Tag Archives: chords

Stella By Starlight – 6 ways to Harmonize a minor II V I

The Minor II V I is a difficult progression to have options for. In this video I am going to demonstrate 6 variations of Stella by Starlight Guitar chord melody options that you can use on this song and on other Minor II V I options.

It should help you get some different ways to approach the minor II V I and not play the same things all thet time.

The examples are going from the original and I also made one with Coltrane Changes, so there is a bit of Jazz history in there as well!

Most of the examples you can easily use on many minor II V I cadences, and some are a little more specific but can still give you some ideas for a way of working on your own arrangements and reharmonizations.

If you know one I didn’t talk about then please leave a comment!

The Content of the Stella By Starlight Video

0:00 Intro

1:25 #1 Original Changes of Victor Young

1:42 Analysis – The Original harmony and the dim chord!

3:18 Finding great harmony by NOT thinking in Chords

5:17 #2 The Real Book Changes

5:57 Analysis

7:01 #3 Eø Natural 9th

7:26 Analysis

8:30 F7 as a Lydian Dominant – Why It Works

9:11 #4 Phrygian Dominant

9:26 Analysis – What is a Phrygian Dom7th

11:15 #5 Major II V Cadence

11:33 Analysis – A great trick also for solos!

13:38 An Extra Level of Hancock in this version

14:13 #6 Coltrane Changes

14:30 Analysis

15:57 #7 Coltrane Changes 2.0 – a more musical approach?

16:44 What is your favourite Reharmonization for this song?

17:10 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Corinna Danzers Great Video with the original Changes: 

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The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

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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.

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Diatonic Chords Exercises – The Most Useful & Important

Learning The Diatonic Jazz Chords for any scale is an important part of exploring what harmonies and melodies are contained in the scales.

In this video I am going to go over how to construct diatonic 7th chords and a few exercises to help you learn and play them. This should help you get started playing songs like jazz standards.

It is also very important to realize that the diatonic chords are the same as the diatonic arpeggios and you need to know and use your solos.

Constructing Diatonic 7th Chords

To construct the chord let’s first have a look at the scale:

For each note in the C major scale we can stack thirds, which is like taking every other note in the scale:
C: C E G B = Cmaj7

D. D F A C = Dm7

E: E G B D = Em7
etc.

If we play these then you get these chords:

More Playable Jazz Chords

The Chords in example 2 are a bit tricky, but you can easily play the same chords using these voicings.

The chord voicings are what is known as Drop2 voicings, which is not essential in this context but you can check out more here.

The order of the Diatonic chords

This row of chords is the same for all major scales, so you want to remember:
maj7, m7, m7, maj7, 7, m7, ø, maj7

Adding Another Set of Chords

I am going to use these chords for the exercises, but it is practical to also have a set of diatonic chords with the root on the 6th string. The lowest note on the E string I am using here is an F, so I am starting with F which is a maj7 chord. After that the G is the dom7th etc. 

Exercises to Internalize Diatonic Chords

These exercises are to help you learn the diatonic chords, get a good overview and gain some flexibility with playing them

#1 Move around the keys

THis is a really basic exercise. Since the order of the chords is always the same it is very useful to just play the diatonic chords in different keys.

In Example 5 and 6 I have written out the diatonic chords in the key of Ab Major.

#2 Playing The Scale in 3rds

Playing the scale in different patterns like 3rds is a great way to just work through the scale and skip around from chord to chord. This is very efficient for building an overview.

#3 Circle of 4ths/5ths

Chords very often move in 4th and 5th intervals, just think of a II V I or III VI II V I.

Playing through the scale like this is a great exercise:

#4 The Fly Me To The Moon Exercise

If you start Am then you have Fly me to the moon: A D G C F B E A
except one thing: the E is an E7 because it is a secondary dom7th and actually Bø E7 is a minor cadence to Am7.

#4 Secondary Cadences

In the previous example the Em7 was turned into an E7 and in that way creating a cadence to Am: Bø E7 Am7.

For every chord in the scale it is possible to create a cadence like this.

We have two basic cadences. To a Major chord: m7 dom7th maj7

and to a minor chord: ø dom7th m7

To get more overview and be better at having an overview of the scales and chord it is a great exercise to go over the cadences for each of the diatonic chords.

These exercises will help you also recognize a lot of the progressions you will come across in Jazz Standards.

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Rhythm Changes Chords – Hidden in the Easy Chords

Rhythm Changes Chords are essential to check out. If you want to explore jazz and bebob guitar then the rhythm changes progression is a must. The progression is often used and parts of it are common in countless other songs.

In this lesson I will first go over a basic set of chord voicings to play the progression. I will then expand on these voicings by first turning them into rootless voicings. Then I will show you how you can start making variations of the top notes to create more interesting comping ideas like that. Finally I will go over how you can even add notes and create another set of 4-note voicings.

The Basic Rhythm Changes chord set

We don’t need a lot of different voicings to play a Rhythm Changes A part. In fact it is mostly the same turnaround: I [V] II V and then a short trip to the IV and back.

The chords are shown here below:

If you want to read them using chord diagrams or chord boxes you can do so here:

In the above progression I use a #IVdim (Edim) chord to go from Eb back to Bb in bar 6. Another common way to do this is to play a IV minor chord. In most cases this is a backdoor dominant. In Bb major that would be Ab7. This variation of those bars is shown here below:

Introduction to Jazz Chords

The way I play these chords is coming out of some the lessons in this study guide:

How to Play Jazz Chords

Making the voicings rootless and adding melody

An easy way to create some more flexible 3-note voicings is to just leave out the root.

This is shown here below in example 3:These are more flexible and it is fairly easy to change the top note so that we can play several  melodies using these voicings. 

One way of adding these options is shown in example 4:

Creating 4-note voicings (and recognizing them)

Another way to vary the melody is to add an extra note on top of the voicing. This can be done quite easily since we are only playing 3 notes.

An example of how this works is shown in example 5:

As you can probably see these voicings are mostly drop2 voicings.

The most important Lesson of this Process

This way of coming up with different chord voicings is of course a way of giving yourself options, but is is also a way of associating different voicings together so that we don’t have to remember unconnected sets of notes. 

This is a very practical way to think about chords and a great way to help you learn a lot of chords by just really remembering one.

What do you think?

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Rhythm Changes Chords

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.

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The Minor Chord You Never Use

You probably think that with m7, m6 and mMaj7 you have all your minor sounds covered, but there is probably one type of minor that you don’t use! That’s what I am going to talk about in this video. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8akiqa5Hz1o

The different types of Minor chords

Roughly speaking we tend to split our minor chords in two different sounds, the ones coming out of the major scale and the ones from the melodic minor scale.

From the major scale

All my examples in this lesson are using an Am chord- If we look at some of the examples where we use a m7 chord from the major scale, the most common ones are where it is a II or a III chord. This shown in example 1

In both cases the m7 chord is used as part of a cadence and is used to suspend the chord that follows it. 

Melodic minor chords

Another possibility is that the minor chord is a tonic in the song. In our case that would be a song in A minor. It is also used as a IVm chord in a major key, so in the 2nd half of example 2, you see a IV IVm I in E major.

In the examples above we could easily substitute the AmMaj as well as an Am6.

The minor13th chord

So in the examples above we have a m7, and the m6 and mMaj7 chords that are the basic chord categories. Both can of course have extensions added to them depending on the context where you use them.

One more type of chord that i inbetween the two is the m13 chord, since this chord has a b7 and the 13 (enharmonic to the major 6th). This chord is associated with the Dorian sound, and is indeed only possible on the 2nd degree of the major scale. You could also look at it as being the major scale stacked in 3rd from the 2nd note in the scale.

The different types are shown in example 3 below:

Why you don’t use it

We tend to see minor chords as either II or III chords or tonic minor chords, they either imply some parent major scale or melodic minor. When you have a m13 chord it is more difficult to use as  a II chord because it contains the 3rd of the dominant chord. On tonic minor chords we already have the melodic minor scale which in itself is an interesting sound, and which is also from a tonal perspective much more stable.

There are songs that make use of the m13 sound. Most of them are from the period where it was introduced in jazz and later. But it is also occasionally found in standards like Invitation. Some famous songs would be Recorda Me or Time Remembered. Mostly it is used as a tonic sounding chords, but it was also often used in other contexts when interpreting standards from the mid 60’s and on.

m13 voicings

If we are going to use the chord we need a few voicings to be able to put it to use in some of the contexts discussed above. In example 4 I have written out a few good Am13 voicings that you can check out.

Using the m13 chord in a II V I cadence

If you want to hear a m13 chord being used as II chord then check out some of the 60’s Herbie Hancock with Miles Davis when they play standards. The idea is that we are not so much focused on the harmonic movement. Instead each chord is considered an island of sound and we can color it how we choose. You could call this a modalization of the standards.

Since the m13 takes away the suspension of the dominant effect we use altered dominants to make the difference bigger.

Here are some examples of how that can work really well in a II V I in G major

The m13 as a tonic chord sound

The easiest way to use it as a tonic minor chord is to just throw it in at the end of a cadence. That is basically what I have done in example 6. You should watch out a bit with the voice leading here and there though.

How to start working with m13 chords

That were some examples of how I use m13 chords in cadences and as tonic minor chords. I like the modern sound that these progressions have. It is a nice surprising sound that you can pull out when there is room for it. This means that you probably don’t want to use it when there are a lot of chords. It will fit more in places where there is more room to enjoy the richness of it.

This is of course also how you will see it used most in the songs and examples I mentioned in this lesson.

Where to begin

You probably want to start by substituting a m13 chords into a song in the songs that have a long stretch of a minor chord. A medium Blue Bossa or I’ll remember April could be good standards to experiment with. In a cadence you could also try adding the m13 to a ballad like I fall in love to easily.

If you want to study the examples I went over in the lesson you can of course also download them as a pdf here:

The Minor Chord You Never Use

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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.

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Walking Bass and Chords – Solar

One of the nicest ways to comp in a duo setting is to play walking bass and chords at the same time. In this lesson I am going to go over a 2 chorus example on the song solar and demonstrate how you can construct bass lines, make some rhythmical variations and use passing chords and leading notes.

Walking bass line melodies

Walking bass line melodies are a bit different from the normal melodies we use when we play a solo. You need to be able to technically play the bass a nd the chords at the same time.

In this lesson I will go through the example and use that to demonstrate how I make bass lines and how I use devices like passing chords and chromatic leading notes.

Playing bass lines

The best way to play this type of accompaniment is best played by playing the bass with your thumb and the remaining fingers can then add chords on top once in a while.

The important part of the groove is the bass so you should probably strive to keep that going and then add chords once in a while as it is possible without disrupting the flow of the music. Think of the chords as being a spice or embellishment and the bass as the meat of what is happening. 

Writing bass lines

Walking bass lines are based on the harmony that they are played under. I am assuming that you know what the chord tones are for the different chords since this is something you have to be familiar with if you want to be able to make your own lines.

In the first 4 bars we have 2 bars of tonic C minor. In the first bar we have a C on the one, and use a diatonic passing note(D) to get to the Eb. I then skip down to a B because I want to go back to C in the next C minor bar. The 2nd bar has the same bass line but now we end on an A to go down to G on Gm7. The Gm7 line is identical to the one on Cm, just transposed to G. On the 4 in that bar we have a chromatic leading note(B) to C. 

Open strings and arpeggios

On the C7 I am using an open string. This is something that double bass players do very often and we might as well take over that concept when ever possible. In this case it allows me to go from C down to a low E where I can then continue up to the 5th(G) and go chromatically down towards F.

walking-bass-and-chords-exercise-solar-1

Chromatic passing chords

On the two bars of F major I am first using a scale movement to get from the low F in the first bar to a high F in the 2nd bar. The 2nd bar is using a bass line that I use on several chords: 1 7 5 leading note. In this case the next chord is an Fm7 so we can reuse the 7 as a leading note. The same bass line is used on the Fm7, but now of course with a b7 and a B leading note down to Bb. In this bar I have also chosen to harmonize the B as a B7 that then moves down and resolves to a Bb7 on the 1 of the next bar.

Sliding rhythms

The bass line on the Bb7 is just the triad followed by a leading note, but I am adding an extra leading note below the target(Eb) on the 4 and. I then slide up to Eb, this breaks up the rhythm nicely and is a good way to add some variation.

walking-bass-and-chords-exercise-solar-2

On the Ebmaj7 I am using the same idea as on the first Fmaj7, so here I start on the Eb and then skip down to the 5th to move up the scale stepwise. In this way I am landing on the Eb on the one of the next bar for the Ebm7.

Fast II V progressions

The Ebm7 Ab7 is a very typical bass line where the 3rd and the 5th of the chords become leading notes for the next chord. On the Dbmaj7 the bass line is just the triad and then repeating the root on 4 because it also works as a leading note to Dm7b5. The bassline on that is Dm7(b5): 1 b5 G7: 1 5 where the 5(D) is leading down to C in the next chorus.

walking-bass-and-chords-exercise-solar-3

The 2nd chorus

The firs 2 bars of the 2nd chorus are almost identical to the 1st chorus. The only difference is that now I want to go to a higher G so I have an F as a leading note to G on the 4 of the 2nd bar.

The Gm7 bass line is consisiten of a descending Gm7 arpeggio which nicely encircles the root of C7. The C7 is using the same sliding trick as I used on Eb in the first chorus so that we can slide an “extra” E up to the F on Fmaj7.

walking-bass-and-chords-exercise-solar-4

The Fmaj7 bass line is only consisting of arpeggio notes. First leading back to F and then pointing towards the low F so that we now have a low Fm7. On the Fm7 we have a scale wise ascending bass line that adds a chromatic leading note(A) to go to Bb. The A is here harmonized with an A7 that resolves up to Bb7. The Bb7 bar is identical to the first chorus.

walking-bass-and-chords-exercise-solar-5

The final 4 bars are again using mostly basslines that I have already talked about. The Ebmaj7 is using the 1 7 5 7 bassline. The II V to Db are using a similar idea as in the first chorus, but it is turned around so that we have Ebm7 1 5 Ab7 1 3 and then continues with a Dbmaj7 bassline that goes by the 6th of the chord.. On the final II V I am playing Dm7(b5): 1 b5 and G: 1 b5 to resolve to Cm6/9

walking-bass-and-chords-exercise-solar-6

Practising and playing bass lines

When you are working on basslines then the name of the game is to think ahead. It is probably best to be aware of where you want to be on the next bar and then choose a bass line that takes you there in one chúnk.

All the chords I use are thought of as voicings with the root in the bass. That means that the chord is place around the one of the bar where I play the root of the chord.

If you want to study the examples I went over in the lesson you can of course also download them as a pdf here:

walking-bass-and-chords-exercise-solar

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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.

 

How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar

Sometimes we bury ourselves in exercises and details and forget to play music with what we work on. In this lesson I am going to go over a few exercises that should enable you to play the chords of most jazz standards. It is important to practice towards using the material we work on and hear how it sounds in the context of a song.

This lesson is a remake of a lesson I recorded 2 years ago on my mobile phone. I thought it deserved a better video and audio which is why I chose to go over it again. You can have a look at the original here: Jazz Chord Survival Kit

Diatonic chords

The exercises are meant to give you the vocabulary of chords to work your way through a jazz standard, and a jazz standard is always in a key. The first two exercises are the diatonic chords of a key which should give you the majority of the chords you’ll come across in a standard.

As guitar players we are usually identifying chords from their root notes on the 5th or 6th string, so to use this I have made two set of diatonic chords one with the root on the 5th string (example 1) and one with the root on the 6th string (example2)

How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar - ex 1

And with the root on the 6th string.

How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar - ex 2

You should notice that while the two exercises have the root on different strings the chord part of each voicing is on the on the B, G and D strings so that we can go from one type to the other and have a fairly smooth transition if we stay in the same position on the guitar.

Already with the chords of example 1 and 2 you can get through most jazz standards, but another part of learning to play jazz chords is to read progressions.

II V progressions

If you see a lead sheet for a jazz standard for the first time it is quite likely that you will be overwhelmed by the amount of chords that are in there. For that reason it is very practical if not essential to learn to view groups of chords as one thing rather than each chord by itself, since that makes it a lot easier to remember the song by heart, and in the end also analyse or understanding the song while playing it. That is the reason why I have made the next 4 exercises. One of the most common two chord progressions in jazz is a II V.

A II V is a minor 7th chord moving up a 4th or down a 5th to dominant 7th chord like this:

Dm7 G7

The reason why I am not including the I chord, ie II V I is that very often the II V is resolving differently so it is handy to just pair those two for now.

The II V voicings that I can build with the voicings in the first two exercises are pretty ok, but by adding a bit of extensions I can make them easier to play and transition better from one to the other so here’s an exercise where I let the II V resolve to another II V etc.

How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar - ex 3

And starting on the 6th string:

How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar - ex 4

In examples 3 and 4 I started adding more extensions and colors to the chord voicings which is of course also a part of jazz tradition. There are rules for how you add extensions and alterations, but I won’t go into them too much right now. Try to judge by ear, you will get further than you think on songs that you know!

Minor II V

Since we are already busy with II V cadences in major the next logical is to add the minor II V as well. Same idea as the major counterpart. We add some extensions, and in this case alterations to the dominant to make it easier to play and make the II V move more smooth from II to V, and also to color the V so that it fits with a dominant resolving to a minor chord.

How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar - ex 5

The m7b5 chord is probably one of the most hated voicings by beginning students and it is a bit difficult and takes some practice, but there is really no way around them and with a bit of work everybody gets used to them!

Here’s the set with the root of the II chord on the 5th string:

How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar - ex 6

 

The diminished chord

The final chord type that we need to play standards is a diminished chord. These are not diatonic to a major scale but are found in harmonic minor or major. In example 7 I have written out two voicings for dim chords with roots on the 5th and on the 6th string.

How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar - ex 7

The way you want to use this lesson is probably to check out diatonic chords in a few keys and when you play any of the exercises to keep in mind what chord you are playing. You should probably follow it up with trying to work through a jazz standard and try to play the chords without skipping up and down the neck.

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

How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar

You can also check out one of the drop2 lessons in my webstore:

Drop2 voicings on There will never be another you

 

If you want to see how I use these exercises on the Standard “I Remember You”

You can download a PDF of the voicings here:

How to play Jazz Chords – I Remember You

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 them fit what you want to hear.

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Bb Jazz Blues – The Basics

When playing over a progression like the Bb jazz blues you need to be aware of certain things and be able to play different things so that you have the material you need to really improvise following the harmony of the blues: The Chords, the Scales and the Arpeggios. I have also added a transcription of a chorus of me soloing over the blues as an example of using the material covered.

In this lesson I have made 4 choruses of exercises: The chords, the scales that go with the chords. The arpeggios that are the melodic version of the chords and finally a solo chorus which demonstrates how you might use the other exercises when playing over the Bb blues.

To keep it simple I have kept all exercises in one position so that if you go through the exercises you should begin to have a tool set to improvise over the Bb blues in that position.

The chord voicings

To improvise over a song you probably need to be able to play the chords so you can hear the harony and how it moves. In the following example I have written out a set of voicings to play the Bb Blues.

Bb Jazz Blues - The Basics ex 1

You’ll notice that I in general don’t write out which extensions I use, so I write out the basic type of chord and if whoever is playing a chord he can fill in extensions to his own taste. This is common practice in Jazz in general.

The Scales

In the 2nd example I added a scale to each chord. The way I am playing the scales is that I start on the root and run up to the 7th, this gives you a bit of time to switch to the next chord. This way of applying scales to a progression is the same as you’ll find in Barry Harris exercises. It is a nice way to add the scale in a musical way so that you hear how they spell out the harmony.

Bb Jazz Blues - The Basics ex 2

The Bb7,Eb7,Cm7 and F7 are easily understood in terms of where they sit in the key, since it is all mixolydian or dorian.

The E dim scale is in fact an F harmonic minor from E to E. You can see how I arrive by this by looking at it from the Bb7 scale:

Bb C D Eb F G Ab Bb

If I need to fit an E dim in there then an easy way to do that is to replace the D with a Db and the Eb with an E:

Bb C Db E F G Ab Bb which you can write out from F to recognize that it as an F harmonic minor scale.

For the G7(b9) you need to look at it as a dominant resolving to Cm, which tells us that we should use a Cm scale for it. In this context the (actually in most contexts) that means using the C harmonic minor scale. You can use this approach to determine what scale you should use for any auxiliary dominant.

The Arpeggios

When playing over changing harmony the best way to really follow the chords is of course to use the notes of the chords in your solo. Therefore it is very important to be able to play the chords of the progression as arpeggios. In example 3 I have written out the arpeggios in this position.

To make it easier to connect the different arpeggios I have written them out in a similar range which means that I don’t always start on the root of each chord.

You should practice the arpeggios like I’ve written them out, but you would get a lot from also improvising over the progression just using the arpeggios.

Bb Jazz Blues - The Basics ex 3

When you solo over the progression the target notes you choose to make lines that clearly reflects the harmony.

The solo

As an example of how you can use the material I have written out a short improvised solo on a Bb blues.

Bb Jazz Blues - The Basics ex 4

I hope you can use the exercises and the materials to get started improvising over a Jazz Blues progression. You can check out some of my other lessons on Blues, arpeggios and target notes for more ideas.

Take You Jazz Blues Skills Further

Do you wan to see how this information can be put to use and look at how you can expand on it as well? Then You can also check out my Bb blues solo lesson with a 4 chorus transcription + lesson:

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Get The PDF

If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf by signing up to my mailing list here:

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 them fit what you want to hear.

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.

Find New Jazz Chords with inversions

Taking chord voicings that you already know and invert them is a very great way to look for new chords. You can work on this from a more guitar oriented approach and not only music theory. That is the approach I will cover in this lesson.

Besides learning new voicings this  is also a good exercise in knowing what notes are in the chords and once you start making inversions you will train you fretboard knowledge and ability to solve riddles with making the inversions playable.

 

Inversions on a string set

The approach that I suggest you use in the beginning when making inversions is maybe a bit more guitar oriented and not too theoretical. Often the process of making inversions from a theoretical point of view stops us from actually playing the chords.

This mostly applies to voicings that we have learned that are not already in a system like Drop2 or Drop3, since you start working on those in all inversions from the first go anyway.

The idea is really quite simple. In Ex 1 I have written out a Cmaj7(9) chord. If we look at the notes separately as in bar 2 we can order them so that they are in one octave by shifting down the high D one octave. In bar 3 we have converted the notes of the voicing to a “scale” where in order of pitch. In this case that would be the notes C D E B

Find New Jazz Chords with inversions - ex 1

If you stay on the same string set then then you can lean the figure out the scale on each string which will eventually be a map of the inversions.

To go over this in detail for the Cmaj7(9) chord: In example 2 the first chord is the basic voicing we already know. The next inversion will be the one where for each note in the chord we move it up one step in the “scale”.

From Bar 1 to Bar 2 in example 2: Low to high:  C becomes D, E becomes B, B becomes C and D becomes E.

This continues from Bar2 to 3: D becomes E, B becomes C, C becomes D and E becomes B.

So in this way we are making the inversion on the same string set directly on the guitar.

Find New Jazz Chords with inversions - ex 2

Now that we have this system let’s try it out on a few more chords:

D/G is  a good voicing for Gmaj7, A7sus4, and Em7 type chords. Since it is a triad over a bass note it is not a construction that we would qucikly think to make inversions of.

In example 3 you have 4 inversions of the chord. As you can see bar 3 and 4 are very difficult to play, but 4 is doable if you add an artificial harmonic to raise the F# an octave. A trick I picked up from Lenny Breau.

Find New Jazz Chords with inversions - ex 3

Another voicing that we can invert is a 4 note stack of 4ths as shown in Example 4. What this shows is that the voicing is realted to an E7sus4 drop 2 voicing (especially visible in bar3).

What is also useful about this is that we use the first chord as a voicing for Gmaj7, E7sus4, D6/9 or Cmaj7, and they are then related to E7sus4 which could give you a new perspective on where to look for voicings for the other types of chords.

Find New Jazz Chords with inversions - ex 4

A few progressions with the new inversions

Just to demonstrate how you can take some of these voicings and use them in a context I made 3 examples of II V I cadences with the voicings. I am also using some other chord voicings that I came up with from inversions so it will also be an example of some of the other things you can create with this technique.

In example 5 I am using the Cmaj7(9) voicing found in bar 3 of example 2. You can see that the voicings preceding it are a Drop2,4 Dm7(11) voicing and a Drop2 G7alt voicing.

Find New Jazz Chords with inversions - ex 5

Example 6 is starting with an Am7(9) Drop2 voicing and continuing with a D7alt voicing that you could also hear or think of as an D7 chord from the whole tone scale since it does not contain a 9 but does contain both b5 and b13. The last chord is the 2nd bar of example 3, but then with a fingering that is a bit more playable.

Find New Jazz Chords with inversions - ex 6

The final example is a II V I in C, and here we are using the drop2 E7sus4 voicing from bar 3 of example 4. The first Dm7 voicing is a n in inversion of a Dm7(9) voicing that you probably already know. The G7 alt voicing is an incomplete chord since it does contain the 3rd but not the 7th. The overal sound of the altered dominant comes across in context because it for the rest contains b9,b5 and b13. The G7alt voicing resolves very smoothly to the Cmaj7 voicing in bar 3.

Find New Jazz Chords with inversions - ex 7

 

I hope that you can use the material that I went over here to get some new ideas and learn some new chords and maybe expand your view on how different voicing types are related to each other.

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

Find New Jazz Chords with inversions

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.

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.

 

Building chord voicings from 3rd and 7th

Constructing you own voicings from 3rd and 7th of the chord is a good way to take the core of the sound and add the colors or melodies on top that you want to hear. In this lesson I am going to go over how you can do this on a 4 bar progression and discuss how you practice and use it.

In jazz the core of the sound of a chord are determined by the 3rd and the 7th, so those two notes are a good place to start when building chord voicings. If you have this core and then start adding extensions you can really get into the sound of that extension over this chord.

If you reverse the way of thinking and start with a melody note and want to add a 3rd and 7th under it you have a great way to approach harmonizing melodies like standards.

The progression

I made a 4 bar progression in the key of F major it is essentially two versions of a turnaround and covers a big bart of the harmony you have in F, and also covers many of the chord types you come across.
Building chords from 3rd and 7th ex 1

To relate the chords to their root you can turn them into shell voicings like I talk about in (my first ever YouTube) lesson: Shell Voicings

Building chords from 3rd and 7th ex 2

As you can see I placed the 3rd and 7th pair on the middle set of strings, this is a very practical place to have them because they then will set in the lower middle of the register and leave room for extensions on the two top strings. You could check how many of the voicings you already use lready does this.

In example 3 I add a note on top of each chord on the B string which adds a melodic movement to the whole progression.

Building chords from 3rd and 7th ex 3

The voicings in example 3 are all triads and fairly familiar to most of you, but you could also choose to add the melody on the E string to get the voicings in example 4.

Building chords from 3rd and 7th ex 4

These are a lot less common, but if you look closely you can probably see that they are in fact open voiced triads.

Checking out all melodies

If you have a pair of 3rd and 7th and want to use that to construct chords you can try to make a small “scale” like I have done for all the chords in the progression in example 5.

The advantage to this approach is that you can think of a small chord and a few notes instead of 5 or more different voicings. Another advantage is that they are connected because it is only the melody that changes so it should immediately give you a bigger range of options while comping.

Building chords from 3rd and 7th ex 5

The melody is just using the scale that fits the chord in this key and then I left out avoid notes like the 4th on a major chord etc. I chose to have a C7(b9b14) and a C7(9,13) because I use both in the examples.

The scales that might need a bit of clarification

  • D7 – In F the scale that works with this is G harmonic minor
  • C7(b9b13) – Which is a dominant borrowed from F harmonic minor
  • Abdim which I play A harmonic minor over.

Putting it to use

In example 6 I made a moving melody over the progression using the melody notes from example 5. As you can see this approach makes it a lot easier to have a melody on top of the chords and you never lose the sound of the harmony.

Building chords from 3rd and 7th ex 6

 

I hope you can use the examples and ideas I went over here to build your own chord voicings and open up for making more melodic movement over the chords when you are comping or harmonizing a melody.

If you want to download a PDF of the examples I went over here for later study you can do so here: Building chords from 3rd and 7th

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.

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.

Rootless Voicings – Part 1 – Triads

Starting to use chords that doesn’t have the root as a bass note can be tricky in the beginning. In this lesson I want to demonstrate how reducing some voicings gives you triads and how you can practice and use that in comping. I am also suggestion a way to expand the melodic possibilities with the triads.

 

Chords without root bass notes

When you learn guitar you are taught a lot of chords that all has the root as the lowest note. Most of the time you are also taught to orientate by the root and thinking of the rest of the chord as a visual or physical shape on the guitar. This way of thinking about chords makes it fairly easy to learn chords but makes them less flexible and also makes it hard to play chord voicings that do not have the root as the lowest voicing.

In example 1 I have first written a fairly standard set of II V I chord voicings, and then written the same voicings but without the bass note. You might notice that the 2nd set of voicings consist of an F major triad, a B dim triad and an E minor triad. You can also try to play the example and hear that they will still convey the movement of the II V I.

Rootless Voicings - Part 1 - Triads - ex 1

The theory is fairly simple: If Cmaj7 is C E G B, then without a C it is E G B which is E minor.

Since we can use these triads to play each of the chords we can also use their inversions,so that will give us 3 rootless voicings that we can apply to any of the chords diatonic to the major scale.

If you are familiar with my lesson Jazz Chord Survival Kit You will notice that example 2 and 3 are those drop3 and drop2 voicings without the root. This way of thinking about them makes it easier to keep the root in mind without actually playing it. In the beginning I found that to be a huge help.

Rootless Voicings - Part 1 - Triads - ex 2

Rootless Voicings - Part 1 - Triads - ex 3

Example 4 is then the root position triads which, as I show in the video, you can also see as derived from a set of voicings, but some of them you might not be using that often.

Rootless Voicings - Part 1 - Triads - ex 4

In examples 2-4 I have written the chord name above the chord that this triad is used for. It can be very useful to keep them in mind when practicing this through a key.

Basic Cadences and other exercises

The first thing to check out is probably this simple set of II V I voicings with the triads.  There are several options in terms of voice-leading this, but I like these. When you play them try to relate each voicing to the root.

Rootless Voicings - Part 1 - Triads - ex 5

To create a bit more options in terms of variation of the melodies we can create with these voicings I made example 5. The idea is fairly simple, the highest note, also called the melody, of the chord is suspended with the diatonic note one step above it. If you take this through the scale with the 2nd inversion triads you get the following exercise.

Rootless Voicings - Part 1 - Triads - ex 6

In the video I play the same exercise for the two other inversion, you should try to figure them out for yourself, that is an important step in becoming more free with the triad voicings and be able to make more different sounds with this material.

I cover this more in depth in my lesson: Jazz Chord Essentials – Triads  if you want to take this further.

Using Rootless voicings

To give you an idea about how you can use the triad voicings and exercise 6 I have made 3 examples with a few different common progressions. You should try and play the examples and try to see what voicings the triads are derived from.

The first one is applying example 6 to the first part of example 4, so a melody on a basic II V I in C major.

Rootless Voicings - Part 1 - Triads - ex 7

The second example is a II V cadence to A minor. the E7 is using A harmonic minor, so it has a b9 (and a b13, but that’s not in this voicing) You can see some more info on using harmonic minor on dom7th chords in this lesson: Minor II V I cadences

Rootless Voicings - Part 1 - Triads - ex 8

The third example is a III V II V I in C. Again using the technique of suspending the melody note with the diatonic note above. The A7 is resolving to Dm so the extensions used are here also from the D harmonic minor scale: a b13.

Rootless Voicings - Part 1 - Triads - ex 9

I hope you can use the exercises and examples to start using or expanding your use of rootless voicings.

If you want to download a PDF of the examples I went over here you can do so here:

Rootless Voicings – Part 1 – Triads

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.

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.