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Avalon and the Magic of Melody Mastery

MASTER ARPEGGIOS

EXERCISES AND TIPS. DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY!

Avalon and the Magic of Melody Mastery

Avalon and the Magic of Melody Mastery

The original melody itself is a wonderful foundation for improvisation. Playing the melody is an art in itself and it was the source of improvisation in the early days of jazz. Early jazz musicians made playing their own version of a melody into an art. Their own version of the melody was their improvisation!

Django Reinhardt himself often improvised ingenious variations on melodies. In fact, In the Gypsy Jazz genre, Django’s versions of some melodies became the standard versions, better known and more frequently played than the original melodies themselves…

Once you learn to visualize the melody within simple chord shapes that you know well, you can easily and fluently improvise using the notes in those shapes and, because you know where the notes of the melody are at all times, you can integrate quotes from the melody into your improvised solo.

Exercise

  1. Learn to play the melody while pressing each chord shape as pictured above each bar. Eventually, you’ll be playing a simple chord melody solo, a harmonization of the melody. However, your goal in this exercise is not to learn to play a chord melody solo, but to see the melody within the chord shapes.
  2.  When you’ve become familiar with this exercise, try to add notes from the chord shapes to the melody; That will be your first improvisation on this song.

Learning a song

If you want to play a song, the first thing you need to do is to learn it… but what does learning a song involve?
 Two basic elements:

  1. Learning the melody
  2. Learning the chords

 Learning the melody

You can only master a melody by giving it all the time and concentration it needs and deserves.
So, of course, you can just learn to play the melody in one position, in one octave. But, you can then learn to play it in various positions, in at least two octaves, so it won’t matter where you are on the fingerboard at any given moment; the melody will always be at your fingertips. You’ll have developed a closer relationship with it!

 Learning the chords

The same goes for chords; you can only master them by giving them all the time and concentration they need and deserve.
So, of course, you can just learn to play the chords in one position, always playing each chord with the same fingering. But, you can then learn to play the chords in various positions, starting from a different root each time, adding a different tension each time, and actually improvising on the accompaniment.  You’ll have developed a deeper understanding of the chords that’ll help you in every aspect of your playing.

 Improvising on the melody

Having the melody and the chords always at your fingertips allows you to:

  1. Create your own way of playing the melody
  2. Improvise within the melody  
  3. Create an improvisation in which you can hear the melody

Mastering the melody

 It’s very important to master the melody of a song. Mastering the melody will allow you to:

  1. Quote the melody anytime in your improvisation.
  2. Create your own way of playing the melody.
  3. Improvise over the melody.

 In order to achieve these three goals, there are two things that you must always keep in mind:

  1. What chord you are at any given moment (keep the form)
  2. What part of the melody you are at any given moment

 Playing the melody all over the fingerboard

The highest level of playing the melody is to get to a point where, no matter where you are on the fingerboard at any given moment, the melody will always be at your fingertips.

Here are a few things you can do to reach this goal:

  1. Find new ways to play the melody (such as changing attack, timing or dynamics)
  2. Try new positions on the fingerboard
  3. Start at a different string
  4. Play in a lower or higher octave

It’s truly hard to reach this level, but every moment you practice playing the melody is a blessing. It improves your ear and your familiarity with the fingerboard at the same time. 

Mastering the chords

Here’s what you can do to reach this goal:

  1. Play accompaniment to the song using all the chord shapes you know
  2. Improvise with the chords using the skills you already have (play each chord in various positions, starting from a different root each time, adding a different tension each time)

§ TIP: You can also try to sing or whisper the melody while playing the chords. It makes the exercise more fun.

It’s not important to learn new positions right now. Use what you already know! 

Suggested Chords for Avalon

Phrase for C7 (as shown in video)

Phrase for F (as shown in video)