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  1. #1

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    Hi everybody!!!

    I’m a beginner who is trying to learn to play jazz guitar and I wonder about the best way to learn the different comping rhythms used by jazz guitarists. I like the idea of accompany a singer or a band with different rhythms but I don’t know how to do this.

    In this moment I’m studying the book “Complete Jazz Guitar Method written by Corey Christiansen”. This book has a section about comping rhythms that is really interesting for a beginner like me, but I feel that I need extra material to master them.

    I’ve seen in Amazon a great variety of books and videos about this topic, but I’d like to know which your recommendations are.

    Thanks for your time.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    It's all in the recorded music, listen, listen, listen. Listening to pianists is almost more productive than guitar. It's really best to learn this by ear after you know how to build chords.

  4. #3

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    Well for accompanying a singer, and for small group comping, you can listen to Joe Pass and Ella Fitzgerald, and then Jim Hall with Sonny Rollins on "The Bridge" (no piano). I think you'll find that they were pretty darned active.


    So, you might try starting with the Freddie Green four-to-the-bar thing, and also with the Charleston Rhythm.

    For comping rhythms, also listen to Wynton Kelly with Miles Davis (Kind of Blue)

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by cachalote View Post
    Hi everybody!!!

    I’m a beginner who is trying to learn to play jazz guitar and I wonder about the best way to learn the different comping rhythms used by jazz guitarists. I like the idea of accompany a singer or a band with different rhythms but I don’t know how to do this.

    In this moment I’m studying the book “Complete Jazz Guitar Method written by Corey Christiansen”. This book has a section about comping rhythms that is really interesting for a beginner like me, but I feel that I need extra material to master them.

    I’ve seen in Amazon a great variety of books and videos about this topic, but I’d like to know which your recommendations are.

    Thanks for your time.
    ‘Charleston Charleston’

    Also the push, 2+ 4+

    Also nothing wrong with playing on the 1 and 3

    Don’t know about books. Books are always a poor relation to what you can hear on records. Listen, copy. I learned a lot from Red Garland with Miles

  6. #5

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    Thank you all for your advices.

    I think that, as many of you said, the best way to learn comping rhythms is by ear, trying to imitate what great guitarist and pianists do.

    As a beginner, I've gather some material to help me to learn this, and I'd like to know if some of you have some experience with some of this material:

    - Frank Vignola - Jazz Guitar Fake book. Rhytm 1 & 2
    - Creative Comping Concepts For jazz guitar by Mark boling
    - Comping Standards For Jazz Guitar by Jim Ferguson
    - Fareed Haque's Jazz Comping Survival Guide Part 1 & 2

    Furthermore, these are the exercises that I'm practicing right now:

    How to master jazz guitar comping rhythms?-charly-jpg

    My question is what is the best way to learn and even internalize these rhythms, how do you practice these types of exercises?

    Thanks you all for your help.

  7. #6

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    If you're going to do it with books you probably need a music notation program. Type in the pattern in the book and play it in the program. Never mind how it's written, internalise the sound and keep playing it yourself. Some books come with CD's, of course.

    You can take the ideas from records or YouTube but I think you'd probably find that extremely difficult. I know I would.

    But, as someone has already said, you need to know your chords first. That's probably more important than the rhythm. If you have a good sense of timing you can probably pick up the rhythms quite quickly.

    Incidentally, not many tunes have exactly the same pattern repeating constantly all the way through. Learning how to vary the sounds within one basic rhythm is very important too.

    But in the end you won't follow any strict pattern, you'll just do it by feel. Which is always the best way, of course.

  8. #7

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    See also the videos on jazz comping on Truefire.com.

  9. #8

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    I've asked several experts how to do this. They all said the same thing. Play along with records.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by cachalote View Post
    Thank you all for your advices.

    I think that, as many of you said, the best way to learn comping rhythms is by ear, trying to imitate what great guitarist and pianists do.

    As a beginner, I've gather some material to help me to learn this, and I'd like to know if some of you have some experience with some of this material:

    - Frank Vignola - Jazz Guitar Fake book. Rhytm 1 & 2
    - Creative Comping Concepts For jazz guitar by Mark boling
    - Comping Standards For Jazz Guitar by Jim Ferguson
    - Fareed Haque's Jazz Comping Survival Guide Part 1 & 2

    Furthermore, these are the exercises that I'm practicing right now:

    How to master jazz guitar comping rhythms?-charly-jpg

    My question is what is the best way to learn and even internalize these rhythms, how do you practice these types of exercises?

    Thanks you all for your help.
    Just repeat one bar for a whole chorus, using the changes. Then go to another one.

  11. #10

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    One of the things that came to me realtively late about comping... that rythmically it is also being improvized... it is ok to study some patterns ...
    but mostly in actual context... if you listen a lot you are prabably able to sing 'comping rythm' for tune... right?

    the idea is to find a way for it on guitar... (I can't say i really did it myself - I do not play that much with others unfortunately.. but I try to)

    Generally in all these books they try to reconstruct this 'improvizational spirit' on random priciple...
    and that was a problem for me when I tried... it sounded random.... I heard no rythmic logics in it.

    When you play a real tune you do different choices but it is not random...


    So my idea whe you use written patterns - practice just one pattern for many bars... then another for many bars... just to hear and incorporate this pattern as a unit in respect to the general pulse...

    But mixing them all... it is better to create on your own...

  12. #11

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    You learn comping by listening and learning songs, not exercises and patterns.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    You learn comping by listening and learning songs, not exercises and patterns.
    yes and most of all by comping to someone)))

  14. #13

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    Reg has some good videos demonstrating his comping, which is excellent.

    Pay close attention to his time-feel.

  15. #14

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    The amount of rhythmic improvisation in much effective comping is overrated

  16. #15

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    Yeah I think this thing that ragman said is basically sums up the problem I have with the way jazz swing feel is taught, which is that the foundations of the groove are not taught before they tell everyone to go off and improvise.

    No. It's not spasmodic. It's specific. (It's the kind of thing that makes jazz drummers who think swing feel is an indistinct spang-alang with occasional 'spasmodic' comping on the snare. This is not what good jazz drumming is.)

    And you will vary the style and rhythmic content of your comping dependent on context... but playing a sparse but happening groove is always a good start IMO.

    The function of comping is accompaniment. Your aim is to make the soloist sound good by framing what they do, if necessary give them support (this is not usually necessary for professional soloists) and contribute to a sense of groove. Creating a sense of counterpoint of dialogue with the soloist is possible within this... But you have to be good at doing the basic stuff.

    If you start off listening to something like this:



    You might miss the foundation of what Jim Hall is doing. Anyway listen to Jim comp from about 1 minute in. He is comping 'spasmodically' but what he is doing is anchored in a basic groove, that goes back a long way in jazz.

    1 2 3 4 | 1 2 + 3 4 |

    But you have to know what the basic groove is to be able to do this. Anyway bear in mind Jim was revolutionary for playing the guitar like a piano.

    These patterns that Red plays on the Miles Davis sides are pretty essential building blocks.



    Here Red is often on the + of 2 and 4 - these can also be understood as pushes of 1 and 3... This is a characteristic rhythm, and its pretty set, although he does vary it. That's why Red is often used as a model when trying to teach comping. You can also hear Jim use this pattern a few times in the Sonny Rollins track. All this stuff is on your sheet.

    For this reason, I often suggest starting comping in 2 and then add pushes in to vary the basic pulse. Once you get good at that, you can start to incorporate other elements.

    People who can comp really well interactively are very very good at comping. How do you get there? You get there by assimilating a musical vocabulary of rhythms. That worksheet is a good start actually, I'd choose similar ones myself.

    You could do a lot worse than following the historical evolution of comping in jazz. A lot of that is going to be in the piano, but the guitar used to have a specific function that went well into the 1950s which was to play straight fours 'freddie green style'

    Bottom line is, you don't learn jazz in your practice room. You learn it on the bandstand. If you want to get on the bandstand your best option is to aim to feel good to play with. I can only speak for myself but I'd rather play with someone who plays simple patterns well but might be a little locked in rather than someone who tries to improvise and plays out of time. Wish I'd know that 20 years ago when learning how to 'comp'.

    (In a duo this is more so. You can get a lot of mileage out of playing simpler, clearer grooves.)

    As you develop more skill you can aim to be more interactive and more improvised.

    To be brutally honest, most guitarists are not great at comping. I don't think I'm great BTW, but I have to say there are otherwise very good players out there making basic errors with this stuff, and one of the biggest is just not respecting the rhythmic side of it enough.

  17. #16

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    I think comping is best done with some sort of rhythm section behind. Comping isn't the same as maintaining a steady rhythmic pace like strumming a folk song or a blues shuffle; by nature it's spasmodic so you need something else too even if it's only a single beat.

    But, of course, it can be done if you're really good, and probably playing with someone else who's really good too.

  18. #17

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    Sorry, Christian, I edited that without seeing your post. It's appeared after the fact!

    No. It's not spasmodic. It's specific.
    Yes, it's specific to the rhythm but it's not a mechanical 1-2-3-4 thing. Well, not proper jazz comping. You know what I mean!

    playing a sparse but happening groove is always a good start IMO.
    Absolutely.

    basic errors with this stuff, and one of the biggest is just not respecting the rhythmic side of it enough
    Yes, it's got to swing and stay in the pocket however sparse.

  19. #18
    Good comping is not spasmodic.

  20. #19

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    Sounds spasmodic to me because it comes in at irregular intervals.

    Bernstein is not playing a regular pattern.


  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Sounds spasmodic to me because it comes in at irregular intervals.

    Bernstein is not playing a regular pattern.

    Oh look, world class jazz guitarists being world class.

    Sorry what was the relevance to pedagogy?

  22. #21

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    Actually listen closely to Peter, and you do hear a lot of the stuff that I've been talking about. A lot of his comping is based around 1 and 3 and he also pushes those two beats.

  23. #22

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    Here's a blues by the Oscar Peterson Trio with Herb Ellis. (When Herb was with the band there was no drummer.) This is a Wes Montgomery tune. Anyway, you can hear Herb's comping for Oscar's solo and how he often plays simple patterns in a varied, rhythmic way to drive or to lay back. Herb was great at this. What he is doing is not that hard. (Doing it as well as he does "in the moment" is another matter.)

    For some reason, YouTube has this as "Wampton Blues." It's "Naptown Blues."

    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Bernstein is not playing a regular pattern.
    I'd swap the word "pattern" for rhythm maybe.

    There's a strong – weak pattern there. It conveys the form. It implies basic 2- or 4-measure phrases. it's based around standard dotted quarter note " patterns" as well. The repeating macro rhythmic element is certainly there.

    If you're talking about the fact that he's NOT playing the Charleston in each individual measure or something , that's true , but mostly beside the point. Labeling anything which ISN'T a robotic repetition of something (like a Charlston in each measure) as "spasmodic" isn't really helpful to beginners asking this kind of question. It's a little bit too much like the kind of superstitious, Jazz mysticism that's abundant in non-jazz players minds anyway.

    I don't hear music like that as having "no pattern". I don't hear it as being spasmodic . If anything, it's probably more HIGHLY organized, maybe beyond some of our ability to comprehend in the same way.

  25. #24

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    Comping is still playing phrases, with a rhythm and a melody line on the top note. It's part of the jazz vocabulary, whether played by a soloist, comping instrument or drummer.

    For a hands on exercise, i like to listen to pianists on classic records, find a phrase I like, then comp throughout the whole tune with its rhythm. Then practice with another one. Slowly your vocabulary builds up and starts involving longer phrases.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    it's probably more HIGHLY organized, maybe beyond some of our ability to comprehend
    What, like GOD or something?

    All right, forget spasmodic, try irregular.

    I know it's organised, I do it myself, but if you're doing it by feel there's no particular pattern. Which doesn't mean you lose the beat, quite the contrary.

  27. #26

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    Big part of comping is time feel, not rhythmic variety. Most soloists are better off with no comping than comping that's vague with respect to time and not consistent with the pulse.
    A good exercise is to play the chords of a tune using Charleston starting on different parts of the beat each chorus with a metronome.

    Again important thing is making sure you're always feeling the pulse and know where you're in the form and in the bar.

  28. #27

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    Also when you're practicing with a metronome make sure you're not leaning on the metronome. Vary how you use it. When you're comping for a singer you don't have anything to lean on. In fact you never have anything to lean on. You're all you got when it comes to time.

    These are the lessons I learned which shaped how I practice comping.

  29. #28

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    I mean, there's established patterns like "4 on the floor" and the "charleston" (which is lame, yeah, but to paraphrase Emily Remler "nothing's corny if it swings") but generally, your rhythms should be dictated by what the soloist is doing. So basically, listen a lot and see what good players do in different situations. Drop chords like a drummer drops snare accents or "bombs."

    I like to play along with "harmonic instrument absent" records. Here's a good list: JazzTimes 10: Great Saxophone Trio Albums - JazzTimes

    There's also the great Jim Hall adage: "Don't just play something, sit there!"
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    I mean, there's established patterns like "4 on the floor" and the "charleston" (which is lame, yeah, but to paraphrase Emily Remler "nothing's corny if it swings") but generally, your rhythms should be dictated by what the soloist is doing. So basically, listen a lot and see what good players do in different situations. Drop chords like a drummer drops snare accents or "bombs."

    I like to play along with "harmonic instrument absent" records. Here's a good list: JazzTimes 10: Great Saxophone Trio Albums - JazzTimes

    There's also the great Jim Hall adage: "Don't just play something, sit there!"
    Charleston = lame

    Sure


    Funny the way people come out with bs isn’t it?

  31. #30

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    Well, I also mentioned that "nothing is corny if it swings," but...

    Not too many "charleston's in McCoy's actual COMPING, jus' sayin.'
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  32. #31

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    I find that getting a good rhythmic feel in my comping is among the most challenging aspects of playing jazz guitar.

    Comping isn't one thing. There are various ways to view it, but I'll focus on one categorization for this post: pulse vs. ornamentation.

    Freddie Green was all pulse. Charleston is all pulse. The other usual variations you see written out are typically about different ways to play pulse.

    But, when you hear a great player live, particularly as the only comping instrument, a lot of the time, they aren't playing pulse.

    Rather, they're ornamenting. One way to think about this is that it is akin to horn backgrounds in a big band, played behind a soloist.

    Horn backgrounds don't follow a pulse. They make a melodic, harmonic and rhythmic statement which leaves ample space for the soloist. Of course, in a small group, you don't want to plan your ornamentation ahead of time -- you have to respond to the band (not just the soloist).

    One of my favorite comp-ists is Ralph Sharon, who was Tony Bennett's pianist for years. Ralph didn't just pulse. Rather, he seemed to focus more on harmonic transitions.

    When guitarists do this, you often hear chord changes anticipated, then pushed, then some space, and thence into the next anticipation and so forth. The anticipations are propulsive.

    I recently heard Ed Cherry at Small's doing a great job at this. His comping sounded more like horn backgrounds than pulse. Lots of passing chords, all the movement perfectly integrated into the tune with the pulse implied, not constantly played.

    I find that playing this way is challenging. At one level, you have to be good at finding the chords you need, which is quite a skill in itself. Necessary, but not sufficient. The harder part is getting the part right so that the music is in the pocket and grooves. It's like improvising a good horn background part for every phrase of multiple choruses of a tune.

    Reg has multiple videos where you can hear this kind of great time feel and see, quite clearly, what he's doing. To be honest, I haven't figured out a lot of what he discusses about organization and references, but I've gotten something important from his videos.

  33. #32

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    To be honest, I don't find it a problem. I just stick in some voicings according to feel, probably never do the same thing twice.

    I haven't studied patterns and all that because I'd start thinking 'I should be playing that one, or that one'. That would mess me up completely, I'd just be imitating, not feeling the rhythm. That's why I think knowing the possible voicings is much more important. Without those you're stuffed.

    Just did this, first the tune (you'll like it, I just composed it) and then the backing minus the tune. Feel free to tell me it's rubbish, seriously. I'm not fishing either, go ahead. I might learn something if you think it's not good.


  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Well, I also mentioned that "nothing is corny if it swings," but...

    Not too many "charleston's in McCoy's actual COMPING, jus' sayin.'
    Sure.

    (Although the famous Love Supreme riff is also... a displaced Charleston. Obviously he loved this rhythm.)

    And people who actually check out the music, like yourself, don't need to be told that the charleston isn't square, right? But that's a good one to dig out, no?

    My point is always that McCoy or Peter Bernstein or whoever improvising comping is based on a solid foundation. That sheet of rhythms, in combination with a lot of listening and practicing of cells and combinations and grooves, IMO really not a bad place to start.

    Effective comping can be really really simple. A master jazz musician knows when to lock in a rhythm section and when to improvise more freely. Non masters can start by playing simple groove based things as a starting point. Slowly they will evolve to more creative playing that still sits in the pocket. How do you think all those guys learned? Playing dance gigs. (Well not sure about Peter, but there's no way in hell his mentors wouldn't have brought it up. Jim Hall loved swing era dance music for instance.)

    Look, if you spend any time playing percussion or drums you don't start day 1 with improvising. You learn some patterns and grooves, right?

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I find that getting a good rhythmic feel in my comping is among the most challenging aspects of playing jazz guitar.

    Comping isn't one thing. There are various ways to view it, but I'll focus on one categorization for this post: pulse vs. ornamentation.

    Freddie Green was all pulse. Charleston is all pulse. The other usual variations you see written out are typically about different ways to play pulse.
    In my opinion it's not pulse vs ornamentation, I would call it groove vs ornamentation. Pulse must always be there. Ornamentations, spasms, horn stabs, punches are all layered on top of the pulse. But I know what you mean. I think it's a good distinction. Freddie Green I think had both pulse and ornamentation. He moved voices around inside the bar even though they were rhythmically symmetric quarter notes.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I find that getting a good rhythmic feel in my comping is among the most challenging aspects of playing jazz guitar.

    Comping isn't one thing. There are various ways to view it, but I'll focus on one categorization for this post: pulse vs. ornamentation.

    Freddie Green was all pulse. Charleston is all pulse. The other usual variations you see written out are typically about different ways to play pulse.

    But, when you hear a great player live, particularly as the only comping instrument, a lot of the time, they aren't playing pulse.
    I don't understand your distinction between pulse and non pulse. All rhythm has pulse, even if it's poly pulse, or the flexible pulse found in rubato.

    Beats and upbeats in combination. Everything has to placed correctly. Charleston is a useful starting syncopated rhythm as is the push on 1 and 3... Basic vocab. Lock that shit in. Then play around with other syncopations. 2 bar phrases are very useful. A lot of jazz figures lock in with the clave, for instance.

    Perhaps you mean expressing the pulse as in locking into a drummer. Again, all rhythms should do this. Lower level/non jazz players I think don't always understand where the upbeats sit, so sometimes you have to be more explicit about playing a pattern. I've seen Jim Mullen lock in rhythm sections that way. Not incidentally, with just 4's - usually a charleston or a push figure, expressing the upbeat.

    Again, this is probably a good idea if you are starting out.

    Usually you can tell by getting a student/yourself to sing or play the upbeats at a tempo and if necessary have them/yourself listen back to a recording. It's not hand wavy mysticism 'oh rhythm is a great mystery' bollocks, it's pretty flipping obvious when you know what to listen out for, and it can be fixed, at least for a given tempo. (I mean, I understand what I am getting wrong at least, so hey that's a start :-) All I can say is thank you to the jazz guitar teacher who hipped me to this.)

    Rather, they're ornamenting. One way to think about this is that it is akin to horn backgrounds in a big band, played behind a soloist.
    The Basie orchestra horn section is an absolute case in point (although legend has it they needed Freddie to lock in... however, Freddie very much expressed the upbeat via his muting)

    Again I don't see this as a distinction. You can ornament without pulse, and it won't swing. Usually what players think of as a beat placement problem is actually lack of consistency with the upbeat placement. Playing with the Basie band recordings is very much not a bad way to address that. L'il Darlin is a good one... Super laid back and effortlessly swinging is the effect, accuracy and consistency of upbeat placement is the cause.

    Horn backgrounds don't follow a pulse. They make a melodic, harmonic and rhythmic statement which leaves ample space for the soloist. Of course, in a small group, you don't want to plan your ornamentation ahead of time -- you have to respond to the band (not just the soloist).
    Yeah again I think you must be using a different definition of pulse to me that I don't understand. Don't follow a pulse? WTF are you on about? That shit be swangin' :-)

    I think maybe you are using pulse to mean downbeats? But your pulse, your heart beat has a downbeat and an upbeat. Unless you are a robot. Pulse as a word expresses living motion, more than simply ‘time’ which evokes the dead click of a metronome.

    And guess which you don’t practice by setting the metronome to click on the beat?

    Also, sometimes you are pushing, I think, goading the soloist, jabbing them a little. After the beat purely reactive comping can be a bit limp. It's an upbeat, after all, not an afterbeat.

    One of my favorite comp-ists is Ralph Sharon, who was Tony Bennett's pianist for years. Ralph didn't just pulse. Rather, he seemed to focus more on harmonic transitions.

    When guitarists do this, you often hear chord changes anticipated, then pushed, then some space, and thence into the next anticipation and so forth. The anticipations are propulsive.
    Yes - the anticipations are VERY EXACT and locked in to the rhythm section. The more I play, the more I get the impression that it's actually the placement of the upbeats, more than the beats that keeps the tempo locked in. After all, bassists can push, horns can lay back...

    You know, once you have this together you can start to explore overlaid pulses. You can play straight against swung, for instance, snaky double time feels, all sorts. But it has to start somewhere.

    It's a shame guitarists don't get to play in section more...

    I recently heard Ed Cherry at Small's doing a great job at this. His comping sounded more like horn backgrounds than pulse. Lots of passing chords, all the movement perfectly integrated into the tune with the pulse implied, not constantly played.

    I find that playing this way is challenging. At one level, you have to be good at finding the chords you need, which is quite a skill in itself. Necessary, but not sufficient. The harder part is getting the part right so that the music is in the pocket and grooves. It's like improvising a good horn background part for every phrase of multiple choruses of a tune.

    Reg has multiple videos where you can hear this kind of great time feel and see, quite clearly, what he's doing. To be honest, I haven't figured out a lot of what he discusses about organization and references, but I've gotten something important from his videos.
    Talking about the same shit with different terminology I think. All of this is good stuff, but I think you are creating an unhelpful binary division
    between 'pulse' and ornamentation. Whatever the semantics (and words are usually inadequate) it may be more helpful to view it as a spectrum. I find this also true of discussion of improvisation and composition for instance.

    I also think we have in music education, a European preoccupation with getting the beat right. As Barry says - it's about the 'ands'
    Last edited by christianm77; 11-12-2019 at 07:05 PM.

  37. #36

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    A further aspect of coming, is - energy. How much do you need to create. Upbeats create rhythmic energy, downbeats dissipate it.

    You can play dead on 1 and 3, and if the soloist is swinging, they will create all the energy you need and you are doing a decent job.

    Perhaps they leave spaces and you play some upbeats to keep the energy happening. Or perhaps you like the feeling of the music moving into half time at that moment... it's an effect...

    OTOH maybe the soloist is playing long, floating phrases and that gives you more room to play interesting rhythms.

    Or maybe the soloist needs a little help locking in, which will require a solid sense of beat and upbeat. I wonder if I can think of a simple rhythmic pattern that does that?

    Some intermediate and quite advanced players seem to think you need to push everything and play interesting rhythms all the time. Other think of the beats as square because they dissipate energy... Of course, you need a positive and a negative for electricity to flow...
    Last edited by christianm77; 11-12-2019 at 07:06 PM.

  38. #37

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    Also, if you record anything, record yourself comping. If anything, you 'll hear overplaying, blurry placement of chords, repeating same old patterns, weak and strong areas on the fretboard for chords, etc.. I like to practice extreme minimalism, to try and accompany with as little as possible, and also to just stop and take pauses, go through a tune without stating all the changes.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter View Post
    Also, if you record anything, record yourself comping. If anything, you 'll hear overplaying, blurry placement of chords, repeating same old patterns, weak and strong areas on the fretboard for chords, etc.. I like to practice extreme minimalism, to try and accompany with as little as possible, and also to just stop and take pauses, go through a tune without stating all the changes.
    YES! I’d already spammed like a million words, but I wanted to add I think a loop pedal is one of the best practice tools.

    You can comp and solo over it, to get a feel of what it feels like to play with your comping, but for the more advanced student doing the other way round, solo first and comp for yourself.

    Tells you exactly where your time is at.

  40. #39

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    I first encountered the idea of pulse vs ornamentation in Brazilian music. The idea is that, say, the guitar plays a straight samba pattern while the piano layers something over it that is more legato. And, they switch off at will. It's also possible to have both (or more) play the pulse in ways which aren't the same but which lock perfectly. If both play what I think of as ornamentation, the groove might suffer.

    To me, Freddie is pulse. Sure, he varies the notes, but he doesn't vary the rhythm. It's like a Brazilian guitarist doing that Joao Gilberto comp without varying it (actually, Joao varied it with stretching and compression of the basic rhythm, in way which sounded terrific and was hard to imitate).

    The ornamentation is another part overlayed which is not simply on the clave (or tamborim or chop, depending on what language you use). It's maybe akin to Freddie vs the horn backgrounds.

    What I heard Ed Cherry do reminded me of horn backgrounds more than Freddie. Ralph Sharon does both, with particularly strong ornamentation -- listen, for example, to how he transitions into a bridge. It's like a 2 bar symphony, to my ear.

    Hopefully, that's clear enough to explain what I was addressing.

  41. #40

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    my take..comping is an art unto itself..with many variations..playing on the beat is very natural..its learning to play off the beat and at the same time know where the beat is..anticipations seem like a next step to this logic..

    I started with a click track..and all I had to do is play one note on each click..now that sounds easy huh...but the playback told me I was as much as a whole beat off at times .. one thing with keeping time is the feel to "rush" the beat..and at some point to make a correction which only makes matters worse ..now your trying to keep time to your self AND the click track..

    when guys would tell me to GO SLOW they mean very slow..not as easy at it sounds..it demands alot of concentration in the beginning...

    playing with a backing track is a great way to get the basics under your fingers..and experiment a bit..begin accenting the upbeat ..then when you have that feel down..tackle some standards that have flowing changes the tune Blue Bossa is a great way to practice this kind of stuff..

    as others have advised listen to as much jazz and other styles of music and pay attention to the backround players..when you have some of this down..listen to some masters do their magic..for me its the Kind of Blue album..Bill Evans doing chord magic...on Blue in Green and All Blues and Flemenco Sketches..are timeless studies in what is possible with rythmic variations with chords
    play well ...
    wolf

  42. #41

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    As others have said, listen to the albums. I recommend starting with Grant Green's comping for the bass solos on the "Green Street" album. In general listening to bass solo comping is a great way to learn IMO because there is less going (usually) so it's easier to catch exactly what the comper is doing.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I first encountered the idea of pulse vs ornamentation in Brazilian music. The idea is that, say, the guitar plays a straight samba pattern while the piano layers something over it that is more legato. And, they switch off at will. It's also possible to have both (or more) play the pulse in ways which aren't the same but which lock perfectly. If both play what I think of as ornamentation, the groove might suffer.

    To me, Freddie is pulse. Sure, he varies the notes, but he doesn't vary the rhythm. It's like a Brazilian guitarist doing that Joao Gilberto comp without varying it (actually, Joao varied it with stretching and compression of the basic rhythm, in way which sounded terrific and was hard to imitate).

    The ornamentation is another part overlayed which is not simply on the clave (or tamborim or chop, depending on what language you use). It's maybe akin to Freddie vs the horn backgrounds.

    What I heard Ed Cherry do reminded me of horn backgrounds more than Freddie. Ralph Sharon does both, with particularly strong ornamentation -- listen, for example, to how he transitions into a bridge. It's like a 2 bar symphony, to my ear.

    Hopefully, that's clear enough to explain what I was addressing.
    I’m not sure I’d describe what Freddie does as being comping even tbh. It’s rhythm guitar. Of course for many players FG is the only rhythm guitarist they know lol, so they might be unfamiliar with the storied history and development of this style of playing.

    And needless to say most guitarists doing ‘Freddie green’ sounds like nothing of the sort.... I’m inclined to agree when Bruce Forman said only guys over 80 know how to do it... of course there are exceptions. I’ve done a lot of it myself and I think people like the way I do it, at least they give me gigs.

    Anyway a roster of my favourite jazz rhythm players would have to include Tal Farlow, Billy Bean, Herb Ellis and Jim Hall as well as FG, Allan Reuss and so on from the swing era.

    Anchoring your comping in rhythm guitar is something I think that can be said for Jim and his student Peter Bernstein above. Strumming the strings has perhaps been overtaken by finger style for most players (more pianistic) but you can explore how rhythm guitar shades into comping when you play with a pick.

    You also get to be the ride cymbal before you learn to be the snare.

    Even in straight 4 playing you get rhythm kicks and so on.

    Anyway this isn’t really a discussion of straight 4s.... but I think it’s good for players to work on it. Hard to get sounding good though.

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I’m not sure I’d describe what Freddie does as being comping even tbh. It’s rhythm guitar. Of course for many players FG is the only rhythm guitarist they know lol, so they might be unfamiliar with the storied history and development of this style of playing.

    And needless to say most guitarists doing ‘Freddie green’ sounds like nothing of the sort.... I’m inclined to agree when Bruce Forman said only guys over 80 know how to do it... of course there are exceptions. I’ve done a lot of it myself and I think people like the way I do it, at least they give me gigs.

    Anyway a roster of my favourite jazz rhythm players would have to include Tal Farlow, Billy Bean, Herb Ellis and Jim Hall as well as FG, Allan Reuss and so on from the swing era.

    Anchoring your comping in rhythm guitar is something I think that can be said for Jim and his student Peter Bernstein above. Strumming the strings has perhaps been overtaken by finger style for most players (more pianistic) but you can explore how rhythm guitar shades into comping when you play with a pick.

    You also get to be the ride cymbal before you learn to be the snare.

    Even in straight 4 playing you get rhythm kicks and so on.

    Anyway this isn’t really a discussion of straight 4s.... but I think it’s good for players to work on it. Hard to get sounding good though.
    Jim Hall is my personal favorite comper. I listened a lot to his work with Paul Desmond. I hear a lot of what I like as ornamentation, although he could be fully propulsive. To me, it's the opposite of FG.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    Jim Hall is my personal favorite comper. I listened a lot to his work with Paul Desmond. I hear a lot of what I like as ornamentation, although he could be fully propulsive. To me, it's the opposite of FG.
    I’m not taking about Jim’s comping. I’m talking about his rhythm playing. He was great at it. Check out ‘jazz guitar.’ He also does it intermittently with Bill Evans on Undercurrents.

    Most of the guitarists of that era were accomplished jazz rhythm players.

    (People talk about ‘Freddie Green style’, and of course he was the daddy of the swing rhythm players, but at the same time it sometimes makes it sound like he was the only person to play like that lol.... no, that was a big part of the job back then, even after the war. Also what most people call ‘FG style’ is nothing like what he actually played... his style is so distinctive I can always spot it. Obviously Jim was greatly inspired by and loved Freddie - he talks at length about him in his book, but to me he had his own take on this way of playing.)

    People associate rhythm guitar with big bands or gypsy jazz but it was actually a very common combination throughout the 40s and 50s to have bass, guitar and piano as a working a line up. This is a bit forgotten today... but the guitarist was expected to be the drums so to speak as well as a soloist foil. Nat Cole trio, Oscar Peterson with Herb Ellis, Tal Farlow with Eddie costa, billie beans trio, art Tatum with tiny grimes, even early Ahmad Jamal.

    Unlike the swing era where the guitar was barely audible and essentially integrated into the drums, or else sounding very locked in and ‘chunky’ for instance on Django or Fats Waller’s records, the guitarists of this era got really good at emulating the sound of brush snare and even ride cymbal. Jim is a case in point.... I LOVE this style.

    Jim Halls’s first album has this line up for instance, before he basically showed the world that the guitarist could function as the sole harmonic voice with his later recordings.

    (OTOH Bill, scott la faro, paul motian and put the guitar version of the piano trio permanently out of fashion and changed the way rhythm sections would play for decades.... more recently interest in this historic styles have resurfaced)

    The other thing is - Jim is still working with a pick when he comped. This places him closer to FG than many later hybrid or fingerstyle pickers to my ears, or at least on a continuum with the plectrum guitar tradition.

    It’s good to explore a hinterland between straight 4s and broken up, sparser comping. Imagine you have a slider that goes from one extreme to the other. The hinterland is very useful I find....

    To me the opposite of FG is the type of comping where you leave floating ambient textures or open chords, not the clipped chords, punchy accents and assertive swing of Jim’s comping style.... nothing wrong with that I love to play that atmospheric style too...
    Last edited by christianm77; 11-13-2019 at 03:01 PM.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I’m not taking about Jim’s comping. I’m talking about his rhythm playing. He was great at it. Check out ‘jazz guitar.’ He also does it intermittently with Bill Evans on Undercurrents.

    Most of the guitarists of that era were accomplished jazz rhythm players.

    (People talk about ‘Freddie Green style’, and of course he was the daddy of the swing rhythm players, but at the same time it sometimes makes it sound like he was the only person to play like that lol.... no, that was a big part of the job back then, even after the war. Also what most people call ‘FG style’ is nothing like what he actually played... his style is so distinctive I can always spot it. Obviously Jim was greatly inspired by and loved Freddie - he talks at length about him in his book, but to me he had his own take on this way of playing.)

    People associate rhythm guitar with big bands or gypsy jazz but it was actually a very common combination throughout the 40s and 50s to have bass, guitar and piano as a working a line up. This is a bit forgotten today... but the guitarist was expected to be the drums so to speak as well as a soloist foil. Nat Cole trio, Oscar Peterson with Herb Ellis, Tal Farlow with Eddie costa, billie beans trio, art Tatum with tiny grimes, even early Ahmad Jamal.

    Unlike the swing era where the guitar was barely audible and essentially integrated into the drums, or else sounding very locked in and ‘chunky’ for instance on Django or Fats Waller’s records, the guitarists of this era got really good at emulating the sound of brush snare and even ride cymbal. Jim is a case in point.... I LOVE this style.

    Jim Halls’s first album has this line up for instance, before he basically showed the world that the guitarist could function as the sole harmonic voice with his later recordings.

    (OTOH Bill, scott la faro, paul motian and put the guitar version of the piano trio permanently out of fashion and changed the way rhythm sections would play for decades.... more recently interest in this historic styles have resurfaced)

    The other thing is - Jim is still working with a pick when he comped. This places him closer to FG than many later hybrid or fingerstyle pickers to my ears, or at least on a continuum with the plectrum guitar tradition.

    It’s good to explore a hinterland between straight 4s and broken up, sparser comping. Imagine you have a slider that goes from one extreme to the other. The hinterland is very useful I find....

    To me the opposite of FG is the type of comping where you leave floating ambient textures or open chords, not the clipped chords, punchy accents and assertive swing of Jim’s comping style.... nothing wrong with that I love to play that atmospheric style too...
    I appreciate this. My taste runs toward Jim's work with Desmond on slower tunes. I don't hear him grinding out pulse (for want of a better description) but, rather, playing a well crafted part. But, I don't doubt that he could play straight rhythm guitar. My original point was to draw a distinction between pulse and ornamentation, not to suggest that Jim Hall could only do the latter or that there isn't a gray area.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I appreciate this. My taste runs toward Jim's work with Desmond on slower tunes. I don't hear him grinding out pulse (for want of a better description) but, rather, playing a well crafted part. But, I don't doubt that he could play straight rhythm guitar. My original point was to draw a distinction between pulse and ornamentation, not to suggest that Jim Hall could only do the latter or that there isn't a gray area.
    Yeah I don't think it's a particularly helpful or clear way of framing it. If you mean 'play time' as in lay down a clear pulse, this is a jazz expression that I've heard used by jazz players. However, the idea of 'playing time' itself is kind of a bit stupid and annoying, too. It's necessary for some styles of the music to play every beat, but we all play time, otherwise we are not playing the music.

    So, playing 'with good time' not playing 'time' - yes Jeff you are really talking about hollowing out the rhythmic information - catching fewer notes, introducing more rests in notation terms. This is harder because you have less to go on. You have to audiate more (play drums in your mind as Jeff put it) and play less.

    Most of us struggle with maintaining a sense of pulse/tempo in rests for instance. Peter Erskine discusses this in his book Time Awareness. People tend to make all the gaps too short.

    But try this: record yourself solo without any click, or any fills, playing a melody of a standard, preferably one with lots of gaps in. Now listen back and count or sing the beat - or comp FG style if you like. This will tell you how well you are maintaining that sense of pulse in your playing better than any other exercise I know. It's brutal. Soloing too? Play too many notes? Maybe you lose track of time between the notes... and so on...

    It's a problem you can disguise playing with a rhythm section because you can hear them... But it does mean you are leaning on the rhythm section.

    And this is equally true of sparse comping patterns.

    So anyway it still needs to be equally locked into the same basic matrix. And you are obviously not going to be able to do that if you can't play a flipping Charleston in time...

    ------

    Here's a nice demo of the slider in action - Jim plays rhythm at around 2:00 and morphs into freer comping with more accents:



    (And that's how you comp with piano, BTW. Crisp, percussive, not to much sustain in the guitar tone. And use your flipping plectrum like a proper guitar player, not hoity toity fingers like some third rate Bill Evans wannabe who plays the wrong instrument. Do you think the piano wants there to be another flipping piano? Here's the answer, it rhymes with 'duck off.')

    Comping on the bass solo is lovely, too. This track taught me a hell of a lot.

    But to reeeeeewind a little, my concern is increasingly pedagogy, and most people (who me?) on this thread are interested in splurging their brain contents than sharing something useful to the OP. I doubt you'd disagree that a good way to build up ability in comping is working on simpler patterns and ideas and locking them into grooves. The sheet is handy for that, perfectly reasonable teaching tool.

    It certainly doesn't need to be 4/4 rhythm guitar.... In fact it's arguably best not to try to do that until you can play Charleston, push, etc etc, or if Bruce is to be believed, at all if under the age of 80...

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Yeah I don't think it's a particularly helpful or clear way of framing it. If you mean 'play time' as in lay down a clear pulse, this is a jazz expression that I've heard used by jazz players. However, the idea of 'playing time' itself is kind of a bit stupid and annoying, too. It's necessary for some styles of the music to play every beat, but we all play time, otherwise we are not playing the music.

    So, playing 'with good time' not playing 'time' - yes Jeff you are really talking about hollowing out the rhythmic information - catching fewer notes, introducing more rests in notation terms. This is harder because you have less to go on. You have to audiate more (play drums in your mind as Jeff put it) and play less.

    Most of us struggle with maintaining a sense of pulse/tempo in rests for instance. Peter Erskine discusses this in his book Time Awareness. People tend to make all the gaps too short.

    But try this: record yourself solo without any click, or any fills, playing a melody of a standard, preferably one with lots of gaps in. Now listen back and count or sing the beat - or comp FG style if you like. This will tell you how well you are maintaining that sense of pulse in your playing better than any other exercise I know. It's brutal. Soloing too? Play too many notes? Maybe you lose track of time between the notes... and so on...

    It's a problem you can disguise playing with a rhythm section because you can hear them... But it does mean you are leaning on the rhythm section.

    And this is equally true of sparse comping patterns.

    So anyway it still needs to be equally locked into the same basic matrix. And you are obviously not going to be able to do that if you can't play a flipping Charleston in time...

    ------

    Here's a nice demo of the slider in action - Jim plays rhythm at around 2:00 and morphs into freer comping with more accents:



    (And that's how you comp with piano, BTW. Crisp, percussive, not to much sustain in the guitar tone. And use your flipping plectrum like a proper guitar player, not hoity toity fingers like some third rate Bill Evans wannabe who plays the wrong instrument. Do you think the piano wants there to be another flipping piano? Here's the answer, it rhymes with 'duck off.')

    Comping on the bass solo is lovely, too. This track taught me a hell of a lot.

    But to reeeeeewind a little, my concern is increasingly pedagogy, and most people (who me?) on this thread are interested in splurging their brain contents than sharing something useful to the OP. I doubt you'd disagree that a good way to build up ability in comping is working on simpler patterns and ideas and locking them into grooves. The sheet is handy for that, perfectly reasonable teaching tool.

    It certainly doesn't need to be 4/4 rhythm guitar.... In fact it's arguably best not to try to do that until you can play Charleston, push, etc etc, or if Bruce is to be believed, at all if under the age of 80...
    I think everybody made good points. I posted, not to contradict, but to add an idea which has helped me play in some situations with two chord instruments comping behind a horn. The two comping instruments need to accommodate each other. In the groove based music I usually play, the key to that is often having one pulse and the other ornament, per my usages of those terms.

    In some situations guitar and piano are required to alternate because they are, otherwise, inclined to make mud. But, if you stay aware of the pulse/ornamentation idea, it's easier for both instruments to contribute something while playing at the same time.

    Another way is for the two instruments to create one rhythmic statement by sharing the space. Sometimes you'll read about having one play in the front part of the bar and the other in the back. But, it can be intertwined, if both instruments leave room and play predictably.
    Sounds great when it works, but, tbh, half the kb players I play with simply won't go in that direction.

    I contributed this because it sounded like the discussion was treating all accompaniment as a monolithic concept.

  49. #48

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    For me, jazz is rhythm, it is more uptempo than ballad, and less about being too esoteric in the rhythm section. Aside from "rhythm", there remains the fact that your harmonic choices create harmonic rhythm, with a gravity all their own. For this reason, I find that you can say a lot with a little, and very easily say too much. Many soloists like to have something solid to hang their hat on, but I don't mean you have to be a machine. This is jazz, and you have the freedom to make choices. I choose less.

    I'm also another who doesn't consider 4 to the bar, or rhythm guitar as comping.
    Last edited by cosmic gumbo; 11-13-2019 at 11:40 PM.

  50. #49

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    I feel like the more I play strict 4 to the bar rhythm, the more creative my syncopations and accents are when I break out of it. I think it forces you to use your ear to be more deliberate about the syncopations rather than just throwing in the cool rhythmic patterns you know just because they’re there. It’s like a form of editing. If you want interesting phrases in your solos, try playing less rather than more. Same goes for comping. Give yourself time to hear before you throw some notes out there.

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I think everybody made good points. I posted, not to contradict, but to add an idea which has helped me play in some situations with two chord instruments comping behind a horn. The two comping instruments need to accommodate each other. In the groove based music I usually play, the key to that is often having one pulse and the other ornament, per my usages of those terms.

    In some situations guitar and piano are required to alternate because they are, otherwise, inclined to make mud. But, if you stay aware of the pulse/ornamentation idea, it's easier for both instruments to contribute something while playing at the same time.
    Clashing rhythms can be awkward, true... I have my own thoughts on this... I don't think straight 4's are the only way to comp for a pianist. I think Jim shows that pretty clearly, in fact. But straight 4's always work in this context, are a safe bet, provided the guitarist is quieter than the piano.

    So why mud? What is the source of the dreaded mud? It's interesting to me that Jim Hall's solution to this is more textural/orchestrational and to do with setting the volume of the guitar and his pick attack a certain way than anything to do with harmony.

    But of course, the studies of comping etc in modern music school etc encourage the analysis of what can be recorded in music notation. That is also why I hate the term 'transcription.'

    (You may ask are there any terms I do like haha. Yes, there are. Simpler the better. Instead of 'transcription' lets say 'ear learning.' Of course the former sounds more 'proper' and 'academic' which is why it is used. First rule of jazz theory - never use an anglo saxon description when some wanky and inaccurate latin or greek derived term will do.)

    Another way is for the two instruments to create one rhythmic statement by sharing the space. Sometimes you'll read about having one play in the front part of the bar and the other in the back. But, it can be intertwined, if both instruments leave room and play predictably.
    Sounds great when it works, but, tbh, half the kb players I play with simply won't go in that direction.
    KB players are at least half the problem. But, you do what you are used to. KB players who play solo, for instance, often overcomp in band settings.