Check out these songs featured in the Chord Melody Mandolin course.
The first chord melody arrangement you’ll learn is for the 1920s jazz standard “Deed I Do.” It’s in the key of C and follows a standard 32-bar AABA form. Aaron walks you through his arrangement, explaining some of his arrangement and voicing choices and how he’s combined melody notes with the basic voicings you already learned. He also explains his single-note approach to the bridge of “Deed I Do,” in which he punctuates the melody with just a few chords.
In his arrangement of the jazz standard “Fine and Dandy” Aaron looks at how to exploit bass-note movement in chord voicings. He starts by talking about how to decide the right register to choose for a chord melody arrangement of a song. Then he walks you through the song phrase by phrase, explaining some of his chord-melody arrangement ideas as he goes.
“I Got Rhythm” is one of the most popular jazz standards in the jazz canon, and its chord progression has been used as the basis for many other tunes. Aaron’s arrangement takes a “big band” approach, combining chordal hits with the melody. “I Got Rhythm” is in AABA form, so the second A is the same as the first, but Aaron gives you a variation of the chordal hits for the second A part. The bridge of Aaron’s arrangement of “I Got Rhythm” takes a more traditional chord melody approach, and the last A part is similar to the first two A’s but with a two-bar tag. You’ll also learn a variation, in which you play the hits as single notes and the melody in chords.
Aaron’s chord melody arrangement of the jazz standard “Comes Love” is similar to that of “I Got Rhythm” in that he inserts chordal hits into the melody, rather than playing a chord for every melody note, and he takes a more traditional chord melody approach on the bridge.
Aaron plays the jazz standard “Almost Like Being in Love” as a rubato ballad, which is a great way to let the voicings you’re playing ring out and exploit the bass movement of the chords. He walks you through the melody and chord voicings, showing you how he articulates them in different ways, often by emphasizing the bass notes.
George Gershwin’s “Lady Be Good” is one of the most popular songs in the Great American Songbook and is also a favorite of mandolin players. Aaron’s arrangement starts with a short chordal introduction and then follows the melody with a standard chord melody arrangement, using different kinds of articulations of bass, melody, and chords.
Aaron’s arrangement of the jazz standard “Jeepers Creepers” incorporates many of the chord melody techniques you’ve learned in previous lessons. He starts with a rubato version of the first A section, with attention to the bass line, and then goes into tempo, playing bass and chords as he would if he were playing rhythm, but with the melody on the top of the chord. In the bridge, he approaches the melody with more syncopation. The C section is nearly identical to the A section, but with a tag, so Aaron takes advantage of the repeated melody to change the harmony of the first and fifth bars.
Aaron talks about creating introductions for songs and shows you how to play intros to three of the songs you’ve learned: “Deed I Do,” “Fine and Dandy,” and “I Got Rhythm.” He begins by talking about his general philosophy of intros: that they should get everyone in the mood to play the song you’re about to play. There are many ways to do this, from establishing the basic tempo and feel to referencing the melody and chord changes of the song. Aaron gives you examples of intros for each tune.
The jazz standard “Perdido,” which was written by Duke Ellington’s trombonist Juan Tizol, is a jam session favorite. Aaron’s arrangement includes a sixteen-bar introduction and ending, and his arrangement of both parts features chordal hits punctuating the single-string melody.
“All of Me” is a very popular jazz standard, written in the 1930s and recorded countless times, most notably perhaps by Billie Holiday with Lester Young in 1941. It’s in the key of C and has an AB form, and the melody often is the top note of chord voicings you’ve already learned. Aaron walks you through his arrangement phrase by phrase, and then gives you ideas for intros to “All of Me.”
The jazz standard “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” is a jam session favorite. It’s in the key of G and Aaron takes a traditional chord melody approach to his arrangement. He also gives you ideas for intros you can use for “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” starting by showing you how to use the last eight bars of the tune as an intro.
“I Know That You Know” is a jazz standard most famously recorded by Nat King Cole. Aaron’s arrangement, at least at the beginning, takes a different approach to chord melody than he’s shown you so far, arpeggiating the chords rather than playing block chords. The song has an AB form, and the first six bars of the B are the same as the first six bars of the A, so Aaron plays the B with a more traditional chord melody approach.
“After You’ve Gone” is one of the most enduring jazz standards, having been written in 1918, recorded hundreds of times since then, and still very popular with jazz musicians today. It has an AB form, but with an eight-bar tag, making it a forty-measure form. Aaron’s arrangement is based on what a big band might do—alternating single-note melodic lines with chordal hits.
The jazz standard “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” was made famous in the 1930s by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Aaron’s arrangement combines short melodic lines that outline the underlying chords with many of the chord melody voicings you’ve already learned. “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” has an AABC form. The C part is a repeat of the A part with an additional four-bar tag.
George Gershwin’s “Liza” is a perfect song for chord melody, since so many of the melody notes are the top notes of the chord, in most cases chord voicings you already know. Aaron’s arrangement starts with block chords and then alternates between chords and single-note lines. “Liza” has an AABA form, and on the second A, Aaron uses the same chord voicings but alternates the melody with chord hits in the first two bars.
“This Can’t Be Love” was written in 1938 by Rodgers and Hart for the musical The Boys from Syracuse, and it was a hit for the Benny Goodman orchestra soon afterward. It’s in the key of F, with an AABA form, and Aaron’s arrangement features a lot of block chords, using a chord for every, or nearly every, melody note. In addition to showing you his chord melody arrangement, Aaron gives you ideas intros you can use for “This Can’t Be Love,” starting with intros based on the melody and then based on the key center.
The jazz standard “How About You?” was written by Burton Lane and Ralph Freed for the 1941 film Babes of Broadway, starring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, and was notably recorded by Frank Sinatra on his classic Songs for Swingin’ Lovers. Aaron’s arrangement is in the key of C and features single-note lines combined with block chords. It has an AB form, and the B repeats the first section of the A, although there’s not a lot of repetition, and when there is repetition in the melody, Aaron often changes the harmonization.
The jazz standard “Misty” was written in 1954 by jazz pianist Erroll Garner. Aaron’s arrangement is a bit different than the other arrangements you’ve learned. In this case, Aaron plays the entire arrangement rubato: out of time or without an obvious pulse. To match the melody with the chords, some of the voicings Aaron uses require some difficult stretches, but he shows you how to think of the chords as just melody notes on top of basic two- or three-note chord voicings you already know.
The 1920s jazz classic “Limehouse Blues” is popular in the Gypsy jazz and swing repertoire. “Limehouse Blues” is often played at a very fast tempo, so Aaron’s arrangement reflects that, and it begins with an introduction based on descending dominant seven chords. In addition to walking you through his basic arrangement, Aaron also gives you ideas on varying the arrangement in rhythmic ways: by emphasizing the bass notes or melody or chord, placing the chord on different beats, etc.
“Satin Doll” is one of Duke Ellington’s most popular songs, and one of the most popular jazz standards. The form of “Satin Doll” is AABA, and, as he does in many of his arrangements, Aaron approaches each A part differently. For example, in the first A part, he starts low on the fingerboard with two- and three-note block voicings, and in the second A part he separates the lower (bass) note of the voicings from the melody.
The jazz standard “Just Friends” is played in many ways: as an uptempo swing tune, as a ballad, etc. In this lesson, Aaron shows you a ballad version of “Just Friends” and uses it to show you some of the ways he plays rubato.
The Duke Ellington tune “C Jam Blues,” as you might have gathered from the title, is a blues in the key of C that is often played at jam sessions. Aaron’s chord melody arrangement starts with the melody and includes two variations that create different rhythmic riffs using block chords.
“Autumn Leaves” is one of the most popular jazz standards. Aaron’s arrangement (in the key of G minor) starts with a rubato treatment of the first half and then goes into time (a tempo) for the second half. Aaron starts by explaining what guided his interpretive choices before walking you through the arrangement phrase by phrase.
The jazz standard “I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love with Me” was written in 1926 and made popular through recordings by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, among others. It has an AABA form, and Aaron’s arrangement treats each A part in a different way. For his arrangement of the bridge of “I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love with Me,” Aaron uses a riff on the chords and ignores the melody.
“Exactly Like You” was written by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields in 1930 and has since become one of the most played jazz standards, with memorable recorded versions by Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Django Reinhardt, Ella Fitzgerald, and many others. Aaron’s arrangement uses a lot of ii7–V7 progressions, and he explains how you can use ii7–V7 changes as substitutions to move to the next chord in a progression.
The Duke Ellington song “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” is one of the most popular jazz standards. It’s usually played with a figure from the rhythm section that responds to the vocal melody, and Aaron incorporates that figure into his chord melody arrangement.
“September in the Rain” is a popular jazz ballad that was written in 1937 by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, and has since become a jazz standard, with popular recordings by George Shearing and Dinah Washington in the 1950s and ‘60s. Aaron approaches his arrangement in a traditional chord-melody fashion.
Billie Holiday recorded probably the most well-known version of the Benny Goodman composition “If Dreams Come True” but there are many other great versions as well. Aaron’s arrangement of “If Dreams Come True” starts with a classic chord melody approach with the melody on top in block chords, and then Aaron starts adding variations: arpeggiating the chord, emphasizing bass movement, etc.
“Pennies from Heaven,” one of the most popular jazz standards, was introduced by Bing Crosby in the 1936 film of the same name, and recorded by Billie Holiday in the same year. Aaron starts his arrangement of “Pennies from Heaven” with a standard chord-melody treatment and then varies things with some single-note melodic lines and bass lines punctuated by chordal hits.
Aaron shows you four different intros to “Pennies from Heaven” in this lesson. Each intro takes a different approach: playing the last eight bars of the melody, using the chords of the last eight bars with a rhythmic figure, pedaling on a V7 chord, and playing a series of turnarounds.
The jazz standard “On the Sunny Side of the Street” was written in 1930 by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields, and has been recorded by innumerable musicians. On the mandolin, it starts with a big leap: from the third fret G note on the E string to an E7 chord at the 12th fret. Aaron approaches the A parts of “On the Sunny Side of the Street” in standard chord melody fashion, combining single-note melody lines with chords, but he adds a walking bass to his arrangement of the bridge.
“Sweet Sue” is a popular song from the 1920s (full title, “Sweet Sue, Just You”) that became a jazz standard and has been recorded by numerous jazz icons (Django Reinhardt, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, etc.). It has a simple melody, in the key of G, and has an AABA form, which allows for a lot of possibilities for variations.
“Just Me, Just You” was written for the 1929 musical film Marianne and Cliff (“Ukulele Ike”) Edwards had a popular hit with it in that same year. It’s since become a jazz standard with numerous recordings. It has the standard AABA 32-bar form, so you have the opportunity to approach the A parts in different ways.
Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose” is one of the most popular tunes in the history of jazz, and is played by everyone, everywhere, all the time. It’s in the key of F, and has an AABA form.
Aaron shows you four different intros you can use for “Honeysuckle Rose” and tunes like it. Each intro takes a different approach: using a piece of the melody, playing a common “shout chorus” for “Honeysuckle Rose,” repeating a simple turnaround with variations, and playing a chord progression that leads to the start of the tune.
The George and Ira Gerswhin song “A Foggy Day” was originally titled “A Foggy Day in London Town” and was sung by Fred Astaire in the 1937 film Damsel in Distress. Aaron’s arrangement of “A Foggy Day” is meant to be played as a rubato ballad.
Aaron shows you four different intros you can use for the swing jazz favorite “Lady Be Good.” Each intro takes a different approach: repeating the first part of the melody over the chord progression of the first eight bars of “Lady Be Good,” playing a repeating rhythmic figure over that progression, playing a iii7–VI7–ii7–V7 progression, and more.
Cole Porter wrote “Just One of Those Things” in 1935 for the musical Jubilee, and it has since become a favorite of jazz and popular singers, with numerous recordings, including a version by Peggy Lee that reached #14 on the Billboard charts in 1952. It has a more unusual form than most of the standards you’ve been learning. The AABA form is 64 bars long and the sections are 16 bars long, with 16-bar A parts in D minor and a bridge with eight bars in Eb and eight bars in C major, before a return to D minor in the last A part.
The beautiful song “Till There Was You” was written for the popular 1950s musical The Music Man, and was also recorded by the Beatles. It has a standard 32-bar AABA form, and Aaron plays it as a rubato ballad.
Aaron shows you four different intros you can use for “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” The first two intros start with a bit of the melody and the last eight bars of the chord progression. The third intro uses the chord progression of the last eight bars but with a more rhythmic approach, and the fourth intro uses a different chord progression and a bit of walking bass.
“For Dancers Only” is a well-known big-band tune that comes from Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra and was written by Sy Oliver, a trumpeter in Lunceford’s band. It’s a riff tune in the key of C and the melody works well with the standard chord voicings you’ve been using.
The beautiful ballad “I Remember You” was written in 1941 by Victor Scherzinger and Johnny Mercer and was originally recorded by Jimmy Dorsey. Dorothy Lamour sang it with the Jimmy Dorsey orchestra in the movie “The Fleet’s In” and it’s been recorded by numerous people, including the Beatles and Bjork.
Aaron shows you four different intros for “I Got Rhythm,” which can be used to kickoff not only the Gershwin standard, but all of the tunes and songs based on the song’s chord progression, commonly called “rhythm changes.” For that reason, the intros Aaron shows you are based more on the chord progression than the melody.
The 32-bar swing tune “Crazy Rhythm” was written in 1928 for the Broadway musical Here’s Howe and became a swing and big band standard, with numerous recordings, including one by Django Reinhardt, Coleman Hawkins, and Benny Carter.
“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” was composed by Duke Ellington in 1931 and soon became a jazz standard, with recordings by numerous musicians, including Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli. It’s in the key of G minor and has an AABA format.
The jazz standard “The Blue Room” was composed by Rodgers and Hart for the 1926 musical The Girlfriend. It has a standard 32-bar form. Aaron approaches his arrangement a little differently at times in order to match the phrasing of the melody, playing the melody on the first two beats of the bar and the chord on the third and fourth beats.
The beautiful jazz standard “East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)” was written in 1934 for a Princeton University stage production, and it became a hallmark of one of Princeton’s a cappella groups. It has been recorded numerous times, by artists including Charlie Parker, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, and many others. It’s in the key of G, and Aaron approaches it in a classic chord melody style.
“How Am I to Know?” was written in 1929 by Jack King with lyrics by Dorothy Parker. There are numerous recordings of this jazz standard, including one by the Frankie Trumbauer Orchestra that features guitarist Eddie Lang. “How Am I to Know” has an interesting chord progression and a melody with many long notes, which allowed Aaron to create an arrangement in which he plays the melody along with a rhythm-section part.
Aaron shows you four different intros for “All of Me,” two of which are based on the chords and melody of the last eight measures of the song and two of which use the chords and melody of the beginning of “All of Me.”
The beautiful ballad “What’ll I Do” was written by Irving Berlin in 1923. It was recorded by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, and since then it has been recorded by numerous singers, including Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, and even Bob Dylan. Aaron plays “What’ll I Do” simply and slowly (rubato) to put a focus on the melody.
The old standard “My Buddy” was written by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn and published in 1922. It was used in the 1927 silent film Wings, which won the first Academy Award for Best Picture. The melody to “My Buddy” is a bit repetitive and has a lot of whole notes. Aaron’s arrangement highlights a few different ways to deal with long notes, including playing rhythm figures with the chords.
“Makin’ Whoopee” was written by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn for the 1928 musical Whoopee! Notable recorded versions include those by Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra (on the classic Songs for Swingin’ Lovers) and Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald (on their duet album).