1753 Chord Melody: back to basics

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Students regularly ask me about my approach to solo jazz guitar and especially the improvisational part to it. Do I learn licks, special chord runs, is the improvisation actually more like an arranged variation of the piece, can you still play single line and the list goes on. In this post I will have a look at one of the approaches I may take playing a piece and creating room for added lines. I will refer to it as the 17 53 approach.

 

17 53

While accompanying someone or when you are playing and improvising as a solo guitarist, it is good to remember that a lot of guitar playing in those situations is more about implying than actual playing. Chord melody does not mean that every note needs to be played using a chord. One thing that has helped me through is the so called 17 53 approach. I look at the chords of a piece and rather than playing all these fancy chords I stick with the basic seventh chords. These chords always consist of 4 tones: root, 3rd, 5th, 7th. One way of implying harmony and movement is by using the combination root (1) seventh (7) and fifth (5) and third (3) as combination double stops to imply the full chord. the great thing about playing just two notes is that you’ll free up at least two fingers to add in some melodic lines. Besides that the third and seventh of the chords are perfect guide tones for any melodic improvisation that keeps outlining the underlying harmony. You can do this fingerstyle as well as with a pick.

Below I worked out this combination for a Fmaj7, F7, Fm7, Fm7b5 and Fdim.

fmaj7 f7

f7

fm7b5
fdim

Application in Bb Blues

If we use this in a Bb blues this could be one of the outcomes:

1753-bb-blues-1

1753-bb-blues-2

1753-bb-blues-3

Now of course you don’t need to keep it rhythmically stale as set out above, remember that it is an illustration of how things could work out on the harmony side. Also remember that this is a great way to add a sense of movement without going overboard on fancy chords. The options only grow when you start adding in chord substitutions and chromatic passing chords. It creates a nice canvas waiting to be painted upon and leaves at least two fingers free to start painting a picture. In a next post we”ll have a look at this conceptual approach and start making real music.

All the chord examples are available as a pdf here >>>

The blues example can be downloaded as a pdf here >>>

Try it out on your favorite jazz standard. Have fun!

 

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Lesson: Walk that bass (G blues) first chorus

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This week a chorus of walking bass under a G blues. This is playable with a pick as well as fingerstyle.

The following chord changes are used as the basis:

|| G 7 | C 7| G7 | % | C7 | % | G7 | E7 | Am7 | D7 | G7 E7 | Am7 D7 ||

The chords used here are so called drop two chords, consisting of the third and the seventh of each chord. They represent the complete functionality of the chord: an approach that will be part of another lesson soon.

Here we go
G bLues chorus 1 1-4

In bar one the bass follows the major triad tones and chromatically walks back to land on the C root in the second bar. A chromatic approached is used to walk from the E note (third of C chord) via F and F# back to G. In bar four a chord sequence is applied on the bass notes. G7, Am, Bb dim,  B min. 

G bLues chorus 1 5-8

Bar 5 uses the C 7 drop two chord in position VIII, the bass consists of the chord tones. Bar 6 is a chord sequence C7, Bb6, Am7, G#7. The G#7 or Ab7 is the chromatic option that comes from replacing a  D7 dominant chord resolving to G with its so called tri-tone substitution. In bar the bass line chromatically ascends to E on the last beat. Similarly a chromatic descending last beat note is found in bar 8 which resolves to the Am7

G bLues chorus 1 9-12

In bar 9 the Eb note on beat four descends chromatically to D7, just like in bar 9 the G# (Ab) descends to G. Bar 11 and 12 are a so called turn around. Notice how the tritones are used for chromatic purposes in bar 11 and 12 on the fourth beat.

A pdf file is availble here >>>

Have fun.

Autumn Leaves chord melody

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves or by the original French title Les Feuilles Mortes is by now a jazz standard that has been played by countless artists. The chord melody arrangement below is suitable for beginners. The song itself is a great one to practice playing major and minor II V I progressions.

Download Autumn Leaves here >>>

Have fun !