Tag Archives: jazz comping guitar

3 Things That Make You Sound Better Comping A Jazz Blues

When comping sounds great then it is actually not because of the chords you are playing. It is more about all the other things that you do with them that makes it work. Things like rhythm, chord movement, and melodies. This video will l help you get started developing your comping so that you don’t get stuck just playing chords and wondering why it doesn’t really work.

#1 The Easy Guitar Trick for Chords

One of the main things that you need to include in anything you play is tension and release. That is the way you make things interesting to listen to and keep people listening.

In this case, this is something that you can add to your comping in a very easy way on guitar, and it sounds both natural and pretty hip. But

 

at the beginning of this example, I am just using the basic 3rd and 7th voicings on the chord but as you can see this works just as well with chords with more extensions.

The principle is really simple; you create tension by moving the chord up or down a half step and then resolve the tension by moving back.

And this works great for the 3rd and 7th shells but is equally useful for larger chord voicings.

Let’s have a look at how you can use tension and release in a different way to make things flow a lot better

Comping in a band

One of the things that I learned a lot from with comping was focusing on being together with the drummer, so really trying to play clear ideas and react to what was happening especially on the snare so that it really becomes like a single instrument backing up the soloist! Of course, this doesn’t really work with a backing track as I use in this video.

#2 Give It Direction and Energy

One of the things that I love about Bebop is how the solo lines flow through the changes and are always moving towards the next chord.

And this is actually built into the harmony, so the chord progressions are really pushing forward which is not always what we focus on when playing the chords.

But it is really useful to always think ahead and try to work on ways to move to the next chord. There are 3 things you can use to get that forward motion.

In the first bar, I am using a melody that is ending clearly on the Eb7 which is helping things to move along.

The next two bars are setting up a rhythm and then in bar 4 playing the 3& really creates tension that wants to resolve on the next downbeat which pulls us to the Eb7

Bar 6 is first a bit of movement with the Edim chord and then a chromatic passing chord on beat 4 that resolves back into Bb7 and in that way adds energy and tension.

So I am using:

  • Melody
  • Rhythm
  • Chromatic Passing Chords

to create a comp that is moving forward, and working on these things with the forward motion in mind can help you get that into your playing.

#3 The Most Important Rhythm To Learn

Jazz is about rhythm, and If you think about it you probably already know that the rhythms that are important are the syncopated rhythms, the off-beats.

One way of really using this in your comping is to work on playing anticipated chords, something often associated with Red Garland, the piano player in the 1st Miles Davis Quintet

Practicing to use this in your comping is something you can do by only focusing on that by setting a metronome to 2&4 and play a vamp, like this:

And once you are familiar with this exercise then you can start to work on using it on the Blues like this

Rhythm is probably the strongest ingredient in comping, or in Jazz in general, and this last exercise is also the one that will improve your comping the most.

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Comping – How To Add Movement To Static Chords

Often you come across songs where you are comping a static chord for a few bars, and it can get a little boring with just one voicing, not adding energy and movement to the music. This video will give you some tricks to make places like that more interesting and show you how to add some beautiful chords and reharmonizations to your jazz guitar playing.

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:33 Example 1 – Diatonic Passing Chords on You Stepped Out Of A Dream

01:05 Diatonic Passing Chords – Easy, Solid and Effective

01:38 Example 2 – Secondary Dominants on How High The Moon

02:04 Dominants and Tritones – The Strongest Pull

04:18 Example 3 – Ladybird With Secret Dim Chords

04:37 #IV Diminished – Overlooked

06:06 Voice-leading And Chords You Can’t Analyze

08:25 Example 6 – Take The A train with some voice-leading

08:39 Make Your Chord Progressions More Interesting

08:55 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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Comping A Jazz Standard – This Is How To Get Started

Just learning the chords is not enough to really play something that sounds like real Jazz Comping, and you need to develop more than just finding some chord voicings.

In this video, I am going to take an easy Jazz Standard, and then show you how you can start with basic chords and step by step develop your comping, improvise with the chords, and lay down the harmony so that it sounds beautiful and interesting.

Level 1 – Basic Chords

Perdido is a great and very easy Jazz Standard to work on if you are new to playing Jazz, and as you will see, it is a good chord progression to develop some very solid comping skills.

If you play through an A part with a basic set of chords then you only need these basic chord voicings

And making this a little more interesting is pretty simple.

Splitting The Voicings In Two

What I am doing here is just adding some rhythms and splitting up the chord voicings in a bass part and a chord part.

Thinking of the chords as two layers like this is actually a really essential way of thinking of grooves, even if it is not that clear in Jazz.

This is of course also what happens with a walking bass and chords where there are clearly two active layers

Let’s have a look at what you can do the chord voicings to start comping with them

Level 2 – Rootless chords and melodies

The first thing to do is to take the basic voicings from example 1 and then turn them into rootless voicings by leaving out the bass note, like this:

And you can take the 3-note voicings in example 4 and try some different melody notes here as well:

You can also start adding melody notes on the top string:

In this way, you also have some small melodic exercises for the chords and that is going to be really useful for the next section when this has to be turned into comping.

Level 3 – Comping

With this material, you can now start to make short melodies and riffs and comp through an A-part. First I’ll show you how that sounds and then talk about how you practice playing like this

As you can see these are small melodies with a few notes on each chord, so you want to keep it really simple so it doesn’t get in the way.

Notice how I am not writing any extensions here because we are improvising with the chords and they are changing all the time, so it is better to just write the basic chord.

Develop Your Comping Rhythms

If you want to develop your own vocabulary then you could start with a single chord and just play simple two note melodies.

You can then take this to the song and start developing your comping.

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How To Make Your Comping Rhythms More Interesting

In this video, I am going to take a simple comping rhythm that you probably already know and show you some different ways that you can develop that and get some new material so that you don’t always play the same rhythms and can start developing your own playing.

Remember: If You Can Comp – You Can Work!

The Most Important Jazz Rhythm Known To Man

Throughout this video I am going to show you how you can mess around with this rhythm and everything is really simple, just playing a II V, but sometimes the rhythm suggests some extra things you can try so there are a few other tricks as well.

As you have probably guessed the first rhythm is just the basic Charleston, if you know only one rhythm, then make it that one.

So this you already know and you should be able to play it on all songs. Actually taking these rhythms through songs is a really good exercise and that goes for all the rhythms in this video.

Adding an Extra note

The first thing we can try is to add an extra note to the charleston

Notice that this rhythm is easier to play but it still sounds great! What you are doing here is adding a note before the 2nd note in the Charleston, but that is of course not the only option.

Syncopated rhythm

and of course, you can also add a note after one of the two notes to get a rhythm like this, which is a basic syncopation.

The way I am going through these examples and coming up with them is really just doing simple things like adding a note here and there or shifting the rhythm as you will see in the next example.

Don’t play on beat 1

The next thing you can try is shifting the entire rhythm.

Here I am moving it an 8th note, so instead of 1 and 2& it becomes 1& and 3. Of course, this works better with really simple rhythms like the one I am using here with only two notes. After this one, I’ll show you a great place to add a chromatic passing chord.

How Do You Practice The Rhythms

The way you get rhythms like this into your playing is probably by repeating them similar to what I do hear and then try to take them through some chord progressions you know like a blues or a standard you are really familiar with.

When you play it like that you really start to hear it and then it will start to pop up in your own comping.

Syncopated Upbeat

This rhythm adds an extra note to the previous shifted rhythm, which makes the first two notes sort of resolve on beat 3. I make that a little more clear by also using a chromatic passing chord to resolve to 3

Using chromatic passing chords on the guitar is often really just about sliding into the chord you want to end on.

The Boogaloo Rhythm

This rhythm is really useful for boogaloo and soul-jazz grooves like Sidewinder and Alligator Boogaloo. It is the original pattern but now shifted an entire quarter note so that it starts on beat 2.

It is the accent pattern that Barry Harris plays on sidewinder and it is a part of what Dr. Lonnie Smith plays on Alligator Boogaloo. These are both songs you want to know by the way.

Chromatic Boogaloo

Here you can add a note as well to have a rhythm like this:

Again I am using the chromatic passing chord on the G7 bar which just slides in place. It can be a little heavy if you make this a groove and have that chromatic note on the 3, but as a comping rhythm among other rhythms, it is fine.

 

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Add Beautiful Colors And Fills To Your Comping

When you are comping Jazz songs then it is good to also change the textures you play, not always full chords but also fills and small polyphonic ideas. In this lesson, I am going to show you how to use intervals and counterpoint as a way of comping and as a way to add a new sound to the way you play chords. It will help you when you are comping but will also be great in a solo or in a chord melody arrangement.

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Content

00:00 Intro 

00:50 From Real Jazz Comping to Improvised Chords 

01:25 Reducing the Voicings – Example #1 

02:12 Reducing the Voicings – Example #2 

03:03 Intervals for fills and Block Harmony 

05:05 How to practice and explore the neck for this type of playing 

07:29 6th intervals and a Pentatonic trick 

09:14 Harmonized Arpeggios and more Pentatonic Chord Patterns 

10:44 Polyphonic Call-Response 

11:20 3-Note Voicings 

11:38 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

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How To Sound Great On A Static Chord – Modal Comping

You need strategies for Jazz Comping in modal or static chord sections of songs. When you start learning Jazz comping on the guitar then you learn to play progressions, focusing on how to connect the chords play through the changes and get that to sound good and natural.

But the skills you develop with this won’t help you when there is a long stretch of one chord, like modal jazz, and there is no chord progression that automatically makes your jazz chords sound interesting.

In this video, I am going to go over some examples of how to comp jazz guitar on a static chord, develop some phrases, add extra chords, chromatic sounds and other things to make your jazz guitar comping more interesting.

Other great lessons on Modal comping and Jazz Comping

Beautiful Jazz Chords from Allan Holdsworth – Modal chords

The 3 Most Important Things For Solid Jazz Comping

Comping Rhythms – 10 Examples You Need To Know

Jazz Chord Voicings – The 9 Different types you should know

Content:

0:00 Intro – Comping on Static/Modal Chords

0:39 Two Basic Strategies – Allan Holdsworth vs Wynton Kelly

1:29 Example 1 Basic simple riff around chords you already know. Clear melody

2:55 Example 2 Diatonic voicings and a little voice-leading

4:17 Example 3 Pedal Point melody

5:19 Example 4 Quartal Voicings – Borrowing from McCoy Tyner

6:22 Example 5 Two Layers and Call-Response

7:20 Example 6 Chromatic Passing Chords

8:11 Example 7 More Chromaticism

8:47 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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The 3 Most Important Things For Solid Jazz Comping

Think about how you would feel soloing over your own comping.

That is probably the best way to evaluate how you comp. There are some things that you need to get right if you want to be effective in comping. You don’t want to just play jazz chords while the music is happening. You want to be part of the music. That is what this Jazz Guitar Lesson is all about and if you can comp then you get asked to play at sessions and gigs.

Related Guitar Lessons on Comping

10 important comping rhythms

Video on being your own teacher

Great examples of comping:

Wynton Kelly behind Miles Davis: So What Live https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Amyp4v-I84

Herbie Hancock behind Wayne Shorter: 502 Blues https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aTwWZweGSw

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:50 #1 It is Clear

1:34 Beat One is your friend

1:59 Don’t be afraid of repetition

2:38 #2 Don’t Get In The Way

3:31 Not just the soloist, there are more people in the band

3:39 A Great Strategy

4:08 Great Examples: Wynton Kelly and Herbie Hancock

4:38 Understand what fits the soloist

4:49 #3 Are You Playing Music?

5:42 Listen, Listen, Listen, Listen!

6:14 How Do You Practice comping?

6:30 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Comping Rhythms – 10 Examples You Need To Know

Rhythm is everything in Jazz and especially comping. Building a solid vocabulary of great Jazz Comping Rhythms is difficult. In this video, I am going to go over 10 examples of comping rhythms to check out.

I play each example 3 times, so you can either use it as inspiration for your own practice or even use the video as a play along and comp together with me.

For each of the rhythms, I have an illustration of how the basic pattern is and a version that is written out with chord voicings to play on guitar.

All the examples are using a turnaround in C major.

Rhythm #1 – Charleston

This first example is the “Charleston rhythm” and is very useful also as a repeating riff.

It has the clarity of the changes with the chord on beat 1 and the syncopation with the chord on the 2&

Rhythm #2 – Shifted Charleston

A variation of the Charleston is this 1 bar pattern where the whole rhythm is shifted an 8th note.

Rhythm #3 – Forward motion with Syncopation

This rhythm uses the tension of the sustained note on the 3& to move the progression forward towards the next chord stated on beat one.

Rhythm #4 – Red Garland

Red Garland is often associated with this way of mostly comping on the anticipated heavy beats: 2& and 4&.

Rhythm #5 – Basic Syncopation

This rhythm is a great way of turning the basic syncopation rhythm into a riff that sits well on top of a swing groove.

Rhythm #6 – Quarter Note Rhythms

Often the focus in comping is too much on all the 8th note upbeats and we forget that you can do a lot with quarter notes as well.

Rhythm #7 – Dotted Quarter notes

Using the dotted quarter note rhythms in jazz comping is very common and very worth incorporating into your vocabulary.

Rhythm #8 – Shifting motif

Another great way to work with rhythm is to shift a motif around. This example is a very basic version of this.

Rhythm #9 – Call-Response phrases

Besides motifs you can also use call-response as a way of generating phrases in your comping.

Rhythm #10 – Anticipated Beat 4

This rhythm is often left out but is very common in a lot of themes (and pretty much all of Salsa), so it is very worthwhile to know and feel comfortable with.

Take the Comping Rhythms Further

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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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