Tag Archives: basic jazz chords

Do this Every Time you Learn a New Jazz Chord

You need to check out a lot of different jazz chords and voicings when you want to learn Jazz, and you need them for comping and for chord melody arrangements.

In this lesson, I am going to show you some techniques that can really help you get more out of your voicings so that you don’t have to spend too much time practicing chords and help you use one voicing that you already know to create a ton of other chords that you then don’t need to practice as much.

A little music theory can really save you a lot of time!

I am going to do this in 3 parts – first look at finding similar voicings, then change the voicing and finally what other chords we can use this voicing for.

This is all about using what you practice as much as possible and getting the most out of what you have learned.

Part 1 – Connect the voicing to all the other things you know.

Let’s keep it a little practical. Let’s say you have learned a shiny new voicing like this Drop2 voicing for a C7(9).

It’s a drop2 voicing, but if we forget that and just look at it and associate it with other types of voicings then something great happens:

Below, you can see that it is coming from this voicing (bar2) and that it is also related to this voicing (bar3)

The reason that I am saying this is that it is important to tie see how the chord has different components from other voicings that we know.

That makes it easier to use it with other chords and for examplie having C-D top note melody.

Another thing that is good to notice is that it is related to this Drop3, this triad or this shell voicing.

We are just taking a look at how it works and finding things we can do with it.

Right now we can make a melody like this with what we just discovered:

or a comping riff like this:

Part 2 – Change The Voicing – Make a New Jazz Chord

This is really an important way to look at how to come up with more sounds and really explore what we can do with a chord.

To keep it a bit practical I am not going to change the 3rd and 7th of the chord because then we have a completely different type of chord and open up for a lot more information, that is possible and you should experiment with it, but my video would get too long.

If we explore changing the 2nd highest note, the G, then we have these chords:

So, of course, you need to understand where you want to use the chords to figure out what fits. A blues in C with C7(9,b13) chords may not be the sound you want (or are hired to play)

We can do the same with the top note:

And I am not going to go over the different combinations of this, but that can be fun to explore as well!

Part 3 – Using this voicing for other Jazz chords

Now we have connected the chord to a ton of other voicings and made a lot of variations on it.

If you look at the notes that are in the C7(9) voicing we have Bb,E, G and D.

If you order these in different ways we have:

E G Bb D which is Em7(b5) or You can look at it as G Bb D E which is a Gm6

So this means that the original voicing could be used like this:

These are two of the obvious choices, but you could also go through this in a systematic way and just check out what these notes are against any root.

They could work as a Bb6(#11) or F#7alt. Thinking of notes against a root is something that is also very useful for soloing!

If you use the chord as an F#7alt then you have this: Example 8

Connect the chords don’t just remember separate things

This way of thinking about voicings where you are looking at it not only within a system but also really connecting to other types of chords and voicings is a very good practice for developing and making your vocabulary more useable. If you want to see another video where I talk about this then check out this video where I am going over a 3 level process of creating and using jazz chords.

Jazz Chords – The 3 Levels You Need To Know

And you could also consider checking out the Jazz Chord Study Guide

Apply it to a Bb Jazz Blues

Take things even further by using some of the same principles on a Jazz Blues:

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Jazz Chords – The 3 Levels You Need To Know

In this video I am to cover some different types of Jazz Chords and talk about the order you should learn them. I’ll show you the basic idea with the chords and how you can use this order to gradually build a chord vocabulary that you can also make music with.

I don’t focus on the types of voicings, like drop2 drop3, etc. because they are just names, it is more important to chords you can play music with.

Level 1 – A Set For Playing Music and Songs

To play songs and easily find the chords we need one set with the root on the 5th and one set with the root on the 6th string. This is shown in the example here below:

If you are used to finding chords in other genres this is probably how you think about it.
These chords are basic chord sounds, not too many extensions. 

  • They are Easy to play.
  • Similar to the bar chords you already know
  • Include the root – full picture of the harmony
  • A Complete set of chords

Why start with these:

  • You can play the song alone and hear the harmony. 
  • Works well in a duo
  • Easy to add extensions and develop
  • Easy to turn into very flexible rootless voicings

Level 2 – Rootless voicings for Bands and Flexibility

Now you can play the chords and to get some more options then the best place to go is to just take the chords from Level 1 and then remove the lowest note: The Root.
The essential exercise is this:

We can now start making the chords more flexible and add melody by changing the top note and even adding an extra higher note as shown below in example 3 for a C7.

Why:

  • Works better in a band
  • Is much more flexible
  • You can play melodic ideas with the chords

Level 3 – Inversions and more melodic options

Now we can start working on inversions, and a good place to start is to take these voicings that we come across while adding notes to the 3-note chords.

The idea of a chord inversion is really just to find the same notes in another order on the neck. The chords we have are called drop2 voicings, and I go over how to make the inversions in the Drop2 lessons in this guide: How To Learn Jazz Chords

If I take the four basic chords and play those inversions then I have this:

How To Learn Using These Chords

Whenever you practice something like this it is very important that you also practice using it in songs. Learning a lot of stuff that you don’t use in music is usually a waste of time and you just forget it again.

Check out some more in ideas with Drop 2 voicings

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The Missing Triad in your Jazz Blues Chords – Simple and Easy

Flexible voicings like triads are very practical to add to your jazz blues chords. We can do a lot with Triads and they are fairly easy to play and move around. This video is taking a look at how we construct 3 note voicings for a jazz blues and then adding a triad voicing that fills a gap on the fretboard.

From there I show how you can take that thorugh a chorus and develop it into another similar type of chord which also gives us a complete set of voicings on the blues.

3-Note Jazz Blues Chords

Most of us use triad chords coming out of the chords that we already use but without a root, so for F7 we end up with these two voicings: F7 + F9 as seen in example 1 here below:

They work really well, but there is a long gap from rootless F9 to F7.

Constructing another voicing to close the gap

If we look at the F7 chord then a basic F7 is an F root and an A diminished triad and we can use that triad as a voicing as well.

A C Eb and that sort of bridges the gap between the two.

If I use a bit of voice- leading I can comp through a blues using this type of voicing as shown in the example 2:

The F7 is here the A dim triad: A C Eb. On the Bb7 this is voicelead into Ab C D which works as a Bb7(9). Then back to F7 and going to a F7(b13) : A Db Eb.

In bar 5 the chord is again the Bb7(9): Ab C D. The B dim is easy to create changing the C in to a B, so Bdim: Ab B D.  This moves up chromatically to the F7: A C Eb. The D7(b9) is achieved by moving up the entire voicing so that the top note is an F#: C Eb F#. 

The Gm7 is the upper-structure: Bb major triad: Bb D F.  This is turned into a C7(9) by lowering the F: C7(9) Bb D E. The F7 is the original voicing and the last C7 is the C7(b9) version of the other voicings: Bb Db E. 

Another voicing to check out!

There is one more voicing that we can check out from the previous example.

The 2nd chord on Bb7 is this Bb7(9): Ab C D. If this is transposed to F7(9): Eb G A

This can be turned into a complete other chorus:

In example 3 I have a shift from the D7(b13) down to a Gm7 chord that is a 1st inversion Bb major triad. This is one way of doing this, but another way would be to really aim for getting smooth voice-leading:

This is a bigger stretch but also a very smooth moving chord progression.

Harmonizing the F7 scale based on the 3 voicings

A cornerstone in my vision on comping is that the top note melody has to make sense. To make this possible it is very important to also be able to play the entire scale with a chord sound.

This lesson started with two 3 note voicings that I then added a 3rd voicing to, and using these 3 chord voicings you can harmonize the F7 scale as shown here below:

3-note flexibility and voice-leading

The flexibility and the fact that you can easily be quite free when working with 3-note chords is probably a huge part of why I use these voicings so much. I hope you can use this material to get more out of your comping and make it easier to play some solid ideas in your comp and in your solos.

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Jazz Blues – The Forgotten Triad Chords – Great, Simple and Easy

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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.