Making a Pop / Rock Melody Jazz Sounding

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  1. bingefeller
    Member


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    Hi guys,

    I am looking for tips to make a pop melody sound jazzy. Say I am playing the melody line for a modern pop or rock song, how can I make it jazz? Let's use Bruce Springsteen's Dancing In The Dark as an example:

    That is some of the basic melody (ignore the tempo marker as it's wrong). How could you jazz up this melody? The basic chord, on the album, is a C chord.

    I am wondering - is it through chord substitutions that the song becomes jazz sounding or can you make it sound more jazz by doing something with the melody?

  2. patfarlow
    Member

    Thats a deep topic and its pretty subjective...You could basically start by making the melody note the b13 or #11 or any choice, because a C over C chord is not that "interesting".

    Next you can decide if you want a specific inner voice or root movement taking place simultaneously.

    example one would be...Em\F\Ab#11\Am
    ya know?

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  3. bingefeller
    Member

    Hi Pat - I agree that C over a C chord is boring. How did you come up with a b13 or #11 as a melody note though? Do you have any method that you are thinking of when you select those notes?

  4. gleepglop
    Member

    You keep the same melody note, you change the root of the chord so it has a new relationship.

    C is the #11 of a Gb chord (technically F#, but usually jazz tunes tend to prefer flats). Could be Gbmaj7, for example.

    Personally, I almost always hate jazzified rock tunes. You lose the essential quality of the music for dubious gains.
    My favorite jazz versions of rock songs are usually when people play them almost verbatim--Frisell, Mehldau for example.

    It works better for soul/R&B tunes that are already in a similar harmonic/rhythmic space as jazz (Stevie Wonder, for example).

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  5. patfarlow
    Member

    Basically you can just remember that when the melody note is the root or the 5th it will be somewhat "vanilla" sounding. So the idea is to make the melody note the 3rd instead, or even more exotic the 7. After that just try every possible extension (9, b9,b3, 13 etc...)

    After that then you can think about the root movement you like the most.
    I chose Em, F because i liked the half step root movement and how C melody note(which doesnt change) became the b13 of the Em chord.
    Same with the Ab to Am root movement.

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  6. bingefeller
    Member

    Hi Gleepglop and Pat,

    Thanks for the replies. I understand what you're saying.

    Patfarlow - are you following any "rules" or method when you chose those chords? I mean, I have read that, generally, the I chord is interchangable with the iii and the iv chords. I'm guessing that's why you chose the Em and Am chords?

  7. I would say above all, adding syncopation to the rhythm of the melody can make it sound more "jazzy". (to answer what was asked..)

    "is it through chord substitutions that the song becomes jazz sounding or can you make it sound more jazz by doing something with the melody?"

  8. patfarlow
    Member

    You are correct in saying Am and Em are "safe" subs for C. But i would say litterally pick anychord in the world, and you might find somthing that sounds cooler to you. You can take happy birthday and sub out "safe" chords then some more adventerous ones and hear the difference.

    I wouldnt say im following rules as much as i understand that melody sounds different when supported by different chords

    does that make sense?

  9. bingefeller
    Member

    Yes Pat, you are making sense.

    So, you can experiment with any chord, as long as the melody note is on top of that chord?

  10. 111
    Member

    you could covert it to a 6/8 feel stacking fourths and playing modally in C nebulous.

  11. 111
    Member

    I meant to add that changing the feel and playing chords, maybe rootless, etc could allow for the melody to be stated plainly putting the burden of the jazz feel on the rhythm section. I heard this tune last nite and thought of your question. Thats what i internally heard at the time.

  12. egav
    Member

    I once heard this sax player at The Bar Next Door playing Death Cab For Cutie's I Will Follow You Into The Dark in a trio, with bass and drums. As far as I noticed, the changes were pretty close to what the original sounds like, but he was able to free up since he didn't have a chord player. Maybe a trio setting would help to free up?

  13. bingefeller
    Member

    Thanks for all the comments, guys!

    I guess a trio setting would free things up, like what Bill Frisell does sometimes.

  14. patfarlow
    Member

    @bingefeller correct

  15. docbop
    Member

    What do you hear in your head? Everyone is talking chords but what about rhythm I'd start there first, then look at building up the chords and/or re-harmonize it. Remember in your head you have the greatest guitar, you can do anything, so start there, then sing it into a recorder and transcribe yourself.

  16. docbop
    Member

    What do you hear in your head? Everyone is talking chords but what about rhythm I'd start there first, then look at building up the chords and/or re-harmonize it. Remember in your head you have the greatest guitar, you can do anything, so start there, then sing it into a recorder and transcribe yourself.


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