Chords / Voicings
Welcome to the blog section dedicated to jazz guitar chord voicings. You will find here relevant sources of information (Tabs, shapes, charts, diagrams) 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.
Triads 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.
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.
What 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.
What'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 are triads with an additional note, a major seventh or a minor seventh.
This article will enlighten you on how these tetrad chords are built and how they can be classified.
Arpeggios 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.
Dominant 7 Chord Altered Extensions - Guitar Infographic
What is Voice Leading in Music?
"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 of the same types 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.
Focusing 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.
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)
What Are Drop Voicings?
Drop voicings are 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.
There are several types of drop voicings as drop 2, drop 3, drop 3-4, drop 2 and 4 voicings and drop 2-3-4 voicings. 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.
How to Play Autumn Leaves With Guitar Chords?
Autumn 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 :
- Listening to instrumental and vocal versions.
- Playing basic chords (drop 2 and drop 3 voicings).
- Learning to play the melody.
- Playing the chord-melody arrangement.
Autumn 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.
What's An Altered Dominant Chord?
Altered 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.
Altered chords 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).
They are generally used by jazz musicians, composers and arrangers as substitutions for diatonic chords for adding dissonance and spicing up the harmony.
Everyone 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.
In 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.
A chord progression is a succession of musical chords (with at least two notes) played one after another. Chord progression can be named harmonic progression and represent the foundation of western and traditional music.
Many jazz standards use similar chord progressions, in different keys it is very important to recognize them by ear and visually. Working and practicing basic chord sequences will make you feel more comfortable when you will need to learn jazz standards, it will more evident and easy to comp and solo.
In this lesson you will learn to recognize the 14 most important jazz chord progressions as minor and major II-V-I, the turnarounds and their variations, how to use passing diminished chords. You will find charts with roman numerals to easily transpose these harmonic progressions in different keys and some examples of comping with audio files, tabs and standard notation.