Intros and Vamps With Beautiful Jazz Chords
At NAMM, amidst the clamor of the event, we retreated to my hotel room for a candid discussion on jazz chord hacks. Rotem and I, two musicians passionate about jazz harmony, shared impromptu insights into crafting captivating introductions and vamps for vocalists and instrumentalists alike.
Jazz Chord Hack #1 – The Altered Maj7
Starting with a simple 2-5 progression – Dm7-G7-Cmaj7 – we explored elevating it into something more captivating. Jens introduced the concept of altering dominants, replacing the standard G7 with an altered chord featuring a flat 13 and sharp 9. This unexpected twist injected fresh color into the progression, setting up a delightful resolution to Cmaj7.
Jazz Chord Hack #2 – Tritone Magic
We delved into the realm of tritone substitution, where the G7 chord was replaced by its tritone counterpart, Db7. This substitution added tension and intrigue, creating a captivating harmonic journey within the 2-5 framework.
Jazz Chord Hack #3 – Harmonic Multiverse
Expanding beyond traditional harmonic pathways, we discussed the idea of exploring parallel movement and chromaticism. Jens demonstrated how starting from a subdominant chord, such as Fmaj7, and descending chromatically to Cmaj7, can yield captivating harmonic motion and unexpected tonal colors.
Jazz Chord Hack #4 – Journey With Jazz Chords
We emphasized the importance of maintaining a melodic throughline amidst harmonic experimentation. By embracing tension and release dynamics, we crafted harmonic journeys that engaged listeners emotionally and intellectually. Rotem used this to extend the progression
Jazz Chord Hack #5 – Wandering Into Minor
Venturing into the realm of minor subdominants, we explored the rich harmonic possibilities inherent in minor chords. Jens showcased how incorporating minor subdominants into a progression can infuse it with lush, evocative colors, expanding the harmonic palette.
Jazz Chord Hack #6 – Tonal Detours
Building upon the concept of harmonic exploration, we discussed the idea of taking tonal detours within a progression. By introducing unexpected chord substitutions and extensions, Rotem created harmonic landscapes that surprised and delighted the listener.
Jazz Chord Hack #7 – Suspense Is Important
We highlighted the importance of suspense in crafting engaging harmonic progressions. By strategically deploying chords with altered tensions and unresolved dissonances, we kept listeners on the edge of their seats, eagerly anticipating each resolution.
Jazz Chord Hack #8 – Shifting Colors Around
Rotem introduced the concept of shifting chord colors within a progression, demonstrating how altering a single note can dramatically transform the harmonic landscape. By experimenting with voicings and extensions, we discovered new avenues for harmonic expression.
Jazz Chord Hack #9 – Uncommon Chords
Exploring the use of uncommon chord voicings and extensions, we pushed the boundaries of traditional harmony. First with a Dm7(13) for the II chord:
By incorporating chords like major 7#9#11, we discovered unique sonic textures that added depth and complexity to our progressions.
Jazz Chord Hack #10 – Space Voice-leading
In our final exploration, we discussed the concept of space voice-leading, where subtle chromatic movements create harmonic tension and release. By allowing chords to breathe and evolve gradually, we crafted progressions that felt organic and compelling.
In conclusion, our journey through these jazz chord hacks revealed the endless possibilities inherent in harmonic exploration. By embracing tension, color, and emotion, we discovered new ways to captivate listeners and elevate our musical storytelling. We invite fellow musicians to explore these concepts further and share their own insights into the art of jazz harmony.
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