Tag Archives: jazz guitar chords

Rootless Jazz Chords – This Is What You Want To Know

If you are getting into some of the rich sounding Jazz chords on the guitar and want to use that in your playing then one thing that can really add a lot more life and color to your chord playing is to start using rootless Jazz chords.

Playing Rootless Jazz chords in your chord melody, comping and chord soloing will give you 10x as many options and also really start to free you from thinking static grips and more work with playing progressions that flow into one another.

And it is pretty simple to get into…

Basic Example with Chords Already You Know

You probably already know these chords:

Making these chord voicings that you already know into rootless voicings is really simple:

Now you are probably asking what is the big deal? They are a little bit easier to play but for the rest it doesn’t really matter.

Advantages to Rootless Voicings

There are two advantages to using rootless voicings:

1 If you are in a band then you want to stay out of the way of the bass player, and constantly having the root in that register is often clashing with the bass player which is not so nice for you or the bass player.

2 You have a lot more freedom to improvise with the notes when you don’t have to play the root. I am going to give you a lot of examples of this in the video, but if we take the example from above then you could start working on changing the top note of the chords and get some really great sounding chord movements That’s what I am going to cover next.

Making Easy variations to the chords

In this example I am using other melody notes from the scale that are easy to add to the chord. The examples are all practical and pretty easy to play

But there is one note that is added in there which is the b9 which acts as a chromatic leading note in the G7 to the 5th of Cmaj7. This is another way to understand alterations on dominants.

And you can go a lot further than this by adding notes on the top string as well, which is now a lot easier:

And with this you can also start to make movement inside the chord and make the different voices move independently. That’s the next thing to explore

Voices not chord grips

Let’s try this with another set of chords that you probably already know:

This can be turned into this set of rootless voicings:

And a basic variation of this could be something like this:

Notice how I am again using a b13 as a chromatic leading note to go from E down to D on the Cmaj7.

Another thing to notice is that I am only playing the chord once and then moving the melody on top while the other notes are sustaining, this gives it more of a polyphonic or even orchestral sound.

And you can expand on this quite easily adding more movement in the voices, especially G7:

Chromatic inner-voices

The next thing to start experimenting with is adding chromatic movement in some of the lower voices not just moving the melody.

Here I am adding the melody C A# to lead to the B on G7 and a great chromatic movement from B to Bb to A moving the maj7th to the maj6th

Get a solid foundation in Rootless Jazz chords

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This Is How To Play The Chords When You Want To Learn The Song

We have a huge advantage as guitarists: We can play the chords of a song and hear how the harmony sounds. When you play a jazz standard that you want to learn then you want to keep Jazz Chords easy. There is no reason to make it harder than it is so building a strong foundation and really checking out how the basic harmony in moves and sounds is very important.

In this video, I am going to show you how to play voicings like that, and also give you some suggestions for how you can take this to the next level by adding a basic chord melody, extensions and colors, or playing walking bass and chords.

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Content:

0:00 Intro

0:41 What is a Shell-Voicing

1:58 How to Practice the Jazz Chords

3:02 Shell-Voicings on a Jazz Standard

4:59 Adding More Notes and Extensions

6:06 Chord Melody with Shell-voicings

7:25 Walking Bass and chords

8:18 Like the video?

Get Your Chord Skills Up a Few Levels

Jazz Chords – 5 Exercises You Need To Know About

Playing Jazz Chords is a huge chunk of what you do when we play Jazz on the guitar. It is what we need for comping, chord melody arrangements and, chord solos.

Learning new chord voicings and especially learning to use new chord voicings can be very difficult and often a lot of time is wasted just playing inversions and exercises when that is not how you would playing the chords if you are playing a piece of music.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:43 The Strategy

1:17 #1 Inversions

2:52 #2 Diatonic Chords

4:57 #3 Turnarounds or Short Basic Progressions

6:35 #4 Composing Comping Melodies -Step-wise melodies and making music

7:58 #5 Making Music With The Chords

8:41 #6 Bonus exercise

9:13 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

Use the Voicings on Jazz Standards!

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How To Learn Drop 2 Jazz Chords The Right Way

Drop 2 voicings are often made into this mysterious thing that is hard to practice and learn. Something that you have to spend months practicing to get into your playing and be able to use.

That is of course not true and in this video, I am going to show you some of the simple things you can practice, how to remember the chords and how you start using it in your playing.

It is about staying practical!

3 Types of Drop2 voicings

For this lesson I am using the song, Solar known as a Miles Davis Tune but it is actually written by Chuck Wayne.

First I am going to go over some voicings that we need to play the song. It really is just 2 sets of 4 voicings on the top strings and then a dim chord.

Then I am going to use those voicings to play through Solar and embellish the basic comping and show you how you can add to it yourself.

I will talk about why we use some voicings and explain it from a music theory point of view, but also a more visual description that really helps understanding and remembering the voicings.

Basic Set of Drop 2 Voicings

The m6 is a very useful voicing for three types of chords:

First we need a m6 voicing, that will also work as a m7b5 and a dom7 chord:

The m7 chord can be used for m7 but also maj7 chords:

The Voicings would be these:

Putting it to use on a Song

This first example of how to use the drop 2 voicings is using one voicing per chord. Everything is kept simple and I am using the same voicing sets for the II V I’s in F and Eb major.

The II V I in Db is a little different because I want to move closer to where I will play the Dø.

This is about reusing as much as possible and playing music with only a few voicings. That way we have something to build from.

Progessions as building blocks, not chords

It is extremely important to start thinking in progressions more than single chords. If you do that then you can sum up a song in a few blocks where it might be twice or three times as many chords.

That is also what is clear in how I think in II V I progressions and treat them as one thing, more than separate chords.

Adding Melody – Making Music

The next step is to use the same chord voicings but now I am also using different top-note melodies to have some melody and variation in the comping.

From Chords to Musical Statements

The important part of adding more melodies and thinking more like a melody is that it is easier to comp in a way that responds and supports whoever you are playing chords for. Developing this skill is so essential, and it is important to remember that comping should be a piece of music, not just some chords on a groove.

Expanding What You can Play

Now that there are some melodic options and you probably have one voicing in your system then you can start adding voicings by using the surrounding inversions. An example of how that might work is shown below:

Putting Drop2 chords to use

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Jazz Chord Magic On Take The A Train – This Is How To Use Triads

Triads and triad based chords are fantastic jazz voicings! In this lesson, I am going to show you how you can get started with some triad voicings from what you already know and then go over 5 levels of how you can play some great sounding comping ideas using these voicings.

This is something I use all the time myself, and if you check out the Chord solos of Joe Pass he is also using this all the time.

Take The A-Train – Basic set of chords

Let’s start with taking the A-part on Take The A-train and play that with a set of chords that you already know:

Triad-based voicings

If we play these without the root then you have these voicings:

Converting the Jazz voicings and doing great things

I am going to show you two important things about these voicings:

#1 There are more melody options. You can change the top note and give us some options:

#2 All the voicings are triads

Cmaj7 without C is E G B = Em

D7 without D is F# A C = F#dim

Dm7 without D is F A C = F major

G7(b9) without G is (in this voicing) F Ab B = F dim

A7(b9) without A is Gdim = G Bb C#

Top-Note Melodies and Some Jazz Rhythm

First, you should look at the chords and find another melody note for each one. (this is powerful because you can make start making riffs and making things sound a lot more interesting.

Using Inversions of the triads

Since all the voicings are triads then you can also use the inversions of these triads. If you use the inversions as well then you have some options similar to this:

Chromatic melodies & Inner-voice movement

Of course, it is possible to use movement in the other voices, not only the melody. In fact, that is what I am doing on the D7 above.

The example below takes that a bit further.

I am also using some chromatic movement in the melodies most clearly in the top note melodies on the D7 and G7 chords, and in the inner voice melody on the Cmaj7.

Altering the voicings for more modern jazz sounds

And beyond changing the top note you can also experiment with changing notes inside the chord and in that way create some new voicings.

In the example below on the D7, you will see one such voicing. The first voicing on G7 is a similar construction.

How to make music when comping

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The Real Magic of Jazz Chords – Easy & Amazing

What is really great about Jazz chords or comping in Jazz is that you are allowed to improvise with the chords and choose what sounds you play, especially in terms of extensions but it can go a lot further as you will see in this jazz chords guitar lesson.

In this video, I am going to show you some really simple but also really great ways to add some chromatic notes and even entire chords to your playing. This works great if you are playing Jazz of course but it is also really useful in other genres that use extended chords.

In chord progressions and static chords

I am going to go over some different examples of how to mess around with a chord. I am going to show you how it works on a single chord but also how you can use it on a chord progression.

The first few are examples only moving one note in the chord and then it is going to get a little more extensive and you will learn how to start to add chromatic chords as well.

When it says Cmaj7 in the chart you can play a Cmaj7, but you can also play a C6. The difference between these two is a B and A :

We can play what we want as long as it sounds like the right chord in the context and as long as it does not clash with the melody or the soloist. For the different chords in this video, I will give you some examples of extensions you can use.

Why I Don’t Add Extensions to Chord Symbols

This way of improvising with the chords is also why I often don’t write extensions on the chords of a song: We are allowed to chose. (b-roll? comping You Stepped out of a dream with chord symbols)

You can also move from one to the other, and you can even add a chromatic leading note in between like this:

If you use this on a II V I then it becomes:

It does not have to be in the top note melody, it sounds great in the middle of the chord too:

The 9th – Another great extension

Another extension you can add to a Maj7 chord is the 9th. That can move down to the root:

The example is also moving the b13 to the b5 on the altered dominant. Whenever I chose a note to move to in the scale that works with the chord.

In example 5 I am moving the 7th and the 9th, but one of them alone

Stealing from Stairway to Heaven

So now we start moving several notes and before I go into chromatic chords, let’s have a look at how you can also move them in opposite directions (ala Stairway to Heaven)

Here are two ways of doing that on a Dm7. On a Dm7 you can use other extensions from the scale, the 9th and the 11th are pretty safe most of the time if Dm7 is the II or the VI chord in the scale.

Notice that the chord in between is actually an Fm7, but that is actually a coincidence which is why I did not write the chord symbol.

Chromatic Passing Chords on a G7

Now let’s add some chromatic chords. For a G7 you can play the G7 but also choose to add either a 9th or a 13th.

A 3-note version of adding some chromatic chords as leading chords could be something like this:

The idea is really just to move the chord a fret up or down when it resolves as you can see I do both in the first bar going down and the second moving up.
This is pretty easy to play on guitar so you should really explore that for more chords than just the dominants.

Another way to use this is to let the melody move one way and the chord another. This is what I am doing in this example:

Here the melody is the same in bars 1 +2 and bars 3 + 4.

The first example is using an Ab7 to harmonize the Ab in the melody, and the 2nd example is using a Gb7. The difference is that in the second example the melody is moving down while the chord is moving up (Gb7 up to G7).

If you want to explore more sounds and chords that you can use when you comp then check out this video where I am covering different inversions of chords you probably already know plus some great voice-leading tricks you can add to your playing.

Add some Chromatic chords to your comping

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Chord Fills and a Great Pentatonic Trick on the Guitar

If you want to really open up the way you play chords and be a lot more free with how you comp or make fills in a chord melody arrangement, then you have to start working on different ways to make harmonized melodies that you can fit into a chord progression.

In this lesson, I am going to show you how I make chord runs or chord fills like I was using in the intro and break down a few examples.

One thing that is really useful for this is a way to use the pentatonic scale as chords and in that way make some really great sounding fills.

Let’s first take a look at a few examples and then talk about developing the pentatonic ideas later in the lesson.

3 Chord Runs Mixing Scales and Chord Voicings

The above example has a different run for each chord. Let’s have a look at how they are constructed.

Mixing Am pentatonic and Dm7

The Dm7 run below is the most complicated of the 3. Here I am harmonizing a melody that is from the Am pentatonic scale. The Am pentatonic scale is a “neutral” sound over a Dm7. All notes sound good but the scale lacks a little color because there is no F.

In the run, I start with a Dm triad and I also end with a Dm7(9) or Fmaj voicing. These two ensure that the sound of the chord is clear. In between, I am using C major and Am voicings. They sound neutral but are not too clear.

Harmonized G altered scale

The G altered run is mixing voicings and the scale. You can see how the 3 voicings shown in diagrams below work as a way of harmonizing the melody on each string. The red note marks where the melody is moving to in the line.

The entire voicing in the scale is shown in the lowest diagram, with the voicing in Blue.

Em pentatonic scale as a Jazz Chords for Cmaj7

In the example above I am generating voicings by stacking notes in the Em pentatonic scale. Since the entire Em pentatonic scale works as a Cmaj7 sound then this produces some great sounding voicings and I can move around and have a scale to play melodies with,

In this case, it is an ascending melody harmonizing every other note.

Two-layer Chord Runs

This example is using quarter note triplets to create a floating effect over the meter. It is also separating the melody from the chords to give the run a call response or solo-comp character.

On the Dm7 the technique used is similar to what I did on Cmaj7 in the previous example. The only difference is that here the chord is split into two so that the highest note in the chord is played separately.

Dm Pentatonic Run

Turning this into an exercise down the neck would give you this run:

The Cmaj7 bar is using the exact same thing but with an Em pentatonic scale instead of a Dm pentatonic.

G7 altered Exercise

You can also turn the G7 altered lick into a longer exercise moving in the scale. SInce the G altered scale is a 7 note scale I had to adapt the melody a little to get it to work.

A way to practice for more flexibility

The exercise below is using the Em pentatonic scale. This is really just a way to practice playing several pentatonic voicings but builds your ability to make melodies and create variations.

Using Pentatonic Positions

The pentatonic chords that I have used until now were all along the neck. This is a great way to work with voicings, but the open sound of the chords you get makes it possible to also do this in position.

These 3 exercises help you explore that:

Pentatonics and Arpeggios on a Jazz Standard

If you want to explore how you can get some great solo lines mixing pentatonics and arpeggios on Lady Bird then check out this lesson, or get it at a reduced price as a part of the Easy Standards Bundle:

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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Chord Solo – How To Make Melodies and find chords

How Do you play chord solos? It is something we hear people do all the time on our favorite records by Wes, Joe Pass or George Benson. But it does seem really complicated to do.

In this video, I am going to give you an example of an Easy Chord solo and then I am going to talk about how you can practice making your own solos. Another thing that you don’t want to miss is how working on this type of playing is something that can really boost your single-note solos.

  • Easy Chord Solo on Lady Bird
  • Exercises to Practice the chords in a melodic way
  • Some ideas on how to come up with melodies with them

The Chord Solo Transcription

First let’s check out the chord solo:

An important part of any solo is to play strong melodic ideas. If you listen to or play the chord solo you can hear several strong concepts being used in it.

Exercises for Chord Solos and Melody

When you improvise with chords then you can’t think about the voicings you play. You need to practice playing melodies and have the voicings ready. The way you learn to play melodies is by practicing doing that, but also by working on harmonized scales.

If you want to play this :

When you make exercises like this then keep in mind that you should use the voicings that fit for you. There are a lot of options available. A few alternative solutions are shown below:

Harmonizing a scale with Fm7 and Bb7 chords

To give you some more insight into the process here are the harmonizations of the Eb major scale using the Fm7 and Bb7 chords.

The Fm7 is pretty similar to the Cmaj7 example:

Above the Fm13 is a little tricky, but in this case, it is possible to harmonize that with an Fm chord.

On the Bb7 I am harmonizing the chords with the melody notes on the B string.

I do this with 3 note voicings because that makes it easier to combine these with 4-note voicings and make melodies that move across two strings.

A few thoughts on Melodic Structure

The solo is played thinking mostly of the melody I play. That is the best way to approach this way of playing in my experience.

If you listen to the first two bars you can hear a motif that is repeated and developed in bars 3 and 4.

The original motif is repeated in bars 5 and 6 and given a conclusion in bars 6 and 7.

Notice how the melodies are simple and step-wise. They also rely much more on rhythm than complex interval movements etc. This is, of course, a practical thing, but also an important part of why you want to play melodies like this and what you want to aim for.

Listen to Wes Montgomery for this type of melodic approach. Both with chords and single-note lines.

Repetition is also an important way to generate melodies. The Abmaj7 melody below demonstrates that quite clearly.

Learn more about Block Chards and Solos

Best Exercise for Chord Solos

Block Harmony and Block Chords

Take the solos up a level

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Jazz Chords – Here Is Why You Want To Make Inversions

We mostly think about jazz chord inversions when it comes to types of chords like Drop2 and triads, but there is a lot more to discover when it comes to using inversion to create beautiful jazz chords.

In this lesson, I am going to start with a Dm7(9) voicing that you are probably already familiar with and then use that and a little voice-leading to create some great voicings and make inversions of entire chord progressions.

Later in the lesson, I will also show you a few great “guitaristic” tricks that are easy to play but sound incredible.

A great Dm7(9) voicing

You probably know this great Dm7(9) voicing and maybe you also use the rootless version.

But from this rootless 3-note chord you can make beautiful voicings like this with inversions:

Putting inversions to use on a progression, not just a chord

If I took the first one and played a II V I in C then that could be this: II V I in C

Since it is only 3 notes you can easily look at how the voices move: F, F, E,   E, Eb, D and C, B, B
Working through a few progressions like this is incredible for your fretboard knowledge and understanding of chords and voice-leading, even if you don’t use these voicings that in itself is a great exercise.

If you do this in the other postions you get this:

Inversions of Shell-voicings

If you try the same with a Shell-voicing like for example Cmaj7. Below is first the shell-voicing and then the two inversions.

Creating and inverting a II V I for the shell-voicing

Now we can construct a II V I with the shell-voicing and make inversions of these chord sets.

First the basic II V I:

And the inversions we can create from this set of chords:

A great trick with Shell-Voicings

A great way to create some moving voices when you use shell voicings is to move the outer voices in opposite directions.

In this case, that means moving the C, on the D string, up to a D and the B, on the B string, down to an A.

This is a pretty easy thing to play that also sounds great. The basic idea is shown below:

This works great with a lot of voicings. You could use that like this:

Or make a simpler variation like this one:


Another thing that these voicings can do really well is inner-voice movement that could be something like this.


And it also works in this place:

In the last one, it would be the melody which also sounds really good.

If you want to check out some more ideas then check out this video and learn some beautiful chord voicings and inner-voice ideas with 15 rootless II V I voicings.

How to use Great Flexible 3-note Jazz Voicings

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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The Magic Chord – 10 ways to Use this Amazing Jazz Chord

The Magic Chord is a great name for this Maj7(b5) voicing. This is because it can work for a lot of different jazz chords sounds and sounds really great as a lot of useful chords. The Magic Chord can be seen as an advanced chord concept, but really is a very practical way of playing a lot of chords.

In this video, I am going over 10 examples of how you can use this voicing as dominants, tonic minor, half-diminished, Phrygian chords and altered dominants. It really hits some great extensions and chord sounds in harmony from both Major and Melodic minor scales.

Content:

0:00 The Magic Chord (just ask Herbie Hancock)

0:43 II V I in C major

1:17 II V I in D minor

1:52 Phrygian Chord to Tonic – C Major

2:26 II V I in D major

2:58 IIø Valt I in A major

3:31 II bVII I in C major

4:02 II Valt I in Bb major

4:37 II bII I in C major

5:09 II V I in Eb major

5:42 II bVII I in G Major

6:15 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page!