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Creating Chord-Melody Arrangements - Part II

by Rich Scott

Typically, guitarists either play chord accompaniment or melody (lead). Chord-melody, however, is an approach to guitar playing where both the chord and melody are played at the same time creating a complete orchestration. Although chord-melodies are usually played fingerstyle, my arrangements are designed to be played with a pick.

As was discussed in my prior lesson, the last step in creating a chord-melody arrangement is to add chord substitutions to your basic chord-melody arrangement. If you are not proficient in the art of chord substitution, you can borrow the substituions as I do from the [Old] The Real Book lead sheet or other similar fake books. When I'm working on a chord-melody arrangement I often find it helpful to look at several other arrangements before I make my final chord substitution choices.

Chord-melody using vanilla changes

Below you will find a basic chord-melody arrangement of Thomas "Fats" Waller and Harry Brooks' 1929 standard Ain't Misbehavin' using the Vanilla Changes. These stripped-down basic changes are a good starting point to begin adding chord embellishments and substitutions. The progession has been transposed to the key of C instead of the original key of Eb. It's played in a moderate 4/4 tempo.

A

  
    C       C#o7      Dm7    D#o7     C      E7
E-----------3-3---|-----0-----5---|---3-5-3--8-8-7---|
B---1-3-1---2-----|---3---3---4---|---1------5-------|
G---0-------3-----|---2-------5---|---0------7-------|
D---2-------2-----|---3-------4---|---2------6-------|
A---3-------------|---------------|---3--------------|
E-----------------|---------------|------------------|
 1.                2.              3.

   F       Fm        C      A7       Dm7     G7
E--10-8-5--0------|---------3-3--|-----0-----5-5-3---|
B--10------3-4-3--|--1-3-1--2----|---3---3---3-------|
G--10------1------|--0------0----|---2-------4-------|
D--10------3------|--2------2----|---3-------3-------|
A-----------------|--3------0----|-------------------|
E-----------------|--------------|-------------------|
 4.                5.             6.

       E7        A7              D7       G7
E------0---------0--------|------0--------0---------||
B------0---------2--------|------3--------0---------||
G------1---------0--------|------5--------0---------||
D------0---------2--------|------4--------3---------||
A------2---------0--------|------4--------2---------||
E------0------------------|---------------3---------||
 7.                        8.

    CM7     C#o7      Dm7    D#o7     C      E7
E-----------3-3---|-----0-----5---|---3-5-3--8-8-7---|
B---1-3-1---2-----|---3---3---4---|---1------5-------|
G---0-------3-----|---2-------5---|---0------7-------|
D---2-------2-----|---3-------4---|---2------6-------|
A---3-------------|---------------|---3--------------|
E-----------------|---------------|------------------|
 9.                10.             11.

   F       Fm        C      A7       Dm7     G7
E--10-8-5--0------|---------3-3--|-----0-----5-5-3---|
B--10------3-4-3--|--1-3-1--2----|---3---3---3-------|
G--10------1------|--0------0----|---2-------4-------|
D--10------3------|--2------2----|---3-------3-------|
A-----------------|--3------0----|-------------------|
E-----------------|--------------|-------------------|
 12.               13.            14.

         C      Fm               C        E7
E------------------------|--------------------------||
B--------1------1--------|-------1--------1---------||
G--------0------1--------|-------0--------1---------||
D--------2------3--------|-------2--------0---------||
A--------3------3--------|-------3--------2---------||
E---------------1--------|----------------0---------||
 15.                      16.
B
   
   Am           F7           D7           A7
E------------|------------|-----------|--------------|
B--1----1----|--1----1----|--1----1---|---2----2-----|
G--2-2--2-2--|--2-2--2-2--|--2-2--2---|---0-2--0-2---|
D--2----2----|--1----1----|--0----0---|---2----2-----|
A--0----0----|--3----3----|-----------|---0----0-----|
E------------|--1----1----|--2----2---|--------------|
 17.          18.          19.         20.

    G            D7             G7  A7      D7  G7
E------------|--------------|-----------|---0-------||
B---3--3-3---|---3-1--0-----|-----------|---1---3---||
G---0--0-----|---2----2-2---|---0---2---|---2---0---||
D---0--0-----|---0----0-----|---3---2---|---0---3---||
A---2--2-----|--------------|---2---0---|-------2---||
E---3--3-----|---2----2-----|---3-------|-------3---||
 21.          22.            23.         24.
C
    C       C#o7      Dm7    D#o7     C      E7
E-----------3-3---|-----0-----5---|---3-5-3--8-8-7---|
B---1-3-1---2-----|---3---3---4---|---1------5-------|
G---0-------3-----|---2-------5---|---0------7-------|
D---2-------2-----|---3-------4---|---2------6-------|
A---3-------------|---------------|---3--------------|
E-----------------|---------------|------------------|
 25.               26.             27.

   F       Fm        C      A7       Dm7     G7
E--10-8-5--0------|---------3-3--|-----0-----5-5-3---|
B--10------3-4-3--|--1-3-1--2----|---3---3---3-------|
G--10------1------|--0------0----|---2-------4-------|
D--10------3------|--2------2----|---3-------3-------|
A-----------------|--3------0----|-------------------|
E-----------------|--------------|-------------------|
 28.               29.            30.

            C
E-----------8------------|------------(8)-----------||
B-----------8------------|------------(8)-----------||
G-----------9------------|------------(9)-----------||
D------------------------|--------------------------||
A------------------------|--------------------------||
E------------------------|--------------------------||
 31.                      32.

Chord Substitutions for the First Three Bars

Below are several possible substituions I found for the first three bars. The first example substitutes "A7" for the "C#o7" and "G7" for the "D#o7" going back to the original Standard Progression changes.

  
    C6      A7*       Dm7     G7*     C      E7
E-----------3-3---|-----0-----5---|---3-5-3--8-8-7---|
B---1-3-1---2-----|---3---3---3---|---1------5-------|
G---2-------0-----|---2-------4---|---0------7-------|
D---2-------2-----|---3-------3---|---2------6-------|
A---3-------------|---------------|---3--------------|
E-----------------|---------------|------------------|
 1.                2.              3.

  

Chord Substitutions for Next Three Bars

  

Chord Substitutions for the Turnaround

turnaround

  
      CM7       Eo7             Dm7      Do7
E------0---------3--------|------1--------1---------||
B------0---------2--------|------1--------0---------||
G------0---------3--------|------2--------1---------||
D------2---------2--------|------0--------0---------||
A------3------------------|-------------------------||
E-------------------------|-------------------------||
 7.                        8.


Chord Substitutions for the Bridge

Although mastering this form of guitar playing is challenging, a well-rounded guitarist should have at least a basic understanding of this guitar style. You will find that the more you practice arranging in the chord-melody style, the better you will become. Also, the next time someone asks you to play something on your guitar you'll actually be able to play a song or two.

Additional Resources

If you want to learn more about Chord-Melody, take a look at the following lessons:

Chord Melody (Sologuitarist Network)

Chord-Melody 101:part 1:Getting A Grip (WholeNote)

Chord Melody Workout (Maximum Musician)

Guidelines For Constructing A Chord Melody (Jodi Fisher)

Idiot's Guide to Chord-Melody (Guitar Player)

Performing in the Chord-Melody Style (GuitarPeople)

Rules of Chord Melody (Chris Grey)

Solo Guitar Arranging (Vision Music)

Solo Guitar with Chord Melodies - Part I & Part II (GuitarNoise)

Rich Scott, is a singer/songwriter with a degree in education. He is also the owner/webmaster of MoneyChords.com, a popular guitar and chord progressions lessons website. His most recent book is Chord Progressions For Songwriters available on-line from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.



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