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  1. #1

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    Hi folks,

    I'm lucky enough to own both the courses in the title by Frank Vignola and Robert Conti respectively. Now I've been working through the Conti Assembly Line and making steady progress, seems a good course, some odd chord grips but I didn't question because I was working through OK and finally starting to get it.

    Now I was perusing by numerous True Fire courses that I buy then never work on and have a little look at my already purchased 123 Chord Melody which I ditched previously as I effectively was asked to learn 60 odd chord forms before we did anything (the Conti method has you making music immediately which I liked).

    However now I'm a bit further on I realise it's basically exactly the same idea but (and here is where the dilemma is) some of Frank's chord grips seem more intuitive to me, easier to grab and in my opinion more likely to be used as opposed to some of Conti's that are tough to grab and therefore realistically when I'm playing on those notes I'm more likely just to play the melody note in isolation.

    I'm planning on continuing the Conti method because it goes much deeper with diminished forms etc and I was planning on doing his "The Formula" course after but I was hoping that someone with knowledge of both courses sees any obstacles I might run into if I replace some of the odd Conti chord grips with Vignola's that are more familiar.

    For an example a Cmaj7 chord with a G in the melody screams to me a standard 6432 chord (If that's the right terminology) and it's the same one Frank suggests.

    In Conti's method the same Cmaj7 with a G melody he suggests a C6 6432 chord.

    Both obviously useable whereas the chord Frank suggests seems easier under my beginner hands and therefore I don't see any reason why I can't grab that one in that situation.

    Does anyone see something I haven't figured out and therefore might turn me around further down the line?

    Cheers

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    The answer is, it depends.

    Consider the function of the chord, and the available tensions.

    Then consider voicing. It could be a 6,5,4 or 3 note voicing.

    The context of the tune, from whence you came and to where you’re going, all factor in.

  4. #3

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    you always should play, what is the best for your ear. With other words your ear decides, so that will be your own, your own style. Matter of taste, and your taste is changing ower time. Based on this you must careful which artists you listen, the more the better, so you will have a wider spectrum to pick your musical decision preferences.

    To answer to OP, I would forgot Conti, I really should not trust him when the question is formulating my musical taste.

  5. #4
    Conti is the first teacher that has made it click for me and therefore as a teacher I'm grateful to him. However I always had in the back of my mind that I was never going to play chord melody with a chord on every melody note. But then now he has cleared the fog I now have started to understand all the rest of the things that I've been exposed to over the years and can integrate those things into my playing. It also blew my tiny little mind when I ended up naturally playing a diminished chord as a substitution for a dominant in one of his pieces before even knowing what it was and that Conti preempted I'd do that shows a great understanding of people's learning process.

    To answer my own post having now worked a little more on it, learning the Vignola chord forms did confuse me a little at first because I messed up the Conti process of learning his chords in a specific order but after a few days more practice both chord sets seem to be sticking in my mind more and that can only be good as I'm effectively doubling my chord vocabulary.

    One day I'll hopefully end up sounding like Chris Whiteman.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by neonshaker
    Conti is the first teacher that has made it click for me and therefore as a teacher I'm grateful to him. However I always had in the back of my mind that I was never going to play chord melody with a chord on every melody note. But then now he has cleared the fog I now have started to understand all the rest of the things that I've been exposed to over the years and can integrate those things into my playing. It also blew my tiny little mind when I ended up naturally playing a diminished chord as a substitution for a dominant in one of his pieces before even knowing what it was and that Conti preempted I'd do that shows a great understanding of people's learning process.

    To answer my own post having now worked a little more on it, learning the Vignola chord forms did confuse me a little at first because I messed up the Conti process of learning his chords in a specific order but after a few days more practice both chord sets seem to be sticking in my mind more and that can only be good as I'm effectively doubling my chord vocabulary.

    One day I'll hopefully end up sounding like Chris Whiteman.
    You're probably already aware of this, but if not, keep in mind that Conti's method of playing a chord on ever melody note is overkill. It's for practice purposes only. He wants you to understand how to harmonize any note. Then it's up to you to come up with a tasteful arrangement and play chords where they fit in according to you're own taste.

    I like Jimmy Bruno's general rule of thumb - play chords on the long notes.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack E Blue
    You're probably already aware of this, but if not, keep in mind that Conti's method of playing a chord on ever melody note is overkill. It's for practice purposes only. He wants you to understand how to harmonize any note. Then it's up to you to come up with a tasteful arrangement and play chords where they fit in according to you're own taste.

    I like Jimmy Bruno's general rule of thumb - play chords on the long notes.
    Yeah I was aware of that. To be honest that kind of playing has never really appealed to me and I understood why it was important to learn those shapes anyway. I think I'm going to be a more sparse chord melody kinda guy but we'll see if I get that far first before something shiny distracts me.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by neonshaker
    Yeah I was aware of that. To be honest that kind of playing has never really appealed to me and I understood why it was important to learn those shapes anyway. I think I'm going to be a more sparse chord melody kinda guy but we'll see if I get that far first before something shiny distracts me.
    Yeah, I know what you mean. I start one thing and suddenly I'm distracted by something else before I ever get good at the 1st thing. I often wonder what it would've been like in say 1956, and all I had was something like the Mickey Baker book and a handful of my parents records. I might have turned out to be a halfway decent guitarist.

  9. #8
    So I'm up to 32% of the Assembly line course done. Seems to be going well if the wife's comments are anything to go by. Fairly sure she is happy that I'm playing some musical examples now as opposed to running Cmaj forms up and down the neck over and over. Still takes a few minutes to identify the correct chord at times especially if there is an accidental or the chords are from keys that requires the chords to be moved. However feeling really positive at the moment. A happy coincidence is I now know the note names on that previously foggy b string too.

  10. #9

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    Sorry to offer something new and shiny but along the lines of sparse chord melody playing I have always liked this book by John Stein. The accompanying CD is also enjoyable to listen to on it's own merit. John's chord melodies are a good example of lean but effective chord melody playing.

    https://www.amazon.com/Berklee-Jazz-.../dp/0876391366

    I'm no expert just someone on the same journey as you.

  11. #10
    "A happy coincidence is I now know the note names on that previously foggy b string too."
    Hey that's great, Neon. Keep at it, it's not super difficult and you might amaze yourself as well as your spouse.
    Maybe think about two or three songs that you want to learn as chord melody - moderate tempo swing standards. My go-to are Johnny Van Heusen tunes because they are well-crafted and usually have decent lyrics. Working out tunes via chord melody is like a really sweet puzzle.
    Also think about ordering the companion book The Formula, which gives you the ability to rework harmonies on the fly so that you can play five choruses of a song, each one different than the last -- an invaluable skill whether you're playing solo or with an ensemble. (NOTE: I'm not a shill for Conti, just a former student.)

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by TommyBrooklyn
    "A happy coincidence is I now know the note names on that previously foggy b string too."
    Hey that's great, Neon. Keep at it, it's not super difficult and you might amaze yourself as well as your spouse.
    Maybe think about two or three songs that you want to learn as chord melody - moderate tempo swing standards. My go-to are Johnny Van Heusen tunes because they are well-crafted and usually have decent lyrics. Working out tunes via chord melody is like a really sweet puzzle.
    Also think about ordering the companion book The Formula, which gives you the ability to rework harmonies on the fly so that you can play five choruses of a song, each one different than the last -- an invaluable skill whether you're playing solo or with an ensemble. (NOTE: I'm not a shill for Conti, just a former student.)

    I've read the description of The Formula but could you expand upon what is in there? The reason I ask is I have loads of instructional material and I am trying to break away from this habit.

    Is this Conti explaining and demonstrating basic substitution rules i.e. 3 for a 1, tri-tone, back cycling etc.?

  13. #12
    Hey Alltunes - Short answer is yes: backcycling, diatonic subs, changes in chord quality, etc. that allow you to find multiple paths to navigating a given tune. If you truly understand those subs and reharm principles than perhaps you could save yourself some shelf space and figure it out on your own. But The Formula does dovetail with Assembly Line in that it's the same practical approach and can give you confidence and freedom to take a song in any direction that appeals to you.

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by alltunes
    Sorry to offer something new and shiny but along the lines of sparse chord melody playing I have always liked this book by John Stein. The accompanying CD is also enjoyable to listen to on it's own merit. John's chord melodies are a good example of lean but effective chord melody playing.

    Sorry! Something went wrong!

    I'm no expert just someone on the same journey as you.
    I'm liking the Conti stuff to be honest. I've not worked at something with this much enthusiasm on the guitar since the days of finding out the wonders of the humble A minor pentatonic. I do have a couple of arranged chord melody books but they don't have as much feeling about them when they're not mine.

    Like TommyBrooklyn has suggested I'm going to go onto The Formula next and probably buy a ticket to improv series too just for some variation.

    Currently just working on my "his" version of Danny Boy just to finish up before I move on.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by neonshaker
    I'm liking the Conti stuff to be honest. I've not worked at something with this much enthusiasm on the guitar since the days of finding out the wonders of the humble A minor pentatonic. I do have a couple of arranged chord melody books but they don't have as much feeling about them when they're not mine.

    Like TommyBrooklyn has suggested I'm going to go onto The Formula next and probably buy a ticket to improv series too just for some variation.

    Currently just working on my "his" version of Danny Boy just to finish up before I move on.
    If you are interested in continuing with chord melody and Conti, I would suggest the following:

    Play Pro Chord Melody Today Archives • RobertConti.com

    ...and

    Signature Chord Melody Arrangements

    With these, you will see in action, plenty of examples of The Formula applied to what you have learned in Assembly Line. Conti gives you, as usual, a chord under every melody note. However, he says in the beginning of each book that you can do what you want with the arrangement to make it your own, such as leaving out some of the chords to play single line melody. You can play with all manner of ideas such as melody in thirds or sixths, maybe just the bass note of the chord and the melody for a stretch, etc. Listen to various solo chord melody players to get other ideas. One of the things I like about Conti's approach is that he keeps it simple by naming his chords by the root note so you are not grappling with slash chords or trying to guess what the chord really is as an inversion or whatever. The focus is always on playing.

    Tony

  16. #15
    OK so I've completed chord melody assembly line and was more than a happy customer with that. So this week I bought The Formula. Wowee its a different kettle of fish. I'm definitely not ready for it yet. Need to go and have a little crash course in theory before I try tackling that.

    On a happier note I also bought a ticket to improv and am having fun playing through that!

  17. #16
    Hey Neon - Don't be intimidated by the theory in The Formula. It's not really high level, just some basic techniques that any jazz player needs to know. Conti's goal is to show you that just as any given melody can be manipulated to a lesser or greater degree, so too with harmony of a given song.

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by TommyBrooklyn
    Hey Neon - Don't be intimidated by the theory in The Formula. It's not really high level, just some basic techniques that any jazz player needs to know. Conti's goal is to show you that just as any given melody can be manipulated to a lesser or greater degree, so too with harmony of a given song.
    I'm thinking its because I loved how assembly line was like a jigsaw that I put together myself (the magic being that obviously Conti puts it together so you feel like its all you). Whereas with The Formula I'm hit in the first chapter with "warning don't go any further without understanding X, Y and Z". And I'm not sure how deep a knowledge of those things I need and also I've only had time to have a cursory look at it without his cycle of fourths chart to look at and without my guitar in my hand too.

    Anyways thanks for the encouragement, onwards and upwards.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by TommyBrooklyn
    Hey Alltunes - Short answer is yes: backcycling, diatonic subs, changes in chord quality, etc. that allow you to find multiple paths to navigating a given tune. If you truly understand those subs and reharm principles than perhaps you could save yourself some shelf space and figure it out on your own. But The Formula does dovetail with Assembly Line in that it's the same practical approach and can give you confidence and freedom to take a song in any direction that appeals to you.
    TommyBrooklyn sums it up nicely. The "Chord Melody Assembly Line" provides all the chord grids for the seven chord groups: The C Major Chord Group; The F Major Chord Group (with extensions); The G7th Chord Group; Two Minor 7th chord Groups; Diminished Chord Groups; Minor 7b5 Chord Groups and the Augmented Chord Groups. These chord groups cover every melody note within the various groups. Once the basics are learned, Conti provides Alternative Chord Voicings in the back of the book. The 24 lessons pretty well covers all the basics to make a chord melody arrangement. In addition there is also a DVD with over four hours of instruction where Conti thoroughly goes over each lesson.

    As already mentioned above, "The Formula!" does require ". . . at the very least, a rudimentary knowledge of the basic functions of harmony. . . ." The book is in itself a lesson in harmony. Conti also covers over five and a half hours of instruction on two DVD's.

    In case you are wondering, I have no relationship with Conti other than I have purchased these two lesson books and enjoy his approach and methods of instruction.

    On another note, If you are having a problem finding a chord voicing for a particular note I found this small freeware program that is pretty helpful:

    "Guitar Chord Finder (GCF) is a freeware 32-bit Windows application that helps guitar players search out chord voicings according to a set of criteria. Though the program can be used by guitar players in any genre, those interested in chord/melody style jazz guitar will find it particularly useful."

    The URL is guitarchordfinder - kovacsgabor73


    Mike