Tag Archives: jazz blues comping guitar

5 Comping Exercises for Jazz Rhythm on the Blues

Rhythm is much more important than notes. This is very true for jazz and certainly for comping. The easiest way to learn some new rhythms for your comping is to come up with some small riffs and practice playing those through a chord progression. In this jazz rhythm guitar lesson, I am going to show you 5 great variations on some great Comping rhythms and how they sound through a Blues In F.

If you want to practice them with me then you can go to the second examples via the link in the description of this video. I’ll talk a little about that later. This way of really thinking in rhythms as phrases are really important because you can’t think about the notes, you have to hear them.

If you want to check out more material that you can use for both soloing and comping on an F blues then have a look at this Study Guide: F Blues Study Guide

The Shell-Voicings

Instead of using the voicings that I use in the example you can also simplify that part by using shell voicings. In the end this is much more about rhythm than it is about the chord voicings so that will still teach you the most important part of the material in this lesson.

Practice with the video!

In this video I have added the count-off to the perfromances so if you want to play the rhythms together with me then you can do that. If you are a Patron of the channel then you can also download the mp3 backing track via my Patreon Page

The Shell-voicings are shown here below.

You can go through these voicings and use them while practicing the rhythms in the 5 exercises.

#1 Charleston Rhythm

The Charleston rhythm is a great place to start! It is in many ways the most simple rhythm that has it all. It clearly shows the chords by stating that on the 1 and the groove and swing feel is clear from the 2& that follows it.

If you are playing with people you don’t know: When in doubt, Charleston!

#2 Pulling Forward

This rhythm is a little more busy. Here the goal is to state the groove with the first two 8th notes and then use the 3& to really pull the song forward. The 3& sound adds tension or energy and the following chord on the 1 resolves that tension.

#3 Clear Groove

This example is a little busy if you play it too much, especially if the tempo is higher than a slow medium.

It is however a complete groove and a way of laying down the harmony and the groove in a very clear way. This can work as a a great solid background for a soloist, but for some it may also get in the way.

#4 Up-Beat Energy

This rhythm is a little lighter and a great way to break things up a little. It is important to be able to play comping rhythms that are not on the 1st beat all the time.

#5 Leave it to Bass and Drums

Another exercise is to play rhythms starting on beat 2. This exercise helps you feel(or think) the first beat and then play on the 2nd. Internalizing the rhythm and the meter like this is really useful for your overall timing and time-feel.

Get more ideas for comping

If you want to expand your comping and check out some more ideas then check out this lesson in my WebStore:

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

And the Shell-voicings are available here:

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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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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

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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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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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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Harmonized Bass Line on a Blues

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 Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.