Tag Archives: Drop2

Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop2 voicings – Part 2

In this lesson I want to continue with exploring the Drop2 voicings that I introduced in the 1st part: Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings – Part 1. Mainly I want to talk about how you make voicings with extensions and what sort of voicings you end up with.

Adding extensions to chords

Let’s look at how we can add more colors to the voicings we already have and a few tricks that will help you use and expand what you already know.

So far we’ve been concerned with the basic chords so Am7 was simply root, third, fifth and seventh, but as I explained in the first lesson you can use Am9 or Am11 instead of Am7. Instead of making 5 or more note voicings we can use these rules to exapand the sounds:

  • 9th (or b9 or #9) can replace the root
  • 13th, b13th, b5, #5 can replace the 5th
  • 6th can replace the 7th
  • 4th or 2nd can replace the 3rd

This means that if we want to make an Am9 voicing you take the Am7 voicing and change A to B. You might notice that this means that you’ll be playing the notes B C E G which is a Cmaj7, so you can use Maj7 voicings to play minor 9 voicings. If you use the same approach to D7, you have D F# A C and that becomes E F# A C which is F#m7(b5). On Gmaj7 you have G B D F# and get  A B D F# which is Bm7.

These are vocings you already know, but you still need to get used to thinking of them as another type of chord. While playing you don’t have time to think of a voicing as a Bm7 inversion when the chord is a Gmaj7.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 1

To get used to how the chords sound with 9s I have made II V I cadences in all positions:

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 2

You’ll notice that I prefer just using the “category” Chord symbols Am7 even though I am playing the 9th. Think of it as part of the process of not having a one to one combination from chord symbol to voicing, something you probably already had to abandon with several ways to play a C or a G chord.

In example 3 I employ some more of the rules I listed above to make some more common voicings.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 3

One of the ways I’d suggest you work on this is that you experiment with the voicings in a context, so that you can hear what they sound like. Learning inversions up and down the neck out of context is probably not very useful, and often you will not be practicing associating the voicing with the chord you need to use it for.

Example 4 is demonstrating a few variations of how a Gmaj7 chord can be played using Maj7, 9ths and 6th chords.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 4

To give an example of how this works on a song I made a demonstration of it on the first 16 bars of Autumn Leaves. You could go check out how it compares with the exercise in the first lesson.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 5

In the etude you’ll notice that I used mostly 9 chords through out. I did not add a 9 to the Am7b5 because I think the natural 9  does not fit the context here (it is of course possible, but I’d consider it a departure from the song). On the D7 I added a b9 since that is the most natural sound for a dominant resolving to a minor chord. I chose to use Gm6 and Gm6/9 on the tonic minor chords because I think that is a beautiful sound and it is often done in jazz.

I hope you can use the exercises to expand your Drop2 voicing repertoire and come up with some nice new chord voicings for the music you play.

In the 3rd lesson on Drop2 voicings I will talk more about alterations and give some examples of some more modern or advanced sounding harmonic choices.

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

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Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings part 2

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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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Cdim Drop2 Voicings

Here’s an overview of the Cdim as drop 2 voicings on all sets of strings.

I have made 2 lessons on how to use them in a jazz context:

You can also download the chart as a pdf by entering your e-mail here:

If you have any questions feel free to get in touch with me!

Jazz Chord Survival Kit

In this lesson I want to give you a few exercises that should make it possible for you to go through a jazz standard without too much trouble. We often spend too much time working on details and forget to apply it to songs and hear how it works in contexts so this is a tutorial about how to play a standard and a few suggestions for songs to check out when you know the exercises.

Diatonic Chords

Not surprisingly when playing jazz standards it makes sense to start with some diatonic chords. I have made to exercises with the diatonic chords of Bb and F major. Having those in your fingers and knowing what chords they are is a good starting point and will make it possible for you to play through songs without the rest of this lesson. Since most people relate the chord to the root and most of the time this is place on the 5th and 6th string I have the Bb voicings with the root on the 5th string and the F major voicings with the root on the 6th string.Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 1

You might recognize the type of voicing I am using here as a Drop2 voicings

Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 2

If you are familiar with different kind of voicings you might recognize these voicings as Drop3 voicings.

The voicings that we now have both have the chord part on the B, G and D strings and the root on the 5th and 6th strings. This allows the voicings to have ok voiceleading most of the time without us having to worry too much about it since that requires more knowledge of the notes in the chord and how they move in harmony.

II V progressions

If you see a lead sheet for a jazz standard for the first time it is quite likely that you will be overwhelmed by the amount of chords that are in there. For that reason it is very practical if not essential to learn to view groups of chords as one thing rather than each chord by itself, since that makes it a lot easier to remember the song by heart, and in the end also analyze or understanding the song while playing it. That is the reason why I have made the next 4 exercises. One of the most common two chord progressions in jazz is a II V.

A II V is a minor 7th chord moving up a 4th or down a 5th to dominant 7th chord like this:

Dm7 G7

The reason why I am not including the I chord, ie II V I is that very often the II V is resolving differently so it is handy to just pair those two for now.

The II V voicings that I can build with the voicings in the first two exercises are pretty ok,  but by adding a bit of extensions I can make them easier to play and transition better from one to the other so here’s an exercise where I let the II V resolve to another II V etc.Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 3

And here is a similar version starting on the 5th string:Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 4

Minor II V cadences

Since we are already busy with recognizing II V cadences in major it seems logical to add the minor variation of this too. Same idea as the major counterpart. We add some extensions, and in this case alterations to the dominant to make it easier to play and make the II V move more smooth from II to V.Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 5

The m7b5 chord is probably one of the most hated voicings by beginning students and it is a bit difficult and takes some practice, but there is really no way around them..

Here’s the set with the root of the II chord on the 5th string:Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 6

 Diminished Chords

The only chord that we miss now is a diminished chord, since they are not present in the II V or in the diatonic chord sequence or in the II V’s

 

So now you have most basic chords covered and should be able to get through most standards without too much trouble.

The examples in the this lesson are also available as a downloadable PDF here: Jazz Chord Survival Kit

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 Instagram, Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases

Jazz Chord Essentials: Open Triads

After making the triad lesson I thought I might as well make a lesson on open triads because I use them sometimes as chords and sometimes as arpeggios. I think they can sound great and it is a subject that is not covered that often so it deserved a bit of attention. I guess I’ll do a lesson on how to use them as arpeggios in solos at a later time.

I never really checked them out in any systematical way so making this lesson I found quite a few new voicings to experiment with.

Open Triads

What is an open triad? Probably some of the most famous examples of open triads on the guitar would be Eric Johnson intro to Cliffs of Dover, Steve Morse string skipping etudes, and a lot of the guitar parts of the Californication-era Red Hot Chili Peppers. They all apply them as triads, but I am going to use them in the same way I approached the triads in my lesson on that.

Here’s an example on how to construct open triads from triad inversions. As you can see the idea is to take the 2nd note of the triad and drop it an octave. This is also sometimes referred to as a drop2 voicing, which I already covered with 7th chords in a few other lessons.

Here are the 3 of the basic sort of triads, the ones found in the major scale. I leave out the augmented triad because it is less useful as an upper structure except when playing minorMajor7 chords and since it is symmetrical it is fairly easy to figure out (This is where you go “Challenge accepted!”)

Basic triads in inversions:

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 1

As I mention in the video, there are a few possible choices when choosing where to place the notes on the neck, to me it varies what I prefer and I try to use whatever fits the situation best. That might be influenced by voice-leading, technique and timbre of the strings.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 2

Here are some basic Cadences constructed with the triad found on the 3rd of each chord: II V I in C using F, Bdim, Em. Of course it is possible to use all string sets, but I find myself using the middle and the top set the most for these voicings so here’s the middle one. You should try to do the top one your self, that’s a good exercise.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 3

And if you want to play altered dom7th chords then you can use the diminished triad on the 7th degree of the chord so for G7 that would be F dim: F Ab B which gives you these notes over G7: 7, b9 and 3, so the equivalent of a G7b9.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 4

 

Altering notes in the triad

In order to cover more chords we can start moving away from only viewing the triad as a triad but more as a set of notes over another chord so we can start altering that chord. To me it is handy to have a simple way to construct basic 3 note voicings I can use for any chord type and then it is easier to alter one of the notes while playing becuase there are only three and I know what notes they are in relation to the chord. The way I approach this is the same as what I did in this lesson on drop2 voicings of 7th chords: Drop2 voicins part 2

Here are a few examples:

G7#5 is in this case constructed by taking a Bdim triad and exchanging the D with a D#. Thinking of this in terms of notes over a G7 this is pretty trivial, but thinking of it as a Bmajorb5 triad is complicated.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 5

In the next example I am taking the F dim construction and exchange the b9 with a #9 to play G7#9.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 7

Here’s the same approach using an F major triad where I substitute the fifth(A) with the 11th(G) to have a Dm7(11) chord voicing.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 8

In the same way we can construct a Cmaj7(#11) voicing by changing the G in the Em triad with an F#. so we are playing the notes E F# and B over the C, in a way you could look at that as a Bsus4 triad too.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 9

In this next example I am substituting the 7th(B) of the Cmaj7 with the 6th(A), still using the E minor triad as a starting point.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 10

Of course there more options and things to figure out using these open triads. Actually I got some new info from writing this lesson since I never approached this in a systematical way, so maybe I can make another one later.

Here’s a downloadable pdf of the examples:Jazz Chord Essentials – Open Triads

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.

Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings – Part 2

So now you have an overview of the basic drop2 voicings from the previous lesson: Jazz Chord Essential Part 1.

Here’s a short video on how I might use chords in a solo on a blues in C.

As you can probably hear I am not only using the chords in their basic form, but I am using different versions of the same type of chord to make simple melodies that then make up the solo. In order to expand the drop2 voicings from the last lesson and build other skills to play something like this we need to work on a few things:

Adding extensions to chords

Let’s look at how we can add more colors to the voicings we already have and a few tricks that will help you use and expand what you already know.

So far we’ve been concerned with the basic chords so Am7 was simply root, third, fifth and seventh, but as I explained in the first lesson you can use Am9 or Am11 instead of Am7. Instead of making 5 or more note voicings we can use these rules to exapand the sounds:

  • 9th (or b9 or #9) can replace the root
  • 13th, b13th, b5, #5 can replace the 5th
  • 6th can replace the 7th
  • 4th or 2nd can replace the 3rd

This means that if we want to make an Am9 voicing you take the Am7 voicing and change A to B. You might notice that this means that you’ll be playing the notes B C E G which is a Cmaj7, so you can use Maj7 voicings to play minor 9 voicings. If you use the same approach to D7, you have D F# A C and that becomes E F# A C which is F#m7(b5). On Gmajor7 you have G B D F# and get  A B D F# which is Bm7.

You’ll notice that I prefer just using the “category” Chord symbols Am7 even though I am playing the 9th. Think of it as part of the process of not having a one to one combination from chord symbol to voicing, something you probably already had to abandon with several ways to play a C or a G chord.Drop 2 voicings part 2 - ex 1

Altered Dominants

One way to vary the sound of cadences is to use an altered dominant. This almost only works when the dominant is in fact resolving to a I chord, but that is for another lesson on theory.

One observation that is handy is that if you play a D7(b9,b13) having substituted the root with b9 and the fifth with the b13 you have these notes: Eb F# Bb C which are exactly the same notes as Cm7(b5) (or Ebm6) . So that gives us this set of II V I Cadences: Drop 2 voicings part 2 - ex 2

Of course these are just examples on how you can change the voicings to get other extensions.

Melodies in the voicings

When I play chords behind a soloist I am often playing melodies with the top voice of the chords to make the harmony more logical to the listener. I also sometimes play parts of a solo in chords. One way to develop the skills needed for this is to use chords to play a melody. The simplest possible melody is probably a scale on, so let’s do a few exercises with that: Drop 2 voicings part 2 - ex 3

As you can see there are a few notes in the G major scale that are tricky to harmonize, and there are several options on how to deal with them. The note C is never going to sound like a Gmaj7 chord so I chose to play an Am7 there. I could have substituted it with a C# and used a Gmaj7(#11).

Let’s make a similar exercise using a turnaround: Am7 D7alt Gmaj7 E7alt. With this exercise I am just forcing myself to move up the neck in small steps, not really any system, even if it’s almost chromatic. I guess for all of these “melodic” voicing exercises the goal is to be able to make your own more than actually play mine!

Drop 2 voicings part 2 - ex 4

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Drop 2 Voicings for guitar

Since I am talking about drop2 voicings and how to use them in another lesson I thought it might be handy to also supply this overview of the fingerings for the 4 basic chord types.

If you read the lessons you’ll get a lot more information on how to expand and use these voicings in several ways.