Jazz Guitar Lessons – Creative Scale Use in Chord Melody and Improvisation

There might be certain times in a chord melody when you want to just play the melody as single notes without chordal accompaniment. You can also use the technique I’m about to describe in comping or improvisational contexts. You can use this technique even if you just started to learn jazz guitar to make your playing sound more professional.

If you have a melody line, for example in Autumn Leaves where you might want to just play the melody, you can spice it up by making the notes ring together. In Autumn Leaves there is a scale sequence that is repeated starting a different scale tones. First there is E F# G, then D E F#, then C D E then B C# D#. Instead of playing each note separately we can arrange the notes so that all 3 notes can ring at the same time, by putting them on different strings.

I show this in the graphic below. I only show parts of the melody we’re focusing on from Autumn Leaves.

Creative Scale Usage

In this standard we have the convenience of open strings. But you can use this in other keys and standards as well with a bit of stretching, or transpose the song into a key that allows you to use this with open strings.

Another example can be seen at the beginning of Beautiful Love

Beautiful Love Intro

Here’s a video explaining all this:

What do you think of using open strings in scale or melodic passages? Post your comments below.

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