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  1. #1

    Inversions and voice leading rules?

    Hi all,

    Please excuse me if this is a complete beginners' question.

    The past 8 months I've really been revising technique, and how I think about and play the instrument, rather than learning new tunes (well all the way through). I'd say it's been essential and I'm really happy with the progress I'm making, most of the time hah.

    Anyway, I'm currently working out all inversions, and just wondering if there's any hard rules or even rules-of-thumb for how one leads to another in a progression.. voice leading I suppose?

    I realise that the progression often sounds best when the chords are in close proximity to each other, rather than jumping all over the place of course. Basic basic example, ii V I in C around the 5th fret:

    (D-> G -> C)

    A -> G -> G
    C -> B -> C
    F -> F -> E

    I've also noticed, probably from the players I've transcribed, that where you are horizontally (?) on the fretboard influences decisions.

    Sorry if this isn't too clear, but looking for a little guidance, even if you could point me to another resource (though I shy away from most books). Thanks!

  2. #2
    Close voice movement is often described as the guiding rule of voice leading around here.
    It certainly good to be aware of common tones and small moves.

    Take a melody, melodies will often contain a combination of leaps and steps.
    This is also be true for a bass line. Inner voice movements are more often contained but not always.
    The fate of 2nd violin and viola players in string quartets.

    Arranger Don Sebesky stated in a class I took that his preferred scenario when possible is for each part
    to sound like a coherent melody unto itself.

    Voice leading for a multi voice ensemble is the template that allows us to think freely about the notes,
    however what is physically possible on guitar with 2 hands and 6 strings tempers all our musical decisions.

    For the close voice leading thing, the rules are clear, maintain common tones, all else to nearest voice.
    For broader music application the rules are something like this:
    Make it sound good according to your own esthetic.

    Chord Pairs are a good model for practicing the minimal motion thing.
    You can also expand the chord pair model by integrating extensions and alterations to increase possible choices made.
    These can be used to further accentuate common or differential tones.

    The out of print Mick Goodrick Voicing almanacs also present a good model of voice leading through
    diatonic progression cycles.

    Of course, the best template is song context.

  3. #3
    I actually think the best way to study voiceleading is applying it to tunes. A great suggestion that I heard a long time ago is to take any tune you know the melody to, and put a chord underneath every note.

    If you do this, you'll encounter lots of interesting problems: Harmony often moves around in 4ths, while melodies often move around in steps. So, you'll very quickly find yourself playing various inversions in order not to jump around too much on the neck.

    another problem to solve is how to harmonize non-chord tones? so if the chord is a ii chord, like a F-7, and the melody is a D natural. A tune where this happens is "I get a kick out of you". Bunch of different options (Fm6, Bdim), explore them!

  4. #4
    This is a situation where I think a book might help.

    One with a lot of ii V I suggestions. If memory serves I think Warren Nunes did a book with that. Maybe the "Jazz Guitar Chord Bible".

    And, what you'll see is a lot of ways to change chords with minimal movement.

    I can't think of a book which does the same thing for entire tunes, but maybe somebody else will know one.

    For the advanced player, I'd recommend Almir Chediak's Bossa Nova series. His books have chord grids for every chord. Iirc, the composer's own guitar voicings. A lot of them are very clever and always with great voice leading. I don't have it, but he has a Jobim book (separate from the Bossa Nova series) that might be a good one to being with.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I can't think of a book which does the same thing for entire tunes, but maybe somebody else will know one.
    David Berkman's Jazz Harmony book does exactly this. He starts you out harmonizing "silent night" and moves into more elaborate harmonizations, and with more complex tunes, after that. The music is notated for piano but the principles apply to any harmonic instrument (and all the exercises he gives are doable on guitar).

    One piece of advice to the original poster: when exploring solo guitar and harmonizing things, it's easy to get really fancy with the bass notes: 3rds and 7ths and what have you. Avoid getting too fancy at first, just keep a root or 5th in the bass.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    to see some of the many possibilities in moving voices and chord relations ted greene's chord chemistry is a showcase ..

    basic triads explored in all positions and inversions and put in simple progressions like a blues is a good place to see how chords can be harmonically simple but very effective..then adding the fourth note to these chords opens the harmonic landscape alot .. also the study of basic turnarounds and their inversions is a good way to see chord movement in a familiar context

    connecting chords that are related in symmetric cycles major 3rd mi 3rd etc again opens up a vast array of melodic and harmonic ideas
    C to E to Ab ( major and minor chords) - augmented cycle / G Bb Db E (major and minor and dominant7) diminished cycle

    with just a little practice you will begin to see the voice movement possibilities that are in basic triads..and should you hear some Bach flavors in your explorations dont be surprised
    play well ...
    wolf

  7. #7
    Thanks for your help everyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by wolflen View Post
    to see some of the many possibilities in moving voices and chord relations ted greene's chord chemistry is a showcase ..
    I managed to find this online. I've skimmed through it, as I'm only really looking for some guidelines/principles/ideas rather than treat is gospel or an exercise book. There's an overwhelming amount of chords written down in it - I just don't think in that way. But there a few sections in there that are pretty helpful.

    It will be time consuming, but I think the most effective and fun way of going about it is to start with triads (even dyads) and progress from there, adding extensions and substitutions etc. For me anyway. Like I mentioned in the OP, I'm dedicating a whole year to fundamentals as the way forward, so might as well go back to the very essence of it all and build from there.

  8. #8
    p1p,

    You probably know all about this already but if not I can explain more later:

    https://jazzguitarjourney.weebly.com...inversions.pdf

    Scroll down to the ii-V-I examples; this is probably not what you are asking for but
    it is the fundamental voice leading tool pro guitarists learn first.

    I am NOT a pro, but I play one in my delusions.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    11,753

    Inversions and voice leading rules?

    Probably pretty basic stuff but

    b7 descends by half step
    chromatic major 3 ascends by half step

    The fa and mi, classically speaking

    Eg

    Cm Cm/Bb Am7b5 E7
    F7/Eb Bb/D Dbo7
    Dm D/F# G7

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by rabbit View Post
    p1p,

    You probably know all about this already but if not I can explain more later:

    https://jazzguitarjourney.weebly.com...inversions.pdf

    Scroll down to the ii-V-I examples; this is probably not what you are asking for but
    it is the fundamental voice leading tool pro guitarists learn first.

    I am NOT a pro, but I play one in my delusions.
    Thanks! Is this your blog? If so, do you have a program to do charts like that or anyone know where I could find one? These sort of things don't "sink in" for me unless I do the work myself.

    I've been finding these books useful: http://valdez.dumarsengraving.com/PD...y/Harmony2.PDF (voice-leading page 22 onwards)

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