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Mar 17, 2024 - 4:52:38 AM



19 posts since 2/27/2024

Leadsheet gives us the chords and the melody line. Good for Band playing. But how do you make a solo arrangement out of it?
Ready-made arrangements just can't take personal skill-level and preferences into account.
Maybe someone has a tip on how to start arranging or where to find general advice.



Mar 17, 2024 - 6:23:02 AM
like this

5199 posts since 4/7/2008

Hi Peter. Here’s a simple way to create your first arrangements on any stringed instrument.. Once you’ve done a few of these, you can get fancier later. Once you know the chords and melody to the tune you wish to arrange, you are on your way. Play the single melody and imagine where you hear a chord under a melody note. (Some people like mainly single melody notes; others like mainly chords.) Next, when you want a chord under a melody note, play the chord, and make the highest note of that chord actual melody note. If the chord is F and melody note is C, play an F chord with a C note on top. The three notes of an F chord are F, A, and C. If any of those are you melody note, you’ll have no trouble playing an F chord with the melody note on top. If the note is B or Ab or some other note that is not part of the chord in question you have two choices: you can play a single note there, or you play some version of an F chord with the note in question on top. Use this method all the way through the tune and you’ll have your first arrangement.

If I were you I would start with a simple tune. Simple tunes tend to be short, have few chords, and contain mostly melody notes that are chord tones. Start with something like “Beautiful Dreamer” or “Amazing Grace” or “I Saw the Light” or “I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry” as a starter. Too many people fairly new to the banjo want to create an arrangement for “Body & Soul” or “Spain” or something equally as tough and get frustrated.

One you pick a tune, message me, and we can walk through it together. After the first one you’ll be on your way.


Edited by - Compass56 on 03/17/2024 06:23:23

Mar 17, 2024 - 6:25:42 AM

5199 posts since 4/7/2008

(I don’t know why that picture of the cover of Riley’s Routines appears in my reply. I didn’t put it there intentionally, but it’s a great little book, and it sure helped me and continues to do so. I am leaving it there.)

Mar 17, 2024 - 8:19:59 AM
like this
Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)


30107 posts since 8/3/2003

I learned to make my own arrangements by first getting acquainted with the song, the melody. Then I figured out what key it was in and then the chords. After that I picked out the melody notes, making sure each one was in the correct measure and on the correct beat. When I first started, I actually tabbed out the melody notes. After I'd done quite a few like that, I found I didn't have to put it in tab form.

After you have the key, the chords and the melody, then to make it your arrangement, not someone else's, you need to go back to your basics: slides, hammers, pull offs, chokes, licks. Putting those "frills" around the melody is what makes it yours. Start off slow, add a slide into a melody note. Add a pull off to a melody note, ad a hot lick or riff at the end of a musical phrase. You'll soon have your own little "melody phrases" that you can plug in to various songs.

Takes time and lots of practice and lots of jamming, but the more you do, the easier it gets.

Edited by - Texasbanjo on 03/17/2024 08:20:55

Mar 18, 2024 - 1:12:37 PM



19 posts since 2/27/2024

Thank you for sharing your experiences with me.
I was already thinking something like this: start small, practise a lot and persistently. Give things time to grow.
Your personal advice is more encouraging to me than any book or youtube video. Appreciated!
I'll see when I can post something ;-)

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