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Home Help Forums Lesson Help And I Love Her Lesson on arranging tunes in this style? Reply To: Lesson on arranging tunes in this style?

Leon White
Post count: 2

Thank you for your question. The answer is “yes, Chord Systems is set up to facilitate chord melody arranging.” You’re the first person to make that connection in public and it surprised me. The stringset idea, along with systematic inversions and chord substitution are the three components that intersect at creating (or arranging or improving) chord melody songs.
I teach that, but I have not written anything more on the subject. There are a number of short explanations on the internet that sort of get at the approach, but without specifying how to select the chord voicing. They look something like this:
1. Pick a song you want to play and a style or tempo you want to include
2. Place it in a key that keeps the melody on the top two strings of the guitar, and that is a friendly key (not Db if possible)
4. Get the melody into your head through repeated playing
5. If you write notation you may wish to write the results down
6. Look at the original chords provided (in the new key) and try to roughly play some version of the
chord in the places the original melody had them. (Or where you think they sound good.)
7. The melody should be the top voice of the chord, so adjust fingerings til you have that. Probably
at least two chords per measure but could be more or less.
8. This should give you a basic chord melody arrangement, but perhaps not really interesting.
9. You may have to move the melody to a new location to get a chord sound you really like. (Like up
the neck on the 2nd string instead of down the neck on the 1st string)
10. Using Chord Systems, search for voicings you wish to try (looking and listening to what you’re
want – its a personal choice). (Big subject here as to what matters – I can’t start to outline
11. Start using chord systems fingerings to support some idea – like walking bass, or quick trebly
chords ala Herb Ellis in a trio setting, or one of Ted Greene’s many styles, or ?
12. Use the systematic inversions to connect or extend a chord sound; use the chord substitution
rules to add or replace chords, and keep at it.

There is much more, however, to get a Dan Sawyer level arrangement. Dan plays many instruments and works as a composer and arranger aside from his guitar playing. So, he’s drawing on a lot of different sounds and ideas.

The end of Chord systems has an example of ‘dressing up’ a simple arrangement via back cycling and a bit more. That could show you how to add chord substitutions. There are a lot of ideas you can use.

Good Luck,

Leon White

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