View Full Version : chord melody

Adam Tracksler
Mar-04-2006, 6:32am
looking for some resources on creating chord melodys.

I have heard that there is a section in Mike Marshalls book, has anyone worked through it? or have some other recommendations?

Thanks in advance.

Jim Garber
Mar-04-2006, 9:17am
Go to the master: Jethro Burns (http://www.robcoleman.com/jethro/) or check out his book(s) and recordings.


Pete Martin
Mar-09-2006, 2:19pm
Try working out some tunes on your own. Start with simple major and minor folk melodies, then progress to more jazz standards.

Keep the melody note on top (the highest note of the chord). If you work them out on your own, you'll probably learn and remember way more than if you learn them from a book (your ear will be forced to make decisions on what it wants to hear).

Best of luck. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Mar-09-2006, 2:20pm
There are at least two nice chord melody arrangements on Mandozine:

"The Way You Look Tonight" and Reischman's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

The Mike Marshall chord book is limited to a version of Cherokee and from what i remember doesn't really explain chord melody playing per se.

Wayne Fugate's book does have a chapter on how to create chord melody arrangements.

I find John Baxter's chord book to be a big help creating my own arrangements because the chords are "spelled out" so if you are looking for a let's say a Gmaj family chord with a "D" note on the first or second string you can easily find one. Building your own chord arrangements is rewarding AND time consuming.

Also check out Jethro's book as mentioned and the free MP3's out there on Jim Nikora's site.

Mar-09-2006, 5:00pm
It's also worth checking out what guitarists do. They only have 2 more strings than us, and they don't always use 'em.

Quick 'n dirty ideas:

Voice 7th chords rootless, 3rd and 7th in bass. Lets you access melody notes and/or harmony notes on the top 2 strings
Don't fear incomplete chords. You don't need a chord on every beat
Listen to Jethro for effective ideas
Barry Galbraith has a book of nice chord solo arrangements for guitar-worth checking out!
Listen to Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessel, and don't despair at not getting every fat voicing. You can get most of the notes- it's a matter of learning which are the most important ones.
Check www.jazzmando.com for some good insights

Mar-10-2006, 10:06am
John, I have acted upon your advice. I found the the melody and chords for a jazzy version of Alfie at this address: http://www.chordmelody.co.uk/files/alfie.html

It doesn't seem to hard to transpose to the mandolin but it does some a trifle high in parts. Do you think it would be better to move the me melody line down to the second string on the mandolin? Any other ideas about what can be done with the chords please?
On another subject, did you abandon your idea of bringing out a book of Django/Stefan tunes for mandolin? You mentioned this about a year ago.


Mar-12-2006, 10:37am
My advice is to dispense with the tab, i.e. write it out in standard notation. Tab is just a map for a particular instrument (in this case, guitar). You want to apply the musical ideas to the mando, not the tab positions, which obviously will give you different notes!

The arrangement itself looks competent, but I would reiterate the idea of going to the masters such as Martin Taylor, Joe Pass, Wes, Galbraith, (as well as the mando masters like Jethro, Don, Paul etc.) #Even if you don't understand it all, it is most important to listen and hear the sounds.It's probably better to say "oh, yeah!" when you learn a new chord sound because you recognize the sound and can relate to it as something heard in a real-life, rather than theoretical situation.

Look at the chord voicings for guitar and figure out what notes are dispensible. Try stripping it down to the basic chord sound on the bottom two strings with melody on the 2nd string and/or 1st string. You'll learn a lot just from trying out different combinations (you can jot them down as you go or perhaps record snippets to be assembled later).

The Django/Stephane mando book idea is on the back burner at the moment as I have a lot of irons in the fire just now...At the time I started, Michael Horowitz at Djangobooks.com suggested creating the downloadable Gypsy Jazz Mandolin lessons, which seemed to be successful. Hopefully I will live long and be able to do all the projects I have in my head http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif