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  1. #1

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    I have been playing classical guitar for 20 years. I would say that's 90% of my guitar playing. When I play Blues or Jazz, it's from someone else's written arrangement, and so that's little different from classical.

    I've purchased the various books from this site. These might be great for me a little later, but they seem to jump into the deep end rather quickly.

    My knowledge of music theory is ok, but not accessible without a lot of thinking. I can build things up like a geometry student that starts with the "a line is the shortest path between 2 points." So, I sight-transpose The Nearness of You up an octave, and after the pickup the A will be on the 1st string and it's under FMaj7. OK, FMaj7 is FACE (that one comes quick, an upcoming Bbdim7 will take me a minute to work out). But back to FACE with the A on the 1st string; now I'm looking for accessible FCE. It's all a lot of work.

    I have some realbooks and have started to work on figuring out my own arrangements, but it's slow going. I suspect my problem is I haven't deeply learned any vocabulary, But I've always found it tedious to memorize triad shapes, e.g., and so they quickly fall out of practice.

    So, given that I have the mechanical part of "fingerstyle" down quite well, is there a progressive method for learning Jazz guitar, and in particular chord melody? In classical, there are any number of such methods (Shearer, Tenant, Parkening, Sagreras). What I have managed to buy and look through just seems to jump in and not be organized well for a beginner. I want to be able to pull up a realbook score and be able to sight-read and toss in chords, rather than working it all out painfully on paper and then memorizing and playing the same thing all the time.

    If you're a teacher and take on beginning jazz players, what books do you use?

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I studied classical guitar at conservatory and spent years following what was written on the page. When I developed an interest in broader "fingerstyle" playing I also began with the arrangements of others. I still read standard notation better than tab! I've been on a "jazz guitar" binge for nearly two years now and what I have found to be helpful for making initial progress with chord melody playing is a reflex, muscle memory knowledge of three and four note inversions - paying particular attention to the top note which, of course, will be the melody. So when I say "play an F7 with the F on top, or EbMaj7 with the D on top" you just do that without thinking or worrying about the notes under that melody note. Yes, the first pass arrangement will lack voice leading and sound choppy - but it will be an arrangement and from there you're on your way.

    So, I'd make a regular practice of playing Drop 2 and Drop 3 inversions of major, minor and dominant chords up and down the neck. Start simply and build up. There's no rush. I actually find this to be a meditative practice.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Neverisky View Post
    ... what I have found to be helpful for making initial progress with chord melody playing is a reflex, muscle memory knowledge of three and four note inversions - paying particular attention to the top note which, of course, will be the melody.
    For solo guitar arrangements, I focus more on the bass note of the chord shapes, but chose chord voicings that allow me to reach the melody notes I want to add on top. The melody and bass lines usually take precedence, and the in between notes tend to take care of themselves. Of course it’s nice to have good voice movement in those inner voices, but that tends to come naturally as you learn tunes.

    Practice the three and four note chord inversions up and down the neck until you can see a chord name on a chart and immediately play that chord wherever you happen to be on the neck.

    I’d suggest starting by learning very simple solo guitar arrangements of many tunes. Each tune you learn forces you to work through the mechanics so they become second nature. Once you learn simple versions of a bunch of tunes, start revisiting ones you learned earlier and you’ll probably find it easy to find ways to make them richer.

    Check out Tim Lerch’s lessons on youtube and Truefire. Here’s a good overview:

  5. #4

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    Also, check out Martin Taylor’s lessons. Here he outlines his method for progressing from block chords to counterpoint.

  6. #5

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    I'd happily suggest my own instruction with a YouTube dedicated solely to solo guitar arranging/performing, boasting 500+ arrangements and almost 40,000 subscribers. Check out this lesson excerpt, have a guitar ready, you'll get a lot out of this clip alone. It comes from a much longer video lesson for my arrangement of How High the Moon. Email jake.reichbart@gmail.com Thanks!


  7. #6

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    I'm a repeat customer of each of Tim, Martin and Jake. It's all top-notch. My opinion is that for someone new to chord-melody, who already has mechanical ability, Jake's lessons would be most immediately helpful in content and presentation style. But, again, they're all going to be jumping around inversions... so I stand by that as a fundamental skill.

  8. #7

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    Jazz and Jazz Guitar pedagogy are not very linear, as you say, and the gaps between "levels" are broad. There is no Sagreras for Jazz Guitar.

    To pursue solo guitar/chord melody guitar I would advise that you:

    1. Practice your close voicing triads, drop 2 and drop 3 7th chords, 9th, 13th and 4th based chords - for about a month,
    2. Learn a couple of very simple chord melody arrangments,
    3. Then take John Baboian's course at Berklee Online. If you don't feel ready for that, take "Guitar Chords 201" first, then you'll be ready.


    Solo Guitar: Performance, Accompaniment, and Arranging Online Course - Berklee Online

  9. #8

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    You could do worse than work through some published arrangements and see if you can apply ideas in them to other tunes.

  10. #9

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    I have explored much of what is out there in regards to learning chord melody style. There is no course or book that does it all. It is a lifetime pursuit..enjoy it. I have my favorites though and they each have something to offer. As a starting point a book (or online...this site has drop 2 lessons) on Drop 2 voicings will get you going so you can begin look at a Real Book chart and develop your own chord melodies which will provide a lifetime of satisfaction.

    One thing that I have learned along the way is melody is king and you don't have to have a chord for every melody note.

    Frank Vignola's TrueFire Jazz Channel ($10 a month..... cancel anytime) has dozens of very playable chord melodies that he breaks down in video format and you can download and print TAB.

    The Martin Taylor video posted above may be all you need
    Last edited by alltunes; 11-02-2020 at 03:01 PM. Reason: Martin Taylor vid

  11. #10
    been reading about Truefire for a while, so I guess it's time to jump in.

  12. #11

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    Regarding Truefire, to which I have an all access membership as well as subscribing to artist channels, my advice would be to sign up for a month of all access to get the lay of the land. It's a tremendous value, in my opinion.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Neverisky View Post
    Regarding Truefire, to which I have an all access membership as well as subscribing to artist channels, my advice would be to sign up for a month of all access to get the lay of the land. It's a tremendous value, in my opinion.
    I've purchased many Truefire courses but I am hesitant to get all access as I fear I would spend to much time watching and not enough playing! At least with dozen or so courses I can focus a little.

    I just picked um Mimi Fox's Flying Solo (on sale for approx $15) and what a jackpot it is...lots of ideas and thoughtful commentary on chord melody/solo guitar playing.

  14. #13

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    My teacher provided sheets of 6th and 5th string root chord voicings that indicated the note number for the top note. (with the 1, b3, 3, 5, 6, b7 and 7). Most of these were chord voicings I already knew and used often in the songs I played but not with a 'is the melody note the top note' in mind. The sheets also showed how one could take these same voicings and use them to get to the 4 or b5, #5. E.g. take the one with the 5th as the top note and move it a half-step.

    He told me to start with Nearness of You in C Major, since it is a very basic II\V\I song, with a lot of use of the IV (FMaj7). The rest was up to me. E.g. what melody notes I wished to play as a chord (using that top note chord voicing) and which melody notes I would single line until I got to that next chord. Then it was trail and error. While what I ended up with was somewhat pedestrian, this process got me over the 'I'll never be able to play chord melody', mindset.

    Over the years I added 4 string root chords and other techniques to get me a more robust sound.

  15. #14

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    An example of a Frank Vignola CM breakdown

  16. #15

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    ^ Basically you just make up crap that fits the chords, melody, and neck lol.

  17. #16
    OK thanks y'all for the help. I signed up for Truefire - a year was $149, and I'm in quarantine, so I will get my money's worth.

    I need to spend 30-60 minutes a day taking a break from classical and just memorizing chord shapes and drilling theory. Already looking through some courses, I see that if the score indicates FMaj7, you can play any form of F Major. I never really thought about a 6 chord being a major, but I guess it's all dependent on the third.

  18. #17

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    All good choices listed above. For books, I'd recommend:
    Howard Morgans: Through Chord-Melody & Beyond: A Comprehensive, Hands-on Guide to Playing & Arranging Solo Jazz Guitar Based on 11 Classic Standards from the Great American Songbook Paperback – September 1, 2008

    Howard (Rest his soul) is also on True Fire


    Amazon link

  19. #18
    Robert Conti's Chord Melody Assembly Line

  20. #19

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    There's plenty of books on playing jazz guitar, but only a few on chord melody, or solo playing. There's several by Joe Pass and a few by Martin Taylor. These are the two pioneering players in this style. Martin offers a progression into it. Joe Pass books tend to throw you in the deep end. Since there is no clear and easy route into solo playing, it's probably a good idea to become competent playing with others first. This will build your chordal chops, timing, rhythmical feel, and creative ability. Few ever master solo playing—even top flight players struggle with it. But if you take little bits of information from here and there, over time you will accumulate enough knowledge to tackle the challenges. To take your example of playing A over an Fmaj7. You don't need to play a chord under a melody note, and you don't need to play the actual chord given. If the harmony and melody note seem at odds, choose a substitute chord, or leave out the chord altogether, or get creative in other ways. Jumping octaves is fine. Playing octaves is fine. There's always a way round problems, but you have to have a solid knowledge of harmony etc. Looking at how the greats approach problems is the fastest route to becoming independent.

  21. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by vsaumarez View Post
    There's plenty of books on playing jazz guitar, but only a few on chord melody, or solo playing. There's several by Joe Pass and a few by Martin Taylor. These are the two pioneering players in this style. Martin offers a progression into it
    Thanks everyone for the useful advice. And thanks @vsaumarez for the Martin Taylor tip. His book "Beyond Chord Melody" was exactly what I needed. Progressive and starts off not quite at the beginning, but far enough along that it's useful from Page 1 for me.

  22. #21

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    I've been jumping around for a few years trying to find a good method book that works for me, and I have finally settled on Martin Taylor Beyond Chord Melody. As I am working without a teacher I agree with you kevets, not too hot, not too cold, just right for me. I feel like I've been moving forward for the last month, not just trying to get out of the ditch. I hope I'm up for the long haul. If I am still enthusiastic and practicing about 2 hours a day in another month, I'm considering trying out the Martin Taylor live lessons. Good luck to you with the book, I think it's a winner for me.

  23. #22

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    Hey, I just found out that this program is at 25% discount 'till the end of month!
    CHORD MELODY PACKAGES | danarobertrasch

    And the instruction is as good as it gets, see the overview:
    CHORD MELODY OUTLINE | danarobertrasch

  24. #23

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    Interesting, kinda pricey compared to very well known artist's lessons. Not much YouTube content so it's hard to tell what he's offering.

  25. #24

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    You used to be able to take Plectrum Guitar grades (1-8) as you can in classical guitar. The graded pieces were quite jazzy and some written by jazz guitarists. I think it was Trinity College, London who organized it.
    what I found.

    As others have said, chord melody, solo jazz guitar, or whatever you want to call it has so few pioneers, there isn't much formal learning material. So, it's a case of taking bits from here and there and piecing them together. There's probably more material on Joe Pass that anyone else.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by ah.clem
    Interesting, kinda pricey compared to very well known artist's lessons. Not much YouTube content so it's hard to tell what he's offering.
    Agreed on his Youtube shyness, although he shared quite a bit more on Facebook. As someone who has bought several of his programs in the past, I can attest to the top notch content. He was a guitar program director at the Grove School of Music after all...the point is that it is a real program, not a lesson, and covers a LOT of ground. Rasch call his approach unified method, and IMHO such description is accurate, because you will learn theory, harmony, arranging with a hands on approach.

  27. #26

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    Check out Peter Mazza’s offerings. He’s a really good and committed instructor. He organises 5 week courses, through a standard. His way in to what he calls Chord Melody from the Ground Up is ATTYA. From there, he’s got other courses that work other standards or other stuff. I’ve done two of his courses and have been very deep and insightful. I do recommended to anyone. You can find all sorts of levels, from basic people (sort of like me) to really accomplished professionals. See a video of me with the result of my first course (only the head, but that was already very complex). There is a course from him on following the head, but I need the time to take it and now I just don’t have it.



    Edit: I forgot to mention that you can find him on Facebook, where he has also a private group for people to try stuff and share concerns and arrangements. No affiliation whatsoever, apart from being a happy customer.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro

  28. #27

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    Lots of great suggestions, but
    I think the best and time-honored way and the most natural is to learn some note for note and then use ideas you like as your own.

    it’ll happen faster and you’ll make it your own. It’s very different that the more academic approach of getting knowledge and then trying to create music expression with that. That can actually create somewhat of a gap to creativity and expression.