Tag Archives: jazz guitar chords

Chord Solos – You Can Make It Easy Like This

Playing a chord solo seems if not impossible then very difficult but, actually, there are quite a few things you can do to make it a lot easier and still sound great. In this video, I am going to cover 5 hacks that will help you get started and add chord solos to your jazz guitar playing and once you get started it is going to be a lot easier to expand it.

The Chord Solo Licks That Scare You

Usually when we think about a chord solo then the phrases are like this:

And that is difficult and moving around the entire guitar with a ton of voicings for each chord.

But most of the time the phrases are not that complicated and you can really do a lot with some fairly simple things.

That is what I want to show you in this video!

#1 Keep it simple – Part 1

You can play great harmonized melodies with a lot less than this. First, let’s make it super simple and then I’ll expand it a little bit and then you can already do a lot.

Here are 3 voicings:

And just using these 3 chords and changing the melody you can make a lick like this:

Here I am just using the basic voicings from example 2 and then changing the melody and adding some rhythm.

Since we play fewer notes and simpler melodies with chord solos then rhythm becomes much more important, but that is great for developing the rhythm in your single-note solos as well, everybody wins.

Let’s take this up a level by playing fewer notes and then start to add some other cool tricks!

#2 Keep it simple – Part 2 – A little less simple

You have a few melody notes for each chord, but can also turn them into 3-note voicings that still work:

Film with arrows from one diagram to the next? Split-screen (film playing chords with lots of space

And then you have some more options for top note melodies and can play something like this:

Now you can start with a single position and improvise some chord solo lines, the next thing to do is to make it a bit more flashy and add some more movement.

#3 Arpeggio to Targets In Chord Solos

Playing arpeggios as block chords in a chord solo is tricky, you need a lot of voicings, and it is heavy to play.

Cut in: We also often like to play arpeggios fast which don’t help. (shot after #5)

(extra b-roll arpeggio playing is recorded) – The last two are good

But a clever way, that I stole from piano players, is that you can also choose to play the arpeggio and just harmonize the target note.

That sounds like this

Shot twice different zoom

Here I am playing a Dm7 arpeggio that takes me to the G7(#9) chord and I only harmonize the Bb. As you can hear this works really well.

#4 Super Easy Chromatic Chords That Sound Amazing!

If you want to play Jazz then you also want to use chromatic passing notes, and luckily there is an extremely easy way to use them in chord solos.

That sounds like this:

Here I am using chromatic passing notes on both Dm7 and G7alt. The way it works is really simple.

I have a chromatic note, a D#, before the E melody on Dm7, and I use the same voicing as I do on the E to harmonize the D# and the chord just slides into place.

On the G7alt the example is exactly the same, but here it is descending not ascending.

The next hack is a great way to harmonize more difficult melodies like arpeggios.

#5 Two-Note Block Chords for Arpeggios

As I already showed you earlier in the video, you can add arpeggios to a chord solo by harmonizing the target note of the phrase. There is another way to work with arpeggios that also works very well and is both easier to play and less heavy sounding, compared to harmonizing each note.

This is something you will hear Joe Pass do from time to time. Harmonizing an arpeggio with intervals, and usually 3rds because that sits very well in an arpeggio and makes it easier to play.

That sounds like this:

Here I am using an Fø arpeggio on the G7alt and putting a full chord under the high note the Eb. Of course, you can also choose to just use 3rds the entire way.

 

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10 Chord Melody Intros You Need To Know

It doesn’t really matter if you are playing chord melody arrangements by yourself or if you are in a band. Being able to play a great sounding intro to a song and really set up the listener for a piece of music is very practical.

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Content: 

00:00 Intro

00:55 The Turnaround – The Perfect Intro

02:43 #IV – All of Tonal Harmony (almost..)

04:42 Modal Interchange and Beautiful Colors

06:49 Pedal point – Creating Tension

08:23 II V chain – Minor Cadence movement

10:25 Melodic Pedal Point

12:04 Start On A Tritone Substitution

14:00 Sus4 Pedal point

14:58 Lady Bird Turnaround – Modal Interchange

16:26 Phrygian Intro – Pretend to be another key

18:38 Complete Chord Melody Arrangement to Check out

18:45 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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Make Your Chord Progressions More Interesting

There are many ways you can reharmonize chord progressions. In this video, I am going over a method that is simple and easy to use. I am using basic functional harmony to show you how you can create amazing jazz chord progressions yourself and really change the color of the songs you play.

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:52 Basic II V I and The Power of Chord Functions

01:23 The Advantage of Functional Harmony

02:14 Chord Progressions Have To Make Sense Too

02:39 Subdominant chords and lots of options

02:45 3 Basic major subdominants

03:10 Is VI a subdominant?

03:41 7 useful minor subdominants

05:00 4 exotic #IV subdominants

06:15 Progressions Using Other Subdominants

07:07 Dominant Chords

08:02 Progressions Using Other Dominants

08:53 Tonic Chords and Suspensions

10:20 Changing functions – From II V I to Neo-soul

12:00 Functional Harmony – A Powerful Tool

12:16 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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Minor II V I – 3 Levels You Want To Know

When you learn chords, and especially jazz chords where there are so many variations and options, it is important that you check them out in the right order and use a strong foundation to explore all the great sounds in there. In this video, I am going to take a basic minor II V, that you probably already know, I and show you how you, step by step, can open that up and turn it into a flexible set of chords that you can use for comping and even chord soloing.

This video is going to get you beyond just playing grips, it is time that we end that once and for all, the campfire era is over.

Level 1 – The Basic Chords

If you know your basic Jazz chords then you probably know this way of playing a minor II V I with it’s somewhat awkward II chord:

The great thing about playing chords like this is that you get to hear what the harmony sounds like and that is very useful for learning a song and getting it into your ear.

This is of course very important if you want to improvise over the progression, so using these chords to become familiar with the sound, the movement of the harmony and the bass line is really useful.

If you are getting into these then make sure to also checking out how to treat them as 2 layers in comping, a bass note, and a chord. This is great for duo playing.

You can think of how you play as accents played on the drums with bass and snare which is mostly how drummers comp in a swing groove, and also what you want to lock in with when you play.

Level 2 – Rootless Chords

The basic chords are great for getting the harmony into your ears, but if you are playing in a band then it is better to leave the bass notes alone and not be exposed to angry bass players

Dave Holland 16:04 + text – Stupid Guitar Voicings with bass notes (busy two-layer comping)

Dave Holland 17:34 + text – Finally some rootless voicings!

While I may be using Dave Holland to joke around, this is an amazing band and one of my all-time favorites you can check out this concert with the link in the description: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvG8B39_Alc

This is really easy because you can just think about the voicings from example 1 but only play the top part like this:

When you play the chords like this then you have quite a few more options to change the notes and create some more interesting melodies and voice-movements. You are not stuck with a fairly static chord that is “just a grip”

An example of how you can add melody would be something like this:

And of course, when you really use this it will be with a bit more rhythm, something like this:

Where there is a lot more happening than “Example 2”

and we can take this even further by adding more color to the chords

Level 3 – Bigger Chords and More Color

Since we started with 4-note chords and turned them into 3-note chords then it is worth exploring what happens if we add notes on top of these. To me, this was always about being practical so looking at what is there but only use what is easy to play and then be creative with that.

This is btw something I think is very efficient in most aspects of practicing and playing, but that is another discussion

If we take a look at what is available for the Bø you get something like this:

And for E7

and finally Am6

The way I use this is that I check out what is there and I try to get an overview of what is easy to play and then that is what I will use. You can try to expand options, but watch out that you don’t get lost in trying to check out too many chord voicings, which  is often taking up a lot of time without helping you play better.

Using these voicings to comp the minor II V I could be something like this

 

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Beautiful Chromatic Sounds And how to add them to Jazz Chords

When you solo in Jazz you use chromatic passing notes and enclosures all the time, it is really a part of the sound, and actually this is true for Jazz chords as well. There are many ways to use chromaticism in your comping or chord melody and it is a great way to add more movement and color to what you play.

In this video, I am first going to show you one way of adding chromatic passing chords that is pretty visual and easy to use and then later I am going to start creating chromatic melodies in the chords and this is a great way to get to know your chords a lot better and also gives you a lot of great-sounding options to add to your playing.

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:47 Chromatic Passing Chords – Look where you are going

01:36 You can also move down a half-step

01:46 G7= G7(13) and Cmaj7 = C6?

03:02 Chromatic Chords in Context

03:43 Beyond Shifting Chord Shapes

05:14 Analyzing the voice-leading example

05:48 The Bebop Trick

06:58 Two Types of contrary motion

08:27 Suspending notes in the chord

09:40 Passing Chords And How To Sound Amazing With Them

 

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5 Basic Jazz Chord Exercises That You Want To Know

There is something special about how we play chords in Jazz. A part of that is the jazz chords themselves but another part that is just as important is how you play those chords. This video is going over 5 basic jazz guitar exercises that you can play and get started developing your Jazz chord skills. Some of them you probably know and some of them you can add to your playing.

I am using parts of songs to demonstrate this, so going through these exercises will also help you get started learning Jazz Standards which is another important part of learning Jazz.

#1 Shell-voicings – 6 chords in 30 seconds

First, we need some chords to play. To keep it simple I am going to quickly cover some voicings and then give you an example of how you can practice them on a song. To keep it simple I am going to start with easy 3-note voicings called shell voicings. A shell voicing is a simple chord that covers the basic sound of the chord and is very playable. They consist of a root, 3rd, and 7th (or 6th) Later I will start adding some notes to these to add a little color, but it is great to start playing music with these already. If you put these to use on a song like “Afternoon in Paris”, then you get something this: You can use this exercise to get the chords into your fingers, but you won’t really get them into your playing before you start playing other songs with them, so don’t forget to try that.

#2 Great basic rhythm – Charleston

Rhythm is more important than notes in Jazz, so the rest of these exercises are going to be more on rhythm and how to rhythms that sound like Jazz. The most basic and most important rhythm to know is probably the Charleston rhythm. You can practice that with Shell-voicings through 8-bars of Satin Doll like this: In this exercise, I play two chords per bar to make it a little more difficult, but it also helps you learn to anticipate a chord which is also important for Jazz phrasing.

#3 Two layers and a little more groove

Before we start adding notes to the voicings then you want to try to get the most out of them and actually, you can split up the shell-voicing in the bass note and the chord, and then you can play some rhythms with two layers. This is especially useful for giving it a little more groove and to keep things moving when you have more than one bar of one chord like this in Take The A Train:

#4 Bossa Nova

Another great groove to play is a Bossanova groove. In this example, I am using the first 8 bars of Girl From Ipanema. To change things up and make it a little more challenging I also add a note to each voicing for a little more color. The chords I use are: And then if we add this basic Bossanova pattern then you can play Girl From Ipanema like this: Like the other exercises in this video, this is just a basic example and you can do a lot more with both extensions and rhythms. You can check out links in the video description if you want to dig deeper into this.

#5 Simple Walking Bass

Another way to become more flexible and really lay down a swing groove is to play chords and walking bass. This works really well with Shell-voicings and could be something like this:

Playing Jazz Chords – What’s next?

If you want to explore more things with Jazz Chords and how to play them then check out this collection of lessons:

Comping – Putting It All Together

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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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