1. #1

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    I apologize beforehand for my lack of correct terminology here.

    I'm still beginning (not guitar playing but rather playing straight jazz) and I'm a little lost. I've been going off of lead sheets as a baseline and then just kind of feeling around the chord to add, subtract or alter notes by ear in order to find the "best" voicing. I suppose that really means I'm just choosing new but related chords. I find that playing the melody and playing either the actual note or a complimentary note and sort of building a chord around it to comp over works best. But there has to be an easier way... is this just a matter of time and expanding my vocabulary of chords or do I really need to go whole hog and get into theory (intimidating).

    Any tips on how you choose one chord over another? Or how to do so in a more expedient way?

    I have a lot of the basic moveable shapes down which has made it possible to learn things by ear but it takes me a long time to dial each chord into precisely how I want it to sound in context.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by BiscoDrew
    .....I've been going off of lead sheets as a baseline and then just kind of feeling around the chord to add, subtract or alter notes by ear in order to find the "best" voicing....
    Keep up the good work!

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by BiscoDrew
    I apologize beforehand for my lack of correct terminology here.

    I'm still beginning (not guitar playing but rather playing straight jazz) and I'm a little lost. I've been going off of lead sheets as a baseline and then just kind of feeling around the chord to add, subtract or alter notes by ear in order to find the "best" voicing. I suppose that really means I'm just choosing new but related chords. I find that playing the melody and playing either the actual note or a complimentary note and sort of building a chord around it to comp over works best. But there has to be an easier way... is this just a matter of time and expanding my vocabulary of chords or do I really need to go whole hog and get into theory (intimidating).

    Any tips on how you choose one chord over another? Or how to do so in a more expedient way?

    I have a lot of the basic moveable shapes down which has made it possible to learn things by ear but it takes me a long time to dial each chord into precisely how I want it to sound in context.
    Yeah nothing intellectual. Usually what I like the sound of and what flows well. Sounds to me like you are doing the important work. It will get easier the more you do it.

    I would advise collecting options to choose from. If you categorise your chords by the top note - for instance Cmaj7 voicings with a B on top (of maj7s with a 7 in the melody) and so on, that can help a lot with CM. I think we tend to think bottom up often and of course that’s less helpful when harmonising a melody.

  5. #4

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    Thanks for the encouragement!

    I know I definitely think "from the bottom up" (like when I play a dominant chord and the root is always on the low E or B).

    I suppose song choice plays a factor in this too. St. Thomas was pretty easy to play around with- I could play all dominant chords and it would still sound like St. Thomas just not as rich. Not so much the case for say, Giant Steps.

  6. #5

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    Three ideas:

    1) put the melody note on highest string you play.
    2) think about ways to move the bass note around smoothly during chord changes (don't just put the root or 5th in the bass). That is, look for ways to walk the bass note from one chord to the next.
    3) don't worry about the middle notes, but it is nice to play the chord with as wide an interval as convenient. (Top to bottom note.)

    The suggestion to know many forms of a chord is a big help, but as you look for more chords, you will naturally pick up more forms.

  7. #6

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    Pick a song, any song. Say Misty. Come up with some crazy Ebmaj, Bbm, E7 and Abmaj chords (if sounding crazy is what you want). Come up with a bunch. Just try placing your fingers where ever they can go. Play them over a pedal note (Youtube). If you find any voicing that sounds cool, note that chord. Don't worry about the melody note just yet.

    Now go to YouTube and get a Misty playalong. Use some of those chords you noted. Does anything sound good? Record yourself playing with those chords. Still sound good?

    While you are doing that, keep in mind that, for example, when you go from Ebmaj to Bbm, in many cases, the fewer notes you move, they better it MIGHT sound. If you can move one note to get into the Bbm, that's great. Move more notes while you are inside Bbm and E7 to prepare you for the Abmaj.

    Now try it with melody notes on the top strings.

    This is a great way to develop your ear and it doesn't require a deep knowledge of theory

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by BiscoDrew
    I apologize beforehand for my lack of correct terminology here.

    I'm still beginning (not guitar playing but rather playing straight jazz) and I'm a little lost. I've been going off of lead sheets as a baseline and then just kind of feeling around the chord to add, subtract or alter notes by ear in order to find the "best" voicing. I suppose that really means I'm just choosing new but related chords. I find that playing the melody and playing either the actual note or a complimentary note and sort of building a chord around it to comp over works best. But there has to be an easier way... is this just a matter of time and expanding my vocabulary of chords or do I really need to go whole hog and get into theory (intimidating).

    Any tips on how you choose one chord over another? Or how to do so in a more expedient way? '

    I have a lot of the basic moveable shapes down which has made it possible to learn things by ear but it takes me a long time to dial each chord into precisely how I want it to sound in context.

    I have this suggestion:

    Pick a tune and post a video of yourself playing it. Maybe explaining how you found the chords.

    You'll get responses for how to find alternatives-- and, hopefully, explanations of those processes.

    This stuff may be more difficult to discuss in the abstract-- easier in relationship to a particular tune.

    For myself, I have a bunch of different things I do to find voicings -- and it's highly dependent on context. Tune, tempo, key, octave, melody, what the pianist is playing etc.

  9. #8

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    ^^^Thanks!

    I do have a looper that I use and its been helpful in that regard. Thr EHX Freeze and the boss octave pedal also.

  10. #9

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    A lead sheet offers to you:


    - simplest chords (symbols) that express the progression
    - melody line in the staff
    - usually lyrics if applicable


    Begin by playing known forms of the chords as presented.
    Then voice the chords with the melody note on top.
    Then move the bottom notes off the root.
    Then look for chromatic movements with the bottom notes.
    Then explore slightly re-harmonized versions of the chords.


    After a while you may do these things in one or two steps.
    Always test everything with your ears and musical judgement.
    Sometimes the lyrics lend some guidance to appropriate mood.