Tag Archives: jazz comping guitar

Jazz Comping – How To Keep It Interesting

Jazz Comping and especially good jazz comping is not about knowing a million voicings. It is more about how you play the chords you know. The different ways you add embellishments or connect the voicings that make the difference.

In this video, I am going to go over a few different approaches and techniques that you want to add to your comping. This will help you have a wide vocabulary of techniques and options available when you a playing chords behind something else.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:25 Focus on How you play not What You Play

0:47 Basic progression and why you should leave out the bass note

1:33 Top Note Melodies – How To Get Started

1:58 Turn you comp into a musical statement

2:47 Tying together a lot of voicings.

4:20 Arpeggiate The Chords

5:26 Chromatic Passing Chords

7:21 How To Add Fills

9:34 Inner-voice movement

11:03 Like the video? Check out My Patreon Page

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Jazz Comping – Intervals is the (Beautiful) Simple solution

A great approach to Jazz Comping is to not only rely on chords but also use intervals as a way of conveying the harmony. Using intervals is an easier way to leave more space for the rest of the band, so it also works well if you play with a piano player.

In this video, I am going to go over some of the ways you can work with intervals and demonstrate how this works on the Jazz Standard All The Things You Are.

Finding intervals for Jazz Comping

If we first take a look at the first chord of All The Things: Fm7.

The note that we want to have in there is the 3rd and then add another note and check out the intervals we get, as shown here below:

Notice that I am not trying to find all options, just exploring and experimenting with what I think might work.

Voice-leading intervals

As an example, we can now look at how to voice-lead the different intervals on Fm7 to the next chord Bbm7. This could be done as shown in example 2.

In some of the examples I am adding extra movement between the two intervals. This is not too difficult when working with intervals so it is a good idea to already experiment with that option.

Counter melodies and polyphony

The final bars contain a few examples of several voices moving. In the last bar the voices are also moving in the opposite direction.

Playing the song with the intervals

When I comp like this I am not always staying completely clear with all chords, but I am trying to get an over all flow that makes sense on the song.

In this example I am keeping it simple by not having to many moving melodies and playing one or two intervals per chord.

Making an improvised Counterpoint as an exercise

You can turn the voice-leading part of this into a small counterpoint exercise that sounds like the one in the example below.

You can hear in the video how this example has a lot of moving voices, keeping one voice static while the other is moving around more.

Adding some rhythm and a little more Jazz Feel

Besides working on this with playing long notes and sustained sounds, you also need to work on using the intervals while adding some jazz rhythms.

An example of this is shown here below where there is also a focus on rhythm, not only moving voices, notes and extensions.

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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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How to Practice Comping and Not Just Chords

Most of the time advice on Jazz Guitar Comping is about what chords to play and not how to play them. This one is about how to actually Practice Comping.

Comping is important, but since it is about playing behind somebody else it can be difficult to practice on your own. So how do you work on it? In this video I am going to show you a few ways to work on your comping and a list of things to think about when it comes to listening to your own comp.

Ways to Practice Jazz Guitar Comping

The old method: Metronome 2&4 play some comp think about how you want it to sound and imagine the band playing with you. 

This is the most important thing to practice and you want to be able to do this well, but there are other ways where you can try to work on it.

One of the ways that take advantage of some of the things we have available in this more modern tools like recording yourself and using backing tracks. I also discuss some of the things that you can learn and think about when doing this.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Getting the Wrong Answer

0:57 Different ways to practice comping and a check-list

1:13 Traditional VS Modern Methods of working.

1:41 #1 The Ancient Method of practicing

2:52 #2 Record yourself with a backing-track

3:09 Good resources and Good Drummers

3:30 Comping with drums – Learn to Listen

4:31 #3 Be Your Own Soloist

5:50 The Essential Checklist for Comping –

6:08 Over comping?

6:44 Conveying Groove and Harmony?

7:06 Is it in Style and fits the context?

8:23 Interacting with the Band

8:43 Interacting with the Soloist

9:14 Develop You Taste with Comping – Get Inspired!

10:00 My Favourites when it comes to comping

11:01 Like the video? Check out My Patreon Page!

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Jazz Guitar Comping 3 Things You Want To Think About

In short you want to work on your Jazz Guitar Comping. It is probably what you spend the most time doing when you are playing in a band. It is also one of the best ways to develop your ability to interact with the people you play with which can makes your solos much much more interesting to listen to and add a complete other dimension to it.

There are ways of thinking about comping that will improve how you comp and in this video I am going to talk about how you

  • Connect with the band
  • Support the soloist better
  • Help the song become a musical story

Comping is a difficult art to teach in a lesson because it is about interacting with several people at the same time, but it is also a huge part of what you do as a jazz musician, and for me a big chunk of what I do for a living, both as a sideman and in my own band. It is also something that I love doing because the emphasis is on playing together with other people.

Jazz Guitar Comping – The Content

 0:00 Intro – Comping and what you need to learn

0:33 Overview of Focus areas

1:32 Jazz Guitarists Can’t Comp – Who to learn from

2:04 #1 Lock in With The Drummer

2:23 Understanding interaction and groove in a swing groove 

2:57 Don’t Clash with the Drummer

3:42 Is Good Comping Predictable?

3:58 Listen to great examples

4:35 #2 Listen To And Don’t Get In The Way of The Soloist

4:39 What is your goal when you are accompanying?

5:03 Interaction?

5:52 The #1 Rule of when to play!

6:38 Use your “Comping Ears” To Improve your own Soloing

7:31 #3 Give the Music Form, Dynamics and Variation

8:33 The Masters of making variation and development

9:35 Other examples of interaction and variation.

9:55 Take the Responsibility!

10:37 Any Advice? Leave a comment

10:50 Like the video? Check out My Patreon Page

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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:

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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Jazz Counterpoint – Discover New Harmonic Ideas

Counterpoint is a beautiful way to add another dimension or layer to our jazz comping vocabulary! This lesson is going to cover how I add another melodic layer to some simple II V I ideas. I will also go over how you can use jazz counterpoint as an approach to add fills and movement in a chord melody arrangement. For this I have included the beginning of the song Stella By Starlight harmonized with this approach.

The II V I examples

In the II V I examples I am using voicings with three notes. This is mostly a practical limitation. Three note voicings are a bit more flexible and easier to keep a melody note sustained while adding another melody.

All the II V I examples are in the key of C major.

Keeping it simple!

The first example has a very simple step-wise top note melody. It is moving from C to B and then stays there.

The counterpoint idea is also a slow stedy moving quarter note melody moving one voice a chord to another voice in the next chord.

Notice that I am using an alternate fingering for the first Dm7 (F triad in fact) This is often necessary to make it possible to play a melody under the top note. 

The way you work on making these is to try to play the chord voicings and then add a scale melody under the top note. I have done this for all the II V I examples in this lesson. The first one is shown here below.

More melodic movement

In the second example Moving into more movement in the top melody. On the Dm7 the top note melody is still just an A. On the G7alt it is a three note walk from #9 via b9 and back. This resolves to the B on the Cmaj7.

The Dm7 and G7(#9) are fairly common voicings. The Cmaj7 is an open voiced Em triad which is not at all far fetched even if we don’t use it as often.

The Example starts with stating the Dm7 chord and then adds a melody to take us to the G7. It is in fact targetting the B. On the G7 the chord is sustained while the top note melody is moving and then immediately after the lower melody continues with a G altered line that resolves to the low G in the Cmaj7 voicing.

As in the first example here is an exercise to find the notes available for these voicings.

A little more activity in the movement!

In the third example I now have movement in the top note melodies of both Dm7 and G7alt.

The Basic voicings are:

The Dm7 melody is moving from F to G and then the lower melodies takes over and leads us into the G7(b9) voicing. Here the lowest note is starting a descending melody that leads into another G7 voicing. Here the lower part of the 2nd voicing has a small melodic fragment that encircles the 5th of the last voicing. On the C the inner part of the voicing is moving from the 7th(B) to the 6th(A).

If we turn the last voicing set into an exercise similar to the first two examples we get this:

Getting your priorities straight

You should keep in mind that once you start playing the counter melody then you don’t need to try really hard to sustain the chord (if you played one) the collected amount of pitches and the melody should be enough to spell out the sound of the harmony. This also makes it technically a lot easier to work with.

Chord Melody on Stella By Starlight

The idea I am using in this fragment from Stella by Starlight is to use the main melody as the top note melody and then make a counter melody whenever there is a long note in the melody.

On the Em7b5 the counter melody is purely consisting out of arpeggio notes. This will happen a few times in these few bars. On the A7 the melody is moving so I don’t add a counter melody. 

The Cm7 transition to F7  with a small melody that uses a chromatic approach to the 3rd(A) of F7. On the Fm7 the melody is a sustained G. Under this I add an Fm7 arpeggio melody that takes us into the Bb7. From Bb7 to Ebmaj7 the melody is moving.

On the Ebmaj7 I add a melody that takes us down to the Ab7 by playing a descending Cm Coltrane Pattern.

Taking Jazz Counterpoint to another level!

In the examples that I used for this lesson I am playing the chord on the one of each bar to associate the counter melody with the chord. But of course it is possible to leave the chord out and just rely on two layers of melody moving around. As a short example that I play of this in the video is shown below:

A few concluding thougts

My examples in this video are a bit busy and maybe not entirely suited for comping, but I thought it better to really emphasize the melodic movement and the two layers. You will probably use this in a more sparse way, at least I do, but it is anyway fun to work with!

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Jazz Counterpoint – Discover New Harmonic Ideas

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.

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Vlog: Jazz Comping – Jazz Chords and Approaches

Jazz guitar comping is a topic that does not get covered so much. There are a lot of lessons on chord voicings, music theory and extensions, but when it comes to comping it is more difficult to find material. In this video I want to talk about comping by taking the Jazz Standard Just Friends and comp through it in a few different ways and discuss some approaches and philosophies. Since this topic is more about fitting into a situation and reacting to other musicians playing it will be a bit more about approaches and ways of thinking than actual exercises. That said I do go over two ways of coming up with voicings, comping techniques and how to add melodies to your guitar comp.

1:43 Analysis
5:51 Why I don’t use diminished scale
6:58 Scales for a dim chord
9:50 Turnaround to the IV
11:26 Drop2
18:01 Triads
26:42 Comping and Interaction
30:53 Connecting the chords
32:54 Melodies in Comping
35:07 Techniques for melodic comping
39:30 Using Riff comping – focus on groove
45:39 Open Comp: Focus on color and melody
54:56 Conclusion and Outro