Tag Archives: Jazz Blues

F Jazz Blues – Study Guide

This study guide will give you a row of lessons to check out how to solo on an F Jazz Blues. The material will cover basic and advanced chords and voicings, arpeggios, scales and also some of the things to check out if you want to work on being able to play better melodies in your solos.

The 12 bar blues is an essential part of the Jazz Repertoire. The F Jazz Blues is probably the most common key. Famous pieces like Straight No Chaser, Billie’s Bounce and Au Privave are most know themes played in F. 

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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: F Jazz Blues YouTube Playlist

The Jazz Blues Survival Kit: Basic Scales and Chords + an Etude

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

Expanding your chord vocabulary

Where the basic clear voicings are presented in the previous section you can move on to a higher level by checking out these two lessons. 

The first is directly continuing with the material from the Survival kit and the second is introducing Drop2 voicings.

Arpeggios and Soloing

The best place to begin with soloing and expanding on it when approaching the blues from a bebop perspective is probably to check out the arpeggios. Being able to play the harmony is very important and a very solid foundation to build on.

The Blues in Jazz also has a specific language that is worth checking out. Adding this on top or next to your bop vocabulary is very useful. This video goes over 5 examples of lines mixing these two traditions.

Developing Phrasing for both chords and solos

Playing Chords does require more than just knowing what chord to play where. Some of the other parts of phrasing chords on a blues are dealt with in this lesson. The lesson is not using an F blues as an example, but the information in it will greatly help you get a good hard-bop blues vibe.

More Modern sounds

There are also more modern approaches that you can apply to an F Blues. Quartal Harmony and Pentatonic sounds are very common devices in Modern Jazz.

Chord Solos

Chord Solos is a must in mainstream jazz and this lesson goes over how to work on playing chord solos on an F blues by demonstrating a chorus and giving some exercises to develop your own chord vocabulary that is aimed at playing chord solos

Chord Solos

Backing Track

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More Resources

If you want to have more resources available then you can also check out these lessons from my webstore with longer examples, exercises and analysis of material on an F Jazz Blues

The Quick Way To Learn Jazz Comping – Simple & Direct

One of the nicest things about playing jazz is Jazz comping where you play fills and small melodic statements behind the soloist. In this video I am going to go over a very easy way to get started playing jazz chords like this, starting with a very simple version of the chords and an easy way to add melodies to these chords.

I am going to demonstrate this on a Bb jazz blues. Starting with reduced shell voicings and expanding this into a set of chords that you can make melodies with while comping. I also demonstrate how this might work on the blues.

Reducing the voicings for comping

The first thing we need to do is to find some really easy chords for the blues. The way I am going to do that in this video is to just play the 3rd and 7th of each chord. This is also a great way to practice knowing the notes of the chords.

Bb7: Ab,D
Eb7: G,Db
G7: B,F
Cm7: Bb, Eb
F7: A, Eb

Before we start adding different variations to the chords to open up how we play them the we can Take this through the Blues this sounds like this:

Getting more options for each chord when comping

This way of playing the chords is pretty easy and is actually giving us a very clear sound of the chords.

To be able to play some more interesting melodies we need have some different melody notes. We already have one, namely the top note of each chord.

The way to do this is to add two more notes on the next string.

Bb7: D F G, 3,5,13
Eb: Db Eb F b7,1,9
G7: F, Ab, Bb b7,b9,#9
Cm7: Eb, F, G 3,11,5
F7: Eb,Gb,Ab b7,b9,#9

Before we start improvising with this we can play this through the Blues as an exercise:

To get started improvising it can be a good idea to work a bit per chord. In the video I give a short example on a Bb7 that you can check out.

Jazz Comping in Action

Once you get a bit more familiar with the chords you can play through the blues likes this:

Make chord voicings easier to remember.

Connecting different types of voicings is important because it makes it easier to use, remember and understand

An important thing to notice here is that the chords on Bb7 are really just like rootless versions of chords you probably already know. If we think about the chords as different variations based on the middle tritone Ab D (marked red) then we have this:

Take your comping further

If you want to check out more on how to practice and think about comping you can check out this lesson on comping on Autumn Leaves:

Autumn Leaves Comping – Lesson


Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

The Best Jazz Comping Concept Awesome and Easy

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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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

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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Bird Blues – How to play and Understand the Chords

Bird Blues or Parker Blues is one of the most important Chord Progressions if you want to understand bebop. Charlie Parkers reharmonization of the 12 bar form is both an insight in how Bebop players love playing moving chords and also an insight on how reharmonization and chord progressions were going to change after bebop.

In this lesson am going to go over two sets of voicings to play the Parker Blues and also discuss how the progression works compared to a normal 12 bar jazz blues.

Getting to know Bird Blues chords and how they sound

A good place to start if you want to understand a chord progression is to play it. Having heard them and being able to play through the harmony in time makes it a lot easier to have an idea about what is going on.

In the example below I have written out the chords using the method and exercises that I cover in my lesson How to Play Jazz Chords


As an aid in playing the chords I have also included these diagrams:

Analyzing the progression

The Bird Blues or the Parker Blues progression is best understood against the 12 bar blues. This is not strange since it is a reharmonization of that, very well known progression.

The Maj7 chord

The first thing that stands out is that the first chord is a Maj7 chord and not a dom7th.  Whenever you play a blues all the main chords in there are dom7th chords, so you would expect an F7.

In fact there are more explanations for this. In earlier jazz than bebop the Blues was played with triads or 6th chords so they were not yet dominant chords. Parker actually will sometimes play the major scale of the tonic on a blues. An example is Cool blues which also does not have a IV in bar 2.

Another plausible explanation was that in bebop it was common to disguise the original progression by changing the chords slightly. Ornithology is an example of this where an Ebmaj7 is turned into an Eb7.

Bebop Back cycling

A defining charateristic of bebop is that the focus is to play the movement of the chords. Bebop is full of chains of chords that don’t stand still and continue to move. The progression in bars 2-4 is an example of this. The original blues progression might have a Cm7 F7 in bar 4. The Dm7 G7 and Eø A7 are just adding a movement to point towards those chords and therefore also point to Bb7.

Chromatic II V Cadences

On the IV chord I have written  two chords:  Bb7 and Bbmaj7 this is because Blues for Alice, the blue print for this type of progression has a Dom7th there, but two other famous variations: Freight Trane and Bluesette both use maj7 chords on the IV.

The progression from IV to the II in bar 9 is a long row of II V chords descending chromatically.

Moving from IV the song goes to IVm which is a very common tonal progression. In true bebop fashion it here appears as a II V or IVm7 bVII7. And where you would expect a tonic chord you get the II V a half step below: Am7 D7 which is then followed by a II V in Gb: Abm7 Db7.

When playing this it is about descending II V’s and it is more parallel harmony than anything else, how ever you could also interpret it as a reharmonization of IV IVm I bIIIdim:

Bb Bbm F/A Abdim that is reharmonized as Bb Bbm7 Eb7 Am7 D7 Abm7 Db7.

This way of reharmonizing a dim chord to a II V is also what happens in Just Friends.

The final cadence and turnaround

As you can see the final cadence and turnaround does not differ much from a standard blues. On ooccasion the V chord will be replaced with the tritone II V so Dbm7 Gb7 instead of C7. For the rest there is not really anything to talk about.

Bebop Comping: Drop2 voicings

One of the most important voicing types when it comes to bebop is Drop2 voicings. This is true both for piano and guitar. Here under I have written out a basic chorus of drop2 voicings on the Parker Blues that you can work through when comping on this form.

You can of course also check out more on drop2 voicings in my study guide:  How to Learn to Play Jazz Chords – Study Guide


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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Bird Blues – How to play and Understand the Chords + Diagrams

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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F Blues Guitar Survival Kit – What You Need To Know

F blues is something you can get started with quite easily. You only need a few different things:The Chords, the Scales and the Arpeggios. I cover all of this and also have a transcribed solo using this material so you can get started both comping and soloing on an F Jazz Blues.

The 12 bar Blues is a key component when it comes to jazz chord progressions and F is for jazz blues probably the most common key. Billie’s Bounce, Straight No Chaser and Au Privave are all blues songs in the key of F

The 4 Chorus Lesson

In this lesson I have made 4 choruses of exercises: The chords, the arpeggios that go with the chords. The scales that fits with the chords and arpeggios and finally a solo chorus which demonstrates how you might use the other exercises when playing over the F blues.

To keep it simple I have kept all exercises in one position so that if you go through the exercises you should begin to have a tool set to improvise over the Bb blues in that position.

The chord voicings

To improvise over a song you probably need to be able to play the chords so you can hear the harmony and how it moves. In the following example I have written out a set of voicings to play the F Blues.

The voicings can also be played from these diagrams:

You’ll notice that I in general don’t write out which extensions I use, so I write out the basic type of chord and if whoever is playing a chord he can fill in extensions to his own taste. This is common practice in Jazz in general.

The F Blues Arpeggios

When playing over changing harmony the best way to really follow the chords is of course to use the notes of the chords in your solo. Therefore it is very important to be able to play the chords of the progression as arpeggios. In example 3 I have written out the arpeggios in this position.

To make it easier to connect the different arpeggios I have written them out in a similar range which means that I don’t always start on the root of each chord.

You should practice the arpeggios like I’ve written them out, but you would get a lot from also improvising over the progression just using the arpeggios.

The Scales for the chords

In the 2nd example I added a scale to each chord. The way I am playing the scales is that I start on the root and run up to the 7th, this gives you a bit of time to switch to the next chord. This way of applying scales to a progression is the same as you’ll find in Barry Harris exercises. It is a nice way to add the scale in a musical way so that you hear how they spell out the harmony.

The F7,Bb7, Gm7 and C7 are easily understood in terms of where they sit in the key, since they are all mixolydian or dorian scales.

The B dim scale is in fact an C harmonic minor from B to Bb. You can see how I arrive by this by looking at it from the Bb7 scale:

Bb C D Eb F G Ab Bb

If I need to fit an B dim in there then an easy way to do that is to replace the Bb with a B.

B C D E F G Ab  which you can write out from F to recognize that it as an C harmonic minor scale.

For the D7(b9) you need to look at it as a dominant resolving to Gm7, which tells us that we should use a Cm scale for it. In this context the (actually in most contexts) that means using the G harmonic minor scale. You can use this approach to determine what scale you should use for any auxiliary dominant.


The F Blues Solo

As an example of how you can use the material I have written out a short improvised solo on a F blues.

I hope you can use the exercises and the materials to get started improvising over a Jazz Blues progression. You can check out some of my other lessons on Blues, arpeggios and target notes for more ideas.

Take you Blues Playing up a level with this solo lesson

Blues Etude 1 – F Blues 132bpm Solo

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F Jazz Blues Survival Kit

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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Blues With Bruno Pelletier-Bacquaert

This is a duo with Bruno Pelletier-Bacquaert a French/American Jazz guitarist living in San Francisco.

I came across one of his videos and we decided to make thsi small collaboration.

I hope you like it! Check out:

Hope you like it!

Jazz Blues Analysis – The Variations you need to know

The 12 bar Blues is probably the most common song structure or chord progression in music! In this video I am going to analyze some of the common variations of the Jazz Blues and cover what you need to know to make have a strong chord progression adn chord substitution vocabulary for playing over a jazz blues.

I am going to talk about how the jazz blues can contain IVm progressions, #IV dim chords and also some other parallel II V options.

Hope you like it!

0:00 Intro – Jazz Blues – the most common progression in Western Music

0:34 Example: The Basic Jazz Blues form

0:57 The Main Structure and parts of the form

1:35 Analysis of the harmony

2:20 A bit of history of the Blues Harmony since Charlie Parker

3:50 The options for altered dominants and Tritone II V’s in various places

4:07 Examples of possible cadence to IV

5:25 It’s all about the subdominant!

5:40 #IV dim chord

5:50 Example: Blues with a #IV dim chord in bar 6

6:18 Scale choices for the #IV in the blues

7:07 Blues themes with #IV in the progression

7:20 #IV bonus: The Blue note!

9:02 The IVm chord

9:34 Scale options for IVm or bVII 10:24 IV in Blues themes

11:21 Cadence to II chord

11:56 the chromatic II V chain

12:22 example with the Chromatic II V’s

12:45 How to deal with the parallel motion in a solo

14:21 Tritone sub for the II chord

15:00 Do you know any great Blues Progression harmonizations?

17:00 Like the video? Then check out my Patreon page!

Guitar Solo With Only Triads – Jazz Blues

The triad is one of the strongest melodies that we have. It is a part of so many famous songs that it makes sense to work on using triads when playing a jazz guitar solo. 

In this lesson I will go over the triads you can use for all the chords in a 12 bar Jazz Blues in the key of F. I also will talk about how I use some of these triads in a solo that I played and transcribed. At the end of the lesson I will also go over some exercises that are useful if you want to be more flexible when using triad based improvisation.

Getting started with Triads

The first thing we need to do is to find some triads for each of the chords in the 12 bar blues.

The chord progression is shown here below:

In this next part of the lesson I will quickly go over the different triads that we have available.

Finding triads for the I and the IV chord

In the blues the I and the IV chord, in this case F7 and Bb7, are more or less identical. They are both mixolydian sounding dominant chords.

The triads that we have available are found on the root, 3rd, 5th and 6th of the scale:

F7: F major, A dim, C minor and D minor

Bb7: B major, D dim, F minor and G minor

Using Harmonic minor to pull to the IV

On the F7 in bar 4 I have an F7(b9) which is there to pull even stronger to Bb7 in bar 5. The scale I am using on this chord is F mixolydian b9,b13, also known as Bb harmonic minor.

The triads we get from this scale are:

F7: F major, A dim, Cdim and Edim

Triads for the #IV dim chord

On the #IV dim in bar 6 I use the C harmonic minor scale. This scale is both close to the F7 chord and contain the  B diminished chord.

Bdim: B dim, D dim, F dim, Ab dim

A secondary dominant resolving to minor

The D7 in bar 8 is an auxiliary dom7th chord used to take us to the Gm7 in the final cadence of the blues.

Since it is a dom7th chord resolving to a minor chord the scale that fits on this chord is a harmonic minor scale. In this case the G harmonic minor scale.

D7: D major, F# dim, Adim and Cdim

The II Chord in a major cadence

On the II chord I have three triads. Just the basic triads found on the root, 3rd and 5th:

Gm7: Gm, Bb, Dm

The Altered Dominant

The C7 in bar 10 is an altered dominant. The C7 altered scale is the same as Db melodic minor and the triads we can find here are a little different than those on the other chords:

C7alt: Dbm, Eaug, Gb, Bbdim

Guitar Solo with only triads

The solo is written out here below. In most of the bars I am only using one triad so it should be fairly easy to follow.

The first bar is using the basic F major triad in 1st inversion. On a blues you can easily use the triad on the root, and in fact this is a very good triad to get the blues sound across.

On the Bb7 in bar 2 the triad used is again 1st inversion. Here I use the triad found on the 3rd of Bb7: D dim.

Returning to the F7 the triad used is Dm. The Dm in bar 3 is “voice-lead” into an Eb dim triad in bar 4. The Eb dim triad is a great to get the F7b9 sound across.

In the Bb7, Bdim F7 section in bars 5-7 I have an alternative progression that makes sense in another way that the chords move under it. The triads use are F minor, F dim, and F major.

On the D7b9 the triad used is an F# dim.

In the final cadence in bars 9 and 10 I start to use more triads per bar. On the Gm7 it is a combination of a Bb major and a G minor triad. The C7 alt combines Gb major and E augmented triads.

The two triads on the C7 altered chord actually form a triad pair because they don’t have common notes. You can look up more of my lessons on triad pairs here: Triad Pairs

Getting more rhythms down

A bonus feature with using the triads like this is that you only have three notes. The fact that you only have three notes will force you to be more creative with the rhythms and I actually think that this is a good enough reason on it’s own to start working on this!

I will probably make a video on this approach at some time, let me know if you are interested.


Getting more flexible and opening up your abilities with the triads

As you can probably see I don’t only play the triads in root position from the root to the 5th, and there are a lot more ways to make melodies with them.

To get more options when using the triads I have included a few exercises that you can work on.

This first exercise is to just simply play the diatonic triads through the scale. This is important to be able to find the different triads for the chord and of course also to be able to play them in the context of the scale where the underlying chord is found.

To build a bigger overview I would recommend that you also check out the other inversions as well. Here are the 1st inversions of the diatonic triads

and the 2nd inversion:

Besides having the overview of the diatonic triads in a position it can also be very practical to know the triad in this position as shown here below.

Another useful exercise would be to play the position version of the triad  in inversions.

Exploring more melodies

A final idea is to mix up the order of the notes. If you think of a triad as 1,3 and 5, then you can also make a lot of other melodies by changing the order of the notes. The example here below is showing the diatonic triads played in a 3 1 5 pattern through the scale.

Adding the triads to your vocabulary!

Of course the example solo in this lesson is a bit radical in the sense that while it can be useful as an experiment to work like this and see what you can come up with. In the end you want to work on the process of finding the triads and you also want to try get used to make “alternative” chord progressions that you can use for solos.

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Guitar Solo With Only Triads – Jazz Blues

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.

Modern Approaches to a Jazz Blues – Rethinking the Chord Progression

Reharmonizing and interpreting chord progressions like a 12 bar jazz blues is a very important part of improvising in jazz. In this video I will take a Bb Jazz Blues and go over a few fairly simple ways to get other sounds on the first 4 bars. It should open some new ideas and widen your knowledge of jazz harmony and jazz theory.

I discuss how I come up with the ideas and how I both improvise and comp with the “new” sound. Often making the chord progression more modal gives you a lot of interesting choices in terms of reharmonization and scale choices.

List of contents

0:32 Overview of what is covered in the video
0:44 Comping and Soloing with alternative changes and sounds

1:10 Standard Blues Changes solo for Reference
1:48 Making the Blues modal

2:12 Lydian b7 as a “different sound”
2:45 Lydian b7 Guitar Solo example
3:36 Structures used for Lydian b7
3:50 Triad Pairs: Bb + C
4:03 Ab Augmented and Bb
5:02 Gm and Ab Augmented
5:08 Bb7(b5) Arpeggio
5:21 FmMaj7 Arpeggio

5:41 Bb Phrygian Guitar Solo
6:32 Bb Phrygian as a Sound on a Bb Blues
6:43 Bmaj7(b5) chord as a Bb7sus4(b9) chord
7:09 Fm7b5 voicing
7:14 Db7 voicings
7:49 Coloring Blues Phrases with Phrygian chords
8:28 Using the Bmaj7(b5) arpeggio

8:43 Whole step dom7th Guitar Solo
9:31 The thinking behind the reharmonization
9:58 Playing Coltrane Changes on a Bb Blues
10:15 Explaining how the chords work
11:05 Comping Description
11:46 Soloing Description, target notes
12:20 Reharmonization in solos and interaction

12:54 Modal Altered Scale Guitar Solo
13:43 The Altered dom7th and extending it to 4 bars
14:26 Voicings (E7/Bb7alt)
14:53 Soloing: Important clear target notes
15:28 The Mysterious Triad
15:56 Dmaj7(#5) arpeggio

16:47 Taking these examples further.
17:12 Using the chord voicings to learn to solo
17:30 Thoughts on soloing with superimposed changes
17:48 Other Reharmonizations and modal sounds
18:10 How to come up with reharmonizations

19:04 Outro

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.


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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