One of the great things about Jazz Chords is that if you learn even just a few basic jazz chords then you can open them up and add things to them in ways that sound really great. This video will show you two simple but important chord exercises and some of the ways that you can turn that into beautiful sounding chords, and I am going to use some real songs to demonstrate it because you need those as well.
Diatonic Chords and Shell-Voicings
I am going to build this on Shell-voicings which is a very solid set of chords to learn because you can turn them into a lot of other things along the way, which you will also see in this video.
Instead of just practicing chords separately then it makes a lot more sense to practice them together in the groups where you need them, for example as all the diatonic chords of a scale.
Here are the diatonic shell voicings of C major with the root on the 5th string:
Diatonic C major Shells
And you want to know the shell-voicings for the 6th string as well, and for F major that gives you these chords:
Diatonic F major Shells
Practicing stuff like this in all keys will teach you a lot about the keys and help you develop your fretboard knowledge.
Basic chords and a little beyond
Already with these chords, you can play most songs, so let’s try that on the standard Ladybird. This will also show you some of the rhythms that are, of course, also important to comping Jazz. I’ll start with the basic chords and then change things up by adding more melody notes in the 2nd half.
So as you can tell the rhythms are what holds this together, and I am adding a little extra by using different top notes over the chords, just grabbing what is easy to play and then make melodies with it.
so for Cmaj7 you have this shell voicing and then you can add the 5th, G, as a melody note or the 13th or 6th , the A
Walking Bass on the Blues
Instead of changing the rhythms and the melodies you can also focus on bass lines, and with the shell-voicings that are only 3 notes, you can easily get into adding a complete walking bass under the chords which is a great sound on guitar:
Walking Bass Chorus
You might not think about it, but this sounds a lot better on a guitar than on a piano and later in the video, I will cover another thing is a lot easier on guitar.
Two Layers = More Rhythm
I love the sound of chords and walking bass, and it is great for comping in a duo setting. because you are laying down a complete groove, But sometimes it is also nice to not have to play a steady stream of quarter notes. Luckily Shell voicings are naturally split in two so that you have a root and a chord, and you can use these two layers to improvise with, similar to how a Jazz drummer improvises with snare and bass drum.
Example All Of Me
Samba and Bossanova
Another great way to use the 2-layer nature of the shell-voicings is to play Sambas and Bossanova’s. An example of this could be Blue Bossa that you can play as a samba like this:
Example Blue Bossa
If you want to check out some more bossa nova and samba patterns then I have a video on that which you can check out here: Bossa Nova Guitar Patterns – 5 Levels You Need To Know
Easy on Guitar – Annoying on Piano
When it comes to chords then most things are easier on piano than on guitar, and you can also get away with playing a lot more notes if you want to, but there is one thing that is really practical about guitar chords: We can shift them up and down in half-steps really easily, and that is an amazing sound for playing jazz chords.
You can put that to use on a song like “There is no greater Love” like this:
Example #5 There is no greater love
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