Tag Archives: drop 2 chords guitar

Autumn Leaves – How To Use Drop 2 For An Easy Chord Melody

One of the things that I learned the most from when it comes to harmony and comping was harmonizing melodies, so making chord melody arrangements. When I was starting out I harmonized everything I could and that taught me so much about how to comp with more melody and play chords under a theme.

Often when people play chord melody arrangements then they are made to be solo guitar arrangements with bass notes under all chords (b-roll chord melody arrangement) but that is not the only way you want to harmonize a song.

In this lesson, I am going to show you an arrangement of Autumn Leaves that uses drop2 voicings and you can use this as a solo arrangement but it also works great if you are playing in a band. I am also going to add some extra tricks to give you a way to add some color to your own songs.

Chord Melody Arrangement

You probably already know that I made another chord melody arrangement of this song using the lower octave for the melody and shell-voicings. You can mix these two as well to change things up, I will link to that video in the description.

The arrangement is pretty basic, but I will show you some other things you can add in along the way as well in terms of great chords for ending a song and reharmonizing a minor II V.

You can scroll down to the end of the article to download a PDF of the entire arrangement or check it out on Patreon in this post:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/autumn-leaves-to-38986576

When To Add Chords

When you harmonize the melody then the easiest way to do so is to try to put chords under long notes that are on the heavy beat.

That is what I am doing in the first 8 bars here, the chord is on the Cm7, Bbmaj7

Notice that I play the melody on the top 3 strings because that is where you will have an easier time putting a chord under it.

Having a good overview of the fretboard and being able to move around the melody so that it is easier to add chords under it is essential for making these arrangements, but making arrangements is also a great way to really get a solid overview of the neck.

On the F7 and Ebmaj7 then there is no melody so I add those on the 4& to have a little rhythm and that also makes it easier to play the pickup

Learn the Melody and be practical

I am not really talking about the Drop2 voicings, but if you want to explore that topic more since that is something that is very useful and a very powerful tool then I will link to a playlist in the video description.

Autumn Leaves is a melody with a very strong motivic structure, in fact, it is the same motif moved through the changes. This actually makes it easier to harmonize because you can just use the logic of the melody and let that help you decide when to add chords and also which notes to harmonize. Autumn Leaves is a pretty clean example of this, but it is pretty common.

That is also how I am harmonizing the Aø D7 Gm6. Just using the same principles as in the previous section. Since the chords are not moving on the Gm then I am playing with changing between the Maj7 and the 6th

2nd A and some more chord movement

The 2nd A is really just the same as the 1st in terms of melody and you can, of course, play it the same twice, but often it is good to try to change it a bit and use that the audience already knows what is supposed to happen to surprise them a little.

In this case, I am using some secondary dominants and tritone subs for that.

The melody has a long note every other bar and you can fill that up with an extra chord that pulls towards the next one.

Here I am adding Gb7 before F7, E7 before Ebmaj7 and Eb7 before D7, so I am using a tritone substitution as an extra color in the arrangement.

As you will see, I am using some of these concepts in the B-part too, but also a few other nice ways to introduce movement. I have thought about using Autumn Leaves as a way to demonstrate reharmonizations going over 4 or 5 versions, let me know in the comments if that could be an interesting video. Later in the video, I also go over some options for different interesting changes.

B-part – Problem Solving Taking the easiest solution

In the B part, there are a few places where you need to figure out how to harmonize the melody in a nice way without making it too difficult, and actually the first chord is already getting us into trouble – Aø explain the solution

the rest is similar to the first A.

Cm7 F7 Bbmaj7 Ebmaj7 – the same as in the 2nd A but with another melody note (C) – Moving from Bbmaj7 to Ebmaj7 – D using a major triad as a chromatic approach to the Ebmaj7 while keeping the D in the melody

Chromatic passing chords – (its’ actually Free Jazz!)

You can do a lot by interpreting the chords and add new sounds using harmonization. In this lesson, I will give you some suggestions for the last part of the song.

The one that is the easiest to use, and similar to what you already found earlier in the lesson.

Aø Eb7 D7 – again using Eb7

You can extend this by turning it into a complete chromatic II V example. Here I am also changing the Aø to an Am7 to get another brighter color there.

And another version that makes it an even longer parallel II V progression, quite similar to Wes’ Four on Six.

A more radical, but still beautiful harmonization is to use the bass movement of a II V, but then move in parallel using other chords. This can be a little more tricky to get to work, but when it does then it is very beautiful as shown below:

Different types of chords for the last note.

One way that I like to end the song is this below, really getting the beautiful sound of the tonic minor major sound. It does require me to change the melody.

Another option that is very common and the favorite of many bass-players is to play a C7. Essentially the C7 is just a Gm6 with a C in the bass, and also the IV in the melodic minor scale.

The Neapolitan subdominant is a great option for the final note in a song. This makes the final note (which is usually the root) the maj7th in the chord. The neapolitan is the bIImaj7, so in this case an Abmaj7.

The Jim Hall/Ron Carter solution is to end the song on a Db7, which is, in fact, turning the tonic chord into a secondary dominant to go back. This works because the first chord of the song is the IV chord: Cm7, but this is a great way to keep the form moving and take us to the next chorus. It is also a very different sound compared to the original Gm6 option.

Digging into Chord Melody

Chord Melody Survival Kit

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How To Learn Drop 2 Jazz Chords The Right Way

Drop 2 voicings are often made into this mysterious thing that is hard to practice and learn. Something that you have to spend months practicing to get into your playing and be able to use.

That is of course not true and in this video, I am going to show you some of the simple things you can practice, how to remember the chords and how you start using it in your playing.

It is about staying practical!

3 Types of Drop2 voicings

For this lesson I am using the song, Solar known as a Miles Davis Tune but it is actually written by Chuck Wayne.

First I am going to go over some voicings that we need to play the song. It really is just 2 sets of 4 voicings on the top strings and then a dim chord.

Then I am going to use those voicings to play through Solar and embellish the basic comping and show you how you can add to it yourself.

I will talk about why we use some voicings and explain it from a music theory point of view, but also a more visual description that really helps understanding and remembering the voicings.

Basic Set of Drop 2 Voicings

The m6 is a very useful voicing for three types of chords:

First we need a m6 voicing, that will also work as a m7b5 and a dom7 chord:

The m7 chord can be used for m7 but also maj7 chords:

The Voicings would be these:

Putting it to use on a Song

This first example of how to use the drop 2 voicings is using one voicing per chord. Everything is kept simple and I am using the same voicing sets for the II V I’s in F and Eb major.

The II V I in Db is a little different because I want to move closer to where I will play the Dø.

This is about reusing as much as possible and playing music with only a few voicings. That way we have something to build from.

Progessions as building blocks, not chords

It is extremely important to start thinking in progressions more than single chords. If you do that then you can sum up a song in a few blocks where it might be twice or three times as many chords.

That is also what is clear in how I think in II V I progressions and treat them as one thing, more than separate chords.

Adding Melody – Making Music

The next step is to use the same chord voicings but now I am also using different top-note melodies to have some melody and variation in the comping.

From Chords to Musical Statements

The important part of adding more melodies and thinking more like a melody is that it is easier to comp in a way that responds and supports whoever you are playing chords for. Developing this skill is so essential, and it is important to remember that comping should be a piece of music, not just some chords on a groove.

Expanding What You can Play

Now that there are some melodic options and you probably have one voicing in your system then you can start adding voicings by using the surrounding inversions. An example of how that might work is shown below:

Putting Drop2 chords to use

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Drop 2 Magic On Satin Doll – This Is How To Use Jazz Chords

Drop 2 voicings are really useful for a lot of things in Jazz. They are essential for most jazz comping, Wes Montgomery or George Benson chords solos and other kinds of block harmony.

In this video, I am going to go over how you take a basic set of drop2 chords on the song Satin Doll and then expand them adding chromatic chords, making riffs and melodies. It will also show you how to really comp a song using melodic concepts like call response and motivic development that really are what separates you from just playing the harmony and sounding like a musical statement.

I am going to take the first 8 bars of Satin Doll and then in 5 levels add different things to the comping working on voicings, melodies, and rhythm.

Level 1 – Basic Chords

The first example is using one voicing for each chord. Keeping it simple

When you less complicated chords you can focus on great rhythms and that is also important.

Level 2 – Top-note melodies

Even though we are playing chords we still have to make musical statements. A big part of that is playing strong top-note melodies. The next step is really going to open up the possibilities for the melodies you can create.

Satin Doll and chord progression really lend itself to motivic development. There are a lot of repeating progressions like between bars 1-2 or between bars 1-2 and 3-4. This makes it easy to repeat and develop motifs.

Level 3 – Mixing voicing types

I have a lot of videos where I talk about how important it is to not get stuck in only using one chord type. You want to try to combine as many things as you can.

This example is it mixing the drop2 with 3-note voicings. The 3-note voicings are really just the drop2 but then leaving out the top string, which gives us a lot more options for melodies.

As you can see in the example below:

The II V I example mixing the different voicings is this:

Level 4 – Chromatic Passing notes

The top-note melodies we play are Jazz, so you can add a little chromaticism in there on top of the chords.

Level 5 – Chromatic Chords

With chromatic melodies, you can also harmonize them and get some great sounding chromatic passing chords.

Drop 2 Boost for your comping and chord solos

Get more examples of how to use and embellish Drop2 chords

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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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Drop 2 Voicings on a Jazz Blues

Drop 2 Voicings on a Jazz Blues – Chord Diagrams

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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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