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Lesson 66: Chordmelody Style/ Chord Soloing

The Block Chord or Chord Melody Style

Writing in the block chord or chord melody style is called concerted writing. A concerted passage is one in which the melody and the harmony lines all play the same rhythm. In basic concerted writing the arranger hangs chord tones below a melody line.

This technique is used for example in big band shout choruses, where the whole band plays a harmonized melody accompanied by the rhythm section. It is also common to play chord melody solos on guitar.

Chords: Diatonic, Secondary Dominant, Diminished and Chromatic

When writing or playing in this style, chord tones are harmonized with the appropriate chord, obviously. When there is a diatonic or chromatic approach or passing note in the melody, you will need an approach/ passing chord. Approach/ passing chords can be:

  • diatonic chords
  • secondary dominant chords
  • diminished chords
  • chromatic chords

Examples

Listen to the concerted sections/ shout choruses of the following tunes:

  • Birdland by Weather Report
  • Don't Get around Much Anymore aka Never No Lament by Duke Ellington
  • Gimme a Break by Tom Forsman
  • Havona by Weather Report
  • The Pink Panther by Henry Mancini
  • Shiny Stockings by Frank Foster
  • Splanky by Neal Hefti
  • This Is for Albert by Wayne Shorter

An Example: The Shout Chorus of Splanky by Neal Hefti

Examples of Concerted Writing in My Compositions

A composition of mine that features a concerted passage is Blue Tango. The B section of Blue Tango is written in this style - all the lines move homorhythmically with the melody. When I wrote this passage, I heard and wrote ( I actually just played it on the guitar) all the lines, the whole chords, at the same time. The chords are first fourths/ quartal harmony, then triads/ tertial harmony and finally fourths/ quartal harmony again.

Another composition of mine that features a concerted passage is Slow Life. The B section of Slow Life is written in this style - all the lines move homorhythmically with the melody. When I wrote this passage, I heard and wrote ( I actually just played it on the guitar) all the lines, the whole chords, at the same time. The chords are seventh chords in drop-2 voicing and one seventh chord in close voicing.

My composition Summer Pursuits also features concerted writing. In Summer Pursuits, the melody in the last C section ( the D section) is harmonized in triads.

My composition Zwölf Uhr also features concerted writing. In Zwölf Uhr, the melody is harmonized in triads and the bass line is contrapuntal. The melody sounds very lush and open and the triads together with the bass line still yield four part harmony.

© 2016 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.