View Full Version : Feedback on Chord Melody Arrangement?

PJ Doland
Aug-23-2012, 9:25am
I'm working on a jazz chord-melody arrangement of "Alice in Wonderland" and I was hoping I could get some feedback from some Cafe members. In particular, I'd like to know if anybody has any improvements to the voicings I've chosen.

Here's a link to a PDF (http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4033387/120823-alice_in_wonderland.pdf) of the current version.

Bruce Clausen
Aug-23-2012, 11:58am
Great project! Neat tune and some really nice moves in your arrangement. You're working from Bill Evans' version?

Main question for me with this kind of arranging is whether I'm looking for a complete solo version, or something I'll be playing with a bass player or a guitarist supplying background. It's really tricky on mandolin to get full jazz harmonies and nice voice leading. When the range limits you to chords with only two or three notes, there's always some ambiguity. For example, what is the implied chord in the first bar? Dm7, right? I think your solution (A-G) is good. Or you could try C-D-G, by splitting the D course. I might follow it with G7 played 4353, then C or Cmaj7 played 5520. It's still a II-V-I, but you get a melodic move in the bass.

Some other little details: In bars 6 and 7, chords must be E7 to Am; it'd be nice to hear an A in the Am. If you want Am7, try 5500. (I notice in general you seem to avoid open string chords; but they can give you some nice full voicings.) Bars 8 and 9: why not follow that Bb with A in the bass of the Dm chord? Fills out the harmony and gives a melodic line Bb-A-B nat. in the bass. Is the chord in bar 12 Am7? Here too I'd want to hear an A. But if you're playing with someone else doing chords or bass line, then these points are not real problems.

Nice chords at the end of the bridge!

Hope you'll give us a chance to hear you play this.

PJ Doland
Aug-23-2012, 1:01pm
I am working (very loosely) from the Bill Evans version.

I'd like this to stand on it's own, as a solo version, but I recognize how difficult that is, given the limited polyphony of a mandolin and the harmony I'm trying to imply.

I'm going to try out all of your suggestions, along with whatever else anybody brings up. Once I get the arrangement settled, I'll post a video of the final version.

I'm toying with the idea of trying to do this with a number of older Disney songs (Someday My Prince Will Come, When You Wish Upon a Star, etc.).

PJ Doland
Aug-24-2012, 9:33am
Here's a link (http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4033387/120824-alice_in_wonderland.pdf) to a revised version of the PDF, incorporating most of the changes suggested by Bruce Clausen (which improved the voice leading on the bass noticeably).

Can anyone else take a look and provide additional feedback?

Bruce Clausen
Aug-24-2012, 2:46pm
Nice, PJ! I listened to the Bill Evans a little and noticed a few things. Hope you won't mind a few more suggestions.

In 11 & 12, the original chords are probably C to Am; Bill plays Cmaj9 to A7alt (I'm hearing c#,f and bb in there). Could be played on mando as 5020 to 6888. But there's loads of other I-VI or III-VI choices.

Bridge (33) starts on D7b5 Scottie plays low Ab. On mando you could play 145x there, leading nicely to your G9. Then maybe Em7 (x253), leading to your Am7.

At 41, the chord should probably be F#m7b5 (with c nat.). I'd suggest 2232, then 4768 for B7b9 (not sure if that's the chord you're hearing there). Then Em7 (maybe x257, or 0257 if you want a low bass note there), to A7b9 (6510 would work).

(By the way, the chord in bar 4 (etc.) seems to be Fmaj9 or F/C. Not sure how that Eb got in there. I don't think you're playing it anyway.)

Just a few thoughts. Feel free to take them or leave them.

Aug-25-2012, 5:56am
I say, Bruce, would you mind playing it for us please?

PJ Doland
Aug-29-2012, 8:12pm
I've gone ahead and incorporated most (but not all) of Bruce's suggestions in a new version, which also reflects a few other changes I've made to several voicings. Here is a link (http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4033387/120829-alice_in_wonderland.pdf) to the newest PDF.

As always, any additional feedback would be appreciated.

Bruce Clausen
Aug-31-2012, 6:09pm
Excellent arrangement, PJ. Nice to see someone really working with the details of a tune on mandolin. We'll be watching this space for that video.