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.