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Thread: Chord melody

  1. #1
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    Default Chord melody

    Having a terrible time interpreting/reading chord melodies, where notes are stacked and I have to figure out which chord to play. I understand the melody note is stem up, but where do I go from there?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukebottom View Post
    Having a terrible time interpreting/reading chord melodies, where notes are stacked and I have to figure out which chord to play. I understand the melody note is stem up, but where do I go from there?
    Or...am I looking for a chord that includes the melody note, and though there may be a number of chords that fit, I need one that sounds best with the song I am playing.

  3. #3
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    Ukebottom, what type of sheet music are you using -- does it have the chord symbols printed over the notes (for example, does it have "C7" or "Bb" written over the stack of notes)? Or does it only have the notes, without any chord symbols printed up above?

    (An unrelated aside -- I grew up in Springfield, many decades ago. I hope all is well in Media).
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  4. #4
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    Standard Chord melody, such as those on my blog (free:https://ukestuff.wordpress.com/my-ukulele-tabs/) are meant to be played with the thumb, placing the melody as either part of the chord or single notes (as needed). You can break them apart into more traditional fingerstytle, but Chord Melody is a great way to get into reading tablature AND using the ukulele as a melody instrument. It's kind of boring to just pluck out melodies all the time. And it is also unrealistic to think that we'll pick up a ukulele and sound like Jake Shimabukuro (who has been playing--almost exclusively as a focus--since he was 4).
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukebottom View Post
    Having a terrible time interpreting/reading chord melodies, where notes are stacked and I have to figure out which chord to play. I understand the melody note is stem up, but where do I go from there?
    I assume that you are reading staff notation?
    Hopefully it is an arrangement for ukulele. If looking at piano sheet music, the notes might not be there to play.

    When I play arrangements for ukulele specifically, it is usually in tabs. Makes it easier to dechifer.
    If you type the staff notation into the MuseScore software, you can change it into tabs by a push of a button.

    Otherwise you can analyze the stacked notes to figure out the chord, and note it above the notation in a hardcopy.
    Assuming that you have a bit of Music theory knowledge.
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  6. #6
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    There will be the odd time when the melody note will not be in the chord. Get yourself a fretboard map, and try to figure out the placements for your fingers from the fretboard map. Or get a ukulele chord chart. There are sites online that may map out the chord if you provide the notes.
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  7. #7
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    This may be very rudimentary but I learn the melody line, then just add the chord (most often they give the name too) where indicated, using an inversion that places the melody note on top. Now recognizing the chord from the grouped notes (with no “name” above) is a whole ‘nother thing. If it’s an easy one I might know it. An app for looking them up by notes would be helpful. If they didn’t put the chord name in I would just put in a double stop (partial chord) located below the melody note.
    Last edited by bunnyf; 06-24-2019 at 09:42 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bunnyf View Post
    This may be very rudimentary but I learn the melody line, then just add the chord (most often they give the name too) where indicated, using an inversion that places the melody note on top. Now recognizing the chord from the grouped notes (with no “name” above) is a whole ‘nother thing. If it’s an easy one I might know it. An app for looking them up my notes would be helpful. if they didn’t put the chord name in I would just put in a double stop nearby.
    That's pretty much what Chord Melody is in a very clear summary.

    I use Uke Buddy to look for different voicing of chords to support the melody...and lately I've been adding the letter names of those chords to get more familiar with the chord shapes up the neck. Due to my background in music and music education, I can make arrangements that I can't play... but work. My goal is to be able to play everything I make.

    Incidentally, chord melody doesn't need to be "easy" either. It's a great way to start learning tab--but it can also stretch you.
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  9. #9
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    Not an expert on chord melody. It doesn't really lend itself to what I'm doing with my ukulele. But I have been piddling around with it lately anyway. I think that a lot of people start out making it much harder than it has to be, especially starting out. They want to skip the baby steps and go right to dazzling. I know, because that happened to me. I saw some people doing some really great stuff and I wanted to be like them right away. It didn't work that way. Now I'm starting out with baby steps, playing simple songs and adding simple first position chords and making some progress. I'm trying to lay a foundation to build on. It isn't easy and I can see now that it is going to take some time.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rllink View Post
    Not an expert on chord melody. It doesn't really lend itself to what I'm doing with my ukulele. But I have been piddling around with it lately anyway. I think that a lot of people start out making it much harder than it has to be, especially starting out. They want to skip the baby steps and go right to dazzling. I know, because that happened to me. I saw some people doing some really great stuff and I wanted to be like them right away. It didn't work that way. Now I'm starting out with baby steps, playing simple songs and adding simple first position chords and making some progress. I'm trying to lay a foundation to build on. It isn't easy and I can see now that it is going to take some time.
    Good move !! My students always want to start on tough songs. I like to teach Twinkle Twinkle to start. Once you learn the basics, chord melodies get easier. I have been doing my own arrangements for several years. I started with Twinkle.
    Keep Strummin'

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