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.
A new video is online on the youtube channel. It is a quick jazz guitar chord melody arrangement with chord diagrams of the famous jazz standard "Stella by Starlight" (Victor Young).
What is an Interval ?
An interval is the distance between two notes, each one is represented by a number (1,2,3,4,5,6,7...) and a prefix related to its quality ("M" for major, m for minor, "P" for perfect, "d" for diminished and "A" for augmented). There are five different qualities.
An interval can be melodic, when the tones are successive (played one after the other) and harmonic, if the notes are stacked (played simultaneously). Knowing the name of each interval on guitar and on any other instrument is very important. Intervals are essential elements of music theory. Intervals are very useful to understand how chords and scales are built. This article shows you how to make the difference between them.
Tetrad chords (aka four-note chords) represent the backbone of jazz harmony. It is common to extend them with extra tones. These other notes form the upper structure of a chord which includes the 9th, 11th and 13th.
Adding extensions to chords help to get off the beaten tracks and provides some new harmonic colors to your playing (chord soloing, comping, and arrangement).
This lesson provides useful extended major 7th chord shapes to apply to your playing.
What Is Chord Substitution?
Chord substitution is to replace a chord by another one to add more harmonic interest to a piece, a song or a chord progression. In jazz music, this technique is widely by composers and improvisers. It can be useful to reharmonize a chord sequence or a jazz standard.
This lesson will help you better understand what is the diatonic chord substitution.
This lesson is about a 12-bar blues in the key of Bb included two guitar transcriptions with tabs : a guitar walking bass line for the accompaniment and a guitar improvisation to solo over.
Note that this study is based on a common blues jazz progression? but with a descending chromatic progression in bars 7 & 8 using three dominant 7th chords (Bb7, A7, Ab7) to approach G7 at the end of the bar 8.
Bb7 | Eb7 | Bb7 | % |
Eb7 | Edim7 | Bb7 A7 | Ab7 G7 |
C-7 | G7 | Bb7 G7 | C-7 F7 |
Major 6 and minor 6 chords are often used in place of major 7 and minor 7 chords when comping over jazz standards. That's why it is very important to be able to play them on the guitar neck. There are two main types of chords that contains a sixth, M6 and m6. These chords are made up of 4 notes and built with the interval patterns :
- R-3-5-6 for the major 6 chords.
- R-b3-5-6 for the minor 6 chords.
In this post you will see how to play these major 6 and minor 6 chords (root and inverted positions) using 24 guitar diagrams and voicing charts.
The origin of the "so what chord" name would be due to its use by the jazz pianist Bill Evans in the modal tune "So what" by Miles Davis.
This is a cool and modern sounding chord voicing often used as an alternative to quartal voicings. It is built with a fourth chord on the bottom (3 perfect fourths stacked) and a major third added on the top.
This particular chord was originally played on a piano, but it is quite interesting to play it on the guitar to support rhythmically and harmonically a soloist over a modal tune.
This jazz guitar rhythm lesson with tabs and diagrams provides you some interesting ideas of comping inspired by McCoy Tyner's playing on "impressions" by John Coltrane.
"There Will Never Be Another You" is a popular song by Harry Warren (music) and Mack Gordon (lyrics). It is one of the most known jazz standards and an indispensable study for any jazz guitarist. This jazz guitar comping lesson provides you different chord voicings (drop 2, inverted, rootless and extended chords) on the top four strings of the guitar to comp over this jazz tune. By the way, it will also give you some new ideas to support harmonically a soloist. Indeed, you may even try to apply these chord voicings to the tunes you are used to playing.
What is Quartal Harmony?
To enrich and modernize the harmonization of a piece it is common to use fourth chords. They can replace some original chords to bring more melodic freedom into improvisation and more tension in harmony.
Since the late 1950s, harmony in fourths has played a very important role in the development of modern jazz. Musicians and composers have used a lot the quartal harmony.
Among them, the great American pianist McCoy Tyner, who, is a master in the art of playing quartal chords. Mike Stern, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Bill Evans and Kurt Rosewinkel have also used this technique.
In this lesson with tabs and shapes, we will see how to build chords in fourths, how to harmonize the major scale with and how to use them in comping.
The major II-V-I sequence is the most common chord progression used in jazz music but also in a whole number of styles of music as pop, rock, blues, country. This theoretical element is a must know for any guitarist who wants to learn the jazz language. The 2-5-1 progression is present in many jazz standards (Summertime, Autumn leaves, Blue bossa, All the things you are and many more), this is why it is very important to master it.
One of the fundamental theoretical elements to understand music is the harmonization of the major scale. Harmonizing scale is building chords with notes. This lesson explains how to create triads and seventh chords from each note of the major scale.
Drop 2 chords are formed by dropping the second highest note of a four-note chord in close position down an octave.
What Does Voicing Means?
Voicing is the practice of regarding the individual notes of a chord as voices. There are several voicing techniques that can be used to rearrange the notes of a chord as drop 3 or drop 2-4 voicings.
Misty is a jazz standard written by Erroll Garner following a 32-bar progression in the key of Eb including some common chord sequences as II-V-I, I-VI-II-V. A very popular ballad that has crossed over genres of music for the past 50 years (1959). This post in analysis of this song reffering to the realbook including a youtube video lesson about a chord melody arrangement for jazz guitar.
Mastering triads on the guitar is necessary for any guitarist who wants to expand his fretboard and theory knowledge.
These chords are not really considered as jazz chords because of their basic sound, but they can be efficient tools for comping and chord soloing. Indeed, the strong point of these chords is the simplicity of learning and playing.
You will find in this guitar lesson 84 ways of playing major, minor, diminished, augmented triads using root and inverted voicings in close and open positions.
How Chords Are Built?
Chord formulas show all the notes which constitute a chord. They reveal the structure of chords. They provide a link between scales and arpeggios.
Knowing the structure of chords will help you find any chord position on the guitar when you only have the name.
Learning chord formulas will make it easier to understand the difference between many types of chords. Learning chord formulas is necessary for anyone who wants to expand their musical knowledge and increase their guitar playing skills.