Tag Archives: jazz blues chords

Jazz Blues Comping – Drop2 Chords You Need To Know

This lesson is one chorus of simple jazz blues comping and then talk about a skeleton voicing + a few variations and some ideas for variations. I also discuss a few secret tricks that most people don’t think about with chords but that work really well to play more complicated phrases or embellish comping and chord solos

One of the most important types of voicings you want to have in your vocabulary if you want to play jazz, blues or R&B is the drop2 voicing. In this video I am going show you a simple way to apply Drop2 chords to a 12-bar Jazz Bues with just a few voicings and som variations that are easy to get into your playing.

Along the way I am also going to cover some some phrasing and rhythm ideas to really lay down the groove, and a few secret tricks that most people don’t think about with chords but that work really well to play more complicated phrases or embellish comping and chord solos

Drop2 chords are in many ways the go to voicing that you need when comping in a mainstream or hardbop jazz style.

If you want to look into more Drop2 Voicing ideas then you can also check that section of my Jazz Chord Study Guide

The big take away from this lesson

The most important thing to learn from this is that instead of learning a million separate voicings it makes a lot more sense to learn one voicing and realize that a lot of other voicings are variations of that basic voicing.

When you are comping you are not thinking about voice-leading or extensions as much as you are thinking about the melody that is in the top note of the voicing and the overall sound of voicing. 

The Jazz Blues Comping Chorus

Here below is the chorus that I play in the video. I suggest you check it out in the video.

A good way to use this lesson is to go through the voicings in the examples below and then return to this first example and recognize what is going on.

The Bb7 Drop2 voicing and it’s variations

Instead of having a focus on the inversions of the drop-2 voicing it is much more useful to think about how to create melodies. 

Here below is shown a very basic Bb7 chord and then followed by a few variations that are helping you have different options for creating melodies with this chord in this area of the neck.

The Eb7 voicing

This example here shows some of the common Eb7 chord variations in this position of the neck. Notice that there are not that many, but in the end you don’t really need a lot. If you try to play a complicated melody in your comp it will most likely be way to busy (and get you fired)

Bb7 altered dominant Drop2

The Bb7alt chord in bar 4 is there to pull towards the Eb7 in bar 5. Some options for that voicing is shown here below.

The final II V Cadence in bar 9 and 10

The cadence is a II V in Bb major, so Cm7 F7. I chose to use F7alt to have another altered dominant.

Secret trick #1 – Chromatic Passing Chords

When moving from one chord to the next then it can be useful to add a chromatic passing chord and then just sliding that into the next chord. This is surprisingly easy and creates a lot of movement in your comp (or chord solo…) 

This is one of the few things that is easier on guitar compared to piano.

I do this quite a few times in the chorus: Bar 1 with a slide and Bar 10 without a slide.

If you want to check out more ideas on chord soloing and using chromatic ideas then check out this lesson: Best exercise for jazz guitar chord solos! 

Secret trick #2 – Using Pull-offs in Comping

A great way to play faster phrases in a comping situation where you have a top-note melody that moves a lot (like an 8th note triplet) is to use legato. I especially like using pull-offs for this,

You can see examples of this in bars 5,9 and 12.

More Blues Comping

If you want to see further examples of comping and also expanding this beyond the drop2 voicings then check out this WebStore lesson:

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How To Play A Harmonized Bass Line On A Blues

A Harmonized Bass Line is a great way to create a groove moving comp that clearly reflects the harmony and has a lot of movement. In this video I am going to show you how I play a harmonized bass line on a Bb Blues, and also go over the shell voicings and spread triads that you need to create your own.

Playing Harmonized bass lines is often associated with Jim Hall, especially from his comping of Bill Evans, and it is a great way of comping to have in your vocabulary. It works especially well if you are comping in a duo setting since it is really full and also lays down a solid groove.

Building a chord vocabulary

Before I start breaking down the harmonized bassline example I think it makes sense to just do a few exercises to build a chord vocabulart.

When you play harmonized bass lines then most of the time it is going to be with 3 note voicings and most of those are either Shell voicings or open voiced triads.

Shell voicings with the chord on the D and G strings are found in two variations. One with the root on the 6th string and one with the root on the 5th string.

Since this is a Bb blues I have chosen to use the scale that goes with a Bb7, namely Eb major for these exercises.

This first example is with the root on the 6th string

And the same exercise with the root on the 5th string.

Spread Triads

Another common voicing is the open-voiced or spread triad. This way of playing triads adds larger intervals to the structure. In this case it makes them sit well in the voice-leading when they are mixed with shell-voicings.

Harmonized Bass Line on a Blues

In this part of the lesson I will analyze the Harmonized bass line example.

The first bar is a very simple and common way to walk up on a dominant. The first chord is a Bb7 shell-voicing which is followed by a series of 1st inversion spread triads. This takes us up to the IV chord Eb7.

The second bar is another standard solution. I play Eb7 on beats 1 and 3 and a leading chord for Eb7 on beat 2, in this case a D7. On beat 4 I have a B7 as a leading chord to the Bb7 in the next bar. This happens again in bar 5, 6 and 10.

Having a leading chord on beat 4 is very common and nice way to create a natural flow.

Bar 3 is a bassline that is in fact harmonizing the Bb major triad and adding a leading chord on beat 4. This also happens in bar 7.

Bar 4 is also a very common solution to a quic II V progression. The basic chords, Fm7 and Bb7 are found on beats 1 and 3. On beat 2 I use a B7 to lead to Bb7 and beat 4 is an E7 to lead to Eb7. This same solution is used in bar 8 and bar 12. The progression in bar 11 is not a II V but the approach with leading chords is the same.

The Cm7 bar is using a diatonic walk up, so the Cm7 is part of a II V I in Bb major and the bass line walks up the scale with Cm7, Dm7 and Ebmaj7 shell voicings. The E7 on beat 4 is there as a leading chord for F7.

How to get Harmonized Bass lines into your playing

Working with this approach you should check out some of the ways I move between chords. Maybe make some variations on the Bb blues and then try to construct your own harmonized bass lines on a song or standard that you already know well.

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Harmonized Bass Line on a Blues

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The Missing Triad in your Jazz Blues Chords – Simple and Easy

Flexible voicings like triads are very practical to add to your jazz blues chords. We can do a lot with Triads and they are fairly easy to play and move around. This video is taking a look at how we construct 3 note voicings for a jazz blues and then adding a triad voicing that fills a gap on the fretboard.

From there I show how you can take that thorugh a chorus and develop it into another similar type of chord which also gives us a complete set of voicings on the blues.

3-Note Jazz Blues Chords

Most of us use triad chords coming out of the chords that we already use but without a root, so for F7 we end up with these two voicings: F7 + F9 as seen in example 1 here below:

They work really well, but there is a long gap from rootless F9 to F7.

Constructing another voicing to close the gap

If we look at the F7 chord then a basic F7 is an F root and an A diminished triad and we can use that triad as a voicing as well.

A C Eb and that sort of bridges the gap between the two.

If I use a bit of voice- leading I can comp through a blues using this type of voicing as shown in the example 2:

The F7 is here the A dim triad: A C Eb. On the Bb7 this is voicelead into Ab C D which works as a Bb7(9). Then back to F7 and going to a F7(b13) : A Db Eb.

In bar 5 the chord is again the Bb7(9): Ab C D. The B dim is easy to create changing the C in to a B, so Bdim: Ab B D.  This moves up chromatically to the F7: A C Eb. The D7(b9) is achieved by moving up the entire voicing so that the top note is an F#: C Eb F#. 

The Gm7 is the upper-structure: Bb major triad: Bb D F.  This is turned into a C7(9) by lowering the F: C7(9) Bb D E. The F7 is the original voicing and the last C7 is the C7(b9) version of the other voicings: Bb Db E. 

Another voicing to check out!

There is one more voicing that we can check out from the previous example.

The 2nd chord on Bb7 is this Bb7(9): Ab C D. If this is transposed to F7(9): Eb G A

This can be turned into a complete other chorus:

In example 3 I have a shift from the D7(b13) down to a Gm7 chord that is a 1st inversion Bb major triad. This is one way of doing this, but another way would be to really aim for getting smooth voice-leading:

This is a bigger stretch but also a very smooth moving chord progression.

Harmonizing the F7 scale based on the 3 voicings

A cornerstone in my vision on comping is that the top note melody has to make sense. To make this possible it is very important to also be able to play the entire scale with a chord sound.

This lesson started with two 3 note voicings that I then added a 3rd voicing to, and using these 3 chord voicings you can harmonize the F7 scale as shown here below:

3-note flexibility and voice-leading

The flexibility and the fact that you can easily be quite free when working with 3-note chords is probably a huge part of why I use these voicings so much. I hope you can use this material to get more out of your comping and make it easier to play some solid ideas in your comp and in your solos.

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Jazz Blues – The Forgotten Triad Chords – Great, Simple and Easy

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Quartal Harmony on a Jazz Blues

Using Quartal Harmony on the guitar is a great way to tap in to the modern jazz chords. In this video I am going to show you how you can use quartal voicings on guitar to get a more modern jazz blues. First going over all the voicings available for each of the chords in the blues chord progression.

The Stacks of fourths are especially connected to way McCoy Tyner played piano with John Coltrane

As a bonus I have also added a few extra turnarounds to explore and see how you might use this in a context with more moving harmony.

The F blues

Since I am using a twelve bar blues in F as an example it might be good to just have that chord progression:

The F7

To get started using these chords on a blues in F we need a set of voicings for each of the chords. The F7 chords are found by harmonizing an F mixolydian or Bb major scale in 4ths.

For the middle string set this is shown in example 1:

In the video I also demonstrate how this chords might sound as F voicings over an F pedal.

The general idea is that not all the voicings are complete F7 voicings, but the picture you create by using several voicings will still convey the sound of the F7. The specific sound of these voicings is inn this case also important because the quartal voicings are in themselves a bit unclear.

The Bb7

The next chord is the Bb7 in bar 2. You can construct the chords by harmonizing a Bb mixolydian or Eb major scale in 3 part stacks of 4ths.

The F7alt

The F7 alt voicings are coming out of the F altered or Gb melodic minor scale. In this context the chords all include a lot of notes that are not in the F7 sound.  This means that it is somehow easier to hear the F7alt, as you can probably hear in the video.

The Bdim

In the style of jazz that makes extensive use of quartal voicings (mid 60’s and on) it is very common to use the diminished scale on both dim chords and dominant chords. In this case we can use the single stack fourths for the Bdim(b6): B Ab D G. Here the top three notes are a stack of 4ths and we can move that through the scale as shown in example 4:

The D7alt

TheD7alt voicings are coming out of the D altered or Eb melodic minor scale. We can treat these voicings exactly the same as the F7alt chord. This wil get us the chord voicings shown in example 5:

The II chord: Gm7

The cadence in an F Jazz blues is a II V I in F: Gm7 C7 F. The voicings for the Gm7 are found by building stacks of 4ths in an F major scale.

Note that again for the period where these voicings became common it also became much more common to play unclear II chords with a m13 voicing. Usually the II chord was there to suspend the V so the 13 could not be included. From McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock on it became quite common to play m13 voicings for the II chord.

You can check out more on m13 chords here:  The Minor Chord You Never Use

The C7alt

The dominant is an altered dominant, again to fit the style and sound associated with this sound.

The F blues with Quartal voicings

The 1 chorus example shown below is an F blues played entirely with Stacks of 4ths.

The first chord is a stack of 4ths from Eb that you might recognize as an F13. This is a complete F dominant sound and we start by giving a complete picture of what is being played. From there the chords are walking up through the scale to the same type of chord voicing on Bb7. 

In the end of the Bb7 bar the voicing is also moving up step wise and this makes it possible to descend down to an F7 voicing chromatically. From that voicing the melody skips down to again walk up and approach an F7alt voicing. Note that the context makes this clear even though the voicing does not contain an A or an Eb.

Via the F7#9 voicing we can move down a half step to get to the Bb7. With step wise descending movement the melody continues down to a Bdim voicing and repeats this voicing before resolving back up to an F7 voicing. The melody of the F7 and the Am7(b5) are really using the same set of voicings. On the D7alt the chord is an D7(#9) voicing.

Gm7 is played with a Gm13 voicing and the melody can again move up in a step wise motion to reach the C7alt chord. On the C7alt, the chords are encircling the F7 voicing that it resolves to in bar 11.

The turnaround uses this voicing and the D7(#9) voicing, The Gm7 voicing is in fact more of a Gsus4 or Dm7 type voicing but in the context it comes across as a Gm and it makes it possible to move up to the C7 voicings with an ascending half step. As in the cadence the two C7 alt voicings encircle the final F voicing.

A few extra turnarounds

I decided that it might be useful to demonstrate how more dense progressions sound if you go through them only using the quartal voicings.

Turnaround 1

The first example is starting out in the same way the last part of the blues did. From the D7(#9) voicing I use a vocing that i can move up a whole step to get a Gm13 voicing on the II chord. In this turnaround the C7alt is first a clear C7(#9) and then a stack of 4ths that only contains alterations. Thes alterations can then be resolved a half step down to F7 and I end on the F13 voicing. 

Turnaround 2

In the 2nd turnaround I am now starting on the same F7 but then moving up stepwise on the D7alt. By moving up further it lands on a complete Gm7(11) voicing. The C7alt voicings are also just moving up in scale steps. The line ends with the same voicings of turnaround 1 but an octave higher.

Turnaround 3

The last turnaround is again starting with the same F6/9 voicing as the previous versions. The D7 alt voicings are now reached by moving to the closest voicing below the F chord. From here the melody continues  in steps dwon to Gm13 and continues to the closest C7alt voicings before it resolves to F13.

Conclusion

As you can hear in the examples there is a very charateristic sound to the quartal voicings. When using them in the way that I am doing on the blues in F in this lesson it works really well even if all voicings are complete. 

The way you want to work on this is probably to work on your diatonic stacks of 4ths. Then try to comp through progressions you are very familiar. Since you know them you can tell if the solutions you come up with are working in the context.

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Quartal Harmony on a Jazz Blues

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F Jazz Blues Comping – Jazz Chords and Concepts – Guitar Lesson

Playing the chords on a jazz blues is a great way to start your journey into jazz guitar. In this video I will go over a 3 step process where you learn some basic Jazz Blues Comping and turn them into tools that you can use to comp more freely and develop your own chord vocabulary! All the examples are on an F jazz blues.

Basic Comping Ideas and Concepts

One of the things I love about comping is that it is fun to play small melodies with jazz chords behind a soloist. Being able to play these comping melodies can be tricky. But it doesn’t have to be that dificult. In this lesson I am going to go over a three step process that will help you find the voicings and develop a varied and interesting comp on a Jazz Blues in F.

The idea is to take the Blues in F. Go over some basic chord voicings for it. Take these voicings and then go over how you can use the chords to make more voicings that are easier to play melodies with. Talk about a few ways to make comping melodies with the voicings. Finallly I will go over how I might play a chorus with these more complex voicings.

The basic chord progression and some jazz chords

The first step is to play the 12 bar Jazz Blues with some basic chords.   If you want to check out more about using the types of chords that I use here in example one you should check out my lesson on How To Play Jazz Chords

Jazz Comping using different melody notes 

If we take voicings that I used in example one and then don’t play the root as a bass note we get a smaller more flexible voicing.

With this voicing we can start to use different top notes which gives us the option of playing melodies with the chord under it. 

This is shown for each of the chords in example 2:

For these chord voicings I have often left out melody notes that don’t sound good on the chord. In most cases these are the 4th against the root, so for example the Bb over an F7 chord. This is just to keep it simple. I have other videos on comping that deal with this in more detail.

As you will see in the next step we can in fact do a lot by ignoring this for now.

Making comping melodies

Now that we have the vocabulary to play small melodies with the chords you probably want to check out that first, so try to sit down and play some small melodic ideas for each chord just to get it into your fingers and to start building some ideas for comping in this way.

Of course you also need to work making melodies that work over several chords. This is what I am doing by making a slow half note melody that moves through the Blues in example 3:

In general I am using a step wise melody because we want the comp to have a natural feel with a lot of rest.

Since the melody is really strong I don’t really have to be concerned with voice-leading when playing and can just focus on the melody, which is also a lot easier to hear and relate to musically.

Taking the melodies a step further!

If you begin to be able to make your own slower comping melodies you probably want to start to develop some more varied stronger ideas. One of the ways you can do this is by using motifs.

When you use a motif in this way you will in most cases be generating what is most often referred to as a riff. An example of a simple riff used through a 12 bar blues is shown below in example 4.

The main motif that I am using is fist stated in bar 1 and then gradually varied and moved through the changes. You will notice that I am not always sticking to rigorously staying with the motif and that is of course a judgement call.

I hope you can use the examples and the ideas I went over in this lesson to develop your own comping. We spend more time playing comp than soloing, but this aspect of playing behind other musicians is a lot of fun.

If you want to take this a bit further you can check out my WebStore lesson here below:

F Blues Comping Etude #2 – Riffs and Rhythm

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Build a solid Jazz Blues comp vocabulary

F Jazz Blues Comping – Chord Diagrams

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.