Chord melodies and their importance – Part 2 – What is a chord melody
Chord melodies and their importance – Part 2
(What is a chord melody)
So what exactly is a chord melody?
It is as simple as the name suggests, a passage of music played that simply consists of the melody supported by chords at the same time. The melody in music is the most recognizable part of a song, it is what the singer is singing and is the foreground part of the music texture.
The three things required to make something constitute as a full piece of music, is
- Melody (Which the singer sings or an instrument will play)
- Harmony (Which can be seen as the chords being played)
- Rhythm ( The passing of time in music and articulation)
These 3 elements can be warped in any number of way to create what we deem as music,
from an advanced classical composition (Where melodies and harmonies intertwine and flow at every turn) to a blazing piece of improvised Jazz (Where a solo instrument is hashing out improvised melodies over a piano or guitar accompanying with chords/the harmony), to a rebellious rock song (Where a chap is hashing out the harmony in the form of distorted power chords or riffs, singing a melody with lyrics about something of cultural relevance or a recently departed lover 😉 to a simple singer/songwriter (Strumming a few chords, once again the harmony, on their acoustics and singing the melody over it)
So how can we turn the above mentioned musical contexts into a solo piece of music on our guitars. Quite simple! All you have to do is play the melody and implied chords at the same time whilst maintaining a rhythmic flow and Voila! Instant solo guitar!
Once again and I stress this is not style dependent! You can make a reduction of and take the basic harmonic and melodic outline of a classical piece and turn it into a classical themed chord melody, take a Charlie Parker melody and the chord changes he superimposed it onto and turn it into a jazz themed chord melody, take the melody and chords of the latest pop hit and arrange a pop chord melody, and yes even a piece of death metal if you wished to try! Unless you looking at a drum ensemble or a setting with no harmonic or melodic instrument, most songs will have a harmonic contour (Even a trash metal riff implies a chord or harmonic movement) and a melody.
This opens up a lot of options for the guitar and learning possibilities for anyone who is interested in exploring the instrument out of the standard idiom.
In part 3 of chord melodies, I’m going to discuss how we can use chord melodies to enhance our playing and learning experience.
I will leave you with a link to a Youtube video of a good demonstration of how someone constructs a chord melody with a familiar jazz tune
Enjoy and will see you in a month! 🙂