“I looked at the tabs and tried to play Indian style chord melody like you played on this video. Not able to. Help me solve?”

Instead of solving that particular song, we take it as a symptom or generic goal and work with the subskills.

Steps involved in playing Indian Style Chord Melody

Indian Style chord melody | First Level

When trying to play raga or film songs as chord melody on the guitar, finally we want to be able to:

  • play chord and melody at the same time,
  • the rhythm hand (right or left) playing fingerstyle,
  • with the fingers having the ability to find the right strings without difficulty or looking,
  • with the finger stressing the melody note while playing the chord notes
  • with smooth chord transitions
  • physical ability to play the chords and melody (practising typical chord melody holds and moves)

Raga Style Chord Melody | Complete Independence

The next level would be where the student is able to:

  • find chords on their own for each segment of the melody (indirectly implying the skill of being able to choose chord changing frequency)
  • fitting the chord and melody on the fretboard in a way physically playable
  • changing the key of the song if needed for easier playability and for bass strings or other effect

… and playing the song! as it is heard… in the recording and in our mind.

Sub-skills for Indian Style Chord Melody Playing

Now that we know the steps, the levels, the path to play Indian style chord melody for raga and film songs, they can be converted to their corresponding sub-skills.

Instead of approaching the big skill as one, when we know the sub skills involved, we can focus on one of them more at a time while doing a minimum on the other skills. Then slowly each sub skill can be turned up slowly. This way the practice is manageable, we will see results and finally be able to get to the goal we want.

Also, as a teacher, it is a necessary skill on the higher skill levels, to be able to see the sub skills involved, see the students abilities and needs and make a syllabus or plan that suits the student and will get the student stable and fast results.

Example sub-skill 1. Indian Style Chord Melody Finger-picking

The first skill you can start with and get used to is, the rhythm hand plucking or picking skill.

The aim is to get the fingers used to finding the right strings. Also, to be able to play patterns without thinking. Automatic rhythm hand is a necessity for rhythm or chord melody playing (strumming or picking)

See these videos on fingerstyle basics to start training your fingers towards finger picking ability. Practice with one pattern in the beginning days, till you feel automatic repetition is getting natural and with less need for being conscious about it.

You don’t have to master it yet… We will combine it with chord hand skills. Multiple skills at the same time – since they are needed together anyway. But, when practising one skill, the others can be doing something less difficult so that more focus will go to the sub skill being practised currently.

Example sub-skill 2. Chord pressing and transitions

Start with open chords. Not sounding? Adopt a checklist kind of approach to go through the usual problems and make the chords sound.

Transitions. Use the checklist of rules to make efficient transitions.

Chord + fingerstyle at the same time

Which bass strings to play: knowing the notes of a chord, basic idea of base variations to include interest.

How often to play the bass and change the chords

Similarly, as needed more sub-skills can be defined. Decide which sub skill to be given priority when. Focusing on one at a time, while keeping the others to a minimum difficulty level.

Other considerations

Open chords as much as possible, at least to begin with – knowing to transpose. Knowing which pitch to transpose to, to get the most open chords.

Arranging the notes nearby. Considering string switches. Wider fingering.

Finding chords on your own. Before that, finding approximate song notes on your own.

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