Watch the Chord Tones online guitar lesson by Rich Maloof from Guitar 201: Breakthroughs
Ref: Chord Toner
Melodies and solos emerge from the chords played behind them. Whether a part stays close to the chord, adds notes that create a little tension, or deliberately introduces all kinds of dissonance, the chords are the foundation.
Let's first build small melodic ideas — phrases — using only notes in the chords we're using.
Start with D in open position [small melody]
Might feel a little stuck in those few notes. But remember your chord vocabulary. You also have these nearby forms to work with (root 5 C and A shapes). [Expand melody.] And this voicing up here (E shape, root 6).
Now look at Am. Again, only play chord tones. [Demonstrate same way]
In the next clip we'll take these chord tones for a ride.
-There's a pdf attached to this clip showing a bunch of D and Am voicings. Keep it open or print it out.
[Roll backing track] Track coming in has 4 bars to play D chord tones, then four bars for Am chord tones, and it just keeps looping. Keep the pdf open, or print it out, so you have a bunch of shapes to work with. I'll play over it to give you an idea — grab the backtrack yourself and take it for a spin. About 300 times should be good.