Tag Archives: guitar chords lesson

8 Awesome Types Of 3-Note Chord Voicings And How To Use Them

You probably see Jazz Chords as chord voicings with lots of notes, alterations and extensions which makes them big and difficult to play. But actually most of the time when I am comping or playing chord melody I am using 3-note chord voicings, and it is amazing how rich and diverse you can still sound just using 3 notes, and most of those are pretty easy to play.

In this video I am going to go over 8 types of 3-note voicings including different ways to use Shell-voicings, Upper-structure Triads, Quartal Voicings, Sus chords and different types of Cluster-like Interval Structures.

The Voicing types I cover in this lesson is:

  • Shell Voicings (137)
  • Triads
  • Quartal Harmony
  • Shell Voicings (157)
  • Sus4 Triads
  • Triad Derived Cluster Voicings #1
  • Triad Derived Cluster Voicings #2
  • Shell Derived Cluster Voicing

This is a lot of material but going from one type of 3 note voicing to another is surprisingly easy as you will see in the main example.

The Practical Approach: Solar Chords

The way I have chosen to approach this is to make an example chorus of comping on the song Solar. I will break down the chorus and while going over the chord voicings also talk about what type of voicing it is also give you an overview of a set of Diatonic Chords using this type of voicing.

Basic Shell Voicings and Triads – “The Power Chords”

The first part of the chorus on Solar is shown here below. For the first three voicings I am using Shell voicings and then from the middle of the Gm bar there are two triad voicings.

The first Shell voicing is a CmMaj7 Shell voicing. You probably know the shell-voicings as the basic chord voicings that are used for Freddie Green comping or as a basic building block to create voicings with extensions.

In this case I am using the shell-voicings both as basic chords and as upper-structures with extensions and colors.

To Practice shell voicings you can do this exercise of the diatonic shells in C minor melodic:

The CmMaj voicing in bar 2 is a B7 shell voicing. This is not the diatonic chord that is found on the B. This is constructed in a different way but is a chord that you can find in C melodic minor. You just need to be a little creative.

The B7 voicings is great for CmMaj as it contains the Maj7th, b3 and 6th.

The voicing on the Gm7 is a Bbmaj7 shell voicing which works as a Gm7 without the 7th.

Triads as Jazz Chords

The second half of the Gm bar is covered with a Bb major triad. The Bb major triad is a Gm7 without a G: G Bb D F

On the C7 the chord is a Bb dim triad. This set of notes is Bb Db E so it works as a C7b9.

A way to go over the triads is to play them through the scale, but think of them as the chords that you would use them. This is shown in the example below.

Triad inversions: An easy set of extra chords

A bonus from working with triad voicings is that they are easy and practical to invert. If you take the C7(b9) chord as an example then we have these possible chord voicings that all work:

Quartal voicings and 157 Shells

The voicing is a triad voicing for the Fmaj. An Am triad. Again the triad found on the 3rd of the chord.

From there the next three voicings are quartal voicings, two on F and one on Fm7.

3-part Quartal chords

Quartal voicings are hard to really tie to only one type of chord, so instead of assigning them to a specific chord I have written them out without a chord name.

The way the chords are moving in Solar example is a good example of how quartal voicings are used moving in a step-wise manner.

157 Shell-Voicings

The second chord in the Fm7 bar is another type of Shell voicing. I am using an Ab 157 shell voicing which is Ab Eb G. This spells out an Fm7(9). 

The Bb7alt voicing is an Abm7(b5) 157 Shell-voicing, moving on to a BmMaj7 137 Shell voicing.

Moving the 157 Shell-voicings through a scale you get this exercise:

Sus4 Triads as Chord Voicings

The last 4 bars of the example is introducing quite a few voicings.

First a sus4 triad for the Ebmaj7 and then three types of cluster voicings that I will go over.

Sus4 triads – Extra colors

The Ebmaj7 voicing is a Gsus4 triad. This spells out an Ebmaj7(13): G(3) C(13) D(7).

Using the sus4 triads like this is a really useful way to add colors to a chord. Taking this chord through an Eb major scale like this yields these voicings.

Especially the Bb7(13) is a nice sound here, and some to the b13 voicings can be a bit hard to put to use.

Triad based Cluster Chords #1

One way to get a 2nd interval in a triad is to substitute the root with the 9th. This is similar to how you add extensions to a drop2 chord.

Below is shown how the Ebm7 voicing is constructed. Strictly speaking this is an Ebm(add9) voicing since it does not have a b7.

Taking these voicings through the sale yields these voicings:

The Ab7 is an AmMaj7 shell voicing working as an incomplete Ab7(b9) voicing.

Triad based Cluster Chords #2

On the Dbmaj7 I am using another triad derived voicing. This is a the set of notes C Eb F which is derived from a Bbm triad. Here the Bb is replaced with C and the Db with an Eb.

Taking this through the scale gives us these voicings:

Shell Voicing Derived Cluster Voicing

The final voicing type is create from a 137 shell voicing where the 3 is replaced with a 2 or 9. As shown here below:

This chord voicings through the scale yields these chords. My notation software is unable to turn these voicings into chord diagrams.

Taking 3-note Jazz Chords further

If you want to check out more examples of how I use these types of chord voicings on a standard then check out this WebStore Lesson:

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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.

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.

 

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.