#Guitar Lesson: Arranging Techniques

Jody Fisher

Jody Fisher is the co-chair of LA Music Academy’s guitar department. Jody has written for most of the major guitar magazines, including Guitar Player, Just Jazz Guitar and Finger Style Guitar. As an educator, Jody has held the positions of Professor of Jazz and Studio Guitar at the University of Redlands, in Redlands, CA, the University of La Verne, in La Verne, CA, and the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts (ISOMATA), in Idyllwild, CA. He has performed with Alphonso Johnson, Betty White, Big Joe Turner, Bo Diddley, Bobby Troupe, Brandon Fields, The Coasters, Dennis Miller, Don Rickles, The Drifters, Harry Connick Jr., Jan and Dean, Joe Diorio, John Abercrombie, John Williams, Mike Stern, Rosemary Clooney, The Shirelles, The Spinners, and many others. Check out www.jodyfisher.com for more information.

From Jody:

Half-Step Dominant Approach Chords

This is a cool way to add sophistication to your arrangements. Here is the basic idea: Any chord can be preceded by a dominant chord whose root is one half-step above (and sometimes below) the root of the destination chord. A ”destination” chord can be just about any chord, in any progression. Let’s say you’re working with a iii-VI7-ii-V7-I progression, in C like this (/=1 beat):

The first destination chord is Em7, so the half-step dominant approach chord has to be rooted on F. The A7 may be approached by a dominant chord rooted on Bb. Dm7 can be preceded with some kind of Eb dominant chord. G7 may be approached with a dominant chord rooted on Ab, and finally CMaj7 can be approached with a Db dominant chord.
Here’s one possibility:

Here’s another—

Here’s another basic iii-VI-ii-V7-I progression in F–

Here is the previous progression enhanced with half-step dominant approach chords:

Obviously, you don’t have to approach every chord in a progression this way. Sometimes, just a tasteful approach to a single chord can really make a difference in a song. Remember that this idea can work over just about any chord in a song, so be sure to try this on changes that lie outside the more common chord progressions (ii-V7-I, I-VI-ii- V7, etc.). It’s also possible to use this device while harmonizing a melody, creating some unexpected and interesting harmonies. It takes experimentation and experience to find the “good” sounds. Have patience….

-Jody, LAMA

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2 responses to “#Guitar Lesson: Arranging Techniques”

  1. Sani A Hashim. says :

    Your half step dominant chord progression is so very COOOL. Thanks !

  2. Serge Auer says :

    Thanks for you,but i,m know it all

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