Alex Skolnick on chord extensions with melody

Alex Skolnick uses simple melodies to make chord extensions easier
Alex Skolnick uses simple melodies to make chord extensions easier

Chord names like Am13 and F#maj7#11 are pretty scary; they sound as though they'd be hard to play and impossible to use musically. While we can't promise that these chords are easyto play, there is an easier way to use them.

Ignore the crazy chord names and make up your own melodies around simpler chord shapes instead. The melodic notes in jazz are usually responsible for these chord names. As the melody notes change, they imply a new harmony in relation to the chord; hence, you get loads of chords with confusing names.

If you look at Example 1, the melodic notes create loads of different chords, but they're all related to simpler barre chords you've probably seen before.

As you play through Alex's solo, try to think of the basic chord shapes, not their confusing names!

Next page: video examples tabbed

Example 1: Am extended chords

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Each chord has its own sound. Most importantly though, you can see each one as a relatively simple extension to a more familiar chord shape.

Example 2: solo with extended chords

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If you're daunted by the whole piece, try playing just the chords one bar at a time. If you've got the chords nailed, adding the melody won't be so hard.