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Watch the Embellished Melody Breakdown online guitar lesson by John Stowell from Modern Chord Melody

Embellished Melody Breakdown - One device that I use in the embellished melody here is a quick upstroke with the pick on some of the bass note fills. This has the effect of moving things forward and giving things a little push and edge to the time that I like to hear. I'll also do this if I'm accompanying someone. By isolating individual notes (both in the bass and on top of the chord), the sound becomes more pianistic and varied, and gives the soloist more to react to if you're in the role of accompanist. There is a fine line here between enough activity and too much. My role is to inspire the person soloing and occasionally suggest a direction without breaking the creative flow of my bandmate's improvisation.
Most of the chords in this melody employ some embellishment or tension. Note the use of the high E string in the first three chords descending chromatically. It functions as a #5 for the A flat7 altered, a 13th for the G 13#11, and a minor 7th for the F#m. I also favor minor 6th and Aeolian (flat 6th) minor chords, and this tune has both of those sounds (Fm7#5 and E m6). The melody is quite singable; I enjoy combining simple repeated motifs with more complex harmony underneath the melody.