Drop2&4 voicings – Part 1

We are all looking for ways to lay down chords so that the harmony is presented in a rich and exciting way. Chord voicings with large intervals and a big range can be a very powerful tool to play long sustained chords that sound full but and still clear and interesting. Drop 2&4 voicings are a good way to approach this systematically and in this lesson I am going to go over how you can convert your Drop2 Voicings into Drop 2&4 voicings.

To use the material that I am going to cover in this lesson you are probably better off first knowing Drop2 voicings which are by many considered standard chord vocabulary for jazz. If you are not familiar with Drop2 voicings you can check out my lessons on it here:  http://jenslarsen.nl/jazz-chord-essentials-drop-2-voicings-part-1/

The layout of this lesson is that I am first going to go over what a Drop 2&4 voicing is and then am going to explain how you can convert a drop2 voicing into a drop 2&4 voicing.

Build up of a Drop 2&4 voicing

If you look at the first D7 chord in example 1 you can see that it is a D7 as a stack of thirds.

Let’s number the notes from the top we get: 1(C), 2(A), 3(F#), D(4).

Means that we have 2 & 4 (the notes A and D) that we can drop down an octave (beat 2 of bar 1 and dropped down on beat 3 of bar 1).

If we then move the F# to another string to make it easy to play we have the drop 2&4 voicing that is shown on beat 4.

Since we don’t use the stacked 3rds and it’s inversion of the chords a lot on guitar (mainly beacuse they are virtually unplayable) It makes more sense to learn these voicings by starting with something we already know like the Drop2 voicings.

The drop2 voicing of the 1st chord is shown on beat 1 of bar 2. Since we already have the 2 dropped we just need to drop the 4 (which is of course still the D because the 2(A) has been dropped down already)

The rule to convert the drop2 voicing to a drop 2&4 voicing is to take the 2nd lowest note and drop that an octave.

Drop2&4 voicings - Part 1 - ex 1

The reason for creating the voicing this way is that we get a very consistent fingering where we have on string in the middle that is not used and we get a playable version of  the voicing directly from the drop2 voicing that we already know.

The 4 main chord types as drop 2&4

If you look at the diatonic 7th chords in a major scale you have 4 basic types: Maj7, m7,Dom7 and m7b5. With those 4 types covered we have a good base to play most songs and we can also use them as a starting point when adding extensions or alterations.

In this lesson I am using chords from the key of G major to demonstrate the different chord voicings.

Now that we have the method described above we can take the inversions of the drop2 voicings and make drop2&4 voicings from them:

Drop2&4 voicings - Part 1 - ex 2

Drop2&4 voicings - Part 1 - ex 3

Drop2&4 voicings - Part 1 - ex 4

Drop2&4 voicings - Part 1 - ex 5

It is worth noticing that there are of course other ways to place the notes on the fretboard, but this method yields a complete and consequent way to work with the voicings which is why I have only used those fingering sets.

II V I progressions with drop2&4 voicings

To demonstrate how you can use the drop 2&4 voicings I have made three examples of II V I cadences in G major and used the drop 2&4 vocicings. Since the drop2 voicings behave just like the drop2 voicings we can apply the same rules for adding extensions and alterations.

The first example is a completely simple version of the II V I using the basic chord voicings around the 10th fret. I chose to resolve the dominant upwards even if it could have resolved to the voicing below as well. In this way the F# is moved up to G.

Drop2&4 voicings - Part 1 - ex 6


In the 2nd line I am still using basic voicings from examples 2-5 but now I am using the chord voicings from the 3rd of the chord to add a 9th to all the chords. For the Am7 I use Cmaj7, D7 an F#m7b5 and the Gmaj7 is played with a Gmaj7 voicing though I could make it into a Bm7 voicing by changing the G on the D string to an A.

Drop2&4 voicings - Part 1 - ex 7

The final example is making use of an altered dominant. The way I am coming up with the altered dominant voicing is described in this lesson: http://jenslarsen.nl/play-standard-2-types-drop2-chords/ It is in fact a m7b5 voicing from the 7th of the chord, so in this case it’s a Cm7b5 standing in for a D7alt.

For the rest the voicings are straight forward Am7 and Gmaj7 voicings as shown in example 2-5.

Drop2&4 voicings - Part 1 - ex 8

I hope you can use the examples and the voicings to create some interesting sounds and expand your voicing and sonic vocabulary. I think that given the construction and range of these chords they are better off being used as sustained long sounds than voicings you just use as you would normally to play chord stabs over a standard, but do experiment to find the use for it that suits you the best.

If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf here:

Drop2&4 voicings – Part 1

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make thme fit what you want to hear.

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