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Chord Melody Mandolin
with Aaron Weinstein
 
 
About This Course
 
Learn how to combine chords and melody to play jazz standards in the style pioneered by jazz mandolinist Jethro Burns and guitarists like Joe Pass and Bucky Pizzarelli.
 
 
Try a Sample Lesson
 
Your fretting hand determines the notes you’re playing but your picking hand determines how those notes (and chords) are articulated. Aaron shows you how to create different sounds with the two progressions you learned in Part 1 by separating the chord and melody notes in different rhythmic ways, for example, playing the melody note before the full chord, or the bass note before the full chord. He also demonstrates how you can combine these approaches to give your chord melody performance some rhythmic variety.
 
 
 
Meet the Instructor
Aaron Weinstein
 
 
Called “a perfect musician” by jazz guitar legend, Bucky Pizzarelli, Aaron Weinstein “is rapidly establishing himself as one of his instrument’s rare jazz masters.” (Don Heckman, International Review of Music). Aaron is a respected violinist and mandolinist, widely regarded as one of the mandolin’s leading exponents in the jazz idiom, and author of the jazz mandolin book Mandolin Chord Melody System (Mel Bay Publications). He was recently named as one of Downbeat magazine’s Rising Stars in the venerable publication’s 2019 critic’s poll.
 
 
 
Peghead Play-Along Tracks
 
Peghead Nation is creating a library of accompaniment videos (and downloadable MP3s) for songs and tunes that are taught on the site, classics that you'll find at many jams and picking parties. As a subscriber, you have access to this library and can use the tracks to practice playing tunes and songs at a slow or medium tempo with guitar accompaniment. New songs will be added regularly.
 
 
Chord Melody Mandolin Source Material

Check out these songs featured in the Chord Melody Mandolin course.


The Chord Melody Mandolin Subscription Includes:
  • A step-by-step approach to mastering chord melody mandolin
  • New lessons and tunes added every month
  • Detailed tab/notation and chord charts
  • High-quality video with multiple camera angles so you can see closeups of both hands in action
  • Play-Along Tracks so you can practice what you’ve learned
 
 
$20/Month For One Course
 
Additional courses only $10/month each!   •   Save 20% with an annual subscription
 
 
Get started now!
Use promo code AaronLand at checkout
and get your first month free or $20 off an annual subscription.
 
Chord Melody Mandolin Course Outline
 
INTRO TO CHORD MELODY MANDOLIN WITH AARON WEINSTEIN
 
Exploring Chord Melody on the Mandolin
Aaron talks about how his chord melody style on the mandolin developed by studying with Don Stiernberg (a protégé of the great jazz mandolinist Jethro Burns), listening to records of early jazz guitarists like Carl Kress and Eddie Lang, and performing with guitarists Frank Vignola, Bucky Pizzarelli, and others. He demonstrates some of the things he learned from their playing and ends by improvising on the jazz standard “Tangerine.”
 

Aaron's Mandolin and Gear
Aaron talks a bit about the instrument and gear he uses, including his Red Diamond F-style mandolin, Elixir medium-gauge mandolin strings, Shure KSM 137 mic, and Pick Boy 100 flatpicks.
 

Active Listening
Aaron talks about the importance of active listening in learning to play any kind of music. He differentiates between passive listening (while you’re making dinner, driving to work, etc.) and active listening, where all you’re doing is listening. He recommends that you make listening part of your practice routine, and that when you listen to something, you think about what you like about the music and what you don’t like.
 

 
CHORD MELODY BASICS
 
Chord Melody Basics, Part 1: Chord Voicings
It’s not necessary to know hundreds of chord voicings to play chord melody mandolin. If you know a few core voicings, you can use those along with melody notes, to create satisfying voicings that fit the song you’re playing. In these introductory videos, Aaron takes two basic chords (Dm and G7) and shows you how to expand them to create a few couple simple chord melodies.
 

Chord Melody Basics, Part 2: Picking-Hand Technique
Your fretting hand determines the notes you’re playing but your picking hand determines how those notes (and chords) are articulated. Aaron shows you how to create different sounds with the two progressions you learned in Part 1 by separating the chord and melody notes in different rhythmic ways, for example, playing the melody note before the full chord, or the bass note before the full chord. He also demonstrates how you can combine these approaches to give your chord melody performance some rhythmic variety.
 

 
CHORD MELODY SONGS
 
Deed I Do

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.

 

Fine and Dandy

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

“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.

 

Comes Love

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.

 

 
VOICING CHOICES
 
In this lesson, Aaron shows you some of the things he thinks about when making choices about which voicings to use with a given melody. He uses “Deed I Do” to demonstrate some of the decisions he makes when arranging a song: the register of the melody and where it sits on the mandolin, which notes you want to add chord tones to and which you don’t, etc. Aaron walks you through each phrase of the first eight bars of “Deed I Do,” giving you multiple examples of some of the voicing choices you can make for each phrase.
 
MORE CHORD MELODY SONGS
 
Almost Like Being in Love

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.

 

Lady Be Good

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.

 

Jeepers Creepers

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.

 

 
INTRODUCTIONS
 

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.

 
MORE CHORD MELODY SONGS
 
Perdido

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

“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.”

 

I Can’t Give You Anything But Love

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

“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

“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.

 

I’m Getting Sentimental Over You

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.

 

Liza

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

“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.

 

How About You?

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.

 

Misty - New Lesson

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.

 

 
 
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