Endless new ways to play the same II V I voicings

I made this lesson to bring an aspect of playing chords to your attention that there is a big chance you don’t think too much about, and which can give you a huge number of new ways to play progressions with the voicings you already know.

The progression and the voicings

What I will try to demonstrate here is how many different ways you can play the same set of voicings by arpegiating the voicings and not just playing them all together as a block.

In the lesson I will use this II V I and only these voicings:

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 1

As you might notice they are all Drop2 voicings. A subject I’ve already covered in previous lessons. You can check out the series here:  Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings – Part 1

If you are used to drop2 voicings you will probably agree that my choice is fairly straight forward.

Arpeggiate you voicings!

So usually we are trying to create melodies and use certain types of voicings to extend the range of sounds we have available while comping, but as I mentioned we can do really a lot by just arpegiating the voicings we already use.


Here are 5 examples to illustrate how easily you can vary the sound of one set of voicings.

The first example is quite simple, for each chord I play the voicing spread in two string sets so that you emphasize the sound of two of the contained intervals. On the Fm7 and Ebmaj7 chord that gives us a diatonic 7th and a diatonic 6th. On the Bb7 there are two 7th intervals.

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 2

Another way to split the voicing is to have an inner and an outer interval set, which with the drop2 voicings gives us an inner 3rd and an outer 10th or 11th.

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 3

So after a few systematical approaches we can also try to make more of a melodic statement by freeing up how each voicing is arpeggiated. In example four I am using the outer voices on the Fm7 and making a short melody with the inner 3rd. On the Bb7alt the chord is arpeggiated in a spread out pattern that almost suspends the sound of it. On the Ebmaj7 voicing I am splitting in strings sets in the same way as in Variation 1

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 4

The Fm7 line in variation 4 is first introducing the whole chord and then a melody with the inner voices. On the Bb7 the first part is the 2nd and 4th voice followed by an arpeggiation of the Dmaj7 shell voicing that is the top of the Bb7alt chord. The Ebmaj7 is played by first the lower 3 strings and then as an added melody later the top note.

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 5

The final example is using a more traditional way of arpeggiating a chord on the guitar, followed by 2 string sets, which is another way to draw out more sounds within the voicing. Something that is often used in Brazilian guitar music. On the Bb7 the entire chord is first played before a string skipping arpeggio pattern is played. The line resolves to Ebmaj7 with a pattern that is first the Bb melody note and then the rest of the chord.

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 6

As you can see there are a lot of possiblities to play even a simple three chord progression. If you are used to arpeggiating chords in different ways then you probably do not need to work on anything in a systematical way, but you can better just try to apply it while playing with others or when practicing a tune.

As always you can download the examples I used as a pdf here:

Endless ways to play the same II V I voicings

I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.