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  1. #1

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    How about two note voicings, just the 3rd and 7th? With an occasional root thrown in or plucked before or after the 2 note voicing, when there is no bass player. And when there is a bass player no root even needed, though it doesn’t hurt. I asked my favorite jazz guitarist how he comps when I’m playing piano and he said he plays real little chords mostly just the third and seventh and avoids playing 9th 11th and 13th. It sounds really clean and he gets a great rhythmic comp going behind me and never gets in my way even when we comp at the same time.
    Last edited by rintincop; 07-10-2020 at 04:09 AM.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    ... never gets in my way even when we come at the same time.
    Way too much information.

  4. #3

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    3 and 7 two note voices sound good and are easy to play on guitar. Usually done with a bassist. Provides some propulsion while staying out of the way of the keys.

    Another two note idea I like is to hold one note and then move the second, often down a fragment of a scale. I got that from listening to Jim Hall.

  5. #4

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    Let's face it, the guitar has way too many strings. Two is all you need. Seriously, you could go a long way in jazz with just two strings and a sense of swing. No sarcasm here, I mean it.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    Let's face it, the guitar has way too many strings. Two is all you need. Seriously, you could go a long way in jazz with just two strings and a sense of swing. No sarcasm here, I mean it.
    C'mon, just TWO strings ?! How will you make the ladies swoon with a romantic version of "Georgia" when all you have is a root and a third or
    a third and a 7th ?
    I agree when we're talking about a larger band , some faster tunes and when you're trying to cop the classic Freddie Green sound but only under the proviso that "beauty of tone" is not on the agenda - it's more like "it don't mean a thing ...."

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    Let's face it, the guitar has way too many strings. Two is all you need. Seriously, you could go a long way in jazz with just two strings and a sense of swing. No sarcasm here, I mean it.
    Good advice if you can't get out to buy new strings due to covid lockdowns!

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    Let's face it, the guitar has way too many strings. Two is all you need. Seriously, you could go a long way in jazz with just two strings and a sense of swing. No sarcasm here, I mean it.
    I agree. Especially the D and G strings. 3rds and 7ths voiced there are out of the way of the bass and the melody. It's great to know everything in relation to those two notes played there (-for major, minor, and 7th chords, anyway.)

    Tim Lerch calls those "essence chords." He also voices them lower (A and D strings) to have more room above them for melody. But it all starts with knowing those two-note voicings. And they sound so good!

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Tim Lerch calls those "essence chords."
    Tim has a lesson at JGS on two note accompaniment and it's a key part of his chord-melody improvisations.

    Jimmy Wyble had some thoughts on the subject as well, beyond 3 and 7 dyads.

  10. #9

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    They were also essential to Lenny Breau’s concept of comping for himself simultaneously with his solo lines. Good discussions of his voicings in the Visions book and in Paul Bordeau’s video lesson.

  11. #10

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    At Berklee they call these, "Guide Tones."

  12. #11

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    Starting with these two notes on the two middle strings is a great way to approach chords. On 2nd and 3rd strings they are also great melodic centers for navigating changes. They work for comping with and without playing the bass. Practicing them along with a songs melody is the best way i have found to learn tunes.

  13. #12

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    I first delved into the 3rd and 7th two-note voicings after a bass player set me straight on avoiding chords with roots. Listening to Jim Hall was a revelation for this approach. Depending on the context, you can add other relevant harmonic notes and have fun with voice leading.

  14. #13

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    Easiest way to learn those voicings is to learn all the Freddy Green grips first (which you need to learn anyway), and don't play the E string.

  15. #14

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    The art of rhythm guitar isn’t taught as much as it should be these days, and goes with piano like fish and chips.

    In fact the default guitar trio of the 1950s often seems to be as often Piano, Bass with Guitar as with drums, and guitarists got great at making the instrument sound like a pitched snare drum... Also you got also another solo voice into the deal.

    Was it Bill Evans that nudged the status quo towards drums? Or Jim Hall who popularised piano style comping on the guitar and put this instrument more in competition with the piano (bloody stupid idea if you ask me, pace the great Jim.) Or just jazz guitarists teachers who saw this style of playing as outmoded and old fashioned?

    Probably also changing styles of the music of course... rhythm sections getting freer and more open.

    My inspirations:
    Oscar Peterson and Herb Ellis
    Tal Farlow and Eddie Costa
    Jim Hall and Bill Evans
    Jim Hall and Carl Perkins
    George Shearing and Chuck Wayne
    Art Tatum and Tiny Grimes
    Ahmad Jamal and Ray Crawford Jr
    Nat Cole and Oscar Moore
    Billy Bean and Walter Norris
    and many many more

    Playing wise: Simple triadic, 6th and maybe at the most 7th chord voicings in open position on string groups 6 4 3, lots of chromatic passing chord movement....

    and above all the right sound that is more percussion than pitch make this a great complement to a piano player. but also light and smooth, never a heavy gypsy jazz feel, and nice and smooth on the four, not a two step or (god forbid) accented 2 and 4...

    This is not swing guitar, it is bop rhythm guitar, with that smooth, suave swing, not the vibey chugging of pre war rhythm sections. love it!

    When the guitar gets too ‘electric sounding’ the clashes become more of an issue; so rolling off the volume is as important as anything.

    Also sounds great with another guitar!

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by JazzPadd
    I first delved into the 3rd and 7th two-note voicings after a bass player set me straight on avoiding chords with roots. Listening to Jim Hall was a revelation for this approach. Depending on the context, you can add other relevant harmonic notes and have fun with voice leading.
    Another way around this is to set the pickup on the guitar the way Herb Ellis did, which is somewhere on the forum, with a big roll off on the bottom strings.

    This does a lot to make a hollowbody electric sound more suitable for rhythm playing and less overbearing in the bottom register.

    Another way is to mute strings with the left hand, which is understood to be what Freddie Green gravitated towards.... (in fact by the 50s Freddie Green mostly fretted the D string, with the other notes selectively muted and used only for emphasis. This is actually a great exercise for the left hand, try it if you haven’t already.)

    The advantage of playing all the strings with a pick rather than just the strings you want to hear the pitches of is that you get more percussion, which is a big part of the style for these drumless groups... Tal Farlow and Billy Bean are frankly amazing at this. You’d think it was a drummer sometimes...

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter
    Starting with these two notes on the two middle strings is a great way to approach chords. On 2nd and 3rd strings they are also great melodic centers for navigating changes. They work for comping with and without playing the bass. Practicing them along with a songs melody is the best way i have found to learn tunes.
    Great point.

    Most guitarists learn the 3 and 7 thing on the D and G strings, which works great.

    But, there are other two string opportunities which are not Freddie Green style comping.

    Often, especially with piano, it sounds better to me to play the G and B strings. Usually not 3 and 7, but, often, 5 and 7 or 5 and 3. Something about being in a little higher register with the sound of the B string instead of the D being a little less muddy, or something. This depends on the group, the room and the song.

    Jim Hall also played two note lines on the B and E strings. Say the chord is Cm7. You can plant a finger on the G (3rd fret E string) and your pinkie on the F (6th fret B string). Then, hold the G as a pedal while passing the F to Eb D and C. You get Cm11, Cm, Cm9, Cm, if you're keeping track of the chord names (and that's assuming the bassist is playing C and the piano is outlining a Cm).

    You could also pedal the Bb (6th fret) and pass a different set of notes down on the B string. Or, pedal some other note in the Cm scale and pass whatever works.

    There are many other ways to comp with two notes.

    In the absence of a piano, it all changes again. One way to handle it is to go even sparser than usual. So, you're playing a combination of single notes, double stops, three note chords and fuller chords. You use silence as a component of the harmony. When you're leaving space, punctuated with single notes, when you finally play two notes together, it sounds like an orchestra.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop View Post
    . I asked my favorite jazz guitarist how he comps when I’m playing piano
    So you're a pianist infiltrating a jazz guitar forum to promote pianists' propaganda?

    Pianists usually love minimalistic approach to jazz guitar (or in many cases no guitar at all) so that they have more space and freedom.

    Playing the 3rd and the 7th is a minimalistic approach to comping that almost always works well. It works great on piano too (perhaps we should find a jazz piano forum and spread that propaganda)

    There have been numerous threads on comping with a pianist (or second guitarist or other comp instrument) and the gist of them is that you need to stay out of each others way.