Tag Archives: Shell Voicings

How To Play A Harmonized Bass Line On A Blues

A Harmonized Bass Line is a great way to create a groove moving comp that clearly reflects the harmony and has a lot of movement. In this video I am going to show you how I play a harmonized bass line on a Bb Blues, and also go over the shell voicings and spread triads that you need to create your own.

Playing Harmonized bass lines is often associated with Jim Hall, especially from his comping of Bill Evans, and it is a great way of comping to have in your vocabulary. It works especially well if you are comping in a duo setting since it is really full and also lays down a solid groove.

Building a chord vocabulary

Before I start breaking down the harmonized bassline example I think it makes sense to just do a few exercises to build a chord vocabulart.

When you play harmonized bass lines then most of the time it is going to be with 3 note voicings and most of those are either Shell voicings or open voiced triads.

Shell voicings with the chord on the D and G strings are found in two variations. One with the root on the 6th string and one with the root on the 5th string.

Since this is a Bb blues I have chosen to use the scale that goes with a Bb7, namely Eb major for these exercises.

This first example is with the root on the 6th string

And the same exercise with the root on the 5th string.

Spread Triads

Another common voicing is the open-voiced or spread triad. This way of playing triads adds larger intervals to the structure. In this case it makes them sit well in the voice-leading when they are mixed with shell-voicings.

Harmonized Bass Line on a Blues

In this part of the lesson I will analyze the Harmonized bass line example.

The first bar is a very simple and common way to walk up on a dominant. The first chord is a Bb7 shell-voicing which is followed by a series of 1st inversion spread triads. This takes us up to the IV chord Eb7.

The second bar is another standard solution. I play Eb7 on beats 1 and 3 and a leading chord for Eb7 on beat 2, in this case a D7. On beat 4 I have a B7 as a leading chord to the Bb7 in the next bar. This happens again in bar 5, 6 and 10.

Having a leading chord on beat 4 is very common and nice way to create a natural flow.

Bar 3 is a bassline that is in fact harmonizing the Bb major triad and adding a leading chord on beat 4. This also happens in bar 7.

Bar 4 is also a very common solution to a quic II V progression. The basic chords, Fm7 and Bb7 are found on beats 1 and 3. On beat 2 I use a B7 to lead to Bb7 and beat 4 is an E7 to lead to Eb7. This same solution is used in bar 8 and bar 12. The progression in bar 11 is not a II V but the approach with leading chords is the same.

The Cm7 bar is using a diatonic walk up, so the Cm7 is part of a II V I in Bb major and the bass line walks up the scale with Cm7, Dm7 and Ebmaj7 shell voicings. The E7 on beat 4 is there as a leading chord for F7.

How to get Harmonized Bass lines into your playing

Working with this approach you should check out some of the ways I move between chords. Maybe make some variations on the Bb blues and then try to construct your own harmonized bass lines on a song or standard that you already know well.

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Harmonized Bass Line on a Blues

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The Quick Way To Learn Jazz Comping – Simple & Direct

One of the nicest things about playing jazz is Jazz comping where you play fills and small melodic statements behind the soloist. In this video I am going to go over a very easy way to get started playing jazz chords like this, starting with a very simple version of the chords and an easy way to add melodies to these chords.

I am going to demonstrate this on a Bb jazz blues. Starting with reduced shell voicings and expanding this into a set of chords that you can make melodies with while comping. I also demonstrate how this might work on the blues.

Reducing the voicings for comping

The first thing we need to do is to find some really easy chords for the blues. The way I am going to do that in this video is to just play the 3rd and 7th of each chord. This is also a great way to practice knowing the notes of the chords.

Bb7: Ab,D
Eb7: G,Db
G7: B,F
Cm7: Bb, Eb
F7: A, Eb

Before we start adding different variations to the chords to open up how we play them the we can Take this through the Blues this sounds like this:

Getting more options for each chord when comping

This way of playing the chords is pretty easy and is actually giving us a very clear sound of the chords.

To be able to play some more interesting melodies we need have some different melody notes. We already have one, namely the top note of each chord.

The way to do this is to add two more notes on the next string.

Bb7: D F G, 3,5,13
Eb: Db Eb F b7,1,9
G7: F, Ab, Bb b7,b9,#9
Cm7: Eb, F, G 3,11,5
F7: Eb,Gb,Ab b7,b9,#9

Before we start improvising with this we can play this through the Blues as an exercise:

To get started improvising it can be a good idea to work a bit per chord. In the video I give a short example on a Bb7 that you can check out.

Jazz Comping in Action

Once you get a bit more familiar with the chords you can play through the blues likes this:

Make chord voicings easier to remember.

Connecting different types of voicings is important because it makes it easier to use, remember and understand

An important thing to notice here is that the chords on Bb7 are really just like rootless versions of chords you probably already know. If we think about the chords as different variations based on the middle tritone Ab D (marked red) then we have this:

Take your comping further

If you want to check out more on how to practice and think about comping you can check out this lesson on comping on Autumn Leaves:

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The Best Jazz Comping Concept Awesome and Easy

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Easy Autumn Leaves Chord Melody and Quick How-to-Play!

Autumn Leaves is a great song to get starting playing easy chord melody arrangements on guitar. This famous jazz standard is both a great melody and a fairly easy option to play an easy chord melody.

In this lesson I will go over a chord melody arrangement of Autumn Leaves that I made. arrangement. The chords I am using are for the biggest part simple 3-note voicings called shell-voicings and I have also included some exercises to check those out.

You can scroll down and download the PDF of the Arrangement at the end of the page.

Autumn Leaves – The Song and the Chord Melody Arrangement

The key that I am using for Autumn Leaves in this arrangement is G minor. This is not the key from the real book, but it is the most common key for performing the song. The form of Autumn Leaves is AAB where A is 8 bars and B is 16 bars, so it is a 32 bar form.

The arrangement is using call-response to also allow the chords to add some groove to. This also allows for using the melody in the lower octave that often sounds a little fuller.

Learning some useful Shell-voicings for the song

To learn the chord melody we need some chords to play with the melody. The melody of Autumn Leaves is mostly a pick-up with followed by a single long note on the heavy bar. You cna think of the first phrase as an example. This makes it easy to add chords while the long note is sounding.

Most of the chords that I use here are shell voicings, so it is a good idea to check those out in G minor.

In the exercises below I have the diatonic chords of G minor first  with the root on the E string and then with the root on the A string. For each exercise I start with the lowest possible chord and then move up one octave.

Chord Melody – It’s about the melody!

The first place to start with chord melody is learning the melody! In fact, it would be a more appropriate name if we turned it around: Melody Chord. This is because we are playing the melody and adding the chords, not the other way around (hopefully).

In example 3, here below. I have written out the melody for the first 8 bars of the song. It is written out in the places where I want to play the melody so that I can easily fit chords under it.

Really knowing the melody well and being comfortable moving it around the neck is essential when you start making your own chord melody arrangements (which should be 20 minutes after checking out this lesson…).

Autumn Leaves Chord Melody arrangement – The A-part

The A part of this song has the same structure for all phrases: a pickup and a long note. This means that the chords can be paired together and played in between the phrases.

In that way the chord pairs become: Cm7-F7, Bbmaj7-Ebmaj7, Aø-D7 and a final Gm6 chord.

When I am playing the melody I end on a note that is included in the chord and I make sure to use a fingering where I can add the chord while sustaining that note. In this case that is as much a technical as it is a musical consideration.

As you see above I use a “real” tonic minor chord so a Gm6 which is of course also what is suggested in the original composition (and the famous Miles Davis/Cannonball Adderly version as well)

The B part

The second half of the song is a bit more complicated. Of course, the melody has to change a bit not to become boring so in the B part, there are other melodic patterns.

In the first bar of there is no room to add a chord until the 4th beat which forces a change in the pattern and the rhythm of the chords. The next 6 bars again allows for adding the chords between phrases.

On the 9th bar of the B part the melody takes up the entire bar and I add the shell voicing under it. This first yields a complete Drop3 voicing for the Aø and then the basic shell voicing.

There is no chord under the D7 and the chord is inserted on beat 3.

The faster moving progression that follows: Gm7 C7 Fm7 Bb7 is harmonized first with a drop3 Gm7 voicing and for the rest shell voicings. This makes it impossible to sustain the melody, but it still works.

The last cadence has an Eb6 with the 6th in the melody and on the last D7 the melody is so low that I chose not to have any chords at all. Since the melody is moving all the time that is not much of a problem, and as I already said: The Melody is more important!

This is a blueprint for your own chord melody arrangements

I hope you can have fun playing through my arrangement and start to make it your own with variations and changes to the chords!

For me, the most fun part of chord melody is making your own arrangements! I think you should start trying to figure out how to do so as fast as possible. You can play other peoples arrangements as well, but there is no reason why you should not be creative with your own harmonizations and voicings!

Learning to solo on Autumn Leaves is of course also a part of playing it as a Jazz Guitarist. One approach to this using the arpeggios of the song is covered in this lesson: Autumn Leaves with Arpeggios

How To Make Your Own Chord Melody Arrangements!

You can learn to make your own chord melody arrangements, and it is not even that difficult.

This lesson will help you:

  • Learn How To Make your own Chord Melody Arrangments
  • Work through a structured path to develop your playing
  • Easy to play and not relying on you knowing thousands of chords.

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The 7 Levels Of Cm7 Dorian – Triads to Complete Voicing Arpeggios

The search for more ideas and new things to play never ends! This video will go over 7 different types of arpeggios, scales and other voicing structures you can use when improvising over a Cm7 chord some you probably already use and some you may not have in your vocabulary yet.

Thinking in categories can help you check if there is something you never really checked out or got to use while soloing, and it is also quite likely that some of these you never used before.

 

Content: 

 

0:00 Intro

1:11 Level 1 – 3 Basic 7th Chord Arpeggios

1:30 Discussing the different arpeggios

2:13 Difference between Modal and more dense progressions

2:31 Level 2 – Pentatonics (and Super-imposing them)

3:01 Overview of the different pentatonics

4:27 Level 3 -Triads

5:00 Triads and triad upper-structures

6:03 Level 4 – Quartal Arpeggios from the Dorian mode

6:24 Quartal arpeggios for a Cm7

7:22 Level 5 – Shell-Voicings

7:41 What they are nmd Which Shell voicings to use

8:36 Level 6 – Quintal Arpeggios

9:02 Quintal harmony and linking it to a pentatonic scale

9:51 Who said “Andy Sumners and Jimi Hendrix”

10:05 Level 7 – Drop2 voicing arpeggios

10:30 Using and playing arpeggios with a larger range.

11:21 Did I miss something you use a lot?

11:59 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Walking Bass and Chords on a Bb Blues – Jazz Guitar Lesson

 
Walking Bass and Chords is one of the greatest ways to comp if you are the only one playing behind a soloist like a horn or a singer. In this lesson I am going to go over a Walking bass comp on a  12 bar Bb Jazz Blues and how you play it on guitar. The video is based on a recording I made and transcribed.
 
Some of the things I discuss are on making walking bass lines on guitar, how to play them and how to add chords to your bassline. I also discuss shell voicings and drop3 voicings as being very useful for this type of guitar comping
 

Watch the video here: CLICK

The Blues and the Bassline

The Blues is probably the most important progression in Jazz, as well as in a lot of other genres.

In the example that I play in the video I am using a few more advanced embellishments with adding extra notes in the bass line and harmonizing extra notes. 

Here is the example:

The analysis of the Bass line and chord voicings

The first bar is a prime example of a simple very usable bassline on the Bb7. On the one of the bar the Root is in the bass and a Bb7(13) voicing is added. The bass line melody for the rest of the bar is a Bb triad. On beat 4 I have an E as a leading note for Eb. 

To break up the quarter note bassline I add a D under the Eb that I then use a hammer on to lead into the bar. This adds a bit of variation and makes the line a bit more exciting both melodicaly and rhythmically.

On the Eb7 the chord is on the 1 and. The function of having a short stap on a chord like that is more to add to the groove than to make the harmony clear. You cna hear this if you compare to bar 1. The bass line is again all chord tones with an A leading note on beat 4 to take us back to Bb7.

The A is harmonized with an A7 that acts as a leading chord to the Bb7 on the one of the following bar. The A7 is a shell voicing. 

Reusing the bassline and adding a tritone sub.

On the Bb7 the chord is the same shell-voicing as the A7. The bass line is identical to bar 1 using the triad and the E leading note. Here the E can be used to lead into an Fm7.

The final bar of the first line is an Fm7 E7. Here the bass line is very simple. For both chords it is 1 then 5. The chords are here played as sustained chords. This helps making the sound of the extra chords clear. 

The Eb7, Diminished chord and the minor II V

Bar 5 is the beginning of a new 4 bar period. The chord is placed on the one to make the change to the subdominant clear. The bass line is the same as in bar 2, except on beat 4 where I have an Eb to lead in to the Edim that follows.

On the next bar the Edim is E, Eb Db A. Here E and Db are chord tones. The Eb serves as a diatonic leading note and the A is a chromatic approach note to Bb.

Bb7 and the II V to C minor

Bar 6 takes the progression back to Bb. The bassline is again a Bb major triad and the final leading note Eb is there to take us to the II V to Cm in the next bar.

The Dø G7 have a Drop2 voicing for the Dø and a Drop3 G7(b13) for the G7. The bass line is using the b5 of D to lead down to the root og G. On the G7 there is a Db to lead down to the C in bar 9.

F7 altered and some more leading chords

The II V back to Bb is moving between two positions. The line starts on the low C where the Cm9 voicing is. It then walks up the scale with a leading note to the F7. On the F7 the bass line is 1 b7 5 b5. I add a chord on the 1 and. It is an F7(#9). The b5(B) is harmonized with a B7 shell voicing to resolve back to Bb7.

The final turnaround is Bb7 G7alt Cm7 F7 alt. The Bb7 is harmonized with a Bb7 shell voicing and the bass line continues up to an F to lead up to G. The G7 has aG7(#9) voicing and the next bass note is a Db to lead down to C in Cm7.

Ont eh Cm7 the same idea is used. Bassline is 1 b5 and there is a chord on the 1 and. On the F7 the bass line is 1 then 5. The chord that is added is an F7(#9).

Practice the chord voicings

To practice the voicings you can use this exercise shown in example 2. As you can see most of the chords are really quite common drop3 and shell or shell based voicing that we play all the time.

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Walking Bass and Chords – Bb Blues

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Modern jazz arpeggio ideas – Melodic Interval Structures

It is very difficult to find a melodic way to use larger intervals. At the same time if you just stay with 2nds and 3rds the solo can become a little boring. In this lesson I will go over 3 ways that you can play an arpeggio that will help you get some large intervals into your lines and still sound like a logical melody. 

In modern Jazz it the range of arpeggios that we use is quite extended with not only the normal 7th chords and triads but also quartal harmony and open voicings. Using the 3 approaches that I cover here you can get a lot of new melodies out of material that you probably already know.

You can find the video via this link if the embed doesn’t work: Click here!

Diatonic arpeggios and II V I progressions

In the examples I am going to assume that you already are familiar with diatonic arpeggios and have some experience with improvising with them over progressions like a II V I cadence.

All the examples are on a II V I in the key of F major, and I am using an altered dominant to have another type of chord and scale to use the material I am covering. If you want to check out some more more about altered dominants and reference some of the things I mention here you can check out this lesson: Three Approaches to the Altered scale

The Drop2 voicing, a great 4 note arpeggio beyond the octave range

In the first example that I play in the beginning of the video I start with a Bbmaj7 drop2 voicing as an arpeggio. Using drop2 voicings is a great way to add a big range to your lines because a drop2 voicing has a range between a 9th and an 11th.

It should not be a huge mystery that Bbmaj7 works over a Gm7, since it is the arpeggio from the 3rd of Gm7. The arpeggio is followed by a quartal arpeggio from A. On the C7alt the line is constructed from two diatonic triads: Ebm and Ab. The line then resolves to the Maj7th(E) of F.

To get used to playing drop 2 voicings as arpeggios you can try the exercise shown in example 2. This is basically the F major scale in diatonic 7th chords on the middle string set. 

Another way to work on the voicings in a more focused way is to take 3 arpeggios associated with Gm7: Gm7, Bbmaj7 and Dm7. This is shown in example 3

Example 4 is another example of how you can use Drop2 voicings in your lines. Here I am using first a Dm7 drop2 voicing followed by a small Gm scale run. On the C7alt the line is just two Drop2 voicings: Gb7 and Bbm7(b5)(11).

Shell voicings

Another great structure that we can employ is the shell voicing. A shell voicing is a chord voicing consisting of root, 3rd and 7th. You could also construct a root, 7th, 3rd version, but that is a bit more tricky to get to sound good in a melody.

One of the great things about the Shell voicings is that they have a 5th interval on top which makes them have a nice open signal like sound as a melody.

In the first example I am using the shell voicings on the altered dominant. The Gm7 line is a Dm7 arpeggio followed by a scale run. The C7alt lin is constructed from 2 shell voicings: Bbm7(b5) and Ebm7. Both spell out a lot of good alterations over C7. The line is then resolved to the 3rd(A) of F. 

Similar to the Drop2 voicings it is very useful to run the shell voicings up the neck on a string set. This is shown in example 6 in F major. The middle string set is a very nice range for the shell voicings.

Another exercise could be example 7 where I a wrote out Gm7, Bbmaj7 and Dm7 + Gb7, Bbm7(b), DbmMaj shell voicings.

The last example with shell voicings is using the first part of the exercise above. We start out with the first part of example 7. Followed by a scale run leading down to an Emaj7 shell voicing on the C7alt. From there the line is resolved to the 5th(C) of F via a Dbm triad.

It’s also good for your Right Hand Technique

These exercises are mostly 1 note per string arpeggios so they are also great exercises to develop you alternate picking. You can of course also research some alternative fingerings or use other techniques to play them like hybrid or sweep picking.

Open Voiced Triads

The structures that we can use are not only based on 7th chords like the previous two. We can of course also use triads. Open voiced triads are triads where we take the 2nd highest note and drop it down an octave.

Playing a Bb major triad in open voiced inversions could be this:

In example 9 I am using open voiced triads to add some very big intervallic leaps on the altered dominant. The Gm7 line is a basic Bbmaj7, Dm pentatonic line. On the C7alt I use two minor triads that work well on C7alt: Db and Ebm before resolving to the 9th(G) of F.

In example 11 I am showing what is basically the same exercise as example 2, but instead of drop2 voicings it is now with open voiced triads.

In the final example I am almost only using open voiced triads. On Gm7 it is Bb, Dm and F triads. On C7alt Ebm and Eaugmented triads before resolving to the 3rd(A) of F.

Creating great lines with larger intervals

I tried to make examples that incorporate this type of arpeggios with the other material that you would normally use in a line. They work best if you don’t only use this one approach. It is more effective if you use it as a surprising thing in the middle of an otherwise strong line.

If you want to study the examples I went over in the lesson you can of course also download them as a pdf here:

Modern jazz arpeggio ideas

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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Chords and Walking Bass – part 1

In this lesson I’ll demonstrate how I approach playing walking bass lines and chords at the same time. This is a a way of playing that I use really a lot in situations where there’s no bass player, so mostly duo settings with a guitar player, singer or horn player.

The chords that I am using in this lesson are the shell voicings that I covered in this lesson:  Jazz Chord Essentials – Shell Voicings

Technique

The way I play this type of accompaniment is to use my right hand fingers and use my thumb for the bass line and the rest for the chords. In that way you have a different sound for the two parts and you split the hand naturally in a way that you can play two independent parts.

For me it the important part is the bass line, so I give that priority over the chords probably because I am always using it to accompany others. When I play the bass line I try to give the 2 and the 4  a slight accent and for the rest just have a legato and not too hard attack. I never spend too much energy on sustaining the chords, to me they are added colors but are not necessary to keep the flow of the music going.

The first 3 examples are a very simple II V I in C major.

Chords and Walking Bass lines - part 1 - Ex 1

In this example I am just playing the chord on the first beat of each bar, so that the combination of the bass and the chord is as simple as possible. The way I construct the bassline of these examples is very simple: The Root has to be on the one and the other notes are arpeggio notes except on the 4 where it’s a leading note for the new root if you start with this rule set you can make fairly playable and functional walking bass lines.

It is important to remember that bass lines are in fact improvised quarter note lines outlining the harmony.

Examples 2 and 3 are exercises using the same harmony but putting the chord in another place in the bar so that the chord can have more of a function in the groove.

Chords and Walking Bass lines - part 1 - Ex 2

The final example is more of a demonstration of what I might play on a blues in F so for ideas you can analyze it and of course it is also a good etude to get the hang of the sound of this type of playing.

The process for me in learning how to play like this was to sit down and figure out a few songs and then find more solutions for the whole piece so that I could start mixing it up and vary each chorus. This is probably the same way you learned playing chords on a standard too. So the try to analyze the lines that I am playing and try to move to other parts of the neck to play the same thing using the principles I talked about here.

As always you can download the examples as a pdf here:

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Chords and Walking Bass lines – part 1

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Jazz Chord Essentials – Shell voicings

I thought I’d make this 3rd lesson on Jazz voicings about a simple reduced way of playing chords that then also lends it self very well to situations where you need to play the bass. Being simple and compact also makes it very easy to extend so a lot of things can be build from them. As I demonstrate in the video: full chords with extensions, bass lines. They are also useful for playing bossa novas and sambas as well as typical Freddie Green style 4 to the bar stuff.

Let’s first have a look at how shell voicings are constructed. A shell voicing is the bare necessities version of a jazz chord, so the chord is reduced to three notes. The most defining notes of a chord would be:

  • The Root (what chord is it)
  • The Third (is it major or minor)
  • The Seventh (major/minor/6th)

For voice-leading purposes I’ll make two different sorts of shell voicings. Both have the chord (3rd and 7th) on the 3rd and 4th string and the root is in one variation on the 5th string, in the other one it is on the 6th string. There are rules for voice-leading, but the essence is that if you don’t have to go to the closest note in the next chord when going from one chord to the next. Setting the chords up like this makes it easy to stay in one place with the chord and move the root a 4th or a 5th (which are the most common changes). You will also notice that I am calling the 7th chord m7(b5) even if it does not contain the flatted 5th, so I am naming them according to the key. I do that in the video too.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Shell voicings graphics  - ex 1
Jazz Chord Essentials - Shell voicings graphics  - ex 2

As usual the best way to learn it is to put it through a song as I do in the video, but here are a few examples on a turnaround in C.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Shell voicings graphics  - ex 3
Jazz Chord Essentials - Shell voicings graphics  - ex 4

One of the ways I use shell voicings is to use them as a basis and then add extensions or melody notes on top like this:

You might notice that especially the sets with the root on the 6th string tend to become drop3 voicings when you add extensions.  And if you watch the video you’ll see several applications of these kinds of chords in different styles.

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Here are the examples as a pdf: Jazz Chord Essentials – Shell voicings

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