Counterpoint & Chord Melody, Sussex Jazz Guitar School

Sussex Jazz guitar school 26th October class will be dealing with developing chord melody arrangements on the guitar with an emphasis on independently moving lines, ie counterpoint ideas.  We looked at various contrapuntal devices in the last class, by exploring how we can outline the harmony of a given tune using roots, 3rds and 7ths and moving these voices around using counterpoint in the bass, inner voice and treble resisters.  What we are aiming for is being able to create chord melody arrangements on the guitar and also to IMPROVISE choruses of a tune using these ideas.  We will look at the conventional way most guitarists approach chord melody by thrashing out big chords with the melody on the top and then look at the contrasting method of moving the voices around and resolving important chord tones so we are tackling the tune in a more Baroque fashion.  After all, when Bach composed many of his scores in an improvised fashion, he was a phenomenal improviser and as I mentioned in the last Sussex Jazz Guitar School class, he was one of the original jazzers!

We will outline the harmony of a jazz standard by using these moving voices rather than whacking out chunky chords.  I will show the students a series of exercises to get your counterpoint ideas going and which will also create independent finger movements as your fingers will be going in all sorts of strange directions to each other!  Through playing Bach pieces, I have analysed cadence patterns counterpoint movements and developed some pretty rigorous exercises which can be applied to jazz standards.

If you listen to classical guitar pieces, you won’t often hear a new big 5 or 6 string chord for each bar with the melody shoved on top.  You will quite often hear only 2 or 3 notes played at a time, with single note voices weaved through the chord progression to define the harmony of the tune.  That’s what we are aiming for in these classes.  These ideas can be used in solo jazz guitar settings as well as in the jazz trio or quartet format.

I would suggest listening to the Bach Lute Suites on guitar.  In fact I have just received this morning the complete RCA album collection box set of Julian Bream, so will be engrossing myself in his baroque recordings this week!  As for applying it to jazz guitar, check out the great unsung genius of solo jazz guitar Ted Greene!  Here’s a video of his below, he was an amazing player and an inspiration if you want to get improvising on the jazz guitar in this way!

For those students already signed up for the 26th October class, I will send you the prep work in the next day or so.  For those of you interested in this next jazz guitar class, it’s less than 2 weeks away so please book in advance to secure your place on the course.  Each time (Monthly class), we have been filled to capacity due to the popularity of the classes so give me an email or call if you need the sign up info!

As always, the class will have differentiated activities within the same concept we happen to be exploring that day!  So if it sounds daunting, don’t worry, I’m not expecting you to sound like Ted Greene, we are just working towards developing a more sophisticated sound on the guitar!  It’s at the Brunswick Pub, Saturday 26th Oct, 11am until 1;30pm.  Thats 2.5 hours of rigorous, no nonsense, inspiring Jazz Guitar tuition!
Any guitarists who wish to book a private lesson beforehand to brush up on materials in preparation for the group class can do so.

I’ll be in touch will the prep work and see you on the 26th for some Baroque n Roll!

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