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  1. #1

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    Hello, I would like to know if anybody has any good tricks/ licks/ cliches that are helpful to keep the rhythm going when playing a chord melody. Right now, if I'm playing (for example) The Shadow of Your Smile, it sounds something like

    The shadow of your smile
    <awkward pause>
    When you
    <crickets>
    Are gone
    <tumbleweed rolls by>

    What I mean is, I play the chords, I play the melody, but I would like some way to keep a more interesting rhythm going.

    Some years ago I did go through (most of) some CM book which I forget at the moment. Probably it was mostly beginner-oriented I think. I remember it had 3 levels of difficulty for each tune, but the more difficult levels would just add more alterations to the chords, not really any rhythmic variation. So how can you play CM that makes people want to tap their foot to?

    Hopefully what I'm looking for makes sense? I'm not looking so much to play CM with lots of pyrotechnics like Joe Pass (who BTW is all that and a bag of chips), but more to play in a "one man band" style that people can tap their foot to.

    Thanks in advance for any lessons/ videos/ books/ tips you can send my way (And happy Thanksgiving to the American members of the forum.)

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I think the best approach is to focus on keeping the rhythm solid and keep a steady beat. Don’t worry about playing lots of fancy chords, to keep the rhythm solid it may be better to play more of the melody notes on their own, with fewer chords if that makes sense. I generally prefer solo guitar without a ton of chords anyway. You certainly don’t need a chord under every melody note, in my opinion, that can really ‘gum up the works’ as it were.

    The melody of this tune has gaps where you can play some rhythmic chords in between, that always works.

    Also try playing this tune as a Bossa, lots of people do.

    Do you use fingerstyle or pick? I use both, but I find fingerstyle can be better for getting really accurate chord ‘stabs’ into a solo guitar piece.

  4. #3

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    Practice suggestion:

    Record yourself playing the melody in the way you would like to express it.
    Then play your arrangement along with the recording, conforming to the
    timing and phrasing (as best you can).

  5. #4

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    like Joe Pass (who BTW is all that and a bag of chips)
    That ought to go in the 'Joe Pass wasn't that good' thread, or whatever it's called :-)

  6. #5

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    I will just add that it depnds on how you hear it... imagine you play a sax (or sing) - there will be no awkward pauses... one of the problem of guitarists and pianists - often even advanced - that they think only about the beginning of the sound and forget about it once it is plucked.

    I mean in many cases convicing melody can be quite enough even with a pauses - which just would not seem awkward in that case.

    Of course all the fill-ins are possible... but it is the same thing as playing accompaniment basically, melodic (or harmonized) countepoint, imitations...
    The idea here is the same in my opinion: creating movement on static harmony.

  7. #6

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    Check out Jake Reichbart, who posts here:

    YouTube performance of "Shadow of Your Smile":



    His site where you can purchase the lesson on it:

    DVDs/downloadable guitar lessons

    In the lesson, he will answer the OP's issue.

    Tony

  8. #7

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    Play with a drummer in your head, always. Space need not be awkward.

  9. #8

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    Barney fills those awkward pauses nicely


  10. #9

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    SoYS (assuming you play it in E-/G) gives you lots of pedal point and open bass string opportunities to play fills and licks, so exploit those. Beyond that, as Jeff said, keep a drummer in your head, but also a piano player. Think in terms of comping for yourself in the spaces in the melody the way you would comp behind another soloist.

    Check out the "study group" thread for SoYS right here in this sub-forum for a bunch of specific takes on this tune.

    John

  11. #10

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    Jake's Shadow sounds great. He figured out how to eliminate the pauses and even add percussion. One thing I particularly like about it is that I don't have to GAS for that guitar/tone. I already have one.

    Braziian players never have pauses. Rather, they play fingerstyle, use open strings and really work at it. That is, if you start with the notion that there aren't going to be any awkward pauses, you are likely to be faced with a series of problems to solve. This requires considerations of tempo, key, voicings, right hand technique, use of single notes, open strings, arpeggiations etc etc etc.

    My preference is for no pausing. I don't care for the style where the player is out of time, or using fill-in runs or whatever to compensate for the difficulty of really maintaining the time. Obviously, plenty of other people like it.

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    I think the best approach is to focus on keeping the rhythm solid and keep a steady beat. Don’t worry about playing lots of fancy chords, to keep the rhythm solid it may be better to play more of the melody notes on their own, with fewer chords if that makes sense. I generally prefer solo guitar without a ton of chords anyway. You certainly don’t need a chord under every melody note, in my opinion, that can really ‘gum up the works’ as it were.

    The melody of this tune has gaps where you can play some rhythmic chords in between, that always works.

    Also try playing this tune as a Bossa, lots of people do.

    Do you use fingerstyle or pick? I use both, but I find fingerstyle can be better for getting really accurate chord ‘stabs’ into a solo guitar piece.
    Thanks for the comments. I use fingerstyle (too lazy to go grab a pick) and play one chord per bar. That's where the awkward pauses come from.

    Good point about playing the tune as a bossa. What are the tricks/ licks/ cliches one would use to imply a bossa rhythm in CM?

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    That ought to go in the 'Joe Pass wasn't that good' thread, or whatever it's called :-)
    I think I already posted that in the thread, some months ago.

    AND, at the moment the thread veered into the subject of punk rock (???)
    Last edited by Howzabopping; 12-01-2019 at 10:57 PM.

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by tbeltrans
    Check out Jake Reichbart, who posts here:

    YouTube performance of "Shadow of Your Smile":


    Now we're talking! I think with the first 30 seconds or so of that video I have material to work for the next couple of months.

  15. #14

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    I like playing this version - I can get about half way through without mistakes) sorry folks but Joe Pass could play!!!!!!!




    Will

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Howzabopping
    Thanks for the comments. I use fingerstyle (too lazy to go grab a pick) and play one chord per bar. That's where the awkward pauses come from.

    Good point about playing the tune as a bossa. What are the tricks/ licks/ cliches one would use to imply a bossa rhythm in CM?
    You need to get comfortable/familiar with the bossa pattern first, then just try and fit the melody around it. You wouldn’t necessarily try and maintain the bossa chord pattern the whole time, sometimes you just play the melody notes perhaps.

    This might give some ideas (probably want to slow it down with the YouTube settings):


  17. #16

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    Depending on the song, the tempo you're playing it, phrasing, a pause may not be a bad thing, builds a little bit of expectation, and more often than not more is less. If you're not comfortable with a pause, you could throw in a bass note or two with your thumb, gliss the chord you just played, play a 3 or 4 note fill, or a lead-in chord to your next phrase. Lot of options?

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Howzabopping
    Hello, I would like to know if anybody has any good tricks/ licks/ cliches that are helpful to keep the rhythm going when playing a chord melody. Right now, if I'm playing (for example) The Shadow of Your Smile, it sounds something like

    The shadow of your smile

    When you

    Are gone

    What I mean is, I play the chords, I play the melody, but I would like some way to keep a more interesting rhythm going.

    Some years ago I did go through (most of) some CM book which I forget at the moment. Probably it was mostly beginner-oriented I think. I remember it had 3 levels of difficulty for each tune, but the more difficult levels would just add more alterations to the chords, not really any rhythmic variation. So how can you play CM that makes people want to tap their foot to?

    Hopefully what I'm looking for makes sense? I'm not looking so much to play CM with lots of pyrotechnics like Joe Pass (who BTW is all that and a bag of chips), but more to play in a "one man band" style that people can tap their foot to.

    Thanks in advance for any lessons/ videos/ books/ tips you can send my way (And happy Thanksgiving to the American members of the forum.)
    This is kind of a huge question. One of the most important things for beginning chord melody in my opinion.

    How are you learning your basic version that you're playing now? From the chart? By ear, listening to recording? Based on an arrangement of someone else? Important to know to really get at some of what you're asking.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Howzabopping
    Thanks for the comments. I use fingerstyle (too lazy to go grab a pick) and play one chord per bar. That's where the awkward pauses come from.

    Good point about playing the tune as a bossa. What are the tricks/ licks/ cliches one would use to imply a bossa rhythm in CM?
    Actually I’m not sure why Shadow of your Smile should present a lot of problems if you’re only playing one chord per bar, it’s quite a ‘spacious’ melody.

    I assume you understand the concept of playing a chord at the same time as a melody note? (difficult to know your ability level from your post). For example you could start this tune by playing the first 5 notes as melody only (no chords) i.e. ‘the shadow of your’, but then you hit the first proper chord on the word ‘smile’, so at that point you must play the melody note as the top note of the relevant chord.

    That is essentially how to do it without pauses where the chords fall.

    Of course you may know this already!

    I would stick to fingerstyle if that’s what you’re used to. Chord melody with a pick can be a bit trickier.

  20. #19

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    Reading your post again, maybe I misunderstood, I am guessing maybe you mean you play the note/chord on ‘smile’ for example, then nothing much happens for the rest of that bar, even if you keep good time? So not really a pause in the tempo, more a ‘gap’ in the music.

    If so, you need to think of ways to rhythmically fill those empty spaces in the bar. I think there have been some suggestions already for this.

    I would try things like this: Play a couple of short chord ‘stabs’ in tempo (fingerstyle is good for this), or play the bass note of the chord first then the remaining upper notes (with good rhythm), or arpeggiate the chord (keeping time with the individual notes). Or do all three if there’s enough space!

    More advanced stuff is to create a bit of chord movement in those ‘gaps’, but this can get a lot more complicated. You can play different inversions, or maybe just repeat the chord but vary one note on the chord (e.g. tonic and ninth, seventh and sixth).

    Or you can get into Barry Harris stuff and use passing diminished chords etc. but that’s another rabbit hole perhaps!

  21. #20

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    I remembered making this video a long time ago (wow, it was QUITE long ago...) for a different forum member, I get into chord melody ideas about halfway through...might be helpful. Shows a very basic way of fleshing it out with "self comping" in between the melody phrases.


  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Play with a drummer in your head, always. Space need not be awkward.
    Make sure the drummer can keep time and whatever you do, don't let him into your house!

    Tony

  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    You need to get comfortable/familiar with the bossa pattern first, then just try and fit the melody around it. You wouldn’t necessarily try and maintain the bossa chord pattern the whole time, sometimes you just play the melody notes perhaps.
    Thanks, that's good material to learn.

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    Actually I’m not sure why Shadow of your Smile should present a lot of problems if you’re only playing one chord per bar, it’s quite a ‘spacious’ melody.
    I think FOR MY TASTES the melody has too much space to stand on its own with just one chord per bar and nothing else. At least when played on solo guitar (by me).

    Probably the Reichbart version posted above is closest to what I had in mind. One chord (or so) per bar, with some rhythmic embellishments to add interest, and keeping a steady beat.
    Last edited by Howzabopping; 12-04-2019 at 02:19 AM.

  25. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    I remembered making this video a long time ago (wow, it was QUITE long ago...) for a different forum member, I get into chord melody ideas about halfway through...might be helpful. Shows a very basic way of fleshing it out with "self comping" in between the melody phrases.
    That video sounds great! I'll see if I can copy some of the ideas at the end of the video. I like how you add some bass too... lots of good stuff there.

  26. #25

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    It’s interesting to hear how Johnny Mandel orchestrated his tune for the original film score. You can hear he put quite a lot of counter-melodies or harmonic movement underneath the tune, to fill it out.