Tag Archives: how to play jazz chords on guitar

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?

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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

9:13 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

Use the Voicings on Jazz Standards!

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Passing Chords And How To Sound Amazing With Them

Passing chords are a great Jazz trick to add some surprising but also beautiful sounds to chords. In this video I will show you 4 types of passing chords and examples of how they sound and how to use them. You can use the examples to get them into your own playing and add amazing new colors to how you play chords.

I am going to go over examples using, diatonic, chromatic, diminished and dominant passing chords and show you how you can make some beautiful embellishments of a simple II V I turnaround in C.

I am going to cover the 4 types of passing chords by giving you some examples of how they sound. For this lesson I am not going to discuss the music theory involved with the chords. I think it is more important that you have some options and that you explore what they sound like.

Ironically the last one is the easiest to play, the one that adds the most color and movement and it would be the hardest to explain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2ERumJZ0eo

Basic Progression

I am using a simple turnaround to show you where you can add extra chords, and the basic progression is this one:

The first version is using complete chords with the bass note, but the 2nd one is using drop2 voicings which are a little more flexible. Most of the chords I am using in the lesson will be drop2 chords.

Diatonic Passing Chords

The first type of Passing chord is a diatonic passing chord. You mainly use diatonic passing chords in a step-wise manner where you are walking from one chord in the scale to the next.

The first example shows a descending approach from Fmaj7 to Dm7.

This 2nd Diatonic example is using a single Em7 as a passing chords going up to Em7 and then back down to Dm7(9)

Diminished Passing Chords

The Diminished chord is often a bit mysterious but it is a great very flexible chord to add to a progression. In this example I am using different types of diminished chords, but mainly there is a C#dim pulling us to Dm7 and a Gdim resolving to the G7.

For more information on the theory behind the diminished chords and the different functions they can have you can check out this article: Secret to play over Diminished Chords

This example is using a diminished chord as a type of suspension of the Cmaj7.

Dominant Passing Chords

The way a passing chord works is by having a natural resolution to the chord it is targeting. Using the dominant of that chord is of course a great approach.

Below you can see how the A7 on beat 4 works as a passing chord towards the Dm7.

This is repeated in the next bar with the A7(b13) resolving to the Dm7(9)

Side note: Em7 voicing for Cmaj7

I very often get asked why I write Cmaj7 and then the chord voicing looks like an Em7 (for example beat one of example 6)

The explanation is fairly simple. If you look at bar 1 below then it is clear that it is an Em7 chord.

Em7 is E G B D, but if the bass plays a C then the notes sound like a Cmaj7(9): E(3rd of C), G(5th), B(7th), D(9th)

Another way to look at it is shown in bars 2 and 3 below.

You probably know the Cmaj7(9) in bar2. The rootless version of that is, of course, still a Cmaj7(9), and you could add a high G to that which would give you the voicing in bar 1.

Chromatic Passing Chords

A huge part of the sound of a Jazz solo is the use of chromatic passing notes and enclosures. The chromatic passing chords is a way to harmonize this type of melody, maybe even the harmonic counterpart to this.

The first example has a C#m7 to pull toward the Dm7. You should notice that to get this to work you have to think in melodies, and the top-note melody should be pretty strong. Here is D, D# to E.

the 2nd bar has an Ab7 approaching the G7 with a similar descending melody.

You can also use the chromatic passing chords as suspensions similar to how I used the diminished chord in example 5.

Here there are also chromatic approach chords for the Dm7 and Cmaj7.

Take your comping skills up a level

This collection of lessons will teach you a lot of material with passing chords, top-note melodies and riff comping. Focus is on using this on songs so that you can get it into your own playing.

Comping – Putting It All Together

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Jazz Chord Magic On Take The A Train – This Is How To Use Triads

Triads and triad based chords are fantastic jazz voicings! In this lesson, I am going to show you how you can get started with some triad voicings from what you already know and then go over 5 levels of how you can play some great sounding comping ideas using these voicings.

This is something I use all the time myself, and if you check out the Chord solos of Joe Pass he is also using this all the time.

Take The A-Train – Basic set of chords

Let’s start with taking the A-part on Take The A-train and play that with a set of chords that you already know:

Triad-based voicings

If we play these without the root then you have these voicings:

Converting the Jazz voicings and doing great things

I am going to show you two important things about these voicings:

#1 There are more melody options. You can change the top note and give us some options:

#2 All the voicings are triads

Cmaj7 without C is E G B = Em

D7 without D is F# A C = F#dim

Dm7 without D is F A C = F major

G7(b9) without G is (in this voicing) F Ab B = F dim

A7(b9) without A is Gdim = G Bb C#

Top-Note Melodies and Some Jazz Rhythm

First, you should look at the chords and find another melody note for each one. (this is powerful because you can make start making riffs and making things sound a lot more interesting.

Using Inversions of the triads

Since all the voicings are triads then you can also use the inversions of these triads. If you use the inversions as well then you have some options similar to this:

Chromatic melodies & Inner-voice movement

Of course, it is possible to use movement in the other voices, not only the melody. In fact, that is what I am doing on the D7 above.

The example below takes that a bit further.

I am also using some chromatic movement in the melodies most clearly in the top note melodies on the D7 and G7 chords, and in the inner voice melody on the Cmaj7.

Altering the voicings for more modern jazz sounds

And beyond changing the top note you can also experiment with changing notes inside the chord and in that way create some new voicings.

In the example below on the D7, you will see one such voicing. The first voicing on G7 is a similar construction.

How to make music when comping

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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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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 – Here Is Why You Want To Make Inversions

We mostly think about jazz chord inversions when it comes to types of chords like Drop2 and triads, but there is a lot more to discover when it comes to using inversion to create beautiful jazz chords.

In this lesson, I am going to start with a Dm7(9) voicing that you are probably already familiar with and then use that and a little voice-leading to create some great voicings and make inversions of entire chord progressions.

Later in the lesson, I will also show you a few great “guitaristic” tricks that are easy to play but sound incredible.

A great Dm7(9) voicing

You probably know this great Dm7(9) voicing and maybe you also use the rootless version.

But from this rootless 3-note chord you can make beautiful voicings like this with inversions:

Putting inversions to use on a progression, not just a chord

If I took the first one and played a II V I in C then that could be this: II V I in C

Since it is only 3 notes you can easily look at how the voices move: F, F, E,   E, Eb, D and C, B, B
Working through a few progressions like this is incredible for your fretboard knowledge and understanding of chords and voice-leading, even if you don’t use these voicings that in itself is a great exercise.

If you do this in the other postions you get this:

Inversions of Shell-voicings

If you try the same with a Shell-voicing like for example Cmaj7. Below is first the shell-voicing and then the two inversions.

Creating and inverting a II V I for the shell-voicing

Now we can construct a II V I with the shell-voicing and make inversions of these chord sets.

First the basic II V I:

And the inversions we can create from this set of chords:

A great trick with Shell-Voicings

A great way to create some moving voices when you use shell voicings is to move the outer voices in opposite directions.

In this case, that means moving the C, on the D string, up to a D and the B, on the B string, down to an A.

This is a pretty easy thing to play that also sounds great. The basic idea is shown below:

This works great with a lot of voicings. You could use that like this:

Or make a simpler variation like this one:


Another thing that these voicings can do really well is inner-voice movement that could be something like this.


And it also works in this place:

In the last one, it would be the melody which also sounds really good.

If you want to check out some more ideas then check out this video and learn some beautiful chord voicings and inner-voice ideas with 15 rootless II V I voicings.

How to use Great Flexible 3-note Jazz Voicings

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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!

Content:

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!

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

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10 Arpeggios over a Maj7 chord

10 arpeggios over a m7 chord

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Get the PDF!

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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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.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.