Tag Archives: Comping

Beautiful Chord Ideas That Will Boost Your Comping

Most of the time when you think about comping you are concerned with the chords, voicings and rhythms you are using. Those are of course important but there are also other things to consider when Comping and playing chord melody that can really transform how your chords sound.

This video is going over 4 examples of ways to play chords that can help you add something new to how you sound when you are comping or making a chord melody.

The importance of comping

In my experience, being a jazz guitarist you spend a lot more time playing chords than soloing and that skill is something you want to take as far as you can!

Content: 

0:00 Intro — Sounds better if you break a few rules 

1:09 Not Always Voice-Leading! 

2:49 Explaining the Example 

3:52 Inner-voice movement 

4:29 The Example and why you should listen to Bill Evans

 5:18 Putting it to use in a Chord Melody arrangement 

5:56 How To Practice using this

6:46 Melodic Pedal Points or Sustained Melody notes 

8:47 Arpeggio Polyphony — What most jazz guitarists forget to do.. 

9:25 The Example 

10:39 A simple application with Drop2 voicings 

11:14 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

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The Quick Way To Learn Jazz Comping – Simple & Direct

One of the nicest things about playing jazz is Jazz comping where you play fills and small melodic statements behind the soloist. In this video I am going to go over a very easy way to get started playing jazz chords like this, starting with a very simple version of the chords and an easy way to add melodies to these chords.

I am going to demonstrate this on a Bb jazz blues. Starting with reduced shell voicings and expanding this into a set of chords that you can make melodies with while comping. I also demonstrate how this might work on the blues.

Reducing the voicings for comping

The first thing we need to do is to find some really easy chords for the blues. The way I am going to do that in this video is to just play the 3rd and 7th of each chord. This is also a great way to practice knowing the notes of the chords.

Bb7: Ab,D
Eb7: G,Db
G7: B,F
Cm7: Bb, Eb
F7: A, Eb

Before we start adding different variations to the chords to open up how we play them the we can Take this through the Blues this sounds like this:

Getting more options for each chord when comping

This way of playing the chords is pretty easy and is actually giving us a very clear sound of the chords.

To be able to play some more interesting melodies we need have some different melody notes. We already have one, namely the top note of each chord.

The way to do this is to add two more notes on the next string.

Bb7: D F G, 3,5,13
Eb: Db Eb F b7,1,9
G7: F, Ab, Bb b7,b9,#9
Cm7: Eb, F, G 3,11,5
F7: Eb,Gb,Ab b7,b9,#9

Before we start improvising with this we can play this through the Blues as an exercise:

To get started improvising it can be a good idea to work a bit per chord. In the video I give a short example on a Bb7 that you can check out.

Jazz Comping in Action

Once you get a bit more familiar with the chords you can play through the blues likes this:

Make chord voicings easier to remember.

Connecting different types of voicings is important because it makes it easier to use, remember and understand

An important thing to notice here is that the chords on Bb7 are really just like rootless versions of chords you probably already know. If we think about the chords as different variations based on the middle tritone Ab D (marked red) then we have this:

Take your comping further

If you want to check out more on how to practice and think about comping you can check out this lesson on comping on Autumn Leaves:

Autumn Leaves Comping – Lesson

 

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The Best Jazz Comping Concept Awesome 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.

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How to use Drop 2 Chords on a Jazz Blues – Bebop Skill

Drop 2 chords are one of the most important types of chord voicings in Jazz, and especially when it comes to the bebop or hardbop styles. This lesson is focusing on the Drop 2 voicings on the middle string set. I played and transcribed an example on a medium jazz blues. The example illustrates how great these are for groove oriented medium swing comping.

What are Drop 2 Voicings

If you are not familiar with drop2 voicings the name may seem confusing. It isn’t necessary to know how they are constructed, but it can also be nice to understand the principle. 

Below in example 2 I have first written out a root position F7.

The notes in this chord are low to high: F, A, C, Eb. The main voicing is playable but as you can see in the video the inversions of this voicing are not practical for comping (or in fact playing on the guitar).

If we number the notes in the voicing in order of pitch high to low:

F A C Eb

4 3 2  1

The creating the drop2 voicing is then done by moving the second highest note (in this case C) down an octave.

This is shown in the 2nd  bar of example 2. The first version of the drop2 voicing is not a lot easier to play but in the 2nd half of the bar I have a more useful fingering for  the same notes. 

Constructing Drop 2 voicings

Inversions and adding chord extensions to the drop2 chords

With the voicing from example 2 it is now possible to make some inversions.

The first bar of example 3 are the inversions of the F7 voicing.

When making inversions on the same string set of a chord you need to order the notes in pitch, which for this chord could be: F A C Eb.

For each string in the first voicing you can then move the voice on each string up.

The first voicing is C F A Eb and this means that the 2nd one will be Eb A C F.

Rules for adding extensions to a chord

For adding extensions to the F7 chord there are two rules we can use:

  • The 9th replaces the root
  • The 13th replaces the 5th

This means that if we want to turn our 1st voicing (C F A Eb) into an F7(9) then we can replace the root(F) with the 9th(G). This yields the voicing on beat 1 of bar 2: C G A Eb.

The rest  of the bar are then the inversions of this voicing.

In the same way we can replace the 5th(C) with the 13th(D) to and get the voicings in bar 3. 

Bar 4 is combining these two approaches so that we have a dom7th voicing with both a 9th and 13th.

From these two rules we now have 4 different types of F7 voicings. The same thing is possible with Bb7 and C7 in the F blues.

Drop 2 chords inversions with extensions

Drop 2 chords inversions with extensions

Groovy Jazz Blues comping

 The slightly darker sounding middle string set works really well for hard bop comping focused on groove while still conveying the harmony.

The example starts with an F7(13) voicing. The top note melody moves from F to G. This idea is repeated on the Bb7 where it is played with first a Bb7(9) and then a Bb(9,13). THe F7 in bar 3 repeats the F and the G. 

Bar 4 is turned into a II V to Bb to help the progression move to the IV in bar 5. The F7alt voicing can be seen as a B7(9,13) voicing. This way of using the tritone substitute to generate altered dominant voicings is very useful for drop 2 chords.

On the Bb7 the melody is also alternating between the root and the 9th. This also a good example of why it is useful to consider the drop 2 voicings variations of each other.

IN Bar 6 the Bdim is using the symmetrical aspect of dim chords moving the same chord voicing around.

The II V cadence to Gm in bar 8 is also using voicing symmetry. The first chord is a basic Aø drop2 (which is of course the same as our F7(9) voicings) and this is moved up a minor 3rd for the D7. This becomes a D7(b9,b13) voicing: F#, C, Eb and Bb.

The cadence back to F is first a Gm7 and Gm7(9). The C7alt is a C7 with a #9 and b13.

On the turnaround the drop2 chords are using the same ones used previously except for the D7(b9) which is an Ebdim chord.

Jazz Blues using Drop 2 chords

Using the drop 2 chords

Of course you can get a lot out of practicing the inversions and learning the example that I played and included here. At the same time  you are probably getting more out of the voicings if you also begin to comp through a blues with them on your own. I show some simple ways of doing this at the end of the video, which might be useful to check out.

Check out more examples of Drop 2 comping!

If you want to go a bit further with the drop 2 chordsyou can check out some of the lessons in my webstore on this topic. Below is a 3 chorus example on the standard There Will Never Be Another You. I have one on All The Things You Are as well.

Drop2 voicings on There will never be another you

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Drop 2 Voicings on a Jazz Blues

 

Drop 2 Voicings on a Jazz Blues – Chord Diagrams

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Passing Chords – The 3 Types You Need for Comping and Chord Solos

Passing chords are a great way to expand the sounds you have available in your comping and chord solos. As you will see in this lesson they are also making it easier to make you comping sound more melodic and musical. In this lesson I am going to discuss 3 types of passing chords and demonstrate how they can be used.

The Diatonic Passing chords

The easiest place to look for chords to use when harmonizing a melodic comping idea is of course to use the diatonic chords of the scale at that point in the song.

If you want to know more about Drop2 chords and other voicings then check out the Jazz Chords Study guide

This is what I am doing in example 1 here below. The example is on a II V I in G major, which is the chord progression that I will use for all the examples.

In the example the diatonic passing chords are used on the Am7 chord. The first part of melody consists of the notes C, D and E. On the Am7 I am harmonizing the melody with the chords Am, Bm7 and Am7. Using the neigboring chord when harmonizing notes is a very common and very useful way to use diatonic passing chords. In this example the Bm7 chord is used to harmonize the D and it voice-leads nicely up to the following Am7(9) voicing that harmonizes the E.

Different versions of Passing chords solutions for an Am7 melody

Of course there are several ways you can take diatonic passing chords. Below you’ll see examples using only Am7 voicings, a Bm7 and a G6 diatonic passing chords.

Diminished Passing chords

This approach to using passing chords is to harmonize melody notes with a dominant diminished chords. On the II chord, Am7, the dominant is E7 and the associated is a G#dim.

This example is also using a G# diminished chord to harmonize some notes on the Am7 chord. The notes that belong to the dominant in the scale are the prime candidates for using the diminished chord. In the example below I am using it to harmonize the D and B notes.

Practicing the Diminished passing chords

One way to work on practicing the this way of alternating a II chord with a diminished chord is to do the exercises here below.

You may recognize this exercise as the Barry Harris 6th diminished scale, which is build on exactly this idea of alternating tonic with a dominant chord.

Chromatic Passing Chords

Chromatic passing chords is a great way to especially harmonize chromatic passing notes in the melody. This means that having this in your vocabulary is going to make it possible to add chromaticism to your comping melodies. 

The example below shows how you can use chromatic passing chords on both the Am7 and the D7 chords.

On the Am7 the B, Bb, A melody is harmonized with Am(9), Bbm7 Am7 and in the same way the D,Eb,E melody on the D7 is harmonized with D7,Db7 and D7.

Notice that the voicie-leading is also chromatic, so the way to use this is to look at the note that the chromatic note is resolving to. The chord that is used to harmonize the resolution will also work well to harmonize the chromatic note. On the D7 it is clear that the Db7 is just shifting up a half step to become the D7. 

Sometimes you can also reverse this so that the chord moves one way and the melody another which can be a great effect, but that is for another lesson. You can always leave a comment on the YouTube video if you would like a video on this,

Expand you the possibilities with chords

Passing chords is a very powerful tool in comping and chord solos and of course also in chord melody arrangements. Checking out these techniques are really something that is applicable in so many areas of playing and will pay off on a lot of levels besides the direct use.

In-depth examples of Passing Chords

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Using Passing chords in Comping

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You Don’t Need That Many Chord Voicings, It’s How You Use Them

In this lesson I will take a look at 4 very common chord voicings and expand on them in several ways to demonstrate how flexible they are and how much you can get out of them!

Most Jazz guitarists are trying to constantly expand their chord vocabulary and learn new chord voicings. Of course it is important to have a lot of options, but it can be an even better idea to sit down and go over what you can actually do with what you already know. 

The basic chord voicings

In the lesson I will take 4 very common chord voicings that I expect you already know and then approach using them in a few different ways so that we can really open up what we get from them while relying on what we already know.

To keep it simple I have taken a turnaround in the key of C major and will use this progression throughout the lesson as a progression.

The 4 chord voicings in their basic form is shown here below both as tab and diagrams

Loose the root and gain another voice!

The first thing to do is of course to convert them into rootless voicings which should also give us some more options because we then can play something else with that finger.  This is shown below again both in tabs and diagrams.

Using the smaller rootless voicings for great melodies

Now that we have some  smaller more flexible voicings we can start making more varied melodies with the top notes of the chords.

The options we have available by just changing the top note to another note on the same string gives us these possibilities for top note melodies on the turnaround:

With these variations we can make the following comping example:

The Expanded set of top note choices

The next step could be to start using top notes not only on the same string (which is the B string in this example) but also on the next string.

If we extend the top notes by adding the ones on the high E string we have these options:

And this could be turned into this example:

Thinking in layers of harmony

With all these options it is possible to make a lot of different melodies, but everything is still played as a complete chord all the time. One way of breaking this up is to split the chord in a melody and a chord part. This is in many ways what we already did in the previous examples, but only in the way that we thought about the melody. 

Now we can also try to use that when playing the chords so that sometimes the chord is played alone, sometimes with the melody and other times just the melody.

An example might be like this: 

They are also arpeggios!

Taking the layer concept a bit further would be to start using the chords completelyas single notes and arpeggios. An example of this is shown here below:

Putting all the ideas together

The best way to finally use this is to take all the different approaches and mix them up and make use of all the things combined in your comping (or soloing) An example of this might be something like this:

I hope you can use some of these ideas to re-invent and expand what you can do with your chord voicings. I often find that it can be a great idea to take a step back and lock at what you can make of what you already know instead of starting to explore something completely new.

 

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You don’t need that many chord voicings, it’s how you use them

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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What Jimi Hendrix can teach Jazz Guitarists

Jimi Hendrix is a one of the most influential guitarists in history. There is a lot to be gained from checking out guitarists outside the jazz guitar. In this video I will go over how you can apply some of the ideas that Hendrix uses in his playing when you are playing chords in jazz.

The examples in this lesson are all on the first 4 bars of the jazz standard “You Stepped ut of a dream”, which consists of two bars of Cmaj7 and two bars of Dbmaj7.

A Jazz comp example

The way we mostly comp in jazz is by using complete chords and then use different voicings to create movement in the top notes or in the inner voices of the chords.

This is shown in the example here below:

How Hendrix would play it

If we take the chords and try to imagine playing them in the style Hendrix might use on his ballads like Little Wing or Wind Cries Mary then that might yield something like this:

The important thing to notice here is that the chords are played in the begining of each chord to state the harmony.  The variations that are used are not complete chords but more double stops and partial chords. The sound of this approach is  a lot lighter than using only complete chords and that can be a nice variation to add in your comping vocabulary.

The way I am playing example 2 is of course also changing the  feel of the song, so we still need to find a way to apply this to a jazz standard without making it sound like a Jimi Hendrix cover.

The way the chord is split up in bass note and chords so that it spells out a back beat groove and this is probably the main reason it sounds so little like a jazz groove.

A more jazz example of this approach

Example 3 is taking some of the techniques used in example 2 and then adding more of a jazz feel to it. The idea is quite simple, the chord is still initially stated and then the rest of the time is used to add fills and partial chords. The fills do convey the sound of the chord, but does not yield a complete chord sound all the time.

In this example I am using the same ideas for fills but taking away the back beat feel so that the jazz feel isn’t lost. 

A closer look at the Techniques in the fills

The two main ingredients of the fills Hendrix uses are probably the chords themselves and then mixing this with pentatonic ideas.

A “jazz” version of this could be to use the chord and also use a pentatonic scale that fits the chord. In this example the chord is a maj7 chord so a suggestion for a pentatonic scale could be the E minor pentatonic scale as shown here below.

If we relate the Em pentatonic scale to C maj 7 we get:

E   G   A   B   D   E

3   5   6   7    9   3

One thing that wouldbe useful to explore is some of the intervals we have in the scale. The 3rd bar shows a simple set of intervals in the scale.

Practicing Fills from Chord shapes

On the Cmaj7 I am using some of the Em or G major pentatonic ideas that you would often associate with a G major chord. One good exercise to get used to some of the G major fills that are in the style of Hendrix is to go over the fills that I have written out in example 5. This is associtated and based on the E minor pentatonic scale and the G chord shown in the 3rd bar.

Another possibilty is to take the same exercise and use the fills associated with the C chord in the 8th fret. This is shown in example 6 here below:

Applying the Hendrix exercises to a Cmaj7 chord

As a short example of how I apply the G Hendrix fills to a Cmaj7 I have written out the chord and the fills here below. 

Using Fills in comping and soloing

With the long history of jazz guitar it has become a common thing that we add to the style by borrowing techniques and ideas from other styles. I personally find it great that we keep developing the style and that jazz in this way keeps changing and evolving.

Incorporating fills into your playing is a good way to add some color to your comping. You can of course also use these ideas in your solos as melodic material, something you will also hear Hendrix do in his solos.

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What Hendrix can teach Jazz Guitarists

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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Odd Meter Soloing: Getting started with 5/4 – Jazz Blues in F

Odd Meter guitar solos can be very difficult to get into if you are not used to them. In this lesson I am going to go over how to hear or feel a 5/4 groove, play it through a blues and then expand this into a way of building a vocabulary that you can use for playing a solo in 5/4.

What we often forget is that we already have years of experience playing in 4/4 and that we rely on this whenever we play. It isn’t until we have to deal with a another meter that we start to notice how much we really use our basic feel of 4/4. So to learn to solo in 5/4 it is useful to first check out how to play a groove and understand how the meter sounds.

The 5/4 Meter and building a groove

The most common way of playing in 5/4 is to split the bar in 3 and 2, so the basic heavy beats of the bar are on beat 1 and beat 4 as shown in the example below.

The basic flow of the 5/4 groove is the pattern shown in the 2nd bar of the example.

It can be a good idea to just get familiar with these two patterns, playing them with a metronome and maybe counting along as I do in the video.

The next step is to start to turn these accents into a groove. 
A very basic 5/4 groove is shown in the 3rd bar here above and this is extended a bit to a solid F7 groove in the last bar.

Sub-division is King!

Feeling subdivision is at the root of all solid time feel and is the essential component to having good time. This is also true for an odd meter like 5/4. When I play in 5/4 I also rely on feeling the 8th note sub-division.

A great exercise to work with the subdivision is to play the 8th notes with a muted note and then accent the 5/4 Clave. This is shown below.  

The 5/4 Jazz Blues Groove

To get used to playing the groove it is a good idea to take the groove and play through a few songs. Any exercise is only really going to get in your system if you can apply it to a song, so this is a very important thing to always include in learning a new skill.

In the example below I have taken the groove through a 12 bar blues in F.

I don’t think I need to explain a lot about how it works, it is pretty straight forward. Maybe notice that if the bass note is on the 5th string I mostly alternate the bass on beats 1 and 4, but when the root is on the 6th string I just repeat that note.

Taking the groove to 5/4 solos on the blues

Once it becomes comfortable to play the groove through the form (and maybe a few other tunes as well?) then you can start working on soloing on the odd meter. The best way to do this is to build it up starting with the groove.

Since you can already play the groove you can probably feel the “clave” or accent-pattern associated with 5/4. So that the best way to start is probably with that pattern. 

First try to stick with the pattern and make your way through the blues form using simple melodies like the basic arpeggios. Gradually start to free up what you are doing melodically to incorporate other notes and connect the melody across bar lines.

With the first rhythm this might seem tedious and not really feel free or give you interesting lines, but keep in mind that the point is to have a strong foundation to build from.

Once you have taken this pattern through the form you can try the same with some of the other patterns I mention here below. You will probably find that you have a much easier time doing the next rhythms when you have worked thoroughly on the first one. That was at least my experience.

While playing the patterns you can also immediately start to try to vary them. The trick is to vary them but still use the basic version to keep track of where you are.

Making an Odd Meter less Odd.

A really good exercise if you can already play through a 5/4 in a basic way is to start to leave out parts and be more open in you phrasing. In that way you are really testing how well you have internalized this odd meter. 

I hope you can use the ideas in this lesson to get started working with odd meters and especially 5/4 time.

Good luck with it!

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Getting started with 5-4 – Blues in F

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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Jazz Chord Voicings – The 9 Different types you should know

Once you start having a vocabulary of Jazz Chords it becomes clear that there are many different ways to play any jazz chord on the guitar. For that reason it can be very useful to star working with different categories of chord voicings. If you have categories you have an idea of voicings that may work well together and you have an overview of the chords you know where you can also fill any gaps or chords you don’t already know.

In this video I will go over 9 very common types of chord voicings that I use a lot when comping and playing chord melody.

List of content

0:00 Intro 

1:15 Drop2 voicings — Diatonic set in C major 

1:37 Construction of Drop2 voicings (even though it doesn’t matter..) 

2:50 Inversions of a Cmaj7 Drop2 voicing for jazz chords 

3:14 Drop2 videos playlist — adding extensions, altered dominants 

3:28 Drop3 Voicings — construction 

4:08 Where you use Drop3 

4:32 Drop3 voicings — Diatonic set in C major 

4:41 Drop2&4 Voicings — Construction

5:14 Allan Holdsworth Lessons with Drop2&4 chords

5:35 Shell Voicings — Construction 

5:56 Diatonic set of Shell voicings 

6:05 Different places Shell voicings are useful 

6:27 Shell Voicing Based Chords — Construction 

7:00 Diatonic seof of Shell voicing based chords 

7:28 Shift from Voicings with a clear root in the chord 

8:16 Triads as Jazz Chords — Basic use as upper structure 

8:41 Triads through the scale 

9:08 II V I example with triads 

9:40 Spread Triads or Open-voiced triads — Construction (triad drop2) 

10:08 Diatonic Spread Triads 

10:18 II V I example 

10:57 3-part Quartal Harmony 

11:10 Diatonic Quartal Voicings 

11:17 How we use Quartal Voicings as Jazz Chords 

11:33 II V I example 

12:17 4-part Quartal Harmony 

12:25 Diatonic Quartal Voicings 

12:36 m13 voicings and How we might use Quartal harmony 

13:51 Inversions and detailed way sto use these voicing types 

14:10 Did I forget a type of voicing? 

14:45 Like this video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Blues With Bruno Pelletier-Bacquaert

This is a duo with Bruno Pelletier-Bacquaert a French/American Jazz guitarist living in San Francisco.

I came across one of his videos and we decided to make thsi small collaboration.

I hope you like it! Check out:

Hope you like it!

Jazz Guitar Comping Rhythms – Exercise to make your own

“What are good comping rhythms?” and “can you make a video on standard comping rhythms?” are probably the two most common questions on my channel. This lesson is giving you an exercise to help you improvise or compose endless amounts of great comping rhythms.

Instead of making a set of comping rhythms I decided to make this exercise so you can add some rhythms to your vocabulary. When you are comping it is a big part of the job to listen to the soloist and the rest of the band and fit in what they are doing.

The idea in this lesson is to teach you three rhythms that you can use and combine to make a lot more rhythms. I have used a blues in F as a chord progression to try the rhythms out. This chord progression is well know and has a lot of different chords we can take the rhythms through.

The chord voicings and the first rhythm

Since the point of this lesson is to work on playing stroing rhythms it makes sense to keep the voicings more simple so we can focus on the rhythms.

The voicings I used in the demonstrations are simple rootless shells, consisting of 3rd and 7th for each of the chords. The voicings are shown here below.

The rhythm in example 1 are played in two variations of the first rhythm: Playing the chord on the 1 and on the 3. The 2 variations I have used is to start with just playing on the one, and then moving to playing one and three.

The two rhythms are shown here below:

The second rhythm

To add some more variation the first place we can add another rhythm. This one consists of two 8th notes. Example 3 has two variations on it.

If we use the new rhythm and the previous rhythm as material to comp through a blues chorus we have the example shown here below:

The Final ingredient

The example in the previous part of the lesson is already beginning to sound good. Because we are always starting on the beat we miss a rhythm that does not start on the beat. Adding this and some variations gives us these rhythms:

Now we can improvise a comping chorus  through the F blues like this:

With the combinations of these three rhythms we can comp quite varied and start to develop a big vocabulary of solid comping rhythms.

Putting it to use!

Getting these rhythms into your playing doesn’t have to require a lot of work. If you can comp these at a medium tempo with 2&4. In the beginning it is probably better to stick with simpler progressions like the blues or a turnaround. Start with the first rhythms and add the rest along the way!

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Jazz Comping Rhythms – Just Make Your Own

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