Tag Archives: jazz comping

Jazz Rhythm – The Most Important Aspect of Jazz

Learning jazz is often mostly about playing 8th note lines, but if you listen to amazing musicians like Charlie Parker then you can hear that he doesn’t only play dense 8th note lines. He also plays very interesting rhythms. So we need to learn to hear rhythms like that.

In this video, I am going to go over an exercise that you can apply to the songs that you play and help develop your ability to play much more interesting solos with more inspired rhythmical ideas.

Developing Rhythmical ideas

The exercise I am using in this lesson is reducing the amount of notes that you use and in that open up to give more attention to the rhythm.

To have a progression to work on I am using the A-part of Take the A-train which is fairly simple. You can, of course, choose any song you like, but make sure that you choose one with not too many chords. Try to also pick one that you know very well.

The chords of the A-train A-part is shown here below:

The Three Notes

Let’s first find three notes for the chords. I am treating the II V as one chord.

If you can see figure out where I got the three notes from then leave a comment on this post 🙂

Rhythm #1

The first rhythm is shown here below. The note on the 4th beat helps it drive it forward. The 2& also helps a lot with adding some “jazz feel” to the rhythm.

First play the rhythm with just one note to get it into your system.

Applying Rhythm #1 to The Chord Progression

A way to improvise through the progression with the 3 notes could look or sound like this. When you work with the rhythm try to keep improvising until it becomes really easy to improvise. That way you have really internalized the rhythm and it is more likely to show up in your playing.

Rhythm #2

This rhythm is actually just a basic syncopation, but at the same time also a very important rhythm to be familiar with in Jazz.

Using Rhythm #2 in a Jazz Solo

As you can see I am starting to mix up the rhythms so that I am not only using one rhythm. In many ways I am using the rhythms to help create a sense of Call-Response in the solo.

Rhythm #3

More complicated rhythms work as well. This one is a lot less clear and can also help you develop your ability to feel off beats more precisely.

Rhythm #3 – Mixing it all up

This 8 bar examples uses Rhythm #3 but I am also mixing it up quite a bit with the previous rhythms. I think this also illustrates how much variation is available like this using more interesting rhythms and a smaller set of notes.

Bebop Phrasing Lesson

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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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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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Beautiful Chord Ideas That Will Boost Your Comping

Most of the time when you think about comping you are concerned with the chords, voicings and rhythms you are using. Those are of course important but there are also other things to consider when Comping and playing chord melody that can really transform how your chords sound.

This video is going over 4 examples of ways to play chords that can help you add something new to how you sound when you are comping or making a chord melody.

The importance of comping

In my experience, being a jazz guitarist you spend a lot more time playing chords than soloing and that skill is something you want to take as far as you can!

Content: 

0:00 Intro — Sounds better if you break a few rules 

1:09 Not Always Voice-Leading! 

2:49 Explaining the Example 

3:52 Inner-voice movement 

4:29 The Example and why you should listen to Bill Evans

 5:18 Putting it to use in a Chord Melody arrangement 

5:56 How To Practice using this

6:46 Melodic Pedal Points or Sustained Melody notes 

8:47 Arpeggio Polyphony — What most jazz guitarists forget to do.. 

9:25 The Example 

10:39 A simple application with Drop2 voicings 

11:14 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:

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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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Rhythm Changes Chords – Hidden in the Easy Chords

Rhythm Changes Chords are essential to check out. If you want to explore jazz and bebob guitar then the rhythm changes progression is a must. The progression is often used and parts of it are common in countless other songs.

In this lesson I will first go over a basic set of chord voicings to play the progression. I will then expand on these voicings by first turning them into rootless voicings. Then I will show you how you can start making variations of the top notes to create more interesting comping ideas like that. Finally I will go over how you can even add notes and create another set of 4-note voicings.

The Basic Rhythm Changes chord set

We don’t need a lot of different voicings to play a Rhythm Changes A part. In fact it is mostly the same turnaround: I [V] II V and then a short trip to the IV and back.

The chords are shown here below:

If you want to read them using chord diagrams or chord boxes you can do so here:

In the above progression I use a #IVdim (Edim) chord to go from Eb back to Bb in bar 6. Another common way to do this is to play a IV minor chord. In most cases this is a backdoor dominant. In Bb major that would be Ab7. This variation of those bars is shown here below:

Introduction to Jazz Chords

The way I play these chords is coming out of some the lessons in this study guide:

How to Play Jazz Chords

Making the voicings rootless and adding melody

An easy way to create some more flexible 3-note voicings is to just leave out the root.

This is shown here below in example 3:These are more flexible and it is fairly easy to change the top note so that we can play several  melodies using these voicings. 

One way of adding these options is shown in example 4:

Creating 4-note voicings (and recognizing them)

Another way to vary the melody is to add an extra note on top of the voicing. This can be done quite easily since we are only playing 3 notes.

An example of how this works is shown in example 5:

As you can probably see these voicings are mostly drop2 voicings.

The most important Lesson of this Process

This way of coming up with different chord voicings is of course a way of giving yourself options, but is is also a way of associating different voicings together so that we don’t have to remember unconnected sets of notes. 

This is a very practical way to think about chords and a great way to help you learn a lot of chords by just really remembering one.

What do you think?

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Rhythm Changes Chords

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Passing Chords – The 3 Types You Need for Comping and Chord Solos

Passing chords are a great way to expand the sounds you have available in your comping and chord solos. As you will see in this lesson they are also making it easier to make you comping sound more melodic and musical. In this lesson I am going to discuss 3 types of passing chords and demonstrate how they can be used.

The Diatonic Passing chords

The easiest place to look for chords to use when harmonizing a melodic comping idea is of course to use the diatonic chords of the scale at that point in the song.

If you want to know more about Drop2 chords and other voicings then check out the Jazz Chords Study guide

This is what I am doing in example 1 here below. The example is on a II V I in G major, which is the chord progression that I will use for all the examples.

In the example the diatonic passing chords are used on the Am7 chord. The first part of melody consists of the notes C, D and E. On the Am7 I am harmonizing the melody with the chords Am, Bm7 and Am7. Using the neigboring chord when harmonizing notes is a very common and very useful way to use diatonic passing chords. In this example the Bm7 chord is used to harmonize the D and it voice-leads nicely up to the following Am7(9) voicing that harmonizes the E.

Different versions of Passing chords solutions for an Am7 melody

Of course there are several ways you can take diatonic passing chords. Below you’ll see examples using only Am7 voicings, a Bm7 and a G6 diatonic passing chords.

Diminished Passing chords

This approach to using passing chords is to harmonize melody notes with a dominant diminished chords. On the II chord, Am7, the dominant is E7 and the associated is a G#dim.

This example is also using a G# diminished chord to harmonize some notes on the Am7 chord. The notes that belong to the dominant in the scale are the prime candidates for using the diminished chord. In the example below I am using it to harmonize the D and B notes.

Practicing the Diminished passing chords

One way to work on practicing the this way of alternating a II chord with a diminished chord is to do the exercises here below.

You may recognize this exercise as the Barry Harris 6th diminished scale, which is build on exactly this idea of alternating tonic with a dominant chord.

Chromatic Passing Chords

Chromatic passing chords is a great way to especially harmonize chromatic passing notes in the melody. This means that having this in your vocabulary is going to make it possible to add chromaticism to your comping melodies. 

The example below shows how you can use chromatic passing chords on both the Am7 and the D7 chords.

On the Am7 the B, Bb, A melody is harmonized with Am(9), Bbm7 Am7 and in the same way the D,Eb,E melody on the D7 is harmonized with D7,Db7 and D7.

Notice that the voicie-leading is also chromatic, so the way to use this is to look at the note that the chromatic note is resolving to. The chord that is used to harmonize the resolution will also work well to harmonize the chromatic note. On the D7 it is clear that the Db7 is just shifting up a half step to become the D7. 

Sometimes you can also reverse this so that the chord moves one way and the melody another which can be a great effect, but that is for another lesson. You can always leave a comment on the YouTube video if you would like a video on this,

Expand you the possibilities with chords

Passing chords is a very powerful tool in comping and chord solos and of course also in chord melody arrangements. Checking out these techniques are really something that is applicable in so many areas of playing and will pay off on a lot of levels besides the direct use.

In-depth examples of Passing Chords

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Using Passing chords in Comping

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You Don’t Need That Many Chord Voicings, It’s How You Use Them

In this lesson I will take a look at 4 very common chord voicings and expand on them in several ways to demonstrate how flexible they are and how much you can get out of them!

Most Jazz guitarists are trying to constantly expand their chord vocabulary and learn new chord voicings. Of course it is important to have a lot of options, but it can be an even better idea to sit down and go over what you can actually do with what you already know. 

The basic chord voicings

In the lesson I will take 4 very common chord voicings that I expect you already know and then approach using them in a few different ways so that we can really open up what we get from them while relying on what we already know.

To keep it simple I have taken a turnaround in the key of C major and will use this progression throughout the lesson as a progression.

The 4 chord voicings in their basic form is shown here below both as tab and diagrams

Loose the root and gain another voice!

The first thing to do is of course to convert them into rootless voicings which should also give us some more options because we then can play something else with that finger.  This is shown below again both in tabs and diagrams.

Using the smaller rootless voicings for great melodies

Now that we have some  smaller more flexible voicings we can start making more varied melodies with the top notes of the chords.

The options we have available by just changing the top note to another note on the same string gives us these possibilities for top note melodies on the turnaround:

With these variations we can make the following comping example:

The Expanded set of top note choices

The next step could be to start using top notes not only on the same string (which is the B string in this example) but also on the next string.

If we extend the top notes by adding the ones on the high E string we have these options:

And this could be turned into this example:

Thinking in layers of harmony

With all these options it is possible to make a lot of different melodies, but everything is still played as a complete chord all the time. One way of breaking this up is to split the chord in a melody and a chord part. This is in many ways what we already did in the previous examples, but only in the way that we thought about the melody. 

Now we can also try to use that when playing the chords so that sometimes the chord is played alone, sometimes with the melody and other times just the melody.

An example might be like this: 

They are also arpeggios!

Taking the layer concept a bit further would be to start using the chords completelyas single notes and arpeggios. An example of this is shown here below:

Putting all the ideas together

The best way to finally use this is to take all the different approaches and mix them up and make use of all the things combined in your comping (or soloing) An example of this might be something like this:

I hope you can use some of these ideas to re-invent and expand what you can do with your chord voicings. I often find that it can be a great idea to take a step back and lock at what you can make of what you already know instead of starting to explore something completely new.

 

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You don’t need that many chord voicings, it’s how you use them

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What Jimi Hendrix can teach Jazz Guitarists

Jimi Hendrix is a one of the most influential guitarists in history. There is a lot to be gained from checking out guitarists outside the jazz guitar. In this video I will go over how you can apply some of the ideas that Hendrix uses in his playing when you are playing chords in jazz.

The examples in this lesson are all on the first 4 bars of the jazz standard “You Stepped ut of a dream”, which consists of two bars of Cmaj7 and two bars of Dbmaj7.

A Jazz comp example

The way we mostly comp in jazz is by using complete chords and then use different voicings to create movement in the top notes or in the inner voices of the chords.

This is shown in the example here below:

How Hendrix would play it

If we take the chords and try to imagine playing them in the style Hendrix might use on his ballads like Little Wing or Wind Cries Mary then that might yield something like this:

The important thing to notice here is that the chords are played in the begining of each chord to state the harmony.  The variations that are used are not complete chords but more double stops and partial chords. The sound of this approach is  a lot lighter than using only complete chords and that can be a nice variation to add in your comping vocabulary.

The way I am playing example 2 is of course also changing the  feel of the song, so we still need to find a way to apply this to a jazz standard without making it sound like a Jimi Hendrix cover.

The way the chord is split up in bass note and chords so that it spells out a back beat groove and this is probably the main reason it sounds so little like a jazz groove.

A more jazz example of this approach

Example 3 is taking some of the techniques used in example 2 and then adding more of a jazz feel to it. The idea is quite simple, the chord is still initially stated and then the rest of the time is used to add fills and partial chords. The fills do convey the sound of the chord, but does not yield a complete chord sound all the time.

In this example I am using the same ideas for fills but taking away the back beat feel so that the jazz feel isn’t lost. 

A closer look at the Techniques in the fills

The two main ingredients of the fills Hendrix uses are probably the chords themselves and then mixing this with pentatonic ideas.

A “jazz” version of this could be to use the chord and also use a pentatonic scale that fits the chord. In this example the chord is a maj7 chord so a suggestion for a pentatonic scale could be the E minor pentatonic scale as shown here below.

If we relate the Em pentatonic scale to C maj 7 we get:

E   G   A   B   D   E

3   5   6   7    9   3

One thing that wouldbe useful to explore is some of the intervals we have in the scale. The 3rd bar shows a simple set of intervals in the scale.

Practicing Fills from Chord shapes

On the Cmaj7 I am using some of the Em or G major pentatonic ideas that you would often associate with a G major chord. One good exercise to get used to some of the G major fills that are in the style of Hendrix is to go over the fills that I have written out in example 5. This is associtated and based on the E minor pentatonic scale and the G chord shown in the 3rd bar.

Another possibilty is to take the same exercise and use the fills associated with the C chord in the 8th fret. This is shown in example 6 here below:

Applying the Hendrix exercises to a Cmaj7 chord

As a short example of how I apply the G Hendrix fills to a Cmaj7 I have written out the chord and the fills here below. 

Using Fills in comping and soloing

With the long history of jazz guitar it has become a common thing that we add to the style by borrowing techniques and ideas from other styles. I personally find it great that we keep developing the style and that jazz in this way keeps changing and evolving.

Incorporating fills into your playing is a good way to add some color to your comping. You can of course also use these ideas in your solos as melodic material, something you will also hear Hendrix do in his solos.

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What Hendrix can teach Jazz Guitarists

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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Jazz Comping is NOT only Chords and Voice-leading!

Comping is a lot more than just what chords or chord voicings you play. It can be very difficult to practice, but there are some things you can be aware of to perform a lot better when comping in a jazz setting. In this video I will try to highlight and describe some of these approaches.
 
I will also go over why being a great at comping will make you a much better soloist!

 

Content: 

0:00 Intro — Comping practice? 

0:19 It’s not about the voicings! 

0:55 Your Function when comping in a band 

1:09 Your Responsibility with comping 

1:24 Comping Example: Harmony 

1:52 Conveying the Harmony in comp 

2:32 Comping Example: Groove 

3:01 Conveying the groove 

4:15 Comping Example: Interaction

4:42 Discussion on Interaction — the subtle art of… 

5:36 Not playing as a form of interaction (Scofield and Jim Hall) 

5:57 Interaction vs Groove comping

6:19 Responsibility within the band 

6:30 Roles within the Rhythm Section 

6:55 Learn by listening and analyzing 

7:06 Bill Evans/Scott La Faro/Paul Motian — example of roles 

7:28 Herbie Hancock/Ron Carter/Tony Williams — example of roles 

7:53 Serve the music! Check you ego at the door 

8:37 It will make you a better soloist! 

8:59 Why the Piano solo is often the most fun! 

9:25 Coming Philosophy 

10:09 How do you think about comping, like to comp? 

10:34 Like the video? Support my videos on Patreon!