Video Lesson: Turn Any Tune Into a Chord-Melody Solo

From the July/August 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar | By Greg Ruby


You want to create a chord-melody arrangement based on your favorite rendition of a song but don’t know where to begin. 


Adapt a transcription by using chord-melody voicings for the longer melody notes and thirds or single notes on the quicker passages. Try this approach to make a chord-melody version of Django Reinhardt’s iconic interpretation of “I’ll See You in My Dreams.” 


The first step is to find an accurate transcription of the piece you want to adapt and learn. While making the transcription yourself is highly recommended, there are typically many available online and in print. The next step is to spend time learning to play along with the original recording. By doing so, you internalize the rhythms, phrasing, dynamics, chord progression, and note choice. I recommend slowing the recording down to an attainable speed. There are plenty of apps and computer programs available that can decrease the tempo of a recording without changing its pitch (even YouTube—just click on the gear icon on any video to find variable playback speed). Once you can play side by side with your favorite musician, you are ready for the next step.


Observe the highest and lowest notes of the transcription. It is a good idea to keep the range between the third-fret D on string 2 and the 12th-fret E on string 1. Sometimes, you will need to transpose in order to play the melody withi

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