Transcriptions pentatonic scale fingerings

Published on June 17th, 2014 | by Sam


Johnny Smith I Can’t Get Started Chord Melody

Johnny Smith’s chord melody arrangements are amazing.  He bridges a gap from almost classical style guitar with elegant, voice led, arpeggiated figures and a classic jazz esthetic.  This transcription of Johnny Smith’s intro and outro to Vernon Duke’s “I Can’t Get Started” is no exception.

Johnny Smith I Can’t Get Started Intro

Johnny Smith starts the tune out with a spread C major voicing.  The first bar features a pedal tone on C while the upper voice has a pedal on E.  The inner voice then moves chromatically giving different chord sounds as he moves.  The analyzation above is basically the interpretation of the resulting chord.

The second bar also has an upper and lower pedal tone.  Again, the middle note moves creating different chordal sounds.

The third bar is centered around Emi7 which then moves to a version of a B7b9 chord and back to the Emi7.

This intro is a really great example of carefully planned voice leading.  In fact I doubt he was thinking of each chord’s name as much as he was preparing 3 lines – upper, lower, and middle.  The resulting chord structures give a really nice chord progression that sets up the tune really nicely.

Johnny Smith - I cant get started

Johnny Smith I Can’t Get Started Outro

The tune changes keys to a half step up during the tune.  Johnny Smith ends the tune really nicely by playing two inversions of an Fmi7 chord – it’s labeled on the first beat as an Ab/C, but I’m interpreting it as a rootless Fmi7.   He then plays a similar idea for the Bbmi7.  Again, I interpreted the first chord as a major, first inversion, though he’s likely playing a rootless minor 7 chord.  The second to last bar has a really cool use of the de-tuned E string (drop D).  First he plays a nice Eb minor triad and then a Dmaj7#11.  Finally he resolves to the Db6/9 chord.

johnny smith chord melody

This is a really great example of jazz guitar chord playing that is a little different than the typical swing rhythms played.  If the theory is a bit much to keep up with, just try playing the transcription and listen with an open ear.
Also, make sure to check out the Maid with the Flaxen Hair transcription and the Johnny Smith Double Stops lesson!


Tags: , , , ,

About the Author

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑
  • Newsletter

    blues language

  • New to Sam Smiley music? Get started here!

  • Master the Minor ii-V