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Little Wing - A Simple Chord Tone Melody Lesson (part 3)

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Beginner-Intermediate

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Simple Chord Tone Melody (Part 3) - The lesson explained.

Lesson 1 is here | Lesson 2 is here


To re-cap: Lesson 1 shows how stringing single chord tones together as melody always yields a good strong melody that is always 'right'. Timing and 'feel' come into the process, of course, but note-choice becomes easy if you can see your fretboard as a constantly changing array of chord tones. Lesson 2 shows how easy it becomes to harmonize a melody line using the chord tone mindset. All you need to do is choose another chord tone on another string and play both together as a double stop. I used adjacent strings in that lesson.

This lesson shows the same as lesson 2, only this time I'm using chord tones two strings apart.

The progression:

I've used the very same homemade backing track as Lesson 1, so the progression is exactly the same:


We're in the key of G or Em, whatever way you prefer to see it. I like G myself. Even though this progression starts and ends on Em -- which certainly implies Em -- G works better for me. Below are the Roman numerals, as the key of G, if you're into that kind of thing


The red chords are the two that are not from the key of G (or Em). They're the ones that would bring you unstuck if you were trying to create melody thinking scales. You'd have to switch scales when playing through those two chords.

I won't go into all the theory detail about the chords here as I did all that in part 1. If you haven't seen that lesson, I recommend that you watch it first, then come back to this one.

]I'm doing exactly the same thing in this version as I was in Lesson 2, namely harmonizing a melody line with another chord tone. The only difference is that this time I'm skipping a string and using one on the next string down. I'm not thinking about scales or intervals ... or 3rds or 5ths or 6ths ... I'm not mentally running through any rules of harmony or anything like that. I'm just pairing up chord tones two strings apart and creating some lines.

I can only do that because I can look down at the fretboard and see each chord for it really is: an array of tones that fill up the whole fretboard. Once you can see that, then all you need to do is get your fingers to grab the pairs as needed. That's the hardest part. Seeing the fretboard as an ever-changing matrix of chord tones is not easy -- nothing about playing the guitar is easy -- but if you know what landmarks to keep track of, it's just a matter of practice. The landmarks are the subject of my book/DVD package PlaneTalk ... as if you didn't know that by now.

Once again, you can go ahead and learn this if you want. The tab is below. The main thing you should glean from these three lessons is to understand how important it is to know your chords. Sure, chords come from scales and scales are important too, but to try and come up with melody lines, harmonized melody lines, chord voicings, riffs -- whatever -- just working with scales is a needlessly complicated task. The chord itself has done all the work for you, and on a guitar fretboard, chords become shapes. You can see shapes, so you can see what's right or wrong just by looking. Is it in the shape? Yes? then it's going to work. No? Then it's probably not.

This lesson, like the other two, is also a PlaneTalker lesson that comes with the Full PlaneTalk package. The video is different though ... the virtual fretboard displays the landmarks I mentioned before and you can see how it all fits ... perfectly. Music is numbers when it all boils down, and numbers are logic. I learned a long time ago that the only way to really progress as a musician is to know what it is you're playing. There should be no guessing, no stabs in the dark, no hoping for that right note. Logic is reliable, trustworthy, constant, musical, learnable.

The mindset that makes it much easier to see the logic of it all is the subject of PlaneTalk. Click here to find out more.


Download the backing track for this. I've made it loop through 10 times so you can have fun creating your own lines |

Download the TAB here


The video below is an example of some free improvisation over this same track. In this version, I'm not worrying about keeping strictly to chord tones, I'm just playing melody lines. However, the vast bulk of notes are chord tones. That's why it sounds so 'right' all the time. There are no sour notes, no uncomfortable resolves to weak notes, nothing that stands out as wrong. The melody lines are always firmly glued to the backing track because they're mostly chord tones. Non chord tones are always embellishment, detail, passing tones.

This video, with the PlaneTalk mindset overlaid on the virtual fretboard, is another bonus lesson you get when you order my PlaneTalk package.



Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

Kirk LorangeAs well as putting together these guitar lessons, I am also the author of PlaneTalk - The Truly Totally Different Guitar Instruction Package, which teaches a mindset, a way of thinking about music and a way of tracking it all on the guitar fretboard. Yes, there IS a constant down there in the maze of strings and fret wire, a landmark that points to everything at all times. I call it The Easiest Yet Most Powerful Guitar Lesson You Will Ever Learn and many testimonials at my site will back up that rather superlative description. If your goal as a guitar player is to be able to truly PLAY the guitar, not just learn by rote; to be able to invent on the fly, not memorize every note; to be able to see the WHOLE fretboard as friendly, familiar territory, not just the first 5 frets and to do it all without thinking about all those scales and modes, then you should read more here.