Pat Metheny’s album “Question and Answer” is without a doubt one of my desert island disks. I have been listening to Pat since I was a teenager and credit him for much of my early inspiration to be a jazz guitar player. So today, I am posting a great chord melody arrangement of a great jazz standard played by a great jazz guitarist. Sound great? Great!
I am going to spend a bit of time picking out some ideas and working on them. Sure, this head arrangement can be played as is on gigs, but with a little of effort, we can get so much more out of it. Pat’s comping while playing the melody is where I intend to unlock some of his secrets and then make my secrets.(Well, I guess if you are reading this, your secrets too…)
The Raw Material
Picking it apart
There is so much we can gain from this solo. Pat’s time feel, sparse and spacious voicings, use of guide-tones, note choice… etc. As a matter of fact, I think you should look at these aspects. Today however, we are going to focus in on two of these.
The first thing I notice when listening to this head arrangement, is the dynamic contrast between the melody and the chords. What a great exercise, practice playing the melody at one volume and softly putting the harmony under it.
Secondly I notice he repeats material with variations on the rhythm. Poof!, you suddenly get a more mileage from your ideas by repeating the comp or line and simply varying the rhythm.
These effects create a sense of two guitarists playing. One playing the chords and the other playing the melody. We could call this a pianistic approach to jazz guitar. So today I am introducing these techniques that will help guitarists comp more like pianists. (While learning a great head arrangement)
Play the melody note much louder than the chords. These are but a few examples of what you can do. Discover some more yourself! Try making up exercises over chord progressions and head arrangements.
I hope these simple examples help to get you started. When you transcribe a solo, don’t look only at the notes played. Observe HOW they are played. Make up exercises to help you integrate musical ideas into your playing.
Essential Pat Metheny Listening
- One Quiet Night
- Question and Answer
- Still Life (Talking)
- Beyond The Missouri Sky (Short Stories)
- Bright Size Life