Tag Archives: jens larsen comping

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.


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!

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

Minor Blues Comping – How To Use Drop2 Chords

The Minor Blues is a great vehicle for improvisation and a very common chord progression that you want to be able to comp and solo on. In this lesson I am going to show you two different sounds that you can use in minor blues comping. One of the great things about minor is that the options we have several options when it comes to the extensions or sounds available on the blues.

The easiest way to think about this is probably to link the chords to scales and use that to describe the sound of the chords. This way of thinking also opens up what you can use and gives you more options when it comes to using different extensions on the chords.

The Different Comping Sounds

The easiest way to think about this is probably to link the chords to scales and use that to describe the sound of the chords. This way of thinking also opens up what you can use and gives you more options when it comes to using different extensions on the chords. 

Therefore this lesson has three main parts. Two on different sounds, Melodic Minor and Dorian, and one final example which is more open and as concerned with rhythms as it is with the voicings.

Minor Blues Drop2 voicings

The voicings I use for this video are all drop2 voicings and all on the top string set. Drop2 voicings are very practical for playing chords with extensions, both on guitar and piano. I won’t cover the basic Drop2 voicing stuff in this video, but if you want to check it out then maybe have a look at the Jazz Chords Study Guide

Melodic Minor – Rich Jazz Minor!

The best place to start when it comes to Minor sounds is the Melodic Minor scale. Melodic minor is the go to tonic minor sound for Jazz. Dorian, the other topic in this lesson, was added later after the introduction of Modal Jazz. If you check out the original Coltrane solo on Mr PC you will find that it is mostly Melodic minor on the tonic chord.

The first example is using Cm6 and Fm6 for the I and IV chord in the Blues. These are both the most stable versions of chords from the melodic minor scale. The m6 chord is a little more stable than the mMaj7 chord.

Example 1 is a very basic way to play the Blues Chorus, but if you want to expand on your options then it is a good idea to harmonize all the notes of the melodic minor scale with the chords that you need.

Below is the C minor melodic scale harmonized with Cm chords.

And you can do the same exercise with the Fm6 chords:

The Dominant Chords

In the form I also have 3 dominant chords. A C7alt to pull towards the Fm6 in bar 5, and the final cadence with Ab7 and G7alt.

These are all played using the melodic minor scale, so C7alt and G7alt are both altered dominants using Dbm and Abm melodic respectively.

C7 altered:

G7 altered:

The Ab7 is a Lydian dominant so that uses Ebm melodic:

Dorian Sound – Modal Minor Blues

The Dorian sound only differs one note from the Melodic minor sound: It has a b7 instead of a maj7. But the sound of the chords changes quite drastically because of this.

Below is an example of one chorus of Drop2 voicings using Cm7(9,11) and Fm7(9,11) on the I and IV chords. The dominants are the same as in the previous example so they are still using material coming out of the melodic minor scales Lydian b7 and Altered sounds.

Dorian Scale Harmonizations

Similar to the exercises with the melodic minor scales it is also possible to harmonize the Dorian scales with the chords. Here is how this is done with the Cm7 chord

Chord Extensions

With the Dorian scale there are still quite a few ways to color the chords that are used. Here are some of the options you can create from a basic Cm7 voicing.

The basic rules:

  1. The Root can be replaced by the 9th
  2. The 5th can be replaced by an 11th or a 13th

In one example I am also replacing the root with a 13th.

Minor Blues Comping Example

In the previous part of the lesson I was focused on how to find some simple clear solutions with a very basic set of chords. The transcription below is demonstrating how you can put some of this to use adding some more interesting rhythms and tying it all together with top note melodies.

More Drop 2 voicings in Action!

Of course if you want to dig a little deeper into using Drop2 Chords in comping then check out this lesson on using Drop2 voicings and adding Chromatic Passing Chords:

Drop 2 & Chromatic Passing Chords – Take The A-Train

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