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  1. #1

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    Is there any good way to memorize all the various jazz chords on guitar and are there any good shortcuts to memorize them all?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    For me it was the exercise of moving four note voicings up the neck.
    Start with the "drop three" voicings on strings 6, 4, 3, 2.
    You will end up with four shapes (inversions) for each chord, and these patterns always follow one another in the same order.
    If you want to see an example of how to do this, check out Mel Bay's "Rhythm Guitar Chord System."
    It's incomplete, but it demonstrates the idea. If you want to see a more thorough treatment of this idea on different string sets, check out "Chords" by Chuck Wayne.
    Once you study these four note voicings, you will notice that the shapes have multilple harmonic functions.
    For example, an F# minor seventh chord also functions as an A major sixth chord,a D major ninth chord (rootless), and a B9sus4 (rootless).

    Eventually, you'll be able to visualize these patterns as landmarks up and down the neck.

    Good Luck!
    Jonathan

  4. #3

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    You mean all 2341 of them?

    You only need to know how to play the chords for the songs you want to play... learn chords by playing songs. This provides the harmonic and melodic context for best learning.

  5. #4

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    I learned the basic jazz chords when my teacher, Sid Margolies, showed me the chords I needed to play tunes and wrote them out with dots on a grid, circling the root. My hw was to learn all 12 keys.

    Another good lesson was Chuck Wayne's approach, where you learn a 7th chord on 4 adjacent strings in 4 places on the fingerboard. Then you change the chord from 7 to m7 to m6 maj7 etc each time changing the notes that need to be changed.

    Much later, I learned how to move a voicing through a scale. And, I learned the names of the notes in the basic chords I use, instantly, in 12 keys. Then, you can look at a chord symbol and pick the notes you want. Often just 2 or 3, with the fingering dictated by the flow of the harmony you're playing.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 03-10-2020 at 08:29 PM.

  6. #5

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    Specific voicings (drop2, drop3 etc.) have a constant intervallatic geometry (and constant chord tone disposition on the four involved strings).
    As a result - memorizing simple rules, and knowing how to identify third, fifth and sixth intervals on the fretboard - it becomes relatively simple to memorize all the basic (seventh) chords on all sets of strings with the root starting from any string (all inversions).
    From this basis, all variants of the chord (alterations and extensions) can be deduced very easily.
    There are many online resources and written books in this regard. I remember the first time I learned this 'technique' was thanks to reading an online article by Matt Warnock.

    It's a mechanical process - at the start - and you can build chords in your mind while walking the dog (like I did).

    Sergio
    Last edited by sergio.bello; 03-10-2020 at 08:11 PM. Reason: typo correction

  7. #6

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    One approach I found useful I call comparative study.

    Ex. Various drop 2 7th chord qualities with a root in the bass

    Starting reference: CGBE

    Cma7 --------- C G B E
    C7 ------------- C G Bb E
    Cma7+ ------- C G# B E
    C7+ ----------- C G# Bb E
    Cma7b5 ------ C Gb B E
    C7b5 ---------- C Gb Bb E
    CmMa7 ------- C G B Eb
    Cm7 ----------- C G Bb Eb
    Cma7o -------- C Gb B Eb
    Cm7b5 -------- C Gb Bb Eb
    Co7 ------------ C Gb A Eb
    Cma7sus ------ C G B F
    C7sus ---------- C G Bb F

  8. #7

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    It helped me to understand what intervals and notes were in them.

    that way I could learn a voicing for one chord type and mutate it into another one.

    also good for scales

  9. #8

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    If learned chords aren't applied to a form or song, there's no real way to hear what they do. Eb9, Gm7b5, Bbm6, A7#5b9, etc., they're all gonna sound about the same, but only a couple are V7 chords, for example, only one is a vii7, etc. I think context/function is an important distinction in learning chords. Too may guitarists will use the same name of just one of those chords for all applications.....that's whack.

  10. #9

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    Use them a lot.

  11. #10

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    I play scales as chords.

    Also I use scale patterns to learn them in bulk - like if knowing the diatonic scale fully, you can just mark your chord voices on the pattern and instead memorizing chords one by one, you memorize the voices and add some color notes if you want. It's sounds crazy difficult but really is simple, straightforward and fast.

    That said, there is no better way to learn chords to actually learn songs. Spend a lot of time with basics, learn couple new cool chords each week.. or each day if you have elephant's memory... and be proud about what you know so far and also about what you're able to learn and use in time.

  12. #11

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    Know the fretboard and intervals. Stop thinking of chords as "grips."

    There's no shortcut better than knowledge.

  13. #12

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    Carol Kaye has a 4-5 page handout of chord grips needed to play jazz standards. Not every chord (or voicing) you'll ever want to learn, but it can get you through any jazz standard you might be asked to play.

    I don't recall whether it's a stand-alone item for sale at her website or something she puts in with certain orders.

    carolkaye.com

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Carol Kaye has a 4-5 page handout of chord grips needed to play jazz standards. Not every chord (or voicing) you'll ever want to learn, but it can get you through any jazz standard you might be asked to play.

    I don't recall whether it's a stand-alone item for sale at her website or something she puts in with certain orders.

    carolkaye.com
    5 pages? I hope they're big diagrams.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by corpse
    5 pages? I hope they're big diagrams.
    I said "don't just memorize grips" but everything I've seen from Carol Kaye has always been good, no-nonsense material.

  16. #15

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    I made the following charts when I was learning the basic 7th & 6th chords. They were initially hand written, but I eventually cleaned them up. I wanted to learn not just the grips, but also to know where each chord tone was. I also wanted to be able to visualize the positions of the inversions both up and down and across the neck. I arranged them on the page so only one note moves at a time between adjacent rows.

    Once I built these charts, I’d come up with various exercises to practice transitioning between them in familiar tunes. I felt this helped me connect the dots (literally!) on chord tones both horizontally and vertically.

    After becoming comfortable with these road maps, it was fairly easy to add extensions. I think knowing where the guide tones (3rds and 7ths) are helped my comping and voice leading.

    A possible drawback of this approach is that by focusing on shapes and relative relationships I tend to get lazy about learning the spelling of scales and chords.

    I’ve seen similar charts, but at the time I started these I could find nothing that showed how chords were laid out up and down the neck.

    It’s also possible to construct these for other string sets. You can easily shift these from one string set to another if you account for the G & B string interval.




  17. #16

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    The usual way people start learning chords is by grip. They learn that this shape, or several shapes in different spots, is a C chord. This other one is a D, a G etc.

    As they learn chords with sevenths, major sevenths, minors etc, they begin to see the geometric changes in the grips. If you learn to play a lot of songs that way, it works. People usually start experimenting, moving this finger or that one. Also, they copy from other players and records and learn more. All fine.

    Here's an alternative which may be more accessible to the advanced player.

    You learn to read. You learn the fingerboard - all over -- cold. You learn the theory behind chord construction. You learn the notes in the chords you use. With experience playing in groups, you learn which notes are important in various situations, bearing in mind that guitar doesn't allow you to play every note in every chord, even if you wanted to -- and you don't.

    Eventually, you start seeing comping as individual moving voices that fit the chord symbols (with embellishment as desired). So, to take a simple example: suppose the chord sequence is a iim7b5 V7 im in Am. You could play 7x776x to x7676x to 5x4555. Those are common enough grips. Or, you could think, I want to be on the B and G strings to get in the right register in the context of the group's sound. I'll hit the b3 and the #11. The bassist has the root. I could play the b7, but I won't bother. Then, you play xxx76x. Next comes E7 or maybe E7b9. You could hold the same two notes (or move the F to an E) and let the change in the bassist's note do the work of changing the chord color. You might think, I'll hold the D, to get the b7 (against E7b9) and then I'll move the F to a G. Now, you're outlining E7#9 and you're heading to Am. You've got a G on top of the chord - and you might think, I can raise that to a G# and get a moving voice, G G# A.

    Lots of other options to deal with this simple situation. The point is you don't have to think about which grips you know. You think about the notes of the chords as individual voices and, by abandoning 4 finger grips, you give yourself the flexibility to play just the notes you want.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by KirkP
    I made the following charts when I was learning the basic 7th & 6th chords. They were initially hand written, but I eventually cleaned them up. I wanted to learn not just the grips, but also to know where each chord tone was. I also wanted to be able to visualize the positions of the inversions both up and down and across the neck. I arranged them on the page so only one note moves at a time between adjacent rows.

    Once I built these charts, I’d come up with various exercises to practice transitioning between them in familiar tunes. I felt this helped me connect the dots (literally!) on chord tones both horizontally and vertically.

    After becoming comfortable with these road maps, it was fairly easy to add extensions. I think knowing where the guide tones (3rds and 7ths) are helped my comping and voice leading.

    A possible drawback of this approach is that by focusing on shapes and relative relationships I tend to get lazy about learning the spelling of scales and chords.

    I’ve seen similar charts, but at the time I started these I could find nothing that showed how chords were laid out up and down the neck.

    It’s also possible to construct these for other string sets. You can easily shift these from one string set to another if you account for the G & B string interval.



    its interesting how utterly weird and freakish I find that way of visualising. It’s just not the way I see it. But I can see some would.

    probably some PhD in there somewhere

  19. #18

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    Great way to memorize chords is:
    Get to know all 2-note shell-voicings on your fretboard: only consisting of 3rds and 7ths.
    There are only 4 shell chords
    • Dominant:3 and b7
    • minor: b3, b7
    • major: 3, 7
    • diminished: b3, 6

    Get to know them in relation to the CAGED system: root note on low E, A string and D string.
    useful ways to memorize jazz chords?-7f5bf631-4317-4c72-8715-7efa5ba9a4f0-png
    this way, you learn to “see” intervals on your guitar from the root note up.
    To know all chords, just add 1 chord tone (not the root, mostly) or colours (9ths, 13ths, #11...) on the remaining strings.
    Stick to 3 or four note chords. That’s plenty. Playing big six string chords sounds bad in a band.
    works for me. Oh, Mike Stern often refers to this method: first, only play shell voicings, add other notes only when you know the tune better.
    oh yeah. The CAGED system sees 5 positions on a guitar. Some guitar players, Pat Metheny or Allan Holdsworth see the guitar horizontally, not in positions. Then again, Scofield does. If it’s good for Sco, it’s good for us mortals, too.

    Pressed about “letting go of position playing”, Scofield said: I am a position player, I just switch positions often.

    thought that was funny.

  20. #19
    Thanks everyone. I found that thread really helpful.

  21. #20

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    My first lesson with Ted Greene..went something like this...."what song do you want to learn..? ahh..Lullabye of Birdland..?" First ..he played it through..then turned his tele over and used the back as a desktop
    ripped out a piece of paper and wrote the chords out in roman numerals...I was still spinning from him playing the tune in a chord melody ..

    he said learning tunes in roman numerals is far easier to remember than chord names..and the big plus of this method is they apply to ALL keys... after several months of lessons with him
    the wisdom of this began to sink in...and of course a ii7 V7 is the same in all keys ..where Am7 D7 is NOT the same in all keys

    now I worked with a book by John Meeegan "tonal and rhythmic principles" years before lessons with Ted..and yes all the tunes in that book were presented in roman numerals..and then the "A HA"
    thing kicked in...

    and as time passed using this method ..even with altered dominants was far easier to recall than a collection of alpha/numeric locations on the fretboard..and yes
    the transition to using the proper scales/arpeggios and all carry along with this thinking..and playing in all keys becomes just routine rather than a "horror movie in 3D"

  22. #21
    Thanks Wolf. That sounds very sensible. I'm definitely going to start learning tunes in Roman Numerals.
    I just hope I don't have to learn lyrics in Latin too.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolflen
    My first lesson with Ted Greene..went something like this...."what song do you want to learn..? ahh..Lullabye of Birdland..?" First ..he played it through..then turned his tele over and used the back as a desktop
    ripped out a piece of paper and wrote the chords out in roman numerals...I was still spinning from him playing the tune in a chord melody ..

    he said learning tunes in roman numerals is far easier to remember than chord names..and the big plus of this method is they apply to ALL keys... after several months of lessons with him
    the wisdom of this began to sink in...and of course a ii7 V7 is the same in all keys ..where Am7 D7 is NOT the same in all keys

    now I worked with a book by John Meeegan "tonal and rhythmic principles" years before lessons with Ted..and yes all the tunes in that book were presented in roman numerals..and then the "A HA"
    thing kicked in...

    and as time passed using this method ..even with altered dominants was far easier to recall than a collection of alpha/numeric locations on the fretboard..and yes
    the transition to using the proper scales/arpeggios and all carry along with this thinking..and playing in all keys becomes just routine rather than a "horror movie in 3D"
    How did Ted deal with modulations, how did he classify them with Roman numerals?
    cheers!

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzism
    How did Ted deal with modulations, how did he classify them with Roman numerals?
    cheers!
    yes he did...example using lullabye of birdland again..the bridge goes from key of E minor into G major..Ted used a bracket over all the affected chords { of III } and at the end of the turnaround
    the last two chords went back into Eminor again he used a bracket { iimi7b5 V7 of i }

    when your just getting used to this approach you may hesitate on the changes until it sinks in..

    the one other thing that gets assimilated in this process is seeing the scales degrees as harmonized chords rather than stand alone structures with no relation to each other

  25. #24

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    I like mapping them out over a tune.

  26. #25

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    This approach is very similar to traditional classical analysis - they always use numerals - ... at least in what is referred to as "Riemanian theory" (though they do not do it for cords but rather for harmony)..

    during modualtion there is always some ambiguity... I guess one has to choose whi ch chords function in both keys simultatneous and at which point it is allready a new key established..

  27. #26

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  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by rsclosson
    The descriptions of the Jimmy Bruno lessons is basically how I used the charts I provided in post #15. Those exercises formed the road map that I rely on to find my way around the fretboard, both for comping and solo guitar arrangement. My charts don’t include as many string set combinations as yours though. I should work on some of those that I neglected.