Tag Archives: jazz guitar chords

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!

How To Learn Jazz Guitar – Suggestions To Begin Studying

This is a question I get very often. And that is in no way strange. Starting to learn Jazz guitar is the beginning of a long journey with a lot of interesting stops along the way.

In this video and post, I will try to give you some places where you can look for the things you feel you need to check out and of course also what you think is interesting.

Learning Jazz, or any other style of music is not a set path the fits everybody. We all take different routes and need to work on different things longer or shorter. That is also the reason that there is no set way to go through this and why I am calling it suggestions. You need to figure out for yourself where to go next. If I have a student learning Jazz it is common that I take a few lessons to figure out what to work on and how to work on it, so expect that when you start working as well.

That said, I will try to make this a little less complicated and stop the information overload a little because I don’t think that is really necessary.

To keep it a bit short I am going to focus on three main topics:

  • Technique and Scales
  • Chords
  • Improvisation and Songs

Technique and Scales

Keep it simple. Start with the Major scale. Don’t overdo technique practice.

Start with one position and one key. You can add positions and keys along the way, with basic exercises.

Start with these exercises:

  1. The Scale
  2. The Scale in 3rds
  3. The Diatonic 7th chords (Maybe Triads first, but many don’t have to)

For more information on what to do work on and how to use it:

The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz – Basic Scale exercise and Scale in Diatonic 7th arpeggios

Practice Major Scales like this and You will get more out of it! – More thoughts on scale practice.

How to practice your scales and why – Positions – A bit of a deeper look into options with scale practice and suggestions for exercises

Jazz Chords – A solid set and learn some songs

It is practical to learn some jazz chords so that you can play chords on songs. As jazz guitarists, we spend more time comping than soloing. It is also a huge help to be able to hear the harmony that you are soloing over.

I have a study guide for Jazz Chords where the first two or three lessons will give you more than enough. How to Learn to Play Jazz Chords – Study Guide

Especially I would start with a set of diatonic chords for the major scale which is exercise one or two of this lesson: How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar

From that material you can gradually expand chord vocabulary, learn songs and progress into rootless voicings and more complex comping and harmonization ideas.

Improvisation and Songs

This is the most important part of how to learn jazz guitar because this is where we talk about playing music. So it is about using the material that is practiced in the scales.

If you want to play jazz you need to spend time playing the songs and improvising and you should start doing this from the very beginning. Even if you can’t really play solos that sounds like jazz, just by trying you are building repertoire and skills to use later.

A few things about improvising over changes:

How To Solo Over Chord Changes The Right Way

A practical example of improvising with arpeggios:

How to start soloing over a II V I with arpeggios

For more examples of songs, easy chord melody arrangements and similar then you should browse through this playlist of easy YouTube lessons:
How To Begin Jazz Guitar – Easy lessons to gain an overview

Jazz Standards to start with and how to learn them

When it comes to which songs to start with then I would suggest you start with one of these 10 songs:

The First 10 Jazz Standards You Need To Know

And some of the exercises and things to focus on when learning them are covered here:

Learning Jazz Standards – Important Exercises

Next level for Jazz Guitar

Maybe you already feel comfortable with the things I covered here, and you are looking for more challenges and explore the music further. Of course, you can browse the YouTube channel and my Website.

Another option is to join the 3000+ members of the Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook group and ask there, get inspired by the posts and comments of others:

Jazz Guitar Insiders

Or join me on Patreon where you can support and help shape the content on the channel in the future. Patreon is really what has made all these lessons and the channel possible.
Check it out here: Jens Larsen YouTube Lessons on Patreon

Rootless Jazz Chords – 15 Beautiful Examples You Need To Know

If you want to play really interesting comping then you need to work with rootless jazz guitar chords so that you have the freedom to play more interesting and interactive things behind a soloist.

A good starting point to explore some useful II V I voicings. Focus on connecting the chords with some great melodies, rhythms, and inner-voice movement.

Traditional and more modern sounds working with some reharmonizations of the II V I as well.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:23 Why You Use Rootless voicings

00:45 The Basic Position and II V I chord set

—- 3-note chords —-

0:54 #1 – A Strong Top-not melody is essential. You can always move from 7 to 6 on the I chord.

1:25 #2 – Let the Melody carry and drive the progression

1:53 #3 – You can have chromatic passing notes in the inner-voices as well. 6 to 5 on the I chord is another cool inner-voice

2:27 #4 – Incomplete altered dominant chords often work well (because the altered notes are clear enough)

2:58 #5 – busy chromatic melody  (but it is possible)

—- 4-note chords —-

3:27 #6 – You can also repeat a melody note

3:53 #7 – Make more layers by splitting the chord

4:20 #8 – A little more rhythm and a So-What voicing for the II Chord

4:49 #9 – Rich sounding 13b9 and Maj7(13) chords!

5:16 #10 – A little more rhythm and counter-movement on the II chord

—- Changing the Chord Sounds —-

5:45 #11 – Line cliche with Dm, DmMaj7, Dm7

6:17 #12 – C# dim chord to lead to G7

6:46 #13 – Ab7 to lead to G

7:15 #14 – Building the chord with the melody

7:42 #15 – Quartal Voicins and Clusters

8:09 Check out the 15 minor II V I video!
8:16 Like the Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

How To Embellish Jazz Chords With Beautiful Chromaticism

A great way to add some surprising sounds to your Jazz Chords and comping is to add chromatic passing notes in the different voices but also as complete chromatic chords.

Using Chromatic passing notes is a part of jazz and we all know how the greats like Charlie Parker and George Benson use chromaticism in their solos. But you can also use this in your comping in several different ways to get some great sounds.

In this video I am going to go over some example of how you can add chromatic passages to your chords in a few different ways: in the melody, as inner-voice movement, and as complete chromatic passing chords.

When you start using chromatic notes in the melody and in voice-leading then sometimes you are going to come across chords that may seem out really of place but make perfect sense in the context. This is where we can let the melody over-rule all the rules we know about chords.

Expand your voicing Vocabulary

If you want to check out some more voicings that you can use and add these types of voice-leading and chromatic ideas then check out this video where I go over 9 types of very useful voicings that are common in Jazz.

Jazz Chord Voicings – The 9 Different types you should know

Content:

0:00 Intro – Chromaticisim in Chords

0:34 Passing Notes, Inner-voices, and Chromatic Chords

0:43 Melody is more important than Harmony!

1:08 #1 Top Note-Melody

2:06 Example 1 Slow  

2:14 #2 Inner-voices Polyphonic Chromatic Ideas

2:58 Common ideas on a Maj7

3:18 Example 2 Slow

3:28 #3 In-complete chords and Line-Clichés

4:05 Example 3 Slow

4:12 #4 Close voicings with chromatic passing notes

4:51 Example 4 Slow

4:59 #5 Chromatic Passing Chords

5:44 Example #5 Slow

5:51 #6 A Tritone Dominant as a Chromatic Chord

7:22 Example #6 Slow

7:33 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page

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Get the PDF!

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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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15 Minor II V I – Beautiful Jazz Chords You Need To Know

Having good Jazz Chords for a minor II V I can be difficult. This progression is much more complicated than it’s Major counterpart. At the same time, it is a really beautiful progression. Especially because of the rich tonic minor chords and altered dominants.

15 Jazz Chord Sets

In this video, I am going to go over 15 sets of jazz chords for a minor II V I in D minor. They will give you some solid ideas with extensions, the melodies and also some inner-voice movement.

What makes this progression difficult is probably in part the IIø chord that is a little hard to get used to and also the mix of harmonic minor and melodic minor used on the V and the I chord. Very rich colors but also a bit hard to handle.

I am of course very curious about what you think about the video format, so if you have ideas for other topics that would work in a video like this then let me know!

Content:

0:00 Intro -15 Minor II V I chord sets

0:30 Do you have suggestions for another topic?

0:42 #1 – Upper-structures for Eø

1:01 #2 – Cluster-like Altered Dominant and Rich Tonic Minor 

1:31 #3 – Inner-voice movement in Melodic Minor

1:56 #4 – Expanding Melody

2:20 #5 – ø11 Cluster-like voicings – maj6 and maj7 on a I chord

2:44 #6 – Melodic Skips in the Top-note melody

3:08 #7 – Maj7(b5) voicings and Altered Voicings for the Tonic Chord

3:32 #8 – The Minor 3rd Trick and the Maj7(#5) voicing

3:54 #9 – Diminished Voicings for Dominants

4:18 #10 – Melodic Pedal Point

4:42 #11 – Arpeggiating is a forgotten art!

5:06 #12 – Counter-movement in the lower voices

5:31 #13 – b5 Upper-structure triad on the V

5:56 #14 – Tune Up in Minor

6:21 #15 – Tritone voicings and a great way to resolve them

6:45 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

More lessons like this

If you want to check out similar lessons then maybe one of these are useful:

25 Jazz Guitar Exercises – How To Improve Skills In A Musical Way

10 Arpeggios over a Maj7 chord

10 arpeggios over a m7 chord

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https://jenslarsen.nl/sign-up-for-my-newsletter/

Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

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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.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

Jazz Chords – The 3 Levels You Need To Know

In this video I am to cover some different types of Jazz Chords and talk about the order you should learn them. I’ll show you the basic idea with the chords and how you can use this order to gradually build a chord vocabulary that you can also make music with.

I don’t focus on the types of voicings, like drop2 drop3, etc. because they are just names, it is more important to chords you can play music with.

Level 1 – A Set For Playing Music and Songs

To play songs and easily find the chords we need one set with the root on the 5th and one set with the root on the 6th string. This is shown in the example here below:

If you are used to finding chords in other genres this is probably how you think about it.
These chords are basic chord sounds, not too many extensions. 

  • They are Easy to play.
  • Similar to the bar chords you already know
  • Include the root – full picture of the harmony
  • A Complete set of chords

Why start with these:

  • You can play the song alone and hear the harmony. 
  • Works well in a duo
  • Easy to add extensions and develop
  • Easy to turn into very flexible rootless voicings

Level 2 – Rootless voicings for Bands and Flexibility

Now you can play the chords and to get some more options then the best place to go is to just take the chords from Level 1 and then remove the lowest note: The Root.
The essential exercise is this:

We can now start making the chords more flexible and add melody by changing the top note and even adding an extra higher note as shown below in example 3 for a C7.

Why:

  • Works better in a band
  • Is much more flexible
  • You can play melodic ideas with the chords

Level 3 – Inversions and more melodic options

Now we can start working on inversions, and a good place to start is to take these voicings that we come across while adding notes to the 3-note chords.

The idea of a chord inversion is really just to find the same notes in another order on the neck. The chords we have are called drop2 voicings, and I go over how to make the inversions in the Drop2 lessons in this guide: How To Learn Jazz Chords

If I take the four basic chords and play those inversions then I have this:

How To Learn Using These Chords

Whenever you practice something like this it is very important that you also practice using it in songs. Learning a lot of stuff that you don’t use in music is usually a waste of time and you just forget it again.

Check out some more in ideas with Drop 2 voicings

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Block Chords – The Ultimate Jazz Guitar Challenge

In this lesson, I am showing you how to use Block Chords on the guitar by breaking down an arrangement of the melody to Solar.

Playing Block Chords is quite demanding on guitar but at the same time Chord Solos, and Block Chord Harmony is a big part of the Jazz Guitar Tradition. There are countless great Block chord solos by Wes Montgomery, George Benson, and Joe Pass. It is in some ways the highest level of putting chords to a melody.

I made The Chord Melody arrangement using some of the core principles in harmonizing melodies with block chords. This also links a bit to the Barry Harris 6th diminished scale system, though that system has a lot of other aspects as well.

Harmonizing the melody – Simple Rules

It is really quite simple:

The core principle that I am using for this harmonizing is that I am splitting the melody up in notes that are chord tones and notes that are leading notes.

You harmonize The Chord tones with voicings that are for the chord itself. The leading or passing notes you can harmonize with a chord that can resolve to the chord itself.

Block Chords for the first line

For the first chord The melody notes are C, B, D and G.

You can harmonize C and G with Cm6 voicings. B and D are harmonized with G7 or in this case rootless G7(b9) chords, also known as B dim chords.

The final note in the 2nd Cm bar is an A leading up to Gm7. I harmonized that as a leading note to a Gm7 chord using F#dim.

The Gm7 and C7 melodies are harmonized in the same way. Alternating between Gm7 and F#dim voicings. The first note on C7 is played as a C7sus4, which is really a Gm7/C. This is because that works really well with having a preceding F#dim voicing. Later in the bar, I resolve the sus4 to C7(b9).

Making Exercises for the different chords

You can create exercises for each chord alternating the chord with a diminished chord belonging to the dominant of the chord. I wrote This out here below for Cm6:

You can also check out some of the similar exercise I use in this lesson:

Best exercise for jazz guitar chord solos!

Taking the Passing note strategy a little further

I am using the same approach to harmonize the Fmaj7 line. Here the melody notes are A, G#(or Ab), Bb and C.

The A and C I harmonize with Fmaj7 voicings. For the low C, I am using an Am triad because a four-note Drop2 is a bit heavy.

The Bb is again the dim chord associated with C7(b9: E dim. The Ab is harmonized with a C7alt voicing. The Ab is a chromatic leading note and there are many ways that you can harmonize it, but in this case I find that the C7alt sounds better than for example an Emaj7.

The Fm7 Bb7 bars are harmonized exactly like the Gm7 C7 so I am not going to break that down.

Faster melodies and other strategies

For the last four bars of the melody I am using another more practical strategy.

When the melody starts moving in 8th notes it becomes very difficult to change chord for each note. This is not impossible, but not easy and also tends to sound a little too busy.

Instead I am using a static chord and move the melody on top of that.

In this case, the entire chord is 3 notes, so the static part is just two notes. If you listen to Bill Evans you will hear him do this quite often as well. On Piano that is playing a melody with the right hand and a chord in the left hand. His recording of Beautiful Love has a long section of the solo like this.

For the Ebmaj the underlying chord is the 5th and 3rd of the chord. That is also what I use on the Dø. The Ebm7 Ab7 bar has the 7th and 3rd as the static part of the chord.

Download the Solar Chord Melody Arrangement

If you want to download a Pdf of the entire arrangement then fill in the form here below to get a mail with a PDF link.

Up Your Chord Melody with some solo improvisation skills!

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Beautiful Jazz Chords That You Never Played

Learning Drop2 and Shell-voicings is a great way to learn some systems of jazz chords and a lot of inversions all at once. But if you only think in systems you forget to explore what chords you can come up with that are not in those systems. That’s what I explore in this Jazz Chords Lesson.

In this lesson, I am going to talk about some of the guitar jazz chords that I like to use and find really beautiful which I don’t really hear people use a lot, probably because they don’t fit in the systems. And they are not even that difficult to play, so there is no need to not check them out!

Looking outside the systems

It is important not to be locked down by systems, also when it comes to learning chords. The Chords that I am using in this lesson are more aimed to be beautiful rich sounding chords. I mostly use them as sustained chords that I can leave there as a rich harmonic background for a soloist. They are not really intended for more rhythmical comp. When I do that I go for other chords and focus not on a single chord but as much on the movement.

Adding extra notes to a Dominant

The voicing that I am first going to show you is a chord that is really associated with the melodic minor scale. The first way to use it is as an altered dominant. In this case a G7(#9):

The Dm7 is a straight Drop2 voicing for an Fmaj7, which in this context is a Dm7(9). The G7 voicing is a basic 3-note G7 with an added #9(Bb) on top. This resolves nicely to another surprising voicing which is the Cmaj7. Here I play this with a G triad and a lower C (you can’t really call it a bass note).

Turning it into a Lydian Dominant.

In some ways this voicing works even better when you use it as a Lydian dominant. That is shown here below where I use it as a backdoor dominant in C major.

When used like this it becomes a Dominant chord with a #11 and a 13.

The Cmaj7 voicing is another rich chord voicing which has a 9th and a 13th. It is an Asus4 upper-structure and a B.

New Altered Options

This chord is another way to play an altered voicing and also have the 7th in the melody. The voicing in this case is a G7(#9): B(9), G(1), Bb(#9), F(b7). In the example I am moving the F down to a b13(Eb) and resolves it to the 9th of Cmaj7.

The Dm7 voicing is derived from a Drop 2 where the 5th has been replaced with the 11th and the root with the 9th.

The same voicing is also great for a Lydian dominant. Here it becomes a dom7th(13#11).

In the example below I am using it as a Bb7 in a backdoor dominant chord progression.

Bb7: Ab(b7),E(#11), G(13), D(3).

I am using the same voicing for the Cmaj7 as in the very first example.

Sus4 triads can be upper-structures too

This example is using three chords all based on upper-structures.

The Dm7 voicing is a Dm7(11) using a C major triad.

G7 uses an E major triad to create a G7(13b9)

C6/9 is made using a Dsus4 triad.

Why don’t you ever play a b5,b13 chord?

This last “bonus” example is a little different because it is a chord that you probably already know, but don’t use like this.

The Dm7 and Cmaj7 voicings are both drop2 chords.

The G7 voicing is a chord you probably know as a Db7(9) chord. Since Db is the tritone substitute of G7 we can also use this voicing as a G7.

That would give us this G7: B(3) Eb(b13) F(b7) Db(b5) – G7(b5,b13)

Explore more voicings

A great place to start exploring new sounds and voicings is to work with 3-note jazz chords. These are very flexible and great to use both as they are and as a starting point for adding more 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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Wes Montgomery – How to make Simple sound Amazing

This Wes Montgomery Guitar Lesson is breaking down parts of the solo on Four on Six. This version is from the album: “The Incredible Jazz Guitar”. What makes Wes a great improviser and jazz guitarist is not that he played octaves or chord solos. There are other aspects of his playing that are the reason that we consider him the most important jazz guitarist in modern jazz.
This video goes over 5 aspects of his playing that you can easily work on in your own guitar solos. I think really defines what is great about his playing.

If you want to check out another Wes Montgomery Lesson then have a look at this lesson:
Wes Montgomery – This is What Makes Him Amazing

Content:

0:00 Intro Wes Montgomery – Four On Six

0:10 5 Simple Things in Wes’ Style

0:53 Four on Six and The Incredible Jazz Guitar of WM

1:22 #1 Just use the arpeggios (and make great melodies)

3:32 #2 Don’t be afraid to Use Repeated Notes (Groove and Melody)

5:24 What are the things you love about Wes Montgomery? Leave a comment

5:50 #3 Motifs and Call-Response melodies

8:05 #4 Dynamics within the Solo lines

9:28 #5 Do You Have The Blues?

11:26 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Want to develop you Chord Solo Chops?

One of the most interesting and impressive aspects of Wes Montgomery’s playing is his chord solos. If you want to develop your own skills with chord solos you can do this here:

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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.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.