Tag Archives: jazz guitar comping

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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Add Beautiful Colors And Fills To Your Comping

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

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Content

00:00 Intro 

00:50 From Real Jazz Comping to Improvised Chords 

01:25 Reducing the Voicings – Example #1 

02:12 Reducing the Voicings – Example #2 

03:03 Intervals for fills and Block Harmony 

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

07:29 6th intervals and a Pentatonic trick 

09:14 Harmonized Arpeggios and more Pentatonic Chord Patterns 

10:44 Polyphonic Call-Response 

11:20 3-Note Voicings 

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

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How To Sound Great On A Static Chord – Modal Comping

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

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

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

Other great lessons on Modal comping and Jazz Comping

Beautiful Jazz Chords from Allan Holdsworth – Modal chords

The 3 Most Important Things For Solid Jazz Comping

Comping Rhythms – 10 Examples You Need To Know

Jazz Chord Voicings – The 9 Different types you should know

Content:

0:00 Intro – Comping on Static/Modal Chords

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

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

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

4:17 Example 3 Pedal Point melody

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

6:22 Example 5 Two Layers and Call-Response

7:20 Example 6 Chromatic Passing Chords

8:11 Example 7 More Chromaticism

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

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Get the PDF!

The PDF for this lesson is available through Patreon in the Patreon FB group. By joining the Patreon Community you are in the company of 200 others supporting and helping shape the content on my YouTube channel.

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The 3 Most Important Things For Solid Jazz Comping

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

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

Related Guitar Lessons on Comping

10 important comping rhythms

Video on being your own teacher

Great examples of comping:

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

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

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:50 #1 It is Clear

1:34 Beat One is your friend

1:59 Don’t be afraid of repetition

2:38 #2 Don’t Get In The Way

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

3:39 A Great Strategy

4:08 Great Examples: Wynton Kelly and Herbie Hancock

4:38 Understand what fits the soloist

4:49 #3 Are You Playing Music?

5:42 Listen, Listen, Listen, Listen!

6:14 How Do You Practice comping?

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

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Comping Rhythms – 10 Examples You Need To Know

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

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

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

All the examples are using a turnaround in C major.

Rhythm #1 – Charleston

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

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

Rhythm #2 – Shifted Charleston

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

Rhythm #3 – Forward motion with Syncopation

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

Rhythm #4 – Red Garland

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

Rhythm #5 – Basic Syncopation

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

Rhythm #6 – Quarter Note Rhythms

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

Rhythm #7 – Dotted Quarter notes

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

Rhythm #8 – Shifting motif

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

Rhythm #9 – Call-Response phrases

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

Rhythm #10 – Anticipated Beat 4

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

Take the Comping Rhythms Further

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Jazz Comping – How To Keep It Interesting

Jazz Comping and especially good jazz comping is not about knowing a million voicings. It is more about how you play the chords you know. The different ways you add embellishments or connect the voicings that make the difference.

In this video, I am going to go over a few different approaches and techniques that you want to add to your comping. This will help you have a wide vocabulary of techniques and options available when you a playing chords behind something else.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:25 Focus on How you play not What You Play

0:47 Basic progression and why you should leave out the bass note

1:33 Top Note Melodies – How To Get Started

1:58 Turn you comp into a musical statement

2:47 Tying together a lot of voicings.

4:20 Arpeggiate The Chords

5:26 Chromatic Passing Chords

7:21 How To Add Fills

9:34 Inner-voice movement

11:03 Like the video? Check out My Patreon Page

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Jazz Comping – Intervals is the (Beautiful) Simple solution

A great approach to Jazz Comping is to not only rely on chords but also use intervals as a way of conveying the harmony. Using intervals is an easier way to leave more space for the rest of the band, so it also works well if you play with a piano player.

In this video, I am going to go over some of the ways you can work with intervals and demonstrate how this works on the Jazz Standard All The Things You Are.

Finding intervals for Jazz Comping

If we first take a look at the first chord of All The Things: Fm7.

The note that we want to have in there is the 3rd and then add another note and check out the intervals we get, as shown here below:

Notice that I am not trying to find all options, just exploring and experimenting with what I think might work.

Voice-leading intervals

As an example, we can now look at how to voice-lead the different intervals on Fm7 to the next chord Bbm7. This could be done as shown in example 2.

In some of the examples I am adding extra movement between the two intervals. This is not too difficult when working with intervals so it is a good idea to already experiment with that option.

Counter melodies and polyphony

The final bars contain a few examples of several voices moving. In the last bar the voices are also moving in the opposite direction.

Playing the song with the intervals

When I comp like this I am not always staying completely clear with all chords, but I am trying to get an over all flow that makes sense on the song.

In this example I am keeping it simple by not having to many moving melodies and playing one or two intervals per chord.

Making an improvised Counterpoint as an exercise

You can turn the voice-leading part of this into a small counterpoint exercise that sounds like the one in the example below.

You can hear in the video how this example has a lot of moving voices, keeping one voice static while the other is moving around more.

Adding some rhythm and a little more Jazz Feel

Besides working on this with playing long notes and sustained sounds, you also need to work on using the intervals while adding some jazz rhythms.

An example of this is shown here below where there is also a focus on rhythm, not only moving voices, notes and extensions.

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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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Get the PDF!

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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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Jazz Guitar Comping 3 Things You Want To Think About

In short you want to work on your Jazz Guitar Comping. It is probably what you spend the most time doing when you are playing in a band. It is also one of the best ways to develop your ability to interact with the people you play with which can makes your solos much much more interesting to listen to and add a complete other dimension to it.

There are ways of thinking about comping that will improve how you comp and in this video I am going to talk about how you

  • Connect with the band
  • Support the soloist better
  • Help the song become a musical story

Comping is a difficult art to teach in a lesson because it is about interacting with several people at the same time, but it is also a huge part of what you do as a jazz musician, and for me a big chunk of what I do for a living, both as a sideman and in my own band. It is also something that I love doing because the emphasis is on playing together with other people.

Jazz Guitar Comping – The Content

 0:00 Intro – Comping and what you need to learn

0:33 Overview of Focus areas

1:32 Jazz Guitarists Can’t Comp – Who to learn from

2:04 #1 Lock in With The Drummer

2:23 Understanding interaction and groove in a swing groove 

2:57 Don’t Clash with the Drummer

3:42 Is Good Comping Predictable?

3:58 Listen to great examples

4:35 #2 Listen To And Don’t Get In The Way of The Soloist

4:39 What is your goal when you are accompanying?

5:03 Interaction?

5:52 The #1 Rule of when to play!

6:38 Use your “Comping Ears” To Improve your own Soloing

7:31 #3 Give the Music Form, Dynamics and Variation

8:33 The Masters of making variation and development

9:35 Other examples of interaction and variation.

9:55 Take the Responsibility!

10:37 Any Advice? Leave a comment

10:50 Like the video? Check out My Patreon Page

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