Tag Archives: how to play jazz chords on guitar

Jazz Chords – From Easy to Advanced in 5 Solid Exercises

It is easy to get lost in difficult Jazz chords that you don’t have control over and can’t use when you are playing, and that means that you are not really getting anything out of them, so in this video, I am going to show you a set of easy jazz chords and then show you how much you can do with it and how you can really play pieces with them.

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Content:

00:00 Intro – Easy Jazz Chords To Expand On

00:28 #1 Shell-Voicings – What Does The Chords Sound Like

02:11 #2 Add Some Rhythm And Make It Interesting

02:41 #3 More Notes = More Color

04:39 #4 Less Notes = Even More Color (And More Notes)

05:25 #5 Become Free With The Chords

05:57 Get More Out Of Your Shell Voicings

06:03 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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Beautiful Jazz Chords That Make You Less Boring

Do you get bored listening to yourself playing chords? Let’s look at some 3-note jazz chords that change things up a bit so you are not always playing the same tired harmony.

Warning: Some of the chords in this video can be both rootless jazz chords and incomplete, they are so hip that they are almost only alterations.

Make Chords Your Own

This example has a few “advanced” sounds but it also still makes sense and has a natural flow.

You could see this example as derived from these chords that you then change a few notes and make more interesting, and the way I do that is something you can also do with the chords you play.

On the Am7 we have the 11 instead of the 5

On the D7, #9 instead of b9

Gmaj7: First  #11 instead of 5 and then chromatic up to #5 and then #11 instead of 5

Why You Use 3-Note Jazz Chords

As you can see some of what makes it more interesting is also that I move around voices in the chords, and that type of movement is a lot easier to execute if you play 3-note chords, in fact, you can really start to improvise with them as if they were 3 voices. This is much harder with 4-note voicings that are a lot less flexible. (B-Roll 3-note voicings?)

Open Up How You Think About Chords (No More Wonderwall)

One of the things that you should develop if you want to play chords and Jazz harmony is that you don’t want to get stuck only thinking about the chords as static grips where you don’t know what notes are in there. As you can see in the previous example you open up an entire world if you are able to start changing the different voices in the chord. (b-roll, changing the notes of a chord?)

Exploring chords and working with the type of things I do in this video is a great way to get into that. Making your own chord melody arrangements is another one. In the end it is important that you don’t find yourself screwing up the music and say

Next: Let’s try the same type of thing but then also break a few rules for the chords.

Color is more important than Rules!

When you play voicings like these then the context of the II V I is pretty predictable, and therefore you can really get away with playing pretty vague chords as you can see here.

The voicings in the example above are derived from this set:

Here I chose to have a 9th instead of a 7th on the Am7

The D7 doesn’t have a 7th either because I include both b5 and b13. You could see it as coming from this voicing.

The Gmaj7 is actually a G6/9 and you could see it as an Em triad where the G is replaced with an A.

This is followed by a voicing that is really just constructed from what you can fit under the melody, which is the 3rd. The important part of the sound is the minor 2nd interval between #11 and 5th.

But of course, you can also explore these sounds on the high-string sets as I do in the next example.

It Is Fantastic Not To Be Tuned In 4ths

With these voicings you don’t have to sit on the middle string set all the time, you can also branch out to the top strings, and with standard tuning that makes some voicings a lot easier to play.

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5 Levels Of Maj7 Chords & How To Make Your Own Voicings

One of the most fun parts of learning and playing Jazz is exploring the Jazz chords and the beautiful colors you can add to it and the freedom you have to improvise with them.

In this video, I am going to go over how we start with basic shell-voicings and then end up with voicing with lots of extensions and colors.

And this is also a great way to really get better at checking out and connecting different types of chords and explore the fretboard

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:34 Level 1 – Shell-voicings, Maj7 & Maj6 chords

01:18 Maj7 & Maj6 chords

01:59 Samba comping with Shell-voicings

02:24 Level 2 – Shell with extension & Drop3

03:25 Comping with The Bigger Chords

03:43 Level 3 – Triads & Rootless Jazz Chords

05:17 Jazz Standard with Triad Voicings

05:36 Level 4 – Drop2 and Inversions

07:24 Level 5 -Inverting Shells with extensions

08:36 Adding more colors to a Standard

08:58 More Colorful Chords and Less boring Chord Progressions!

09:05 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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Easy Way To Make Your Jazz Chords Sound More Interesting

Just playing Jazz chords isn’t enough to make it sound great. You have to know how to make it interesting and keep the song moving.

In this video, I am going to give you some really easy examples that you can make your chords sound a lot better, stuff that helps you sit in the groove and keep things moving, and it is a simple trick that is more visual than a lot of complicated music theory.

A Basic G7 Voicing

The basic technique that I am using in this video and develop into a lot of great ideas is extremely simple. For a G7(13) chord like this:

You can add a harmonized chromatic melody to this chord like this:

And the rootless version of this which is often a little more practical.

What is happening here is really just that I am playing a melody going down in half-steps and then the chord use the chord on the D, the last note in the melody as a way to harmonize the note leading to it. In that way everything just slips into place and it is also very easy to play.

And this works for other chords as well, not just dominant chords, let’s check that out.

Chromatic Passing Chords on a II V I

Here you can hear how it also works on the II Chord, and of course, you can also use it on a tonic chord like this:

Here I am using a Db6 to get from the Cmaj7 to the C6

Another Great Trick With Chromatic Chords

Now you have one way to harmonize chromatic passing notes, but there is another one that is also pretty easy and works just as well and even makes

In bar 3 I am playing a melody that moves down in half steps, but instead of harmonizing it with the chord a half step above then I shift the first G7(13) chord down a half step, and then the lower part of the chord moves up and the melody moves down

This means that you now have two ways to create some chromatic melodies with chords. Let’s try that out on a few chords.

Exploring More Melodies And Options

To give you a way to get this into your playing let’s go over how this works on a few chords.

If you want to move from this voicings to this voicing:

If you use these two options then you can start with a voicing like this (1st chord in example 6) and then there are two ways you can move the melody down in half-steps:

With the starting chord, you have two ways you can move down, you can use the target chord as we did in the beginning, and you can also start by shifting the first chord.

Here’s another version. If you go from then you have these two options: 7a then there are these two ways to do this:  

Putting this to use on a Jazz Standard

You can put this to use on a song like Ladybird like this. Try to see if you can analyze what is going on.

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5 Jazz Chords You Need To Use More

You probably already know some Jazz Chords, Drop2 or Drop3 voicings, or Shell-voicings, and those systems are really great to build a vocabulary. But sometimes you want to play some different chords that sound really beautiful and a little more surprising to the ear so that you don’t make the song boring.

Those voicings are what this video is about!

Some of these chords are a little stretchy, but as you will hear, they are worth the effort, just don’t start by playing them in the 1st position.

I am going to introduce them in chord progressions because I think that is how they are the easiest to hear, but you can of course also use them one a single chord vamp.

#1 – Beautiful m7(9,11) Upper-structure Triad

Upper-structure Triads

These 3 voicings really fit well together and they are all using upper-structure triads, something that makes them sound both colorful and strong.

The Am7 is a C and a G major triad which gives us 3rd, 11th, 7th and 9th

Here I am combining it with a D7(13b9) and a G6/9

The D7 uses a B major upper-structure and the G uses an Asus4 triad as an upper-structure, and this is something that you will see throughout the video.

Any Easy Way To Be Creative With These Chords

Arpeggiating chords

Turning it into a Maj7 chord

In the later examples, you will also see that a lot of these voicings can be used for different chords, and in that way they are a very practical way to increase your chord vocabulary.

The Am7 voicings is also great as a tonic chord in C major, even though it does not have a 3rd.

Here it is a more modern sounding Cmaj7 in this II V I with a tritone substitution.

#2 – Close-voiced Maj7(9,13)

This vamp is using the Cmaj7(9,13) voicing which is 7th,9th,3rd,13th and then alternating that with a Bb7, the backdoor dominant.

Notice that this Cmaj7(9,13) also works as a G6/9 which was how I used it in Example 1

There it is 3rd 5th 6th and 9th.

#3 – Dom7(13b9) the most beautiful Dominant sound

The 13b9 sound on a dominant is one of my favorites. It is a great mix of an altered and unaltered sound which I find really rich.

Here I am using that on a II V I in F major, mixing it with a Gm7(11) and an Fmaj7(9,13)

The C7(13b9) is a voicing with an A major triad as upper-structure which is also a part of why it sounds so stable while still working as a dominant.

Another great way to use this same type of voicing is as a diminished chord. You can do that like this on “The Song Is You”

Here it becomes a Dim(b6) but you can also move it around to get to other extensions.

#4 – The Magic Chord – The Maj(b5)

Can you hear it? It is the sound of the #11 Police coming to get us for notating this chord as a Maj(b5) – Clip from Mad Max

You are probably using this set of notes, but using it in this voicing is really a great sound and it is so incredibly flexible.

In this example, I am using it as both a tonic minor chord and a half-diminished chord.

First, an F#ø(11) which leads into a B7(13b9) using another version of the Ab major upper-structure and continuing to an Em6/9 played with two different voicings.

#5 – Dom7th(#5)

The Dom7(#5) chord is a great voicing for melodic minor sounds, and you can make some really beautiful sounds with the inversions as I do in this example, where it is used on the II chord in a minor II V I in Am.

But you can also use it for the tonic minor chord and use the same type of fill like this:

 

 

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Jazz Chords – Using Triads in Jazz Comping – Study Guide

You can use triads to play jazz chords, and it is a very powerful tool for this. Triads are very flexible and easy to play while also sounding great as chords. In this playlist, I will go over how you can use the triads you already know to play great sounding jazz progressions using only easy 3-note jazz chords.

We can play a wide range of chords with these 3-note easy jazz chords and they are very easy to add notes to or change notes to give us the extensions or alterations we want.

You can check out the videos here or go through the playlist on YouTube through this link:

Jazz Chords – Using Triads in Jazz Comping – Study Guide

Working with Triads as Jazz Chords and making it a flexible tool

This video discusses how you can work with triads and inversions when comping, showing you how to voice-lead them, use inversions, and add extensions and alterations.

Finding Triads for 7th chords

This video is actually about soloing, but the first few minutes provide a very thorough method for relating triads to a 7th chord.

Playing a Jazz Standard using Triad voicings

In this lesson, I am going to show you how you can get started with some triad voicings. Starting with what you already know and then go over 5 levels, step-by-step, of how you can play some great sounding comping ideas using these amazing voicings.

Applying Triad voicings to a Jazz Blues

This lesson is going over how you find triad voicings for a C jazz blues. You will also learn what you can do with the voicings you find using melodies and inversions.

 

Other great 3-note Jazz Voicings to Add To Your Vocabulary

When you think about Jazz Chords then you are probably thinking about rich chords with a lot of beautiful extensions. Of course, the rich colors of Jazz are about having chords that are embellished like this. At the same time when you are playing Jazz and when you are comping then you also want to have flexible chords so that you can move from one to the next, create small melodies and 3-note chords are fantastic for this.

 

Using less common Triad choices on a Maj7 chord

This video is going over 6 triads that I use for my Cmaj7 voicings and will also demonstrate how you can use them in a II V I cadence in C major. At the end of the video, I go over 4 more triads that are a bit tricky to use but also yield more interesting sounds!

Let me know what you think!

These videos give you a path to work on using triads and becoming very flexible with them, is there something you are missing or maybe something else you would like to see?

Leave a comment on the post!

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Beautiful Chromatic Sounds And how to add them to Jazz Chords

When you solo in Jazz you use chromatic passing notes and enclosures all the time, it is really a part of the sound, and actually this is true for Jazz chords as well. There are many ways to use chromaticism in your comping or chord melody and it is a great way to add more movement and color to what you play.

In this video, I am first going to show you one way of adding chromatic passing chords that is pretty visual and easy to use and then later I am going to start creating chromatic melodies in the chords and this is a great way to get to know your chords a lot better and also gives you a lot of great-sounding options to add to your playing.

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:47 Chromatic Passing Chords – Look where you are going

01:36 You can also move down a half-step

01:46 G7= G7(13) and Cmaj7 = C6?

03:02 Chromatic Chords in Context

03:43 Beyond Shifting Chord Shapes

05:14 Analyzing the voice-leading example

05:48 The Bebop Trick

06:58 Two Types of contrary motion

08:27 Suspending notes in the chord

09:40 Passing Chords And How To Sound Amazing With Them

 

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Jazz Blues Chords – How To Make It Sound Like Jazz

If you are trying to learn to play Jazz Guitar and especially comping songs then you have probably already found out that it is not only about knowing the right chords, there is a lot more to it.
In this video, I am going to show you how I comp a slow medium jazz blues. I have transcribed a chorus and I will go over the chords but I will also show you how I play the chords and make the comp more interesting by using melodies, arpeggios and other tricks to color the chords. In fact, it may surprise you how rarely I “just” play a chord.

The Blues Transcription

Let’s first check out my comping with the transcription, then I will break down 5 of the techniques I use to make it sound more like a piece of music and more interesting.

The next thing to do is to have an overview of the voicings. If I play through the blues with just the chords because that is the backdrop for what I am doing.

Just the chords

After that, I am going to talk about how I am using melodies and fills, inner-voices and arpeggiation to make it come alive and I am going to give you some easier examples to work with.

As you can see most of the voicings are really simple and for the most part chords you probably know already.

If there is a chord that you don’t recognize then try to play or imagine playing the root under it.

bar 1 Bb789,13) magic chord

bar 6 Edim

bar 8 Dø G7  – It is a II V, and the movement is done by moving the 7th(C) of Dø down to the 3rd(B) on G7(b9)

Melody is more important than voice-leading

The first two bars are more about the melody I am playing than connecting the chords. I am using the chords to fill in around the melody.

The first chord is just a color, after that, you get this melody and on the long note in bar 2 I add the rest of the chord but I arpeggiate the chord to create a little extra movement.

The same type of thing is happening on the Eb7 moving to Edim. First the chord, then a melody that takes me to a G, and under that, I add the rest of the chord.

Playing Jazz Chords One Note at The Time

In the previous example, you could see how I arpeggiate the chords and in that way get more movement out of a single chord.
This is something that I use quite a lot. Two examples in this blues are bar3:

and bar 7

Both are using the same basic Bb7 voicing and the notes are spread out across the bar.

In bar 6 I do this as well, but here I am adding an extra note while arpeggiating and in that way starting to have two melodic layers, something that I use to create almost a counterpoint in another place.

Notice how I actually use voice leading to go from the Edim to the Bb7 even though it is hidden by the way I play Bb7

Electric Counterpoint (in a Jazz Blues)

In bar 8 we have this fragment:

Here I play a sustained F as the melody on Dø, and then add the rest of the notes and that turns into a second melody under the F that yields the G7(b9) voicing. This is an example of adding the chord tones in arpeggiating and that gradually takes on its own meaning as a melody and I treat it like that as well, not just as an arpeggio.

Grab what is easy to get by

Being efficient is important when you comp, also because you need to be ready to react to what is happening around you.

One of the ways I use block chords in comping is to just change the melody and keep the same chord which is what I am doing in bar 9 on the Cm7.

Improvising with the harmony

Since you are improvising when you comp then you can also change the chords a bit. The final turnaround has two examples of this. The 2nd chord is written out as a Db7, though you would expect a G7 there I play (and think) Db7

Whenever you have a dominant chord that resolves then you can choose to use the tritone substitute. That is what I am doing here. And added bonus is that the Db is the #9 of Bb which makes it sound like a harmonized blue note. That is also why I have that note at the top of the chord. In Music context is everything.

In the last bar, I am also changing the harmony, but I am doing so by delaying the F7. II V cadences are very flexible and you can often get away with leaving out one of the chords or as I do in this case, leave the F7 until beat 4 and then use it almost as a chromatic leading chord for the Bb7 in the next chorus. The quarter note triplet rhythm also adds extra energy by being a sort of tension against the groove.

Learn some amazing drop2 voicings

The majority of chords that I use in this video are drop-2 voicings, and a lot of the other ones can easily be seen as derived from drop2 by being drop2 without a root note for example. So studying drop2 voicings and being flexible with them is very useful if you want to be good at comping and free to choose what to play.

Drop2 Bundle – Build Your Voicing Vocabulary

 

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Rootless Jazz Chords – This Is What You Want To Know

If you are getting into some of the rich sounding Jazz chords on the guitar and want to use that in your playing then one thing that can really add a lot more life and color to your chord playing is to start using rootless Jazz chords.

Playing Rootless Jazz chords in your chord melody, comping and chord soloing will give you 10x as many options and also really start to free you from thinking static grips and more work with playing progressions that flow into one another.

And it is pretty simple to get into…

Basic Example with Chords Already You Know

You probably already know these chords:

Making these chord voicings that you already know into rootless voicings is really simple:

Now you are probably asking what is the big deal? They are a little bit easier to play but for the rest it doesn’t really matter.

Advantages to Rootless Voicings

There are two advantages to using rootless voicings:

1 If you are in a band then you want to stay out of the way of the bass player, and constantly having the root in that register is often clashing with the bass player which is not so nice for you or the bass player.

2 You have a lot more freedom to improvise with the notes when you don’t have to play the root. I am going to give you a lot of examples of this in the video, but if we take the example from above then you could start working on changing the top note of the chords and get some really great sounding chord movements That’s what I am going to cover next.

Making Easy variations to the chords

In this example I am using other melody notes from the scale that are easy to add to the chord. The examples are all practical and pretty easy to play

But there is one note that is added in there which is the b9 which acts as a chromatic leading note in the G7 to the 5th of Cmaj7. This is another way to understand alterations on dominants.

And you can go a lot further than this by adding notes on the top string as well, which is now a lot easier:

And with this you can also start to make movement inside the chord and make the different voices move independently. That’s the next thing to explore

Voices not chord grips

Let’s try this with another set of chords that you probably already know:

This can be turned into this set of rootless voicings:

And a basic variation of this could be something like this:

Notice how I am again using a b13 as a chromatic leading note to go from E down to D on the Cmaj7.

Another thing to notice is that I am only playing the chord once and then moving the melody on top while the other notes are sustaining, this gives it more of a polyphonic or even orchestral sound.

And you can expand on this quite easily adding more movement in the voices, especially G7:

Chromatic inner-voices

The next thing to start experimenting with is adding chromatic movement in some of the lower voices not just moving the melody.

Here I am adding the melody C A# to lead to the B on G7 and a great chromatic movement from B to Bb to A moving the maj7th to the maj6th

Get a solid foundation in Rootless Jazz chords

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Jazz Chords – 5 Exercises You Need To Know About

Playing Jazz Chords is a huge chunk of what you do when we play Jazz on the guitar. It is what we need for comping, chord melody arrangements and, chord solos.

Learning new chord voicings and especially learning to use new chord voicings can be very difficult and often a lot of time is wasted just playing inversions and exercises when that is not how you would playing the chords if you are playing a piece of music.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:43 The Strategy

1:17 #1 Inversions

2:52 #2 Diatonic Chords

4:57 #3 Turnarounds or Short Basic Progressions

6:35 #4 Composing Comping Melodies -Step-wise melodies and making music

7:58 #5 Making Music With The Chords

8:41 #6 Bonus exercise

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