Finding A Latin Groove – Part 2

In my previous lesson Finding a Latin Groove – Part 1, we worked on a bass line and chord rhythm together. This time we work to add the melody into your playing. Therefore we will have “3” parts going at the same time: bass – rhythm – melody.

Fingering starts to get a little tricky at this point. The bass is almost always played with the thumb, but deciding which of the other fingers to use somehow always comes up for debate on advanced arrangements. I always go by the “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” method. Therefore, just go for it! If you are stumbling while playing, obviously think about using different fingers. Also, don’t be a two-fingered player – that will keep you from being able to tackle the tough stuff. If you need exercises to develop either hand, there are tons of them on the net. If you’re still stumped, e-mail me and I’ll be more than happy to point you in a direction.

Example 1
Example 2
Example 3

Example #1 is the melody (I just made one up) only.
Example #2 is the bass and the melody
Example #3 is the bass, melody, and rhythmic parts of the chords.

Click Here and hear a mp3 of me playing Examples 1,2, and 3 in order.

When creating a chord melody, the melody is top priority. Also, when creating a chord melody there are many times that the melody needs to be modified because of some kind of reason. If you change the melody around, but it still sounds like the song (or just sounds good), then keep it! I prefer not to change the melody when the parts fit together well. But, if I’m having problems I make adjustments.

Speaking of adjustments, I needed to make them in this lesson. I decided to try and keep the melody true and make my needed changes either to the bass or the rhythm chord parts. For the bass parts in measures 2 and 4, I decided to let the bass ring for two beats (half note) and play the melody only for those four notes. This also means that I “let go of the two note” rhythmic chord parts. Why? It sounded good and I was having trouble inserting the bass rhythm and chord rhythm.

Altering chords can sometimes be necessary if the melody is in conflict with your fingerings. The guitar is a bit limited when trying to put so many things at the same time together. In this case, there is an “E” note in the melody when a Bm7b5 chord is being played. At this point, I changed the “chord” for that moment and inserted the “E” (string 2 fret 5 in measures 2 and 4) and played parts of the chord (fret 7 on strings 3 and 4) while the “B” in the bass (string 6 fret 7) was ringing. It sounded good, so I kept it.

This practice arrangement is to help you to play a tiny chord melody of five measures and get the feel for a Latin chord melody. My main goal is to give you an idea of how they are put together and spark your interest in creating your own! The trick to making this stuff happen is to be able to “Think Out of the Box”. So bend the rules when necessary! If it sounds good, keep it. If it sounds bad, change it. If you have any questions about this lesson, I would be more than happy to answer them.

Enjoy! … Peter Simms

Also check out… Finding A Latin Groove – Part 1