An Introduction to Chord Soloing: “Solo Chords” by Roger E. Hutchinson ~1976


The Book

Solo Chords: Play the Melody, Play the Chords, Simultaneously!

Published in 1976 by REH Publications: 111 N. 75th, Seattle, WA. 98103. Price on the cover is $3.95. 28 pages.

The Author

Roger E. Hutchinson

Hutchinson formed REH Publications in 1976 with Don Mock, an instructor at the Guitar Institute of Technology. In 1988, Hutchinson and Mock created REH Video, which produced instructional videos of such musicians as Joe Pass and others. They now operate Guitar Axis on the internet.

Cost Today

I was unable to locate a copy on eBay or Amazon. I was, however, able to locate a copy in a Chicago library.

What’s Inside

In the forward, Hutchinson wrote that the goal of this book was to “answer the question of how to play the melody and chords simultaneously.” To accomplish this goal, he approached the book from the viewpoint of a novice guitarist.

Hutchinson started the book out by explaining the need for transposing melodies up an octave (when necessary) in order to create a chord solo. He then followed up with clear, concise, (and easy) explanations of altered tones, extensions, intervals, and chord inversions.

Something I thought which was very helpful for a novice guitarist, was a chart showing scale degrees – and their intervallic relationships – in all twelve keys.

Another simplified chart showed the beginner how to construct major, minor, dominant 7, and so forth, types of chords.

For the book, Hutchinson wrote three chord studies: two demonstrating how chord harmonization worked, and one study the student was expected to finish.

I like the advice Hutchinson offered to budding George Van Eps’:

1. “At first you may want to harmonize every melodic note…but this may sound too cluttered.”

2. “For variety, you may want to arpeggiate the chord, upstrum the chord, then return to the melodic note, or incorporate harmonics.”

My Thoughts

As a young teenager in the late ’70s, I thought this book looked cool with the two Gibson Johnny Smith guitars on the cover, so I bought it. After all, you can’t go wrong with a book about solo chords with a Gibson Johnny Smith on the cover, right? Well…

While the book did help me get started with harmonizing melodies, it didn’t tell me where to go next, musically, to further my chord technique.

Really, it was the two-volume “Johnny Smith Approach to Guitar” (with Johnny and his guitar on the cover), and the “Howard Roberts Chord Melody Manual” which furthered my knowledge of jazz chords. (Ted Greene arrived a little bit later on my chord journey) Those two books showed almost every jazz chord, triad, and inversion a young jazz dude, like myself, could ever want to learn, and use.

For me, the real value of this book was printed on the inside of the back cover – advertisements for the following books:

1. “Intervallic Design” – Joe Diorio
2. “Triadic Energy” – Lenny Carlson
3. “Key Correlation” – Ron Eschete
4. “Chord-Scale Tonal Relationships” – Kato

There are some books, sadly, which are more useful for the books they advertise, then for the information contained within their pages.

While I’d like to think this is a book I’d use for teaching, there are better books out there for a beginning chord solo student. So…in my opinion, a tree only partially died in vain for this book to be printed.

Until next time ~

Randy Buckner: Hoover Music Co., Springfield, Mo.

About Randy Buckner

I am a guitarist and music teacher. I play many styles of guitar, but my favorites are thumbpicking in the Merle Travis tradition, and old school jazz like George Barnes. I teach all styles of guitar - blues, country, jazz, and rock. I also teach ukulele, banjo, and mandolin. I also teach Travis-style guitar via the internet.
This entry was posted in Fingerstyle Guitarist, Guitar, Guitar Instructor, Hoover Music, Jazz Guitar and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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