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Mike Olekshy
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 09/21/10
Posts: 1,051
Mike Olekshy
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 09/21/10
Posts: 1,051
04/20/2017 8:31 pm

Another instructor on the site, Christopher Schlegel, has a number of lessons and approaches for exploring this topic. I emailed him directly, and I've attached his suggestions below. If you have any other questions, contact Christopher directly through his instructor forum. Good luck!

Chord melody playing is essentially a classical guitar approach. When done to pop tunes it is usually called chord melody approach.

So, I encourage you to check out my tutorials on both basic classical guitar & jazz chord melody playing.

A little beginner classical guitar style will give you a strong foundation of understanding & physically playing the guitar in a way that clearly separates the melody from the accompaniment.

The primary difference from classical in doing chord melody for jazz is in the voicings & the rhythms.

This is how to do it.

1. Pick a song to arrange. Get the chart from a sheet music book or real book.

2. Know the melody. Really know it. Play it on only the top three, high strings; the G, B and E strings. Be able to "swing it".

3. Know the chords. Really know them. Be able to play the chords for the song in at least three different places on the fretboard. My Joe Pass tutorials will show you how to play inversions & walk bass lines.[br][br]

4. Be able to play just the bass notes for the chords along with the melody. As in a counterpoint arrangement. You can use any one of the chord notes for the bass part. But makes the most sense to start with the root note. The only exception to this is if the melody happens to also be the root note of the chord. In which case you should try the (major or minor) third of the chord instead, making a first inversion chord.

5. Add in more chord notes as the melody allows your fingers to based on where you are playing the melody on the top strings, the bass notes on the bottom strings. Fill in chord notes on the middle strings.

6. Add in more bass notes where the melody and your fingers allow. Try to create bass lines that walk out of the current chord and into the next chord.

This thread has all my classical tutorials in order.

This thread has all my jazz tutorials in order.

But be warned, those only give you the basic tools to maneuver around the guitar. To play a tune you need to figure out the single note melody in a way that can be played with the matching chord progression so they both work conveniently with each other on the guitar!

Now if you already know all of that, then these tutorial are actual chord melody arrangements you can work through to learn tunes & how the style works to make your own!

After You've Gone[br]

St. Louis Blues[br]

Take Me Out To The Ballgame Advanced Version[br]

They Can't Take That Away From Me[br]

Our Love Is Here To Stay[br]


GT also has some other tunes that are sort of solo guitar arrangements that can be considered chord melody, or at least give a student a leg up on playing in that style.

Stop Breaking Down[br]

Deep River Blues[br]

Fields of Gold[br]

Ragtime Fingerstyle[br]

I also did a YouTube vid that summarizes the approach.

Hope this helps. Ask more if necessary!

Originally Posted by: webbdvm

I am working on Here Comes the Sun. Thank you so much for an excellent lesson. Mike, in the Intro lesson, you refer to other GT videos about the use of a capo, chords and melodies within chords. I am interested in melodies within chords. Do you have any suggestions which videos I might try for instruction about melodies within chords? Thank you.

Keep rockin!
Mike Olekshy
GT Guitar Coach