While melodic guitar playing isn’t genre-specific, it's an approach several guitarists in the progressive-rock spectrum tend to employ. It leads to a flowing, expansive sound consisting of triumphant melodies, emotive chord progressions and saturated distortion.
Among these characteristics, certain secrets can be discovered by comparing musicians in an effort to understand aspects of their songwriting and guitar playing that lead to the finished product that we hear. These intricacies are many, from the type of gear they use to the influences they draw from.
Getting down to fundamentals, though, there are a few ways to take a simple musical situation and sprinkle in some melodic fairy dust to yield a new creation. For example, one of the first feats of finger strength a beginning guitar player tries is the standard barre chord.
As such, amending this bar chord to include more expressive intervals, such as an added ninth, is a simple and effective way to meet the criteria for melodic guitar playing—emotive chords. The video below shows how you can turn major and minor barre chords into more complex and interesting shapes.
Another easy pivot from standard to melodic sounds doesn’t have to do with pitch at all, but with rhythm. Leaving common time signatures like 4/4 or 6/8 and using more adventurous ones like 5/4 or 7/4 is a quick way to turn your traditional riffs into melodic masterpieces. By pulling yourself out of your comfort zone and into a more uncomfortable meter, you’re forced to use your ear to stay in time at certain points, which is an awesome method to break habits and form new creative processes.
Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric website Music Is Win. His entertaining guitar-related content receives hundreds of thousands of video views on Facebook per month, and his online guitar courses tout more than 1,500 students with a cumulative 4.7 rating on Udemy. Get in touch with Tyler on Facebook, watch more of his guitar lessons and vlogs on YouTube, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.