Chord Study: Hipster Harmonization: David Bloom Rearranges “Greensleeves”

JUST AS THE CLOTHES YOU WEAR SAY a lot about who you are as a person, the chords you choose make a strong statement about who you are as a musician. So, the next time you have an opportunity to dress up a melody in new harmonies, don’t take it lightly. As the founder of Chicago’s Bloom School of Jazz will tell you, this is a chance to show the world exactly where you’re coming from, musically. “When you’re done with a chord melody arrangement, you should feel very strongly that your point of view comes through,” says David Bloom. “You should be able to look at the piece as if it’s something you composed, even if you didn’t write the melody.”
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Case in point: Bloom’s arrangement of “Greensleeves.” You’ll hear the song’s traditional melody in the progression’s upper voice. In the chords, you’ll hear harmonies that are anything but traditional. (Note: A few of the melody’s passing notes aren’t harmonized with a new chord, so they appear only in the notation staff, not the grids.) “Guitarists don’t always realize that they don’t have to stay entrenched in typical, functional, II-V-I-based harmony,” says Bloom. “One of the best exercises you can do is harmonize a melody several different ways. For starters, if the first melody note is usually the root or 3 of the chord, try putting it in a new chord where it becomes the 7, the b9, the 11, or some other tone. And then think about different ways it can resolve to the next chord. The possibilities are infinite, and they’re yours to explore.”