Tag Archives: guitar jazz chords

The Real Magic of Jazz Chords – Easy & Amazing

What is really great about Jazz chords or comping in Jazz is that you are allowed to improvise with the chords and choose what sounds you play, especially in terms of extensions but it can go a lot further as you will see in this jazz chords guitar lesson.

In this video, I am going to show you some really simple but also really great ways to add some chromatic notes and even entire chords to your playing. This works great if you are playing Jazz of course but it is also really useful in other genres that use extended chords.

In chord progressions and static chords

I am going to go over some different examples of how to mess around with a chord. I am going to show you how it works on a single chord but also how you can use it on a chord progression.

The first few are examples only moving one note in the chord and then it is going to get a little more extensive and you will learn how to start to add chromatic chords as well.

When it says Cmaj7 in the chart you can play a Cmaj7, but you can also play a C6. The difference between these two is a B and A :

We can play what we want as long as it sounds like the right chord in the context and as long as it does not clash with the melody or the soloist. For the different chords in this video, I will give you some examples of extensions you can use.

Why I Don’t Add Extensions to Chord Symbols

This way of improvising with the chords is also why I often don’t write extensions on the chords of a song: We are allowed to chose. (b-roll? comping You Stepped out of a dream with chord symbols)

You can also move from one to the other, and you can even add a chromatic leading note in between like this:

If you use this on a II V I then it becomes:

It does not have to be in the top note melody, it sounds great in the middle of the chord too:

The 9th – Another great extension

Another extension you can add to a Maj7 chord is the 9th. That can move down to the root:

The example is also moving the b13 to the b5 on the altered dominant. Whenever I chose a note to move to in the scale that works with the chord.

In example 5 I am moving the 7th and the 9th, but one of them alone

Stealing from Stairway to Heaven

So now we start moving several notes and before I go into chromatic chords, let’s have a look at how you can also move them in opposite directions (ala Stairway to Heaven)

Here are two ways of doing that on a Dm7. On a Dm7 you can use other extensions from the scale, the 9th and the 11th are pretty safe most of the time if Dm7 is the II or the VI chord in the scale.

Notice that the chord in between is actually an Fm7, but that is actually a coincidence which is why I did not write the chord symbol.

Chromatic Passing Chords on a G7

Now let’s add some chromatic chords. For a G7 you can play the G7 but also choose to add either a 9th or a 13th.

A 3-note version of adding some chromatic chords as leading chords could be something like this:

The idea is really just to move the chord a fret up or down when it resolves as you can see I do both in the first bar going down and the second moving up.
This is pretty easy to play on guitar so you should really explore that for more chords than just the dominants.

Another way to use this is to let the melody move one way and the chord another. This is what I am doing in this example:

Here the melody is the same in bars 1 +2 and bars 3 + 4.

The first example is using an Ab7 to harmonize the Ab in the melody, and the 2nd example is using a Gb7. The difference is that in the second example the melody is moving down while the chord is moving up (Gb7 up to G7).

If you want to explore more sounds and chords that you can use when you comp then check out this video where I am covering different inversions of chords you probably already know plus some great voice-leading tricks you can add to your playing.

Add some Chromatic chords to your comping

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The Magic Chord – 10 ways to Use this Amazing Jazz Chord

The Magic Chord is a great name for this Maj7(b5) voicing. This is because it can work for a lot of different jazz chords sounds and sounds really great as a lot of useful chords. The Magic Chord can be seen as an advanced chord concept, but really is a very practical way of playing a lot of chords.

In this video, I am going over 10 examples of how you can use this voicing as dominants, tonic minor, half-diminished, Phrygian chords and altered dominants. It really hits some great extensions and chord sounds in harmony from both Major and Melodic minor scales.


0:00 The Magic Chord (just ask Herbie Hancock)

0:43 II V I in C major

1:17 II V I in D minor

1:52 Phrygian Chord to Tonic – C Major

2:26 II V I in D major

2:58 IIø Valt I in A major

3:31 II bVII I in C major

4:02 II Valt I in Bb major

4:37 II bII I in C major

5:09 II V I in Eb major

5:42 II bVII I in G Major

6:15 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page!

How To Learn Jazz Guitar – Suggestions To Begin Studying

This is a question I get very often. And that is in no way strange. Starting to learn Jazz guitar is the beginning of a long journey with a lot of interesting stops along the way.

In this video and post, I will try to give you some places where you can look for the things you feel you need to check out and of course also what you think is interesting.

Learning Jazz, or any other style of music is not a set path the fits everybody. We all take different routes and need to work on different things longer or shorter. That is also the reason that there is no set way to go through this and why I am calling it suggestions. You need to figure out for yourself where to go next. If I have a student learning Jazz it is common that I take a few lessons to figure out what to work on and how to work on it, so expect that when you start working as well.

That said, I will try to make this a little less complicated and stop the information overload a little because I don’t think that is really necessary.

To keep it a bit short I am going to focus on three main topics:

  • Technique and Scales
  • Chords
  • Improvisation and Songs

Technique and Scales

Keep it simple. Start with the Major scale. Don’t overdo technique practice.

Start with one position and one key. You can add positions and keys along the way, with basic exercises.

Start with these exercises:

  1. The Scale
  2. The Scale in 3rds
  3. The Diatonic 7th chords (Maybe Triads first, but many don’t have to)

For more information on what to do work on and how to use it:

The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz – Basic Scale exercise and Scale in Diatonic 7th arpeggios

Practice Major Scales like this and You will get more out of it! – More thoughts on scale practice.

How to practice your scales and why – Positions – A bit of a deeper look into options with scale practice and suggestions for exercises

Jazz Chords – A solid set and learn some songs

It is practical to learn some jazz chords so that you can play chords on songs. As jazz guitarists, we spend more time comping than soloing. It is also a huge help to be able to hear the harmony that you are soloing over.

I have a study guide for Jazz Chords where the first two or three lessons will give you more than enough. How to Learn to Play Jazz Chords – Study Guide

Especially I would start with a set of diatonic chords for the major scale which is exercise one or two of this lesson: How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar

From that material you can gradually expand chord vocabulary, learn songs and progress into rootless voicings and more complex comping and harmonization ideas.

Improvisation and Songs

This is the most important part of how to learn jazz guitar because this is where we talk about playing music. So it is about using the material that is practiced in the scales.

If you want to play jazz you need to spend time playing the songs and improvising and you should start doing this from the very beginning. Even if you can’t really play solos that sounds like jazz, just by trying you are building repertoire and skills to use later.

A few things about improvising over changes:

How To Solo Over Chord Changes The Right Way

A practical example of improvising with arpeggios:

How to start soloing over a II V I with arpeggios

For more examples of songs, easy chord melody arrangements and similar then you should browse through this playlist of easy YouTube lessons:
How To Begin Jazz Guitar – Easy lessons to gain an overview

If you start making your own Jazz Licks and develop your improvisation by working on coming up with your own lines then maybe check out this lesson:

How to write Jazz Licks – What You Want to Know

Jazz Standards to start with and how to learn them

When it comes to which songs to start with then I would suggest you start with one of these 10 songs:

The First 10 Jazz Standards You Need To Know

And some of the exercises and things to focus on when learning them are covered here:

Learning Jazz Standards – Important Exercises

Next level for Jazz Guitar

Maybe you already feel comfortable with the things I covered here, and you are looking for more challenges and explore the music further. Of course, you can browse the YouTube channel and my Website.

Another option is to join the 3000+ members of the Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook group and ask there, get inspired by the posts and comments of others:

Jazz Guitar Insiders

Or join me on Patreon where you can support and help shape the content on the channel in the future. Patreon is really what has made all these lessons and the channel possible.
Check it out here: Jens Larsen YouTube Lessons on Patreon

15 Minor II V I – Beautiful Jazz Chords You Need To Know

Having good Jazz Chords for a minor II V I can be difficult. This progression is much more complicated than it’s Major counterpart. At the same time, it is a really beautiful progression. Especially because of the rich tonic minor chords and altered dominants.

15 Jazz Chord Sets

In this video, I am going to go over 15 sets of jazz chords for a minor II V I in D minor. They will give you some solid ideas with extensions, the melodies and also some inner-voice movement.

What makes this progression difficult is probably in part the IIø chord that is a little hard to get used to and also the mix of harmonic minor and melodic minor used on the V and the I chord. Very rich colors but also a bit hard to handle.

I am of course very curious about what you think about the video format, so if you have ideas for other topics that would work in a video like this then let me know!


0:00 Intro -15 Minor II V I chord sets

0:30 Do you have suggestions for another topic?

0:42 #1 – Upper-structures for Eø

1:01 #2 – Cluster-like Altered Dominant and Rich Tonic Minor 

1:31 #3 – Inner-voice movement in Melodic Minor

1:56 #4 – Expanding Melody

2:20 #5 – ø11 Cluster-like voicings – maj6 and maj7 on a I chord

2:44 #6 – Melodic Skips in the Top-note melody

3:08 #7 – Maj7(b5) voicings and Altered Voicings for the Tonic Chord

3:32 #8 – The Minor 3rd Trick and the Maj7(#5) voicing

3:54 #9 – Diminished Voicings for Dominants

4:18 #10 – Melodic Pedal Point

4:42 #11 – Arpeggiating is a forgotten art!

5:06 #12 – Counter-movement in the lower voices

5:31 #13 – b5 Upper-structure triad on the V

5:56 #14 – Tune Up in Minor

6:21 #15 – Tritone voicings and a great way to resolve them

6:45 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

More lessons like this

If you want to check out similar lessons then maybe one of these are useful:

25 Jazz Guitar Exercises – How To Improve Skills In A Musical Way

10 Arpeggios over a Maj7 chord

10 arpeggios over a m7 chord

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The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

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Do this Every Time you Learn a New Jazz Chord

You need to check out a lot of different jazz chords and voicings when you want to learn Jazz, and you need them for comping and for chord melody arrangements.

In this lesson, I am going to show you some techniques that can really help you get more out of your voicings so that you don’t have to spend too much time practicing chords and help you use one voicing that you already know to create a ton of other chords that you then don’t need to practice as much.

A little music theory can really save you a lot of time!

I am going to do this in 3 parts – first look at finding similar voicings, then change the voicing and finally what other chords we can use this voicing for.

This is all about using what you practice as much as possible and getting the most out of what you have learned.

Part 1 – Connect the voicing to all the other things you know.

Let’s keep it a little practical. Let’s say you have learned a shiny new voicing like this Drop2 voicing for a C7(9).

It’s a drop2 voicing, but if we forget that and just look at it and associate it with other types of voicings then something great happens:

Below, you can see that it is coming from this voicing (bar2) and that it is also related to this voicing (bar3)

The reason that I am saying this is that it is important to tie see how the chord has different components from other voicings that we know.

That makes it easier to use it with other chords and for examplie having C-D top note melody.

Another thing that is good to notice is that it is related to this Drop3, this triad or this shell voicing.

We are just taking a look at how it works and finding things we can do with it.

Right now we can make a melody like this with what we just discovered:

or a comping riff like this:

Part 2 – Change The Voicing – Make a New Jazz Chord

This is really an important way to look at how to come up with more sounds and really explore what we can do with a chord.

To keep it a bit practical I am not going to change the 3rd and 7th of the chord because then we have a completely different type of chord and open up for a lot more information, that is possible and you should experiment with it, but my video would get too long.

If we explore changing the 2nd highest note, the G, then we have these chords:

So, of course, you need to understand where you want to use the chords to figure out what fits. A blues in C with C7(9,b13) chords may not be the sound you want (or are hired to play)

We can do the same with the top note:

And I am not going to go over the different combinations of this, but that can be fun to explore as well!

Part 3 – Using this voicing for other Jazz chords

Now we have connected the chord to a ton of other voicings and made a lot of variations on it.

If you look at the notes that are in the C7(9) voicing we have Bb,E, G and D.

If you order these in different ways we have:

E G Bb D which is Em7(b5) or You can look at it as G Bb D E which is a Gm6

So this means that the original voicing could be used like this:

These are two of the obvious choices, but you could also go through this in a systematic way and just check out what these notes are against any root.

They could work as a Bb6(#11) or F#7alt. Thinking of notes against a root is something that is also very useful for soloing!

If you use the chord as an F#7alt then you have this: Example 8

Connect the chords don’t just remember separate things

This way of thinking about voicings where you are looking at it not only within a system but also really connecting to other types of chords and voicings is a very good practice for developing and making your vocabulary more useable. If you want to see another video where I talk about this then check out this video where I am going over a 3 level process of creating and using jazz chords.

Jazz Chords – The 3 Levels You Need To Know

And you could also consider checking out the Jazz Chord Study Guide

Apply it to a Bb Jazz Blues

Take things even further by using some of the same principles on a Jazz Blues:

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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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Jazz Chords – The 3 Levels You Need To Know

In this video I am to cover some different types of Jazz Chords and talk about the order you should learn them. I’ll show you the basic idea with the chords and how you can use this order to gradually build a chord vocabulary that you can also make music with.

I don’t focus on the types of voicings, like drop2 drop3, etc. because they are just names, it is more important to chords you can play music with.

Level 1 – A Set For Playing Music and Songs

To play songs and easily find the chords we need one set with the root on the 5th and one set with the root on the 6th string. This is shown in the example here below:

If you are used to finding chords in other genres this is probably how you think about it.
These chords are basic chord sounds, not too many extensions. 

  • They are Easy to play.
  • Similar to the bar chords you already know
  • Include the root – full picture of the harmony
  • A Complete set of chords

Why start with these:

  • You can play the song alone and hear the harmony. 
  • Works well in a duo
  • Easy to add extensions and develop
  • Easy to turn into very flexible rootless voicings

Level 2 – Rootless voicings for Bands and Flexibility

Now you can play the chords and to get some more options then the best place to go is to just take the chords from Level 1 and then remove the lowest note: The Root.
The essential exercise is this:

We can now start making the chords more flexible and add melody by changing the top note and even adding an extra higher note as shown below in example 3 for a C7.


  • Works better in a band
  • Is much more flexible
  • You can play melodic ideas with the chords

Level 3 – Inversions and more melodic options

Now we can start working on inversions, and a good place to start is to take these voicings that we come across while adding notes to the 3-note chords.

The idea of a chord inversion is really just to find the same notes in another order on the neck. The chords we have are called drop2 voicings, and I go over how to make the inversions in the Drop2 lessons in this guide: How To Learn Jazz Chords

If I take the four basic chords and play those inversions then I have this:

How To Learn Using These Chords

Whenever you practice something like this it is very important that you also practice using it in songs. Learning a lot of stuff that you don’t use in music is usually a waste of time and you just forget it again.

Check out some more in ideas with Drop 2 voicings

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How to Learn to Play Jazz Chords – Study Guide

You want to learn how to play Jazz Chords. An important part of playing Jazz is to be able to interpret and play the rich chord language of the genre. This list of lessons is an ordered way to work your way through this from getting to know a basic vocabulary to having more freedom in comping with different types of chord voicings.

Your Feedback is very valuable

Remember that the guides are here to help you so if you have suggestions for this or other guides then let me know! I might have missed something or you have another idea for something that is important to check out! Feel free to send me an e-mail or message via social media.

I have also collected the videos in a Playlist on Youtube if you prefer that:

Playlist: How to Learn to Play Jazz Chords – Study Guide

The Jazz Chord Survival Kit and vocabulary

The first three lessons deal with a basic chord vocabulary and how to use it when playing important chord progressions and jazz standards

Leaving out the root and getting used to upper-structures

Once you know some chords and can play a few songs you can start to expand your vocabulary.

There are two main topics you should add first: Triads as Jazz chord voicings and Drop2 voicings. These two are the foundation for most other voicings and you can build on this knowledge to really build an extensive chord vocabulary.

The Essential Drop2 Voicings

Drop2 chords form a huge chunk of all the voicings that are used in jazz. These lessons will take you through a lot of material using drop2 voicings. If you want to hear Drop2 chords in action then just put on a Wes Montgomery album, he used them extensively in his chord solos and comping.

Developing Comping skills beyond the chords

Playing Chords does require more than just knowing what chord to play where. Some of the other skills that are equally important are discussed in these lessons:

More Modern sounds

If we look beyond the triads and Drop2 voicings it is of course possible to start checking out more modern sounds that may not immediately be covered in the lessons I already included. These voicings are both more extreme with having large intervals or much more cluster like with second intervals:

Allan Holdsworth Chord Series

One of my favorite players when it comes to modern jazz chords is Allan Holdsworth. Since I have made several lessons inspired by his chordal language I though it only right to include some of these lessons. 
I am obviously a huge fan, but there is a lot to be learned from him and the chords are very beautiful and worthwhile checking out. Even if they are not all easy to play.

Chord Solos

One way of getting good at comping is to get good at playing chord solos. Being able to improvise solos with chords really helps develop your freedom and ability to play solid comping behind others. 

For that reason I have included a few of the lessons I have on chord soloing that you can dig into if you want to take this approach.

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