Chords & Voicings

Welcome to the blog section dedicated to jazz guitar chords. You will find here relevant sources of information for a better understanding of the main types of chords (minor, major, dominant, diminished, half-diminished, augmented, altered, extended) found in jazz standards and common progressions.

These free guitar lessons provide chord shapes, Tabs, theory, YouTube videos, audio files and formula charts. They are intended for the beginners as well as the more advanced players who want to learn how to build chords (triads, tetrads) or how to play chord-melody arrangements using drop 2, drop 3 and drop 2-4 voicings.

  • Extended Diatonic Arpeggios - Upper-Structure of Chords and Superimposition

    Extended diatonic arpeggiosWhen learning how to play jazz guitar, one of the most important device to master is to play each tone of a chord in order to outline a specific progression. This is what we call arpeggios. They are great melodic tools when you want to highlight the chords you are soloing over.

    This article is focused on diatonic seventh arpeggios and their extensions. In a first time, before applying these extensions, it is recommended to have a very strong knowledge of the triads, both the chords and the arpeggios.

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  • How To Use Triad Chords - Comping Lesson

    How to use triads lessonTriads are one of the first harmonic tools to study. They are very useful for comping and chordal enrichment. Learning close and open triad voicings increase your harmonic knowledge and at the same time help you discover your fretboard. In this lesson you will see the main triad chord shapes including root positions and inversions. You will also find some ideas on how to use triads over a II V I sequence, in order to create interesting melodic movement in your comping.

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  • What are Dominant Seventh Chords ?

    What s a dominant 7 chord

    Dominant seventh chords are the most important features in music, you can find them in many styles of music, especially in blues and, of course, in jazz. In this lesson, you will see how to construct drop 2, drop 3 and drop 2 & 4 dominant seventh chords, what is their harmonic function and how to play them on guitar.

     

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  • Drop 2 & 4 Chords - Advanced Guitar Voicings

    Drop 2 and 4 voicingsWhat Are Drop 2-4 Chords?

    Drop 2 and 4 chords are created by dropping down an octave the second and fourth note of a seventh chord in close position. They can be very important tools for composition and arrangement. This lesson with diagrams provides useful explanations on how to build and play drop 2 & 4 chords on guitar.

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  • What's a Tetrad Chord - Music Theory

    What are tetrad chordsWhat's a Tetrad ?

    A basic chord is built with three notes this is what we call "triad chords" or "triads". Tetrad chords aka "four note-chords" are simply chords containing four notes, “tetra“ is a Greek root meaning four. This means that tetrads have an additional note, a major seventh or a minor seventh. In other words , a tetrad is a triad with a supplementary note. This article will enlighten you on how these tetrad chords are built and how they can be classified.

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  • Arpeggio Practice - Seventh Chords - 4 Essential Exercises

    Guitar arpeggio practiceArpeggios are essential musical tools that allow you to build pure and beautiful lines while highlighting the harmony. When playing over chord changes, using arpeggios is the most efficient way to connect these chords together. This lesson provides four arpeggio exercises with tabs, standard notation and diagrams that will help improve your guitar skills and your theoretical knowledge.

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  • Dominant 7 Chord Altered Extensions - Guitar Infographic

    Dominant 7 Chord Altered Extensions - Guitar Infographic

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  • Drop 2 Guitar Chord Shapes - Infographic

    This infographic with guitar freatboard diagrams show how to play all five types of drop 2 chords on the first set of strings (E, B, G and D strings). 

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  • Voice Leading For Guitar - Basic Chords

    Voice leading basic chords"Voice leading" is a term that refers to the smooth progression of each voice of a chord. This technique consist to move individually one or several voices up or down by a step from one chord to the next. Voice leading is very used by composers and improvisers in order to connect chords instead of bouncing them around. The aim of this lesson is to connect or voice-lead basic four-note chords by moving only one voice. This technique is very fun and should help you learn some of the most important chords used in jazz guitar. 

     

     

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  • 5 Jazz Tunes Arranged For Chord-Melody You Need To Know

    5 jazz standards chord melodyFocusing on jazz standards is surely the best way to accelerate the learning process of jazz guitar, making sure to choose easy songs with a few numbers of chords and melodies that can be easy to hear, play and memorize. When learning jazz guitar, it's very important to spend time learning famous jazz songs, it is an essential part of being a jazz musician. Many guitar students are able to play a ton of chords, arpeggios and scales but they can't play a jazz tune mixing both the melody and the chords.

    Here are 5 easy chord-melody arrangements of popular jazz songs for beginning jazz guitarists. Each lesson is available for free as a YouTube video with guitar chord diagrams overlayed in real time. 

     

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    • Beautiful love (Wayne King, Victor Young and Egbert Van Alstyne)
    • Misty (Errol Garner)
    • Moon river (Henry Mancini)
    • Stella by startlight (Victor Young)
    • Autumn Leaves (Joseph Kosma)

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  • Drop 3 Chords - Guitar Diagrams And Music Theory

    Drop 3 chordsDrop voicings are open chords which span more than an octave. They are very useful tools in music composition and arrangement and are greatly appreciated by guitarists for comping and soloing. The name drop 3 comes from the fact that you dropped the third highest note of a close voicing. If the drop 2 and 3 drop voicings are the most used and surely the first players learn when exploring jazz guitar, you have to know that there are drop 2-3, drop 3-4, drop 2 and 4 voicings and drop 2-3-4 voicings. However, these are not commonly played on the guitar because of their complexity, that's why this lesson focuses on drop 3 voicings only. You will see how they are built and how to play them on guitar by using the chord shapes and tablatures provided on this page.

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  • Autumn Leaves - Easy Chord Melody Arrangement For Beginners - Tabs and chords

    Autumn leaves chord melody lessonAutumn leaves is one of the most popular non-American jazz standards on pick-up gigs and records. It is a must-know tune for any jazz guitarist and a great choice when you want to play both chords and melody on guitar. Indeed, the chord progression is not difficult to learn and easy to play. This blog article provides an easy chord melody arrangement to play the famous jazz tune on guitar. This lesson runs in three steps :

    1. Listening to instrumental and vocal versions.
    2. Playing basic chords (drop 2 and drop 3 voicings).
    3. Learning to play the melody.
    4. Playing the chord-melody arrangement.

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  • How To Play Autumn Leaves - Jazz Guitar Chords - Advanced lesson

    Autumn leaves chord arrangementAutumn leaves is a 1945 song composed by French musician Joseph Kosma. The original lyrics are in French, written by Kosma but in 1947 Johnny Mercer wrote the English ones. Since that time it has become a very popular song and surely one of the most played jazz standards. This song is in a AABC form (32 bars), very much appreciated by beginners because the harmonic progression is pretty simple to play and easy to understand. It covers a very important chord sequence found in jazz, the ii-V-I both in minor and major.

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  • 25 Altered Dominant Guitar Chords

    Altered dominant chordsAltered dominant chords are used to bring tension and an outside flavor to jazz chord progressions. They generally resolved to an inside chord as the I or a substitute as iii or vi. They have one or more notes lowered or raised by a half-step, in other words they contain one or more alterations. These alterations can be b9,#9, b5 (#11) and b13 (#5). Jazz musicians, composers and arrangers used them as substitutions for diatonic chords for adding more dissonance and spice up the harmony. This tutorial provides 25 altered guitar chord shapes to understand how they are constructed and how to play them on guitar.

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  • How to Create Chord Melodies with Drop 2 Chords on Guitar

    Connecting drop 2 chordsEveryone knows the importance of drop 2 chords in jazz music. They are very useful for comping, chord soloing, harmonizing and building chord melodies. Drop 2 voicings are very important for jazz guitarists because they are easy to play and do no require the root on the low sixth or fifth strings, indeed they are played on 4 adjacent strings. The first chapter of this lesson provides all the drop 2 voicing shapes, major seventh (M7), minor seventh (m7), dominant seventh (7), half-diminished (m7b5) and diminished seventh (dim7) to play on the guitar neck. The second part of this post will explain how to connect drop 2 voicings following the notes of the major scale.

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  • What Is a Backdoor Progression And How To Play Over It

    The backdoor progression jazz lessonIn jazz, there are many types of turnarounds and progressions that eventually we all must encounter. A key part of how you practice should be in preparing yourself for these progressions and turnarounds. Whether that is by learning a shed-full of Parker’s II V I licks, by practicing exercises over progressions or even by learning a new standard. The end result is that you are better equipped to deal with what is in front of you in the moment on the bandstand.
    To this end, I’m going to talk to you today about a progression known as the backdoor progression.

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