Tag Archives: drop 2 guitar

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:

Drop 2 & Chromatic Passing Chords – Take The A-Train

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Drop2 – Tactics to Create Cutting-Edge Jazz Guitar Harmony

Drop2 voicings is probably one of the most important chord types that we use in jazz guitar. This video is going to demonstrate how you can embellish the melody you play with inner-voice movement and sometimes an extra layer of harmony. 

Exploring ideas like this are great for really understanding how the harmony moves and how each voice is moving. This will give you a great overview of the notes in the chord and also a lot of useful insight in what is possible with a chord voicing.

The Cadence

For this video I will demonstrate the ideas on a II V I in A minor. The basic A minor cadence would be:

Bm7(b5) E7(b9) Am6

Since we use melodic minor on tonic minor chords the A minor chord is an Am6.

The II and V chords are coming out of A harmonic minor.

The basic Drop2 voicings

To begin with it is probably useful to just go over the basic cadences on the top string set. This is shown in all inversions here below:

I have kept the voicings very basic but did opt for using a dim chord for the E7 to have the b9 in the chord.

Adding Extensions and alterations

One possible next step could be to add some more extensions to the chords. This can be done following the ideas that I went over in this lesson: https://jenslarsen.nl/jazz-chord-essentials-drop2-voicings-part-2/

To quickly demonstrate this you can look at the example below:

Here  the Bm7(b5) has an 11 which replaces the 3rd and the E7b9 has an b13 that replaces the 5th. The Am6 has an added 9 where the 9th(B) is replacing the root.

Inner-voices in a Minor Cadence

The first example has a half note top melody moving from A to C and finally B on the Am6(9).

The second highest voice is moving from D up to F on the E7(b9) and on the E7 it makes a small melodic movement with F, G and D. The is voice then resolves to E on the Am6.

On the Am6 the lowest voice travels from 6(F#) chromatically up to the Maj7(G#).

Melodic movement in more parts of the harmony.

In this second example the top note melody is moving on the Bm7(b5) and then the 2nd voice takes over on the E7. The E7 voicing on beat 3 has a #9 and also a #11 suspending the 3rd. The inner voice moves from A# to C and on the C the top note melody takes over and moves from F to G to resolve to the 5th(E) on Am.

On the Am the first voicing is an Am6(Maj7) and there is an inner voice melody travelling from G# to B on the final chord.

Counter Harmony – Counterpoint 2.0

The beginning of the 3rd example has the top note melody moving, similar to what was happening in the 2nd example. 

On the E7 the melody is a high C and under this I move all three voices adding a different layer of harmony. The first voicing is an E7(#9b13) and the idea is to move the #9 down to the b9 via the 9th. The way I do this is by adding B7 on the F# so that there’s a quick B7 passing chord under the sustained C note melody.

From there the E7 is resolved via a dim chord voicing to an Am6. On the Am6 the 2nd voice is moving from the 6th(F#) via the root to the Maj7(G#).

 

A practical way to learn this

The examples that I went over in this lesson are of course quite dense with innner-voice movement. I made them like this to demonstrate what is possible and to give you some ideas to make your own chord progressions.

When you want to work on this you should probably try either take one of the ideas I use (so one of the chords in the example) and then insert that into your playing. This will make it easier to work on getting used to thinking like this.

 

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Drop2 – Inner-voice movement and Melody – Minor II V I

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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.

As always you can download the examples as a PDF here:

Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings part 1

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

Drop2 voicings on There will never be another you

I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.