Drop2 Voicings – How To Make Them Musical Building Blocks

Drop2 voicings are great to have in your vocabulary both for comping and chord melody. In this lesson, I am going to show you how you can get them into your playing and put them to use in a musical context. So we are going a little further than just trying to learn the inversions which is where most students get stuck.

Making Drop2 a more practical tool

First I am going to show you how to add different colors to the chord and then I will go over how you can use that to add some melodic ideas to how you play chords.

Focus on a basic II V I in F and then build some different variations and give some things you can use on all chords and inversions.

Here’s the basic II V I

Usually, the focus on Drop2 voicings is on inversions, and that is of course also important to check out so you want to know these:

But when you are comping and improvising then it is often more important that you can change the voicings that you are playing and have options wherever you are playing so let’s look at what is possible

Adding extensions

The important thing to keep in mind with this approach is that you should not think about the new chords as completely new voicings. Try to remember them as variations of each other so that you can mix them up.

First Voicing Rule

First let’s check out a great rule:
Replace the root with the 9th

You can also add an 11th to a m7 chord and a 13th to the maj7 or dom7th chords.

More Voicing Rules:

When it comes to the 5th of the voicing then there are two rules that are both useful for different chords:

The 11th can replace the 5th
The 13th can replace the 5th

In the examples below I am using the 1st rule on the Gm7 and the 2nd on the Dominant and the tonic chord.

Adding Alterations

But you can also add alterations to the dominants. In that case, that means that we have a few other options. For the dominant you have these options:

b9 instead of the root (Db on C7)

#9 instead of the root (Eb on C7)

b13 instead of the 5th (Ab on C7)

b5 instead of the 5th (Gb on C7)

and the 2nd part of example 5 also adds a #11 to the tonic chord

Building melodic comping ideas

The way to think about playing interesting comp is often also about playing top-note melodies that make sense. So instead of thinking too much about the chord extensions, it can be useful to focus more on the melody in the highest voice.

The example below gives a very basic example of this:

Another practical way to find melodies is to play the chords in parts. Below I am starting with a 3-part voicing on the Gm7 which is really just a drop2 voicing of a Gm(9,11). The voice final voice is added as a melody note on beat two.

You can also use the voices in the chords as melodies. That is how the example below is made, where the melody is moving from C to A and C to Ab on the II V.

More examples using a real piece of music

If you want to take this even further and explore how you can really associate many voicings in your playing then check out this lesson where I go over how you go through that process and free up how you use chords in comping in a more musical way.

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