Tag Archives: chord progression

Voice Leading – Breaking a Few Rules

Voice leading is the method you use to create smooth transitions between chords. Often it is described with voice-leading rules that determine how we move specific notes in a chord move to specific note in the next jazz chord. In this video I will explain voice-leading quickly and then give some examples of how you can actually be very creative and create some interesting sounds and new chord voicings by using voice-leading.

The lesson also illustrates how you can create some great progressions by breaking some of the rules. There is no reason to be tied down and not be creative

Jazz Harmony quickly becomes a science and research, but it is better to be a little free and also just try out the opposite of what is expected once in a while. In the end it is not about music theory but about what sounds good. 

Basic Voice Leading 

The most basic voice-leading rules in jazz are probably the movement of the core chord tones. In general voice-leading is about taking the closest route to a note in the next chord.

Below in the example I have Shell voicings for a II V I in C major.

Notice how the 7th(C) of Dm moves to the 3rd(B) of G7 and stays there as the 7th of Cmaj7.

The same goes for the 3rd(F) of Dm, stays to become the 7th of G7 and then resolves to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7.

In this case the chords are moving in a smooth way from one to the next and in all changes one note stays while the other descends.

Opposite Voice-leading from II to V

In the example below I am voice-leading the 7th of Dm7 in the opposite direction, namely up to Db.

This means that the Dm7(11) chord is moving to a G7(b9b5) with no 3rd. The 5th of Dm7 naturally moves to the b9 (Ab) of G7. The G7 resolves to the C6/9 quartal voicing.

Against the rules on V I

In example 3 I have written out a II V I that resolves the 7th(F) of G upwards to a #11(F#) on Cmaj7.

The transition from Dm7 to G7 is pretty straight forward with G(11) moving to Ab(b9), E(3rd) and C(7th) lead to Eb(b13) and B(3rd). The F remains.

When the G7(b9b13) resolves to Cmaj7 it is moving the F up to F#, B stays and Eb resolves to the 3rd(E). The b9 is also surprisingly resolving up to an A that in this case is a 13th on the Cmaj7.

Suspensions and Surprises

An advantage of starting to explore thinking of the individual voices is that it can free up how we think of chords as vertical blocks that can’t be changed.

This example is showing how you can use voice-leading to create some interesting suspensions in your playing and blur the lines between the chords.

The basic II V in this example is pretty straight forward with a bit of contrary movement in the top-voices. The G7(b9b13) is resolved to Cmaj7(9) also in the way you would expect, but the b9 is left hanging. This creates a suspension of the b9 and gives us a #5 sound on the Cmaj7 that is then resolved down to the 5 on the 3rd beat. 

Not Getting Stuck in Drop2 

Often when you think in voice-leading it keeps you in one type of voicing, so “strict” voice-leading will take a triad to another triad or a drop2 voicing to a drop2 voicing. 

But once you start going in other directions you open for getting other results. In the example here below I am voice-leading the Drop2 Dm7(9) into a G7(b5b13) and then back to a Cmaj7.

Voice-Leading for new Voicings

Thinking in moving voices is also a great way to come up with completely new voicings. In the example below I am creating a G7(b9b5) voicing that I actually didn’t know before preparing this lesson. 

The voicing is a little tricky to play but really sounds great and resolves perfectly to the C6/9.

More Drop 2 voicings in Action!

Of course if you want to dig a little deeper into using Drop2 Chords in comping then check out this lesson on using Drop2 voicings and adding Chromatic Passing Chords:

Drop 2 & Chromatic Passing Chords – Take The A-Train

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Favourite Chord in the key of C Major?

A chord that isn’t in the key isn’t always a modulation. There are many chords that you will come across in songs that music theory does not describe as a modulation.

In this video I talk a bit about some of those progressions of chords. Show an example of something that is a modulation and a few progressions that are not modulations but still contain chords that are not found in the scale.

The way I view music theory is that it is a description of the music that I play that helps me understand and hear what is going on. In most genres of music you will find a lot of chords that are maybe not diatonic to the scale but are still in the key. Examples of this are found as secondary dominants, modal interchange or borrowed chords from the parallel key.

Content of the video

0:00 Intro and a bit of heated discussion

1:09 Diatonic Chords

1:37 Modulation or not?

2:00 Progressions with non diatonic chord in the key

2:39 A progression that modulates

3:26 What can you come across? Secondary dominants

4:06 Modal Interchange/Borrowing from minor

4:25 Overview of the 21 chords in C minor.

4:55 Song examples with borrowed chords

5:25 My favorite chord and a little solo with it!

5:55 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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How To Analyze Chords and Progressions

We Analyze Chords and Chord Progressions because it is very important to understand how the music flows and also to figure out what to play and how to play when we solo over it.

In this video I am going to take a well know Jazz Standard There Will Never Be Another You and use a step-wise method to analyze the a song. Understand the chords and the progression, and find out what scales go with the chords. This will go a bit beyond just recognizing the II V I’s and also help you really understand a lot of progressions in jazz.

As a musician I find that knowing and using music theory like this is really helpful when studying pieces and sight-reading charts. For me it helps me hear the music on the page, the changes and the color of the melody. For that Harmonic analysis is a very useful skill.

Analyze Chords – Video Content:

0:00 Intro

0:36 What we use the Analysis for

1:06 Three Step Analysis using Roman Numeral

1:29 A few approaches to find the key -The Melody

2:00 The Chord as a way of finding the key

2:27 Diatonic chords in the scale

2:56 The Diatonic chords in the progression

3:54 Adding secondary Dominants and Cadences

6:34 The 3 remaining Chords

6:46 Minor Subdominant

8:47 The Tritone substitute

9:47 The #IV

11:40 Using the analysis to assign scales

13:30 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Jazz Turnaround – How To Get Started

The Jazz Turnaround or I VI7 II V is a very common and useful progression to learn after you have checked out some basic II V I lines. In this video I will go over some basic material to use on a Turnaround: Jazz Chords, Scales and Arpeggios and then demonstrate how to solo over the form with this.

The lesson includes some exercises as well to get you more familiar with the chord progression, arpeggios and scales and get it into your ears and fingers.

The Progression and some Basic Jazz Chords 

The turnaround I am going to focus on in this lesson is a Bb major I VI II V. I have chosen to use altered dominants for the VI and the V chords.

A good place to start when learning a chord progression is to play the chords. Here are the chords both as diagrams and as notation:

It is important to play the chords and get used to how they sound, and for any progression you want to solo on you also want to be able to play the chords.

These voicings are fairly basic versions with a root.

Scales and a position of the neck

When you are starting to work on a progression then you want to keep scales and arpeggios in one position. If you have to move around the neck to cover the chords while soloing then it is going to be very difficult to play any logical sounding melodies.

I am going to cover the turnaround using the 6th positions.

The Bbmaj7 and the Cm7 are covered by a basic Bb major scale:

The  G7 altered scale is the same as the Ab melodic minor scale. In this position that is this scale:

And finally the F altered or Gb melodic minor:

Arpeggios – Diatonic and altered dominant

The basic arpeggios for the Bbmaj7 and Cm7 are easy to come up with. The altered dominants are a bit more tricky. Here I am using m7b5 arpeggios from the 7th of the chord.

Decoding the Arpeggio choice for the Altered dominants

The altered dominants don’t have a straight diatonic arpeggio. In Ab melodic minor the diatonic chord on G is a half diminished chord. One way of dealing with that is to look at a G7alt chord voicings as shown below.

The top part of that chord is an Fm7(b5) chord and this means we can use that arpeggio as a good arpeggio for G7alt since it gives us a

F Ab B Eb = b7, b9, 3, b13

Exercises on the Progression

When you are learning a progression it is really useful to do some exercises that follow the changes and help you not only familiarize yourself with both the chords and the scales and arpeggios you need to improvise over it.

In the video I also demonstrate how to do similar exercises with the arpeggios and two examples of the never-ending scale exercise.

Improvising using Target Notes

One of the best ways to approach soloing over changing harmony and to have melody lines that flow naturally from one chord to the next is to use target notes.

Using target notes in your solos is to choose a note in advance and then try to play a melody towards that note. This way of constructing lines is very useful because if you have that in your system you will always play melodies that are moving towards something and not sound like you are trying out how notes sound or that melodies are moving at random. By choosing target notes that are related to the chords it is also a very powerful way to really spell out the chords.

The Target notes for this progression

The Target notes are chosen to be really clear so they are very indicative of the sound of the chord and not repeating notes from the last chord.

An example of a line using the target notes is shown below. Notice how I am using the target notes on the 1st beat of the chord and making a line that really points to that target notes.

Taking the Target note strategy further

If you want to check out some more material on Turnarounds and target notes then you can also check out this webstore lesson where I am using that approach on the Rhythm Changes.

Rhythm Changes – Target Note Strategies

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Get the PDF!

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Jazz Turnaround How To Get Started

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.

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: