What if I told you that you could play a rich Ted Greene-style jazz arrangement in just seven minutes? Here's the proof that this is possible.
If you have worked on Jazz Chord Melodies you know how complex it is to play them successfully. The standard way of learning a Chord Melody arrangement is to focus on the first three or four bars, master them, and keep adding more bars until you're done.
In this article we are introducing a more effective approach. I will show you how we can learn incrementally by adding layers of notes, starting from the single line melody, adding ‘voices’ until we have 4-part jazz harmony arrangement. You will also notice that each level makes musical sense by itself, so you can stop practicing and perform with a single ‘voice’ or two – whatever you want to share with your friends and family. This system allows for each player to choose their skill level. Here is a description of the levels.
Beginner level: Melody. The first and most important part of a song is the melody. That is your focus when playing any piece. And the positions you learn for the melody will prepare you for the more complex levels.
Intermediate level: Melody and bass. Here’s a two-part harmony section where the notes in the bass start to define the chord progressions in the next two levels. Most of the notes in the bass are the root of the chord, but some very interesting spots use chords in inversion.
Advanced level: In this level really create jazz harmony by adding an extra note in an Inner Voice or Counter Melody. This extra voice is either a part of the main triad or a tension note. It’s very difficult to play a five-note chord on the guitar, so we need to simplify and pick the notes that define the harmony of the piece, and this level is a good example for that.
Prodigy level: Full four-voice jazz harmony.
This re-harmonization of "Jingle Bells" is inspired by the style of jazz master Ted Greene (1946-2005), author of influential harmony books like "Chord Chemistry" and "Modern Chord Progressions". While preparing for this article I discovered an arrangement that Ted Greene wrote for one of his students, and it inspired me to write this one. Here's the arrangement I found.
Hopefully it will inspire you too and we will keep circulating Ted Greene’s legacy. If you would like to learn more about Ted Greene, you can visit www.tedgreene.com.