Chris Eldridge

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Mississippi Valley

Hillbilly Chord Melody

Hello All!

This week I’ll be teaching you to play all three of the harmony parts together on the guitar, effectively creating a harmonized chord-melody version of Living in the Mississippi Valley. The real key here is knowing that the 3 melody lines are always synchronizing to create either a G or an A minor chord, in various inversions**. Once you’ve got a handle on your inversions it’s really just a matter of correlating them with the melody so that the melody note is always on the bottom.

Fair warning: this is a rather difficult lesson in the sense that moving from chord shape to chord shape quickly and accurately is a little tricky. You also need a good grasp of the melody with all of it’s crookedness. But with practice and patience, playing this can certainly be done. And it makes for a pretty cool hillbilly chord melody showpiece.



**Before starting you might want to go through and play all of your various G inversions across 2 octaves: root position with the root on the low E string, first inversion, second inversion and so on; and all of your A minor inversions. We’ve talked about these inversions before but for reference they can be found throughout the lesson.






Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:00 Run-Through of Harmony Parts to Mississippi Valley


Download the Sheet Music PDF


Loop 0:43 Breakdown of Harmony Parts

Loop 12:24 Closing Thoughts

Loop 13:12 Practice Loop with Chris Playing Melody





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Torgeir Jorem
Torgeir Jorem Aug 28, 2018

Mississippi valley! Such a cool song, and I really like yours and Julian Lage's version of it. Really challenging to sing these fast lyrics in english. Thanks, really enjoyed all the lessons. Any chance for more lessons about harmonies? 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Sep 04, 2018

Torgeir, nice work! And just to make you feel better, this song is hard to sing even if English is your native language - there are a lot of words and not many chances to breathe! 

A few things to focus in on:

1) When you play the full melody twice in a row (as in the intro and outro), on the second time when the melody speeds up and becomes slightly chromatic, you are adding a couple of beats. I noticed this at 0:20 and also at 1:29. You might want to check back in with that part of the music.

2) In the interest of getting the groove to be a little more compelling, try just playing the melody without the harmony parts. At it‘s essence, Living in the Mississippi Valley is a fiddle tune and we want to make sure that the listener is feeling that when the instrumental parts are happening. Just focus on flow and groove, the way you would with any other fiddle tune. Once you’ve got that down entirely start adding the extra harmony voices on the guitar. Also, you did a good job with playing the instrumentals, but 

3) Your rhythm guitar sounds good. When you are fingering a G chord though you might want to bounce off of the root and 5th (6th and 4th strings) rather than the root and 3rd (6th and 5th strings). Playing the 3rd as an occasional accent is fine but generally you’ll want to be playing 1 and 5, like a bass player would. 

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