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Video Review: The String Trio Approach for Chord Melody & Accompaniment – Howard Alden

Review by Az Samad

The String Trio Approach for Chord Melody & Accompaniment – Howard Alden

Howard Alden’s master class is a gateway into more creative chord melody and accompaniment textures. In this info packed 38-minute master class, I discovered how Howard Alden used the same voicings that I THOUGHT I knew in ways that opened up the fretboard. The String Trio Approach takes apart static chord structures (like Drop-2 and Drop-3 voicings) and explores variations that make smaller reductions of the voicing into flowing melodic textures that paint the harmonic accompaniment.

Howard demonstrates this concept beautifully on his take of The Days of Wine and Roses. I was mesmerized by how he created strong contrapuntal textures. These made the arrangement come to life and inspired me to explore this more.

The more I study jazz guitar and harmony, the more I understand what my past guitar teachers meant when they said, “voicings are what happens when you freeze moving melodic lines”.

What I learned from this video is the importance of left hand fingerings that allow inner moving lines to occur more smoothly. So much of what Howard shares in the video reflects his years of experience playing and exploring these sounds. I feel that we are very lucky to have the opportunity to learn from this video and from his expertise!

In conclusion, this is a very practical and musical master class that should be a must for anyone who is even remotely interested in chord melody. For accompanists, (especially those who work in duo situations) this video will also be great use to help create more interesting textures in those intimate gigs.

PROS: Lots of musical examples to internalize the concepts and clear explanations from Howard Alden.
CONS: None.
TLDR: For anyone who wants to get out of block chord melody playing and have more inner moving lines, beautiful embellished chordal textures and a more liquid approach to harmony – this master class will give you a lot of food for thought!

The String Trio Approach for Chord Melody & Accompaniment – Howard Alden

December 8, 2018

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