Tag Archives: drop 2 chords guitar

Drop Voicings – How to Understand The Construction

Drop Voicings like Drop 2 and Drop 3 are very common in Jazz, and as a Jazz guitarist, you want to know and use them in your comping and chord melody arrangements. Especially Drop 2 voicings are very common in the playing of Wes Montgomery, George Benson and many others. In this video, I am going to break down how these terms work and how to construct drop voicings so that you have a better understanding of the voicing technique and can create your own drop voicings.

I will go over this and also give some examples of how the different voicings sound on a II V I. In the end, it is more important how they sound. It is maybe also interesting in itself how different they sound with the same notes just different voicings.

Content:

0:00 Intro – What is a Drop2 or a Drop3 voicing

0:24 Understanding Drop Voicings and how they sound

0:37 The Difference in Sound

0:50 #1 Drop2 – Wes Montgomery and George Benson

1:23 How We Assign Numbers to Voices in a Chord

2:00 Drop2 voicings

2:09 II V I Example with Drop2

2:25 #2 Drop3 

2:57  II V I Example with Drop3

3:18 #3 Drop 4

4:00  II V I Example with Drop4

4:14 #4 Drop2&4 – Allan Holdsworth

4:57 II V I Example with Drop2&4

5:17 Drop2&3

6:05 II V I Example with Drop2&3

6:19 Different Voicing = Different Sound

6:53 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

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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.

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Drop 2 Voicings on a Jazz Blues

Drop 2 Voicings on a Jazz Blues – Chord Diagrams

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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Drop 2 voicings – Part 1 – Jazz Chord Essentials

In this lesson on Drop2 chords I want to demonstrate a set of voicings that are fairly easy to play on the guitar and very useful for playing chords with extensions. I also want to talk a bit about how you approach playing chords in terms of interpretation of chord extensions, substitutes, connecting or voice-leading the chords. Hopefully it can help you learn and construct some new chords, and I hope it also helps you find new ways to play songs you already know and expand your ability to play chords freely.

What is a drop2 voicing

You might have heard the term Drop2 voicings before, and it is more or less considered basic voicing knowledge for mainstream jazz guitar. Lot’s of Wes Montgomery solos use drop2 voicings and it is also a huge part of bebop piano and bigband arranging.

To explain why drop2 voicings are very handy on guitar try to play the first half of example 1.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 1 - ex 1

You should quickly notice that these basic inversions of an Am7 chord are very difficult to play and almost impossible to change a note in. Mainly because they are very stretchy to play.

The term Drop2 comes from taking the 2nd higest note in each one and drop it down an octave. This makes it possible to get the notes together in one position and yields the 4 voicings in the 2nd bar of example 1. As you can tell these voicings are much easier to play and much more flexible so that we can change notes in them (that will prove essential in later lessons..)

Basic Exercises

I chose to keep it simple and only work with the top set of strings. In the long run it can be very useful to also check out the middle set of strings and possibly the lowest set. A complete overview of the drop2 voicings can be found here: Scale charts and chord voicings

If you have checked out my lesson:  Jazz Chord Survival Kit  You know that in a major scale we have four basic types of 7th chords: m7, dom7, maj7 and m7b5. Here are the voicings for those 4 types of chords on the top string set:

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 1 - ex 2

To get used to the sound of these chords and to get the voicings in to your fingers you should of course practice example 2 in all keys, but it can also be very useful to check out all cadences like I’ve written out in example 3:

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 1 - ex 3

This way of grouping the chords together in the order you are very likely to use them is of course also very handy. And important part of the cadences is also that I chose vocings that have correct voiceleading which in this case means that you just stay in the neighbourhood whenever changing to the next chord. You could consider doing the minor cadences too.

Another very useful exercise is to take the different drop2 inversions through a major scale as I have done in example 4. I only did two of the inversions, maybe try to figure out the last 2 by yourself. It should help getting to know major scales on the strings besides training the voicings themselves.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 1 - ex 4

Putting it to use

As soon as you have a basic understanding and ability to play these voicings it is just as important to start working towards using them in real music. Below I’ve written out how I play the first 16 bars of Autumn Leaves with drop2 voicings. You should try to do this with a few songs as well. Autumn Leaves, Fly Me To The Moon and All The Things You Are could be good tunes to try because they cover a lot of chords from the same key(and some in more keys as well..)

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 1 - ex 5

You could with this exercise of course try starting with each of the Cm7 voicings and then work out how to play the whole song, it will present you with choices because the guitar (like all instruments) have certain limitations for how low or high you want to go and then you should just try to find a practical and musical solution, that is how it works in a playing situation so that is what you should practice too.

In the next part of the drop2 lessons I’ll start working on how to add extensions and alterations to the voicings. I’ll also give some more practical advice on how to use the voicings.

I hope you can use the exercises to get started working on Drop2 voicings and that you can get it into you playing.

Check out how I use Drop2 voicings in this 3 chorus transcription/lesson:



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Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings part 1

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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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