There are a number of different ways that you can comp through any jazz standard on the guitar. For some people, Drop 2 and Drop 3 chords are the way to go in their playing, while other players draw upon shell voicings, triads or rootless chords to outline progressions in a jam situation.
While three, four or five-note chord shapes are essential sounds for any jazz guitarist to have under your fingers, sometimes using two-note double-stops is the best way to get your ideas onto the fretboard when comping behind a melody or soloist.
To help you check out double-stops in a jazz comping situation, this lesson outlines a jazz guitar chord study over the standard Autumn Leaves that you can learn, memorize and extract the underlying ideas and apply them to your playing over other tunes in a musical situation.
Intervals In This Comping Study
To help you understand the intervals used in this jazz guitar comping study, here is an explanation of how to build each interval as well as how they are normally fingered on the guitar fretboard.
3rds – Built by playing notes that are two notes apart, such as C-E, where you skip the note between D, 3rds are usually played on two adjacent strings such as the 3rd and 4th strings.
4ths – With two notes between the lowest and highest notes, 4th intervals such as C-F are best played on two adjacent strings, such as the 2nd and 1st strings. Since they are more ambiguous than 3rds or 6ths, 4ths are often used in a more modern context when comping and soloing, though they are also great for outlining 3rds and 7ths in a traditional context.
5ths – Skipping 3 notes, such as C-G, produces 5th intervals, which are best played on adjacent strings but can also be played across three strings, such as playing C-G on the 4th and 2nd strings. Again, these intervals have more of a modern sound to them, but they are also good to outline 3rds and 7ths in jazz chord progressions.
6ths – The largest interval in this study, 6ths are built by skipping four notes between the lowest and highest notes in the double stops, such as C-A. Because there is more room between the lowest and highest notes, it is best to play 6ths by skipping strings, such as play C-A on the 3rd and 1st strings of the guitar.
If you find that your ears are drawn to any of these intervals in particular, try working it further in your practice routine in order to bring this intervallic sound into your jazz guitar comping ideas on other jazz guitar standards in both jam and gig situations.
Interval Comping Picking
As you will notice, when comping with double-stops in an intervallic style such as this, strumming these comping ideas isn’t the easiest way to play the chord study.
In order to make things easier on your picking hand, try playing in a hybrid style (playing the lowest note with your pick and the top note with your finger), or in a pure fingerstyle approach.
By using the hybrid or fingerstyle techniques to play this chord study, you will be able to play each double-stop and phrase in a clean and clear fashion, even at faster tempos.
If you have trouble with hybrid or fingerstyle picking, feel free to slow things down, work them with a metronome, and then slowly increase the tempo until you can play along with the example and backing track below.
Autumn Leaves Jazz Guitar Chords – Interval Study
Here is the chord study to work out and learn in your practice routine. To begin, work on each four-bar phrase, memorize it and get it up to speed with the track, before moving on to the next phrase in the study.
Once you have worked out each phrase on it’s own, start putting together the four 8-bar phrases, then the two 16-bar phrases, before working the study as a whole.
You will notice that in many of the 8-bar phrases the rhythms remain the same while the notes in the double-stops change.
By keeping the rhythm similar between phrases, you are keeping each of the two phrases linked even though the harmonic and melodic content is changing over the course of the tune.
If you enjoy this type of comping, try practicing over this, or any, tune and work one or two rhythmic ideas over each phrase in order to bring a deeper sense of rhythmic cohesion to your jazz guitar comping ideas.
Autumn Leaves Jazz Guitar Chords Backing Track
To help you practice this study, as well as practice Autumn Leaves in general, here is a backing track that you can use in your jazz guitar practice routine.
Do you use double stops in your jazz guitar comping ideas? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.