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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Guitar arrangements: How to do them (2)

The arrangement up to now is starting to sound decent. Played as written however it sounds a little "classical". Not to put classical music or guitarrists down...maybe I should say it doesn't sound like jazz. Let's look at different ways to make this sound hipper. We'll work on the bass part first because bass players (good ones) add alot of movement and interest to any musical piece.

The most basic bass part, like the one that's in the previous arrangement, plays the root (or tonic note) on beat one of every new bar. A more interesting bass line would have the bassist playing on beats one and three of every bar. On beat one the bass would play the root and on beat three (for now) the note played will be the 5th of the chord being played at that moment. (The 5th of a chord is determined by counting up 5 notes from the root which is 1. So, for the first chord of our arrangement, which is Fm7, the root is "F", which is played on the fifth string. The 5th of "F" is "C". (F=1 [Root]; G=2; Ab=3; Bb=4; C=5; etc...). Now I'll show you how the 5th of each chord is played in the arrangement we've done so far.

Take care to hold each note and give it its full value. Notice that in some chords you're holding down notes while others are being played. Here is where you need to work on finger independance if you don't have that down yet.

Guitar arrangements: How to do them (1)

I've always liked solo guitar chord melody playing. It's like a puzzle that has several different pieces that fit to make the big picture and depending on what pieces you choose, your big picture will look a little different than if the same puzzle was done by another guitarrist.

I'm going to do a step by step arrangement of the jazz standard "All the things you are". I'll try to make it progressive, from beginner to advanced. Remember if you have questions send them to me. I might take some concepts for granted and assume that you know them and that's wrong.

I'm going to start with the first four bars (measures) of the tune. The way the tune appears in fake books is like this (click on the image to make it bigger):

Since guitar is a transposable instrument (like trumpets and saxes) if we played what is written above then it sounds too low, so the first thing we need to do when making an arrangement for guitar is transpose the melody up an octave. That gives us:

So far we don't have anything that resembles a chord melody, that's the next step. When doing chord melodies you must keep in mind the chord that's supposed to be sounding at the moment the melody is being played. Think of the guitar as being a bass (low end), piano (harmony), and sax (melody) players all in one. That's quite a challenge! So, we want the root (tonic) of the chord on the 5th or 6th string (because they sound the lowest), the melody on the 1st or 2nd string (they sound the highest and best bring out the melody) and the harmony somewhere in the middle. These are guidelines that can change depending on the arrangement or effect desired. Nothing in music is written in stone.
You will soon find out that there are several ways to harmonize bass, chords and melody. I'll do one, which is usually the one I use the most, but that doesn't mean it's the "best" or the "right" way. Farther on down the line I'll go into variations on harmonizations. Do whatever works and sounds best to you.

The above arrangement is made to be played with all 5 fingers of the right hand, in other words without a pick (plectrum). If you're using a pick, then the Bbm7 in the second bar can't be played completely, you'd have to leave out a string in the middle. Don't let this discourage you, experiment, the arrangement will still sound good!

Guitarra Jazz Rítmica: El Arte de Acompañar.

Ya a la venta,
Guitarra Jazz Rítmica: El Arte de Acompañar. ¡EN ESPAÑOL! Este libro te convertirá en un guitarrista avanzado en cuanto a conocimientos de armonía y teoría en el mástil y te enseñará como emplear en la vida real los conceptos explicados en él. Te convertiras en un guitarrista muy solicitado. Con ejemplos prácticos en notación musical y TAB. Ver en la columna izquierda bajo "libros" para ver el índice y contenido del libro.

Este libro es una compilación de mis años de estudio tanto a nivel universitario como profesional e individual. Expongo lo que he aprendido en la práctica, por lo tanto, todo en este libro es de gran utilidad.

Si siempre tocas los mismos acordes y te falta variedad rítmica, armónica y melódica en tu forma de tocar, éste es el libro que te abrirá nuevos horizontes y ampliará enormemente tus conocimientos del mástil.

En la columna de la izquierda de este blog busca el nombre del libro (Guitarra Jazz Rítmica: El Arte de Acompañar) y pincha (clic) sobre él para ver algunos ejemplos del libro. El libro contiene 80 páginas.

Precio: 30€. Se paga por giro postal (o similar, Western Union, etc...), ingreso a cuenta bancaria (España solamente) y cuando reciba el pago recibirás por email el libro en formato PDF. Si prefieres el libro en papel y encuadernado, consulta para los gastos de envío y encuadernación.

Interesados pueden contactarme enviando un e-mail a Como referencia poned el título del libro.