Tag Archives: drop 2 chords jazz 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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Jazz Blues Comping – Drop2 Chords You Need To Know

This lesson is one chorus of simple jazz blues comping and then talk about a skeleton voicing + a few variations and some ideas for variations. I also discuss a few secret tricks that most people don’t think about with chords but that work really well to play more complicated phrases or embellish comping and chord solos

One of the most important types of voicings you want to have in your vocabulary if you want to play jazz, blues or R&B is the drop2 voicing. In this video I am going show you a simple way to apply Drop2 chords to a 12-bar Jazz Bues with just a few voicings and som variations that are easy to get into your playing.

Along the way I am also going to cover some some phrasing and rhythm ideas to really lay down the groove, and a few secret tricks that most people don’t think about with chords but that work really well to play more complicated phrases or embellish comping and chord solos

Drop2 chords are in many ways the go to voicing that you need when comping in a mainstream or hardbop jazz style.

If you want to look into more Drop2 Voicing ideas then you can also check that section of my Jazz Chord Study Guide

The big take away from this lesson

The most important thing to learn from this is that instead of learning a million separate voicings it makes a lot more sense to learn one voicing and realize that a lot of other voicings are variations of that basic voicing.

When you are comping you are not thinking about voice-leading or extensions as much as you are thinking about the melody that is in the top note of the voicing and the overall sound of voicing. 

The Jazz Blues Comping Chorus

Here below is the chorus that I play in the video. I suggest you check it out in the video.

A good way to use this lesson is to go through the voicings in the examples below and then return to this first example and recognize what is going on.

The Bb7 Drop2 voicing and it’s variations

Instead of having a focus on the inversions of the drop-2 voicing it is much more useful to think about how to create melodies. 

Here below is shown a very basic Bb7 chord and then followed by a few variations that are helping you have different options for creating melodies with this chord in this area of the neck.

The Eb7 voicing

This example here shows some of the common Eb7 chord variations in this position of the neck. Notice that there are not that many, but in the end you don’t really need a lot. If you try to play a complicated melody in your comp it will most likely be way to busy (and get you fired)

Bb7 altered dominant Drop2

The Bb7alt chord in bar 4 is there to pull towards the Eb7 in bar 5. Some options for that voicing is shown here below.

The final II V Cadence in bar 9 and 10

The cadence is a II V in Bb major, so Cm7 F7. I chose to use F7alt to have another altered dominant.

Secret trick #1 – Chromatic Passing Chords

When moving from one chord to the next then it can be useful to add a chromatic passing chord and then just sliding that into the next chord. This is surprisingly easy and creates a lot of movement in your comp (or chord solo…) 

This is one of the few things that is easier on guitar compared to piano.

I do this quite a few times in the chorus: Bar 1 with a slide and Bar 10 without a slide.

If you want to check out more ideas on chord soloing and using chromatic ideas then check out this lesson: Best exercise for jazz guitar chord solos! 

Secret trick #2 – Using Pull-offs in Comping

A great way to play faster phrases in a comping situation where you have a top-note melody that moves a lot (like an 8th note triplet) is to use legato. I especially like using pull-offs for this,

You can see examples of this in bars 5,9 and 12.

More Blues Comping

If you want to see further examples of comping and also expanding this beyond the drop2 voicings then check out this WebStore lesson:

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Minor Blues Comping – How To Use Drop2 Chords

The Minor Blues is a great vehicle for improvisation and a very common chord progression that you want to be able to comp and solo on. In this lesson I am going to show you two different sounds that you can use in minor blues comping. One of the great things about minor is that the options we have several options when it comes to the extensions or sounds available on the blues.

The easiest way to think about this is probably to link the chords to scales and use that to describe the sound of the chords. This way of thinking also opens up what you can use and gives you more options when it comes to using different extensions on the chords.

The Different Comping Sounds


The easiest way to think about this is probably to link the chords to scales and use that to describe the sound of the chords. This way of thinking also opens up what you can use and gives you more options when it comes to using different extensions on the chords. 

Therefore this lesson has three main parts. Two on different sounds, Melodic Minor and Dorian, and one final example which is more open and as concerned with rhythms as it is with the voicings.

Minor Blues Drop2 voicings

The voicings I use for this video are all drop2 voicings and all on the top string set. Drop2 voicings are very practical for playing chords with extensions, both on guitar and piano. I won’t cover the basic Drop2 voicing stuff in this video, but if you want to check it out then maybe have a look at the Jazz Chords Study Guide

Melodic Minor – Rich Jazz Minor!

The best place to start when it comes to Minor sounds is the Melodic Minor scale. Melodic minor is the go to tonic minor sound for Jazz. Dorian, the other topic in this lesson, was added later after the introduction of Modal Jazz. If you check out the original Coltrane solo on Mr PC you will find that it is mostly Melodic minor on the tonic chord.

The first example is using Cm6 and Fm6 for the I and IV chord in the Blues. These are both the most stable versions of chords from the melodic minor scale. The m6 chord is a little more stable than the mMaj7 chord.

Example 1 is a very basic way to play the Blues Chorus, but if you want to expand on your options then it is a good idea to harmonize all the notes of the melodic minor scale with the chords that you need.

Below is the C minor melodic scale harmonized with Cm chords.

And you can do the same exercise with the Fm6 chords:

The Dominant Chords

In the form I also have 3 dominant chords. A C7alt to pull towards the Fm6 in bar 5, and the final cadence with Ab7 and G7alt.

These are all played using the melodic minor scale, so C7alt and G7alt are both altered dominants using Dbm and Abm melodic respectively.

C7 altered:

G7 altered:

The Ab7 is a Lydian dominant so that uses Ebm melodic:

Dorian Sound – Modal Minor Blues

The Dorian sound only differs one note from the Melodic minor sound: It has a b7 instead of a maj7. But the sound of the chords changes quite drastically because of this.

Below is an example of one chorus of Drop2 voicings using Cm7(9,11) and Fm7(9,11) on the I and IV chords. The dominants are the same as in the previous example so they are still using material coming out of the melodic minor scales Lydian b7 and Altered sounds.

Dorian Scale Harmonizations

Similar to the exercises with the melodic minor scales it is also possible to harmonize the Dorian scales with the chords. Here is how this is done with the Cm7 chord

Chord Extensions

With the Dorian scale there are still quite a few ways to color the chords that are used. Here are some of the options you can create from a basic Cm7 voicing.

The basic rules:

  1. The Root can be replaced by the 9th
  2. The 5th can be replaced by an 11th or a 13th

In one example I am also replacing the root with a 13th.

Minor Blues Comping Example

In the previous part of the lesson I was focused on how to find some simple clear solutions with a very basic set of chords. The transcription below is demonstrating how you can put some of this to use adding some more interesting rhythms and tying it all together with top note melodies.

More Drop 2 voicings in Action!

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

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Download the PDF

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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

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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