How to Create Chord Melodies with Drop 2 Chords on Guitar
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.
Drop 2 voicings construction
What are drop 2 voicings?
Drop 2 chords are built by moving the second highest note of a chord to the bass of this chord, which gives the root position interval pattern R (root) - 5 (fifth) - 7 (seventh) - 3 (third) and 3 other inversions :
- 3 - 7 - R - 5
- 5 - R - 3 - 7
- 7 - 3 - 5 - R
As it is shown in the example below, when you drop the second highest note of a Cmaj7 close voicing (bar 1), you get a drop 2 Cmaj7 voicing (bar 2) spelled 5 - 1 - 3 - 7. It has the fifth in the bass so, it be named Cmaj7/G (C major seventh G in the bass), making it the second inversion of the root voicing ( R - 5 - 7 - 3). You can see in the third bar, the same voicing, but on the first , second, third and fourth string, it is much easier to play on the guitar.
Drop 2 voicing diagrams
How to play Drop 2 voicings on guitar?
It is possible to play drop 2 voicings on 3 groups of strings. The first group includes strings 1, 2, 3 and 4. The second, strings 2, 3, 4 and 5 and the third, strings 3, 4, 5 and 6. For simply learning the following drop 2 guitar shapes are played on strings 1, 2, 3 and 4. It is up to you to transpose these drop 2 positions to the group of string of your choice.
The following guitar diagrams are divided into 5 categories, related to the 5 main chord types used in jazz, namely : Major seventh (Maj7), minor seventh (m7), dominant seventh (dom7), minor seventh flat five (m7b5), and diminished seventh (dim7). Each shape starts with the root position (R-5-7-3), which is followed by the three inversions, 3-7-R-5, 5-R-3-7 and 7-3-5-R.
How to practice drop 2 chords
Now take time to familiarize yourself with these drop 2 chord shapes below. In a first step you have to play theses shapes, one by one, knowing the name and the quality of the chord. You have to know where is the root, the third, the fifth or the seventh of each drop 2 chord you are playing. You can even try to play them following the circle of fifths. We Will see later in the lesson how to build a chord melody with these drop 2 voicings.
Major 7 drop 2 guitar shapes
Major seventh chords are built with root (1), major third (3), perfect fifth (5) and major seventh (7).
Dominant 7 drop 2 guitar shapes
Dominant seventh chords are built with root (1), major third (3), perfect fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7).
Minor 7 drop 2 guitar shapes
Minor seventh chords are built with root (1), minor third (b3), perfect fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7).
Minor 7b5 drop 2 guitar shapes
Minor seventh flat five chords are built with root (1), minor third (b3), diminished fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7).
Diminished 7 drop 2 guitar shapes
Diminished seventh chords are built with root (1), minor third (b3), diminished fifth (b5) and diminished seventh (bb7).
How to build chord melody with drop 2 chords
Chord melodies with drop 2 chords from the major scale
Now we will talk about the subject of this topic, which is how to connect drop 2 chords to create a chord melody. For this we need to take the four maj7 voicings previously seen and try to put notes from the major scale between each drop 2 chord. First, let's remember the major scale formula which is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 giving the F major scale F-G-A-Bb-C-D-E.
|F major scale||F||G||A||Bb||C||D||E|
Exercise 1 - Connecting drop 2 maj7 chords - Melody on the 4th string
The root of the F major scale will be the root of the first Drop 2 voicing. The third of F major, which is A, will be the root of the first drop 2 inversion (3-7-R-5). The fifth of F (C) will be the root of the second drop 2 inversion (5-R-3-7) and then, the seventh of F (E) will be the root of the third and last inverted drop 2 chord (7-3-5-R). The other notes, the second (G), the fourth (Bb) and the sixth (D) will serve as passing tones to connect the chords. Please note the name of the chords, the first inverted drop 2 chord is named Fmaj7/A, the second is Fmaj7/C and the third is Fmaj7/E.
Exercise 2 - Connecting drop 2 maj7 chords - Melody on the 3rd string
This second exercise takes the same chords and same notes but with the melody on the third string.
Exercise 3 - Connecting drop 2 maj7 chords - Melody on the 2nd string
Same chords and same notes with the melody on the B string.
Exercise 4 - Connecting drop 2 maj7 chords - Melody on the 1st string
Once again but the melody is played on the high E string.
Exercise 5 - Connecting drop 2 min7 chords - Melody on the 1st string
Since the degree II of the major scale is a minor chord, we can build a chord melody with drop 2 minor seventh chords. Example with the F major scale. The ii chord of F major is G minor, so we will try to connect G minor seventh drop 2 chords following the F major scale. Respecting the drop 2 minor 7 root formula which is R-1-b3-b7 we will get three other inverted voicings : b3-b7-R-5, 5-R-b3-b7 and b7-b3-5-R thus giving four minor seventh chords named Gm7, Gm7/Bb, Gm7/D and Gm7/F. The passing notes will be A, C, E and G. We will start connecting these drop 2 minor voicings from the root chord, Gm7 (G-D-F-Bb). Given that there are two other minor degrees in the major scale (iii and iv), it is recommended to do the same exercises starting from these two degrees.
Try now to play the melody on the first, second and third string three keeping the same drop 2 minor seventh chords as previously discussed.
Exercise 6 - Connecting drop 2 min7 chords - Melody on the 1st string
The last example is to connect four drop 2 Dominant chords by using notes from the C major scale (can be seen as G Mixolydian). Since G7 is the V chord of the C major scale we will play G7, G7/B, G7/D and G7/F respectively the drop 2 root voicing, the 1st, the 2nd and the third inversion.
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