#1
I know this is yet another dumb thread but here goes. You know how guys like Art Tatum cover a song but add lots of fills and fluff. However you'll still be able to identify the tune. How does one go about keeping the melody while embellishing it a lot?

Art Tatum "Somewhere Over The Rainbow". Fun fact: this was probably the first cover of the classic song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuc3MYjBm2U
"I don't know what you're trying to suggest. There's no shame in taking what you need to hold your position!"

Super Buu (DBZ) on assimilation (it could also apply to blues guitar and guitar soloing in general).
#2
He's following the melodic outline of the melody. Often 1 pitch will stand out per bar (typically at a rhythmically strong point, or with obviously longer duration) and often is one of the tones of the tonic chord. He's paying attention to these, but then filling the gaps between.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jan 23, 2016,
#3
I'd like a little more insight on the matter. I'm not really sure how one would go about "filling the gaps between". I'm hoping to learn to improve my improvisation, guitar/bass, and remixing skills at once. I find this skill very admirable. I'm hoping to keep the embellished tune recognizable but also more exciting.

Let's say I'm trying to embellish "Villain of a Sort" (Kingdom Hearts) after transposing it to Am (or whatever the C Major family equivalent would be). It's a fairly repetitive (it's Maleficent's motif) and slow melody so I thought it'd be a good example (I'm also planning on remixing the tune in a little while). All I need to know is the chord progression and some suggestions on embellishment. I know this sounds so weird but I'm curious.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH8IeUsJLZU

Thanks for the tip/minor insight, Jerry.
"I don't know what you're trying to suggest. There's no shame in taking what you need to hold your position!"

Super Buu (DBZ) on assimilation (it could also apply to blues guitar and guitar soloing in general).
#5
Quote by RonaldPoe at #33792695
It's a fairly repetitive (it's Maleficent's motif) and slow melody so I thought it'd be a good example (I'm also planning on remixing the tune in a little while). All I need to know is the chord progression and some suggestions on embellishment. I know this sounds so weird but I'm curious.

i guarantee you that if you put in the time to figure out the melody and underlying harmony on your own, you'll get more out of it than anybody on here can just state for you. even though you may have heard this track plenty of times, you're trying to embellish music that you're not familiar with on a fundamental level and that simply doesn't work.
#6
^This.

If you want to try embellishing some melodies start with something you are familiar with on an instrument you are most familiar with (even I it's singing/humming). Start with something like Mary Had a Little Lamb or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

If it was good enough for Mozart...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4KpBBdwKSs

As stated earlier in this thread outlining the melody using strong notes etc is a common approach.

Stevie Ray Vaughan's version of Little Wing could be seen pretty much as a bunch of variations.

Also using entire melodic fragments and prolonging a melodic idea by inserting extra measures of is common technique before coming back to a familiar melodic fragment is another way that songs are often improvised. (see Jimi Hendrix doing Star Spangled Banner)
Si
#7
Hey Ronald, Long time.

If you look at music and notes, just in general you have notes that cause tension, and notes that release tension. Many times, it's the tension that I consider unique and interesting. So, to me, its about striking that balance.

So, embellishments is about the story you want to tell. Here's the problem though...

Its as unique to you as your own signature.

So if someone asks me, how can I sign Ronald Poe's signature...I havent the slightest idea. Its yours. And each of these answers while right, underlying harmony and such, its more than that...its a creative choice based upon how it sounds, and everyone has a place where they like or gravitate towards a certain degree or maybe even subtleness of tension/outside stuff, and resolution. And that's as unique as your own handwriting.

So do the things that people advise. Also learn what you can and reverse engineer it by examining the underlying harmony, but also realize that what you are hearing isn't just that...it's his musical voice, his experience and knowledge coming together to inform his choices and approach to the guitar.

Best,

Sean
#8
Ronald, that's not the best of tunes to try ... however, it's using the whole tone scale. Against D, the melody goes from #5 (G#), 3 (F#), b5 (Gb), 2 (E).

So you can use augmented triads, as one choice, off any of the melody notes.

So a simple example would be to replace the b5 by a descending D aug (D G# F# D) going back up to the 2 (F#)

Or you could try playing a sequence of descending aug triads, each 2 semitones apart).

or ascending aug triads (each 2 semitones apart).

or b5 outline (1, b5, 1 an octave up) (or reverse). Mix them with the aug triads.

But I really suggest you try using much more obvious, more melodic, tunes using a major key to get into this stuff
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jan 24, 2016,
#9
Quote by 20Tigers
^This.

If you want to try embellishing some melodies start with something you are familiar with on an instrument you are most familiar with (even I it's singing/humming). Start with something like Mary Had a Little Lamb or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

If it was good enough for Mozart...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4KpBBdwKSs

As stated earlier in this thread outlining the melody using strong notes etc is a common approach.

Stevie Ray Vaughan's version of Little Wing could be seen pretty much as a bunch of variations.

Also using entire melodic fragments and prolonging a melodic idea by inserting extra measures of is common technique before coming back to a familiar melodic fragment is another way that songs are often improvised. (see Jimi Hendrix doing Star Spangled Banner)


That's a great set of examples. There's a wealth of ideas to be learned from this.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jan 24, 2016,
#10
Quote by jerrykramskoy
That's a great set of examples. There's a wealth of ideas to be learned from this.


+1000

I agree with this - this is genius, and if you listen to the flurry of notes going on, he still manages to keep us aware of where in the "original" melody the song is still at. This is fascinating stuff.

Great share T

Best,

Sean
#11
Sean, did you honestly expect anything less from Wolfgang Mozart? The guy's a genius with an impeccable ear. Art Tatum is a piano virtuoso with a great ear and blind to boot. The two are magnificent musicians (better than any of us here) and more than deserve to be studied. I agree that the "twinkle Twinkle Little Star" variations are wonderful and clever.

My main problem is keeping the melody recognizable while adding to/embellishing it. I was looking for pointers initially but sometimes it goes back to trial and error. Thanks everyone for the tips and info. Got any suggestions for songs that I would be easily to remix and add embellishments to (doesn't have to be video game tunes as this is primarily practice).
"I don't know what you're trying to suggest. There's no shame in taking what you need to hold your position!"

Super Buu (DBZ) on assimilation (it could also apply to blues guitar and guitar soloing in general).
#12
Quote by jerrykramskoy
Ronald, that's not the best of tunes to try ... however, it's using the whole tone scale. Against D, the melody goes from #5 (G#), 3 (F#), b5 (Gb), 2 (E).

So you can use augmented triads, as one choice, off any of the melody notes.

So a simple example would be to replace the b5 by a descending D aug (D G# F# D) going back up to the 2 (F#)

Or you could try playing a sequence of descending aug triads, each 2 semitones apart).

or ascending aug triads (each 2 semitones apart).

or b5 outline (1, b5, 1 an octave up) (or reverse). Mix them with the aug triads.

But I really suggest you try using much more obvious, more melodic, tunes using a major key to get into this stuff
BEST post reply of 2016 so far!
Really appreciate the relevant examples given from the actual thread (video) posted!
1000+ agree with Sean... Great Share!!
#13
Quote by RonaldPoe at #33794061
Got any suggestions for songs that I would be easily to remix and add embellishments to (doesn't have to be video game tunes as this is primarily practice).

try doing it with music you've written yourself. i did this a few years ago when i wanted to work on some orchestration techniques and couldn't really think of what i wanted to do, then i stumbled across a piano piece i had previously written and decided to go with that.

you have numerous advantages by starting with your own music, namely that you're already more familiar with it than anyone else. while writing you've probably discarded certain ideas along the way that you could revisit while approaching it from another angle as well.
Last edited by :-D at Jan 24, 2016,
#15
D, I love your idea (remixing my own music and/or revisiting discarded song-parts). I found a partially-rejected bassline (the piece it belonged to was rejected) from a few months ago on my computer and decided to finish it/write a song for it (next weekend that is). I'll post it when it's ready (I'm waiting to write the lead and after that it needs to develop). However I would like some more suggestions of pieces to remix but that'll work for now.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions, I appreciate it (no really).
"I don't know what you're trying to suggest. There's no shame in taking what you need to hold your position!"

Super Buu (DBZ) on assimilation (it could also apply to blues guitar and guitar soloing in general).
#16
On the video "Chasing Sound" Les Paul relates how he had a conversation with Miles Davis in the 50's. Miles said he wished he could sell as many records as Les and asked what his secret was. Les said "Play the melody." You can play around the melody but just be conscious that you don't stray too far and come back enough that you are always suggesting the melody in what you are playing.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
#17
RickHolly74, not straying too far and suggesting the melody is the problem I was asking about in the first place. I'm researching this one myself (along with writing music for JRPGs).
"I don't know what you're trying to suggest. There's no shame in taking what you need to hold your position!"

Super Buu (DBZ) on assimilation (it could also apply to blues guitar and guitar soloing in general).
#18
Ronald - stick with only the melody at first, and then choose places intentionally where you will go off it, and then come back. Then ask yourself "does that sound good?" when you listen back. If it does, keep it. You'll also be answering your other concern and that is, staying close to the melody, since you will only deviate where it manages to sound interesting and yet maintain the melodic direction that you've established.

Best,

Sean
#20
This is tough because there isn't really a cut and dried way to think about it (especially because 'losing the melody' is such a personal issue that depends on each listener). The best answer is to find recordings of what you think is a great example of doing so, and then transcribe them, then take tunes and try to re-create that effect. In my mind, the best example of what you are getting at is the Charlie Parker With Strings Record...and the way I would practice embellishing a melody is reducing it to its essentials (either the schenkerian way, if you know how to do that where you remove the notes that are not harmonically important and don't land on strong beats...or a more organic way where you remove notes until you feel like you've lost the melody and then add notes back until you feel like you have it again), and then try to play around with it--playing your reduced melody and singing the regular one in your head, and then improvising around it while you sing the main melody in your head. Maybe play around with some two part inventions (or just bits of one) to try to build the skill of hearing or singing one melody while you play another.
I'd recommend checking out this book (particularly the sections on "auter theory", learning a melody, liquid composition and developing personality and interpretive skills)
http://www.amazon.com/Primacy-Ear-Ran-Blake/dp/0557609127/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454033969&sr=8-1&keywords=primacy+of+the+ear
all the best.
(insert self-aggrandizing quote here)
#21
Quote by tehREALcaptain
This is tough because there isn't really a cut and dried way to think about it (especially because 'losing the melody' is such a personal issue that depends on each listener). The best answer is to find recordings of what you think is a great example of doing so, and then transcribe them, then take tunes and try to re-create that effect. In my mind, the best example of what you are getting at is the Charlie Parker With Strings Record...and the way I would practice embellishing a melody is reducing it to its essentials (either the schenkerian way, if you know how to do that where you remove the notes that are not harmonically important and don't land on strong beats...or a more organic way where you remove notes until you feel like you've lost the melody and then add notes back until you feel like you have it again), and then try to play around with it--playing your reduced melody and singing the regular one in your head, and then improvising around it while you sing the main melody in your head. Maybe play around with some two part inventions (or just bits of one) to try to build the skill of hearing or singing one melody while you play another.
I'd recommend checking out this book (particularly the sections on "auter theory", learning a melody, liquid composition and developing personality and interpretive skills)
http://www.amazon.com/Primacy-Ear-Ran-Blake/dp/0557609127/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454033969&sr=8-1&keywords=primacy+of+the+ear


+1.

Also http://www.amazon.co.uk/Melody-Songwriting-Berklee-Guide-Perricone/dp/063400638X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454061966&sr=8-1&keywords=jack+perricone
#22
What I mean by "losing it" is the point where most people can't recognize the original song. A good example of not losing it is Art Tatum and most the remixes on OCRemix (a great video game remixing site that I hope to one day get a piece on).
"I don't know what you're trying to suggest. There's no shame in taking what you need to hold your position!"

Super Buu (DBZ) on assimilation (it could also apply to blues guitar and guitar soloing in general).