Magazine article Guitar Player

Guide-Tone Magic

Magazine article Guitar Player

Guide-Tone Magic

Article excerpt

STRONG MELODIC LINES highlight one chord's resolution to the next. You can build these lines using this simple voice-leading technique: Resolve the 7 of the first chord to the 3 of the next, and--voila--you've got a firm foundation on which to build melodies. Jazz players call these notes "guide tones."

Classic guides. Ex. 1 illustrates the process with a IIm-V7-Im progression in D minor. In this case, D (the [flat]7 of Em7[flat]5) drops a half-step to C# (the 3 of A7[flat]9), and then G (the [flat]7 of A7[flat]9) shifts down a whole-step to F (Dm7's [flat]3). Record the changes, and then play the line against them. Do you hear the momentum generated by this 7-3 movement?


Ex. 2--excerpted from a D harmonic-minor scale--uses the same guide tones to connect the chords. By outlining the harmony, the guide-tone resolution makes this simple scale passage sound melodic.


Notes other than the 7 and 3 can function as guide tones. Ex. 3 begins with a [flat]7-3 resolution, and then follows A7's [flat]9 (B[flat]) down a half-step to Dm7's 5 (A).


Resolutionary forces. There are three types of guide-tone resolutions: direct, indirect, and double chromatic (also called double indirect). Examples 4a, 4b, and 4c illustrate these resolutions.


Octave displacement is another useful technique for making diatonic or scale-derived lines sound more melodic. …

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