New take on an old Christmas classic

I AM BACK WITH ANOTHER variation of a traditional holiday song: “Joy to the World.” This time, I am using the conventional “Drop D” tuning: i.e., lowering the sixth string one full step from E to D. The key for the song is also in D.

As you’ll note, I’m using a type of jazz-chord voicing technique as opposed to picking out the individual notes for the melody. In this way, I’m harmonizing to the melody as I play it.

This is a relatively short piece on its own, so I have improvised a bit of an intro, including some fret tapping and a little descending major-seventh motif, which I used between the verses as well.


Charting out a jazz tune

Last week, I posted this video of my instrumental cover of the Bacharach-David tune, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” And I received several requests for the chart to my chord changes. So here it is, embedded in this video.

I strongly suggest slowing the video down to half speed, since some of the changes come very rapidly. And of course, you can always pause the video.

And here’s all the chords used in the piece in static view:

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The Melody is in the Chords

It took me awhile as a guitarist to figure this out: If you want to play a melody look inside the chords.

I know, this sounds like a Yoda riddle, but here’s the thing: There are thousands of chords. There are only 12 notes to the scale. Every one of those notes belongs to a chord. This means that as you are playing the chords to a song, you more than likely are playing the notes contained in the melody. It is, of course, possible, that a note here and there is not part of that chord. That’s what makes it interesting.

But it means that you’re likely not more than a note or two away from a root, third, fifth, sixth, ninth, etc. of the chords that you’re playing. So as you play the chords, listen for the notes in the melody, and then work from there.

What’s more, if you learn and know your inversions for all those chords, it’s even more likely you will have the note for the melody you’re looking for as you progress through the song.

This is how you get to play the chords AND the melody simultaneously.

Here’s an example with the classic song from Burt Bacharach and Hal David: “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.”

Underlying walking bass riffs

I’ve written a lot so far about walking the bass lines in your chords. But it’s always worth repeating the value of doing so to keep the momentum moving when you are accompanying yourself on vocals.

This particular riff is what I use for an introduction to the classic “Paper Moon.”

Remember, you can slow down the speed on YouTube to watch the exact chord changes and hand movements. In the bass line, I’m walking the E bass note up to F, then to F# and then over to B.

Again, this is a way to keep the momentum going.

Harmonics and fret tapping

If you’ve been following my blog to date, you no doubt have noticed I love using harmonics and fret tapping as part of my style. Here’s an example where I combine the two techniques to produce some interesting percussive tones.

Don’t forget, if you would like to slow the video down to study the technique more, you can click on the little gear on the lower right side of the YouTube window and pick your speed.

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