Wes Montgomery, Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster, and Louis Armstrong were true masters of the art of melodic embellishment. In this class we’ll look at the techniques utilized by these jazz greats and others who excelled at melodic invention on the popular songs of the day.
Developing strong skills in melodic embellishment is one of the most important ways to truly connect with a song. It is also very effective as a springboard for improvisation while still maintaining the essence of the song. Topics that will be addressed will be guide tone lines, countermelodies, leading improvised lines into melody notes or chord tones, approach note patterns with target tones and upper and lower neighbor tones, ornamentation, “musical asides”, rhythmic displacement, and more. Common standard tunes will be used with pages of written examples outlining different types of melodic embellishment principles. Many of the techniques discussed in the class are also applicable to improvised single note soloing where target tones or goal notes are employed. At the end of the class these principles will be demonstrated in a polyphonic manner using 2 and 3 note structures where melodic embellishment meets modern harmony.

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Class Content

Melodic Embellishment 1
Melodic Embellishment 1 01:31:00
Will You Still Be Mine? – Soundslice 00:01:52

Course Reviews


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  1. 5

    Steve does a wonderful job of explaining and demonstrating the many facets of this very important and and rarely discussed topic. It is rare to find someone who can play as well as steve and also have the ability to really teach the material in an organized and analytical manner. His theoretical explanations are all clearly born out of years of transcribing and studying the great masters, and never over complicate the music.

    by Dave Mosick
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