lewis Arrangement For Educational Purposes


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