Chord scale melody of tune relationship

Question by John McGee
(Los Angeles)

Hi, I first want to say I really enjoy watching you videos, you are certainly a gifted teacher and performer. I appreciate all the insight. I graduated Musician’s Institute in Hollywood in 96′

Here is trouble: I am trying to get my own finger style chord melody arrangements established. I am having some what of a feeling of anxiety, because in trying to find a voicing that will bring out the melody of the tune is not working, I think primary because of neglecting to have a complete understanding of chordal harmony and the appropriate voicings.

Q: What would be a great primer to close the gap in getting nice textured jazz voicings for the melody?

I am wanting to get my own arrangement of Misty, and My funny Valentine. I understand that the melody is key in establishing what key, and what extensions an or alterations that will best suit/fit the tune, and pretty much left up to the individual arranger for his or her own interpretation.

I really do not want to use other peoples chord melody arrangement, because that is how they feel. So I want to express how I feel utilizing what voicings best describe my moments.

Thank you in advance,

John McGee
Los Angeles,

M-A’s Answer:
Hello John,

This is a rather “big” and complex question and, without hearing you play at first, it will be hard for me to suggest anything specific to practice to “fill your gap” so to speak.

Anyhow, here’s food for thoughts:

For you, it’s probably a good idea to start exploring the melodic possibilities withing simple chord shapes. It is also a good idea to be aware of diatonic chords (in key), have them at your fingertips for the tune at hand.

Also, whenever you are trying a “new chord” to accommodate a given melody you might want to give it a fair shake before you move on. Even if it doesn’t work at the present moment, you may come back to it for another tune. You know what I mean? Be careful and analytical; extract as much juice you can from all the voicings you come across.

As a side note, I would highly recommend you try other people’s chord melodies anyways… it’s just good training for ears a fingers. You may rework them a bit, but remember : it’s invaluable to imitate other great players. It serves as your training ground.

Lastly : do a lot of it! If you somehow obsess (a little) about it, chord melody will be within your reach very quickly. Great quote :

“Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough.” -GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER

Practice Well,
Marc-Andre Seguin

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