Tag Archives: guitar chords lesson

You Don’t Need That Many Chord Voicings, It’s How You Use Them

In this lesson I will take a look at 4 very common chord voicings and expand on them in several ways to demonstrate how flexible they are and how much you can get out of them!

Most Jazz guitarists are trying to constantly expand their chord vocabulary and learn new chord voicings. Of course it is important to have a lot of options, but it can be an even better idea to sit down and go over what you can actually do with what you already know. 

The basic chord voicings

In the lesson I will take 4 very common chord voicings that I expect you already know and then approach using them in a few different ways so that we can really open up what we get from them while relying on what we already know.

To keep it simple I have taken a turnaround in the key of C major and will use this progression throughout the lesson as a progression.

The 4 chord voicings in their basic form is shown here below both as tab and diagrams

Loose the root and gain another voice!

The first thing to do is of course to convert them into rootless voicings which should also give us some more options because we then can play something else with that finger.  This is shown below again both in tabs and diagrams.

Using the smaller rootless voicings for great melodies

Now that we have some  smaller more flexible voicings we can start making more varied melodies with the top notes of the chords.

The options we have available by just changing the top note to another note on the same string gives us these possibilities for top note melodies on the turnaround:

With these variations we can make the following comping example:

The Expanded set of top note choices

The next step could be to start using top notes not only on the same string (which is the B string in this example) but also on the next string.

If we extend the top notes by adding the ones on the high E string we have these options:

And this could be turned into this example:

Thinking in layers of harmony

With all these options it is possible to make a lot of different melodies, but everything is still played as a complete chord all the time. One way of breaking this up is to split the chord in a melody and a chord part. This is in many ways what we already did in the previous examples, but only in the way that we thought about the melody. 

Now we can also try to use that when playing the chords so that sometimes the chord is played alone, sometimes with the melody and other times just the melody.

An example might be like this: 

They are also arpeggios!

Taking the layer concept a bit further would be to start using the chords completelyas single notes and arpeggios. An example of this is shown here below:

Putting all the ideas together

The best way to finally use this is to take all the different approaches and mix them up and make use of all the things combined in your comping (or soloing) An example of this might be something like this:

I hope you can use some of these ideas to re-invent and expand what you can do with your chord voicings. I often find that it can be a great idea to take a step back and lock at what you can make of what you already know instead of starting to explore something completely new.

 

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You don’t need that many chord voicings, it’s how you use them

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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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Look Mom No Root! Jazz Chord Survival Kit Part 2

You are probably familiar with reading basic jazz chord shapes and you can work your way through a tune without too much trouble. The next logical step is to take that knowledge and then turn the basic jazz chords into rootless voicings and start adding more melodic variation and interesting rhythms.

In this video I am going to go over how you can take a set of jazz chords for the song Lady Bird and then reduce them to rootless 3 note voicings. Then I will try to cover a way you can add more options for top note melodies and play an example of how you can use this.

A basic set of Jazz Chords for Lady Bird

The chords we start with are a set of voicings that you would get if you went over this progression using the material from my lesson How to play jazz chords

You can check out that lesson if you are not familiar with any of the chord voicings.

Look mom no root!

Taking away the root is a fairly simple task since it is just removing the lowest note.

This transforms the voicings in example 1 to the jazz chords shown here below:

Notice how most of them are in fact triads. The mighty triad is there in every aspect of music…

More Melody and more rhythm!

Now that we are using one finger less it is going to get easier to come up with some melodic variations by changing the top note of the chord.

Once we have more than one melody note available for each chord it also starts to make a lot more sense to playing small riffs and explore more rhythms while comping.

In example 3 here below you see the different options. I ket it quite simple so that everything is fairly easy to use and relate back to the original chord shape. For each of the chords there are 2 or three choices for top note.

You can of course work on the different chords isolated to get started with making small riffs and then later try to combine them in the progression. I actually expect that once you have tried to make a few riffs with each of the chords you should quickly be able to do so.

In the video I also show a chorus where I comp through the progression with this material improvising a melody through the changes.

Taking a more sytematic approach.

Besides the advantage of putting the ideas directly to use on a song it can also be very useful to take the concept through some of the exercises you may or may not already know for the standard chords.

This will help you keep the overview of the chords even if you don’t play the root and also just open up for more options when playing the chords in terms of passing chords etc.

In Example 4 I have one of the exercises from the How To Play Jazz lesson, the rootless version i shown in example 5

 

Putting it all together

Playing the more compact rootless voicings is a much more efficient way to play chords in an ensemble. The chords you play will sit much more in a register where they don’t interfere with the bass player and that also makes it much easier to get complicated rhythms to sound good.

You should try work on this both on tunes and once in a while take voicings through a scale or inversions and work with the rootless versions.

The place you could go if you want to continue from here would be to start working on Drop2 voicings: Drop2 playlist

Get a Free Ebook

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

 

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Look Mom No Root! Jazz Chord Survival Kit Part 2

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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.

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.