Misty Jazz Guitar Chords – Comping Study

The Easy Guide to Jazz Guitar Chords


As well as working on comping over medium and up-tempo jazz standards in your practice routine, it is also important to work on ballads as you learn how to apply your chord vocabulary to a much slower tempo than you might be used to.

We often think that playing fast-tempo tunes as being the toughest changes to comp over, but very slow tempos can be just as challenging.

Because ballads often have more chords in each bar, and move into a number of key centers, these slow-tempo tunes can pose their own unique challenges in the woodshed and out on the bandstand.

To help you get your hands around a famous ballad, here is a chord study over the tune Misty that will build your ballad comping vocabulary in your jazz guitar practice routine.

As there are a number of variations on the chord changes to Misty, you might normally play a few chords that you see here as m7 chords as 7th chords, such as the Gm7 and Fm7 chords in bars 5 and 6 of the A section.

If this is the case, you can learn these new chords and combine them with the changes you normally play for Misty in your playing.

Often times Standards will have several common ways to comp through the chords, so checking out a few different versions of the tune will prepare you for a jam or gigging situation when this tune comes up on the bandstand.

5 Essential Jazz Guitar Chord Phrases

When playing at a ballad tempo, often times we can’t rely solely on our normal compnig patterns that we would apply to a medium or up-tempo tune.

In order to outline the chord changes and sound hip at the same time, you can work on applying chord vocabulary in the form of short ii-V and ii-V-I phrases to your comping ideas.

To help you build your jazz chord phrase vocabulary, for this or any tune, here are five classic phrases that are used in the chord study below, which are highlighted in the tab/notation for you to see.

Practice these phrases in a number of keys around the fretboard, as well as apply them to other tunes you are working on in order to fully understand and digest these chord lines in the woodshed.


Jazz Chord Phrase 1

The first phrase features Drop 2 chords, a 4th chord (which is built by stacking fourth intervals from the lowest note), and a rootless 13th chord (where the root has been removed but the essence of the chord is maintained).


Jazz Chord Phrase 2

In this minor key ii-V-I, you will use a common chord sub over 7alt chords, where you play a m7b5 chord from the b7 of the underlying change.

This means that for Gm7b5-C7alt you play Gm7b5-Bbm7b5 in order to outline the b7-3-b13-b9 of the C7alt chord.


Jazz Chord Phrase 3

In this Ed Bickert inspired phrase, you will play a commonly used descending bassline ove the Bbm7 chord in this ii-V-I phrase in Ab.

Here, you are starting on the 9th, C, as the lowest note of the chord and then moving down to the 3rd of Eb7, G, using both chromatic and diatonic notes over those changes.

Ed loved to use this type of descending bassline in his playing, and it’s a great way to add moving in the lower voice of your chords when comping and chord soloing over common changes.


Jazz Chord Phrase 4

This phrase comes directly from the Joe Pass playbook, as it uses a common chord lick at the start of the phrase that can be found in many of Joe’s classic recordings.

The essence of this phrase is that you are playing a Drop 2 Bbm7 chord with the 3rd as the highest note.

From there, you climb up the scale by playing the 4th, 5th and b7th of that chord until you reach a rootless Eb7 chord in the second half of the bar.

Working this phrase, especially over the Bbm7 chord, will bring a bit of Joe’s classic chord sound to your jazz guitar chord lines and phrases.


Jazz Chord Phrase 5

The final essential chord phrase is also inspired by Joe Pass and features an Abmaj7 chord being used over Fm7, which produces the intervals b3-5-b7-9 over the Fm7 chord, as well as a few rootless chords over the Bb7 and Ebmaj7 chords in this phrase.

Also, check out the Gb over the Bb7 chord, which is the “blues note” from the key of Eb major, and brings a bluesy vibe to this line as you then resolve it to the major third over the Ebmaj7 chord at the end of the phrase.

Misty Jazz Guitar Chords – Comping Study

Here is the full chord study for your to work out and add to your playing in the woodshed.

Since Misty is a ballad, and played at a slow tempo, you can see there are a lot of chords used in each bar, four bar phrase and the study as a whole.

Because of this, try breaking up the study into smaller, easy to digest chunks, rather than diving into all 32 bars at once.

To do so, you can work on one bar at a time, two bars, four bars or eight bars, as you learn smaller phrases in order to combine them at a later time to form the study as a whole.






Misty Jazz Guitar Chords

Misty Jazz Guitar Chords 2

Misty Backing Track

To help you work on this study, and the tune Misty itself, further in the practice room, here is a backing track for the tune with the piano taken out so that you can work chords and chord phrases over this track.


Listen & Play


Do you have a question or comment about these Misty jazz guitar chords? Share your thoughts in the COMMENTS section below.


The Easy Guide to Jazz Guitar Chords

  1. Poppa MadisonAug 13, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Loved the chordal structure, but wished you had included the Melody line of the song in sync with the backing. Without it, it appears that you are assuming that everybody is familiar with both the tune and the song.


    Poppa Queensland Australia



    • Matt WarnockAug 13, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      Thanks for checking out the lesson, glad you liked it. There are copyright issues in publishing melody lines, and so it’s not possible to do that in this type of lesson. Cheers.

      • JohnAug 31, 2014 at 10:34 pm

        Another good lesson from Dr. Matt Warnock. Thank you!

        I would really appreciate hearing a track of you playing through these changes. The 5-fret stretch on the very first chord sets the tone for what’s in store. 😉

        You’re using my favorite harmonic device–4-note chord voicings. The 4th note seems to add exponentially to what triads give us. Double stops (or any 2-note interval) are probably my 2nd favorite harmonic device, even over triads.

        Putting extended chords and substitutions together to create the 4-note voicings through standard jazz progressions is the area I’d like to get a lot stronger in. I’ve noticed that guys like Barney Kessel, Wes Montgomery and many other great jazz guitar players seemed to focus on simple, practical chord voicings rather than complicated fingerings.

        I like forward to more of these kind of lessons/examples.

        Thanks again, Matt, er, Dr. Warnock! 🙂

        Best regards,


        • JohnAug 31, 2014 at 11:44 pm

          Ignore my request. I didn’t see Your SoundCloud clip because it was being blocked by Ghostery. I’m enjoying it. Thanks!

          And, now I know what I should sound like playing your arrangement. 😉


    • TancredoAug 15, 2014 at 5:08 am

      Well, if you don’t know Misty, I suggest Sarah Vaughan’s version.
      I really love this song and I’m going to study it here.
      If you’re not familiar with standards, I suggest that you hear Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday and ladies ”like” them. Men’s interpretations don’t have the magic that these divas put on the standards. And you absolutely must know standards.
      I didn’t ‘understand’ Miles Davis’ version of My Funny Valentine. Of course… He doesn’t play the melody. You must have the melody in your heart, and then hear him playing.
      Then, once, I saw a Sarah Vaughan’s CD starting with this song and bought it.
      I listened some 15 times to the song, non-stop, it was unbelievable, so beautiful! And then went to the second song. It was Lover Man. More fifteen times. Then I went to the next. It was Body and Soul. More fifteen times. (More or less, of course).
      That night changed my approach to jazz. We must know standards, specially from the divas.
      Jazz musicians started playing over chord changes, without the melody, more or less at the time of Body and Soul (1930).
      Coleman Hawkins, the sax player, recorded two versions and composed a song on the chord changes. That was the ‘beginning’ of BeBop. I don’t know if he was the first, but it opened a lot of doors. Rainbow Mist. These songs are called “contrafacts”, because they use a well know chord changes, no copy rights to pay, and make their music.
      So you must know standards for this reason, too.
      I understand your point. But that’s because you are unexperienced.
      I was, too, as I told you.
      Now you have YouTube, search for the song. It’s really beautiful.
      Imagine how lucky you are to have the internet. You can hear almost any song you want at YouTube.
      I hope you will love the song. This lesson is very good!
      My congratulations to the teacher!

      • MarkAug 16, 2014 at 11:35 am

        I know this is going to be quite obtuse, but…I’ve heard people say that modern jazz was invented by George Gershwin in 1927 with all those chromatic Dom 7ths/9ths in “Rhapsody in Blue”. ’27 is WAY way back…It was the first time the piano got out of that kind of rag style that early jazz piano had; the era when the bass drum was basically a big field drum and banjo was king, guitar not in it yet..Then Rhapsody is written. Must of sounded way out, new, modern…the jazzy harmonic language and pace of the big city rhythms..that it possibly spread around, this new orchestral approach. I know it’s a theory, not a proven fact…but quite feasible.

        • BeeboAug 21, 2014 at 11:24 am

          Not to take anything away from ol’ George, but everything that was ever expressed in “modern jazz” as well as what could/would be expressed in later periods, i.e. Swing, Be-bop & Cool was done by Louis Armstrong in Chicago in 1925!

  2. xonelnojAug 13, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Misty is truly a great song, made famous by Johnny Mathis, back in the 50’s when I was a youngster. Every one loved it and it played constantly on the radio pop stations. When the Jazz Artist and R&B singing groups got hold of it, it became a tune that was requested numerous times.

    Dirk this a good backing piece behind a soloist and/or singer. I’m putting it in my song renditions. Thanks for this one.


  3. Brad TaylorAug 13, 2014 at 10:56 pm


    Thanks again for two wonderful intermediate lessons that I am able to play! “Misty is a sweet little version, and the triad superimposition licks make excellent intro and turnaround licks…I can even use them(forgive me!)in my old time country and Texas swing band! Again, many,many thanks!!

  4. Bill HoulsbyAug 13, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    Thanks for this chord study Dirk, another top notch lesson. I don’t seem to have a link for the backing track.

  5. ThatsEarlBrotherAug 14, 2014 at 1:32 am

    Some times in an audience you catch a couple (usually older) with a little twinkle in their eye and as the mood setter you get this inspiration to give them a treat a slow dance this is one of those songs.These tune still have meaning.Thanks for this arrangement.EB

  6. SteveAug 14, 2014 at 1:37 am

    A wonderful lesson, can be use as a study on chord soloing. Thanks Dirk.

  7. GeorgeAug 14, 2014 at 5:51 am

    Your lessons are great for those of us who love Jazz and are not the technically advanced player. The explanations of specific chord phrasing and the sound clips are an addition to an already nice lesson! Thanks much

  8. Randy KatzAug 14, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Excellent, thanks! ps – I think the “missing link” might be somewhere in this lesson! 😉

  9. AlainAug 14, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Thank you very mich for this excellent step by step explanation. I appreciate your lessons for both guitar and jazz mandoline Don Stiernberg vues…
    Hi from Provence France!

  10. ruli lubisAug 14, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Thanx for the great lessons of the great song

  11. SilverfoxxAug 14, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Hi Dirk & Matt,
    Thank you for the Misty Chordal arrangement, you are the unsung
    Stars of this Forum.

  12. BanAug 14, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Amazing arrangement !!! Can’t you do more of that for us !!!! Lol !!!! Wow excellent !

  13. RolfAug 14, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Hey Matt and Dirk, thanks a lot for this excellent lesson, Misty has always been a favorite of mine, and I really appreciate the arrangement. Super!

  14. LouAug 14, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    This is the best lesson I’ve gotten so far. Smooth and melodic is what I want to lean and you delivered. Please keep lessons of this type rolling in. Thank you very much!

  15. Mark RhodesAug 14, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Great material for an essential tune. No wonder so many players come here to learn!

  16. Vincent SmithAug 15, 2014 at 2:05 am

    Misty is a true lounge classic. Nice arrangement. Thanks much!

  17. MarkAug 15, 2014 at 2:47 am

    Dirk,very nice stuff. Couple points if I may. I’d like to see the rubato pickup “Look at (a tempo> Me,I’m as…” included. In 7th measure the G min. would be better as a G Dom.7 (3rd is B nat.) Lots of players miss this little nuance. Same thing in “Georgia on my Mind” and many others. The Bb7 in 15th bar should be either Ab- or Db7 as melody is Eb. Or,whole measure Emaj.7 (to Eb). finally, 23rd bar could be Gmin.7 to Gb (Meas.24> F7/E7b5.

    • Matt WarnockAug 15, 2014 at 8:49 am

      Hi Mark, yeah those are both good changes. As well, in bar 15 you can also use Bb7sus over that part of the tune. Like I mentioned in the intro to the lesson, there are a number of ways to play these changes, especially the G7 and F7 in bars 7 and 8, so it’s cool to play them either way, or mix them together, when playing the tune.

      • MarkAug 15, 2014 at 10:40 am

        Yeah.10-4. I guess I’m always looking for tritone subs and/or chromatic, bass movement.

        • Matt WarnockAug 15, 2014 at 10:42 am

          For sure, always love getting even one variation down for a tune, then the combinations of those chords really open up a lot of doors when comping and soloing.

      • MarkAug 15, 2014 at 10:46 am

        Yeah.10-4. I guess I’m always looking for tritone subs and/or chromatic, bass movement.

        ADDENDUM : I keep getting these messages saying this is a duplicate of a previous post. But they aren’t. Got it for THIS post,too, BEFORE this addendum, when it was the first tie replying to Matt W. (above)! What’s causing this ?

        • Matt WarnockAug 15, 2014 at 10:51 am

          Not sure why, might just be a technical issue. But the comments are showing up fine as far as I can see.

  18. lucianoAug 15, 2014 at 10:25 am

    i like to study the chords system and how they move, this is very very interesting lesson about this argument thank a lot

  19. MarkAug 15, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Here’s a fave of mine: When the last note IS tonic (F in key of F) I sometimes make my way to the very last chord but play IIb Maj.7 (Gb Maj.7 ) and leave it there with no resolve !I believe I heard Barbara Streisand’s orchestra do this on TV in the 1960s for end of “People” …are the luckiest people In, the …..world” (Flat II Maj.7) and just let it fade off…..Anyway, we better leave it here. We’re building a side forum within Dirk’s gig here…Sorry Dirk…

    • Matt WarnockAug 15, 2014 at 11:01 am

      Yeah I love that change, cool ending to a tune. Also try bVImaj7, so if the tonic is F play Dbmaj7 as the last chord of a tune.

    • Randy KatzAug 15, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Yeah? What about tritone substitution based on randomly selected tonal centers?!

      • MarkAug 15, 2014 at 11:10 am

        Don’t savvy what you mean..Say it’s “Have You Met Miss Jones” in F. How would you put subs in place of ‘randomly selected ‘ tonal centers ? Wha ?

        • Randy KatzAug 15, 2014 at 12:51 pm

          Yeah any substitution a tritone up from any note on the whole tone scale of Gb should do it, I’m messing with the thread, cannot believe someone actually responded, thanks! ps have a great weekend.

          • Randy KatzAug 15, 2014 at 12:53 pm

            Actually I was thinking about it and there are so many that would actually work so perhaps the same chance of me hitting anything that sounds awful as if I didn’t even think about it (made a mistake)!

  20. MarkAug 15, 2014 at 11:05 am

    OH ! I just figured out why I get those “Duplicate post” messages…When we hit “Add you comment” the button doesn’t go down or do anything. So I’d hit it again not knowing it HAS been sent. Of course this then DOES make it a double entry..! Gotta hit ‘send’ ONCE only,and wait. Post then appears. Mea Culpa..

  21. MarkAug 16, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Randy, I still don’t get your drift. You’re saying play the tritone sub for each and every melody note ? I don’t think you mean that ,so what else is left but the tritone subs on all or most all Dom 7ths in the tune. You using ‘random’ is puzzling me.There are random notes when one is soloing/improvising, but you seem to be inferring the chord structure is random, No ?

    • Randy KatzAug 16, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      Ugh, do you ever feel like you should not have posted that?! They key word was random. Pick a random note, anywhere, then use tritone substitution from it, of course it was all meant as a joke but the more I think about it I believe the actual bad sounding rate might be equal to my personal mistake rate while playing, best regards!

      • Randy KatzAug 16, 2014 at 1:43 pm

        close your eyes and pick any note, but wait, don’t play that note, use it’s tritone instead! Ugh, I really wish I never posted that…

  22. AlandAug 17, 2014 at 2:20 am

    I just think you do a great work buddy!!! really!, now I want to find the time to put in practice all this wonderful lessons-tip-work you give us!!! from my heart THANKS!!

  23. PatrickAug 17, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    How can I play the Es7 chord (8-6-6-5)in the easiest way?

    • Matt WarnockAug 17, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      I play that chord 1-2-2-4 fingers. Try that, should help out.

      • PatrickAug 17, 2014 at 10:12 pm

        Thanks Matt for your fast reply!

        You mean you play a bar with the middlefinger?

        • Matt WarnockAug 17, 2014 at 10:14 pm

          yeah that’s it

  24. TKAug 22, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks for another GREAT lesson, my comping has come a long way thanks to this site and your lessons.
    Would to see a work up of “Unforgettable” too 🙂

  25. DennisOct 22, 2014 at 12:18 am

    Hello Matt, Are your ‘standards’ jazz backing tracks available for sale and in which formats? eg.Midi..

  26. Matt WarnockOct 22, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Hey, they aren’t available now but all of these comping etudes, along with 10 unpublished ones, will be out in a new ebook later this year, all with backing tracks to work with.

    • DennisOct 22, 2014 at 9:50 am

      Thank you Matt, I shall look forward to your ebook; in anticipation,Cheers,Dennis…

  27. TatayoyoOct 23, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Thanks a lot but perhaps too hard for me, I have to work for months before it rings acceptable…

  28. Alex MerolaJan 12, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Love the lesson…very useful and just what I’m looking for, thanks!

  29. jayFeb 14, 2015 at 4:04 am

    Hi Matt,

    Great study on guitar for M***y. I do have a comment from an orchestral angle.
    The AbMaj7 with the g on the bottom & an Ab or the fundamental (1) on top
    wouldn’t work well because on a 2nd octave structure, you could use a 9357,
    especially w/horns or strings. Play the Ab over G on piano & you’ll hear the
    dissonance, which is OK but I like a Bb better….speaking linearly in a chordal
    situation you could use 9 instead of triad tone??? Just adding 2 cents out of
    the wealth of stuff you put out there.


  30. jayFeb 14, 2015 at 4:06 am

    You are the best out there for cerebral playing.

  31. milkmannnvMar 11, 2015 at 2:37 am

    I have enjoyed and learned a lot from all of these comping lessons and continue to find new (to me)chordal and lead line ideas for these kind of jazz chord progressions. Thank you so much for shortening my learning curve in this jazz guitar journey!

  32. ChrisApr 30, 2015 at 3:29 am

    Hi Matt,

    I just started learning this last week. I was doing the version straight out of the real book. Do you think I should get the original version down first before tackling this one. I’m pretty new at this, really don’t understand substitutions all that well.


    • Matt WarnockApr 30, 2015 at 6:39 am

      Hey, if you are just starting out, then maybe learn the melody first, then tackle this study. If you have the melody in your ears it will help hear these chord changes and get this study under your fingers.

  33. AngelMay 6, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    I found this page and I feel great! Thank you very much from Puerto Rico!!!

  34. BREWJul 18, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Hello again Matt!

    I’ve learned this so beautiful and chord-rich ballad a long while ago and I can only thank you again for having posted it.

    Just one more precision about it: is it in the key of Eb Major? or what?

    I’m asking you that also because I’ve been desperately looking for a Eb Jazz Blues or Jazz tune on the Internet to see what chords can be used in these kinds of jazz environment…


    • Matt WarnockJul 18, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      Hey, yes this is in Eb major.

      • Eduardo FontesMar 20, 2017 at 9:26 pm

        Matt, what do you mean when you say the song is in Eb major? The main melody is in that key? For instance, if we got to bars 2 – 4, i believe its an IIm7 – V7 – I7maj in Ab maj, and in bar four, i think Im7 – IV7, still in Abmaj. I dont even know if that is possible. Bars five and six seems to me an IIm7 – V7alt – Im7 – IV7 in F minor ( but should be an IIm7b5… ) and so on… How i should look at the standart as a whole and its small progressions? Hope you get my point. Im breaking the song down so it makes more sense thant just plpaying the chords without consciousness of what they are. Thanks for the post!!

        • Matthew WarnockMar 20, 2017 at 9:54 pm

          Hey, the main key is in Eb major. Ab is the IV chord so that section is a ii V to IVmaj7, it’s not switching keys, just highlighting the IVmaj7 chord in that progression.

Add A Comment

Your email address will not be published.




The Easy Guide to Jazz Guitar Arpeggios

Latest Forum Topics

Join our Facebook Page

Get in Touch

Jazz Guitar eBooks
How to Get a Jazz Guitar Tone
What's New?
Privacy Policy


Follow us on:

Jazz Guitar Online on FacebookJazz Guitar Online on TwitterJazz Guitar Online on YoutubeJazz Guitar Online RSS Feed