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  1. #1

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    I transcribed Pete's comping on a video I shot playing duo with him.


    Then I wrote a lesson on my blog about the 3 things I learned about comping from hanging and playing with Pete and used examples from the transcription to illustrate them.

    Cliffs Notes

    1. Prioritize comping during our shed time
    2. Focus on creating movement through the form that tells a harmonic story
    3. Embrace the fundamentals


    If you want to see the full post, read through the examples, and download a pdf of the full transcription you can click the link to check out the blog post.
    3 Things I Learned About Jazz Guitar Comping From Peter Bernstein

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Jordan, thanks for posting that.

    Very interesting. Sounds great and the transcription shows exactly what you said. There aren't any carpal-tunnel chords here.

    And, the harmonic devices, considered in isolation, aren't all that outrageous -- mostly. Nice chromatic movements. Tritones.

    Often alters what he plays on the I of a ii V I -- substituting in some cases a chromatic movement to the chord after the I chord.

    Not afraid to play single notes as the comp here and there.

    Mostly, what strikes me, as you said, is that it's a mindset. Mr. Bernstein keeps it moving.

  4. #3

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    Jordan, I really enjoyed and got a lot out of your article. That kind of comping is way above my pay grade at the moment (and probably for all eternity). However, the 3 concepts you discuss are applicable in some form regardless of the stage one might be at.

  5. #4

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    What Peter said to me about comping in a lesson

    - keep it moving
    - don’t come back to I too much (for example he often targets the Ebmaj7 by playing Bm7 E7 instead of playing to vanilla Bbmaj7 in Autumn Leaves)
    - but when you do go to I, make a decisive cadence
    - often moves chords up and down by a semitone and tracks the top voice through an ascending stepwise melody. Quite hard to explain/do, but something like

    Cm9 C#m9 Cm11 C#m11 Cm7

    so too voice goes
    D Eb F F# G
    - you can base your lines off the chord grips, so comping feeds into soloing
    - practice playing the same thing in the A sections and then do something different for B

    loads of other stuff

  6. #5

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    Oh, a few teachers have mentioned this exercise - jazz progressions have a tendency to descend down the neck, so it’s a good idea to practice comps with top lines that ascend.

    Little bits of this can do a lot to enliven your comping.

    It’s not about learning loads of grips - Peter demonstrates all this stuff with very standard chord grips - but it’s about putting it all together into a musical whole.

  7. #6

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    Peter demonstrates all this stuff with very standard chord grips
    It is interesting that I also noticed that Peter does not hezitate to incorporate new conceptions in his playing over the years... at least when I listened to his LPs and wantched videos a lot...
    I noticed that at certain periods he adds something into the scope of tools and it is seen that he worked it through somehow and tests it in actual playing...
    though his general approach and sound does not change

    But he does not talk much about probably thinking that those things are about personal choice and ideas and each should find his own..

  8. #7

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    Peter is more process oriented. He's also very much about keeping it fresh. He says sleep deprivation helps, and I think he is only half joking.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack E Blue
    Jordan, I really enjoyed and got a lot out of your article. That kind of comping is way above my pay grade at the moment (and probably for all eternity). However, the 3 concepts you discuss are applicable in some form regardless of the stage one might be at.
    I totally get this feeling, Jack. If I may offer a thought or two.

    I was not at all prepared for this type of thinking before I met Pete. Looking back I can now see that it's because up until hanging with him, every conversation I'd ever had about jazz guitar comping was basically someone telling me to go memorize my drop chord inversions on every string set and then voice leading them... mainly based on the basic progression notated on a chart.

    A worthwhile way to spend time to improve overall voicing control, visualization of drop chord harmony, and ability to voice lead.

    But this doesn't necessarily lead directly to actual comping. It's like practicing all of your scale positions and expecting it to magically turn into better phrases when improvising.

    It takes some time and attention to break old habits and start thinking and practicing differently... but it's sort of like the old saying about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If we want to see a new outcome for our playing, we simply need to provide a different input during our practice time. Like not liking how you look in the mirror. Just comb your hair and put a different shirt on... and you'll naturally appear different in the mirror.

    I built a course on comping that's built entirely on this other process of thinking and practicing. You're obviously welcome to check it out... but it's basically this...

    - Make sure you groove. Hard. Nothing you do will sound even remotely legit if it's not swinging. Pick a few rhythms and shed them with just clapping, tapping your toes, and counting. Listen to great drummers and comping instruments and pat out their rhythms on your legs with them. Make that shiz DANCE! You can sit on one chord and if you convey it with your body, it will sound like the hippest thing ever in the right context.

    - Forget about all the complicated chord voicings for a while. My entire comping course is focused entirely on 1-3/4-6/7 shell voicings. That's enough to convey the basic harmony. Later in the bonus section I talk about adding a 4th "melodic note" to the top of the shell voicing to get more color, or removing the root note to get smaller sounds. But keeping the voicings simple allows for....

    - Focus on movement more than voicing complexity. There are four, basic, traditionally accepted types of movement. There are a lot more than four ways chords can move, but there are four you will see come back time and time again from Bach to Bird to Bernstein... whether you're studying guitar performance, composition, arranging... doesn't matter.

    1. Dominant
    2. Diminished
    3. Chromatic
    4. Diatonic

    All are great and offer their own sets of benefits. In general, we as guitar players tend to really focus entirely on diatonic. Play a chord shape and move it up and down through a chord scale. It's cool. Worthwhile. But I put it LAST in this list and in my course as I think it requires the most amount of effort for the least amount of payoff.

    What I try and get my students to do is pick ONE of these (I prefer the order they're listed here) and to study it. Start with a basic ii V I. How can you use a dominant chord to get from the ii to the V? How about the V to the I? How about the I back to the ii? Get goofy with it. Just experiment and see what you can get away with. Record it and listen back. Maybe isolate one ONE chord in the progression to approach with a tension chord. Maybe try putting tension chords in between all of them. Maybe try taking a chord out and replacing it with a tension chord.

    D-7 -> (Ab7) -> G7 -> C6

    That's a ii with a dominant approach chord inserted in to take us to the V.

    (Ab7) -> G7 -> C6

    Now I just skipped the ii.

    Or how about...

    (Ab7) -> (Ab-7 Db7) -> C6

    I'm using the Ab7 NOT as a substitute for D-7... just as an approach chord to G7. Because I know dominant chords (and their tritones) crave movement and resolution. But then I'm not giving you the resolution. Instead I jump the tritone of G7... Db7... because I know that craves movement to the C6. But I pre-empt the Db7 with an Ab-7 because ii chords are part of dominant movement.

    You get the game?

    It's just taking a simple little, overly obvious idea of how a chord wants to move... and then exploring it and looking for ways to create new harmonic pathways. Then start moving into different keys. Then start applying to tunes.

    Then pick another movement type.

    Once you learn to SEE the different movement patterns on the fretboard and can stay on your feet, then you can always apply a greater variety to your voicing vocabulary and all the movement rules still apply. Drop chords, 3rds and 7ths, spread shapes, close position, triads, arpeggiated chords... whatever... it's all fair game.

    Anyways... take it with a grain of salt. Just my thoughts and how I like to work on things.

  10. #9
    Love it!

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Peter is more process oriented. He's also very much about keeping it fresh. He says sleep deprivation helps, and I think he is only half joking.

    *Oops... forgot to reply with the quote... otherwise there's no context to the story ?????

    When I forgot how to play, and before I found the motivation to try and relearn, I was hanging with him... he brought his guitar and was trying to encourage me to grab mine and play a little.

    "Pete, I love you man. I appreciate it. But I got nothing. Seriously. I haven't played in a year, my muscle memory is shot, I remember zero tunes, I'm literally so weak I can barely walk. I would love to play again, but just not today... I got nothing to offer musically. My fuel tank is empty."

    He said, "Man this is the perfect time to play!!! All you got are your ears!!!"

    Hahahaha... he was the man for saying it. I still said no hahaha
    Though the second he left I could feel the fire turn back on in my gut and immediately went to pick up my guitar again
    Ugh... it was horrendous haha
    Last edited by jordanklemons; 12-26-2020 at 02:54 AM.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by jordanklemons
    I totally get this feeling, Jack. If I may offer a thought or two.

    I was not at all prepared for this type of thinking before I met Pete. Looking back I can now see that it's because up until hanging with him, every conversation I'd ever had about jazz guitar comping was basically someone telling me to go memorize my drop chord inversions on every string set and then voice leading them... mainly based on the basic progression notated on a chart.

    A worthwhile way to spend time to improve overall voicing control, visualization of drop chord harmony, and ability to voice lead.

    But this doesn't necessarily lead directly to actual comping. It's like practicing all of your scale positions and expecting it to magically turn into better phrases when improvising.

    It takes some time and attention to break old habits and start thinking and practicing differently... but it's sort of like the old saying about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If we want to see a new outcome for our playing, we simply need to provide a different input during our practice time. Like not liking how you look in the mirror. Just comb your hair and put a different shirt on... and you'll naturally appear different in the mirror.

    I built a course on comping that's built entirely on this other process of thinking and practicing. You're obviously welcome to check it out... but it's basically this...

    - Make sure you groove. Hard. Nothing you do will sound even remotely legit if it's not swinging. Pick a few rhythms and shed them with just clapping, tapping your toes, and counting. Listen to great drummers and comping instruments and pat out their rhythms on your legs with them. Make that shiz DANCE! You can sit on one chord and if you convey it with your body, it will sound like the hippest thing ever in the right context.

    - Forget about all the complicated chord voicings for a while. My entire comping course is focused entirely on 1-3/4-6/7 shell voicings. That's enough to convey the basic harmony. Later in the bonus section I talk about adding a 4th "melodic note" to the top of the shell voicing to get more color, or removing the root note to get smaller sounds. But keeping the voicings simple allows for....

    - Focus on movement more than voicing complexity. There are four, basic, traditionally accepted types of movement. There are a lot more than four ways chords can move, but there are four you will see come back time and time again from Bach to Bird to Bernstein... whether you're studying guitar performance, composition, arranging... doesn't matter.

    1. Dominant
    2. Diminished
    3. Chromatic
    4. Diatonic

    All are great and offer their own sets of benefits. In general, we as guitar players tend to really focus entirely on diatonic. Play a chord shape and move it up and down through a chord scale. It's cool. Worthwhile. But I put it LAST in this list and in my course as I think it requires the most amount of effort for the least amount of payoff.

    What I try and get my students to do is pick ONE of these (I prefer the order they're listed here) and to study it. Start with a basic ii V I. How can you use a dominant chord to get from the ii to the V? How about the V to the I? How about the I back to the ii? Get goofy with it. Just experiment and see what you can get away with. Record it and listen back. Maybe isolate one ONE chord in the progression to approach with a tension chord. Maybe try putting tension chords in between all of them. Maybe try taking a chord out and replacing it with a tension chord.

    D-7 -> (Ab7) -> G7 -> C6

    That's a ii with a dominant approach chord inserted in to take us to the V.

    (Ab7) -> G7 -> C6

    Now I just skipped the ii.

    Or how about...

    (Ab7) -> (Ab-7 Db7) -> C6

    I'm using the Ab7 NOT as a substitute for D-7... just as an approach chord to G7. Because I know dominant chords (and their tritones) crave movement and resolution. But then I'm not giving you the resolution. Instead I jump the tritone of G7... Db7... because I know that craves movement to the C6. But I pre-empt the Db7 with an Ab-7 because ii chords are part of dominant movement.

    You get the game?

    It's just taking a simple little, overly obvious idea of how a chord wants to move... and then exploring it and looking for ways to create new harmonic pathways. Then start moving into different keys. Then start applying to tunes.

    Then pick another movement type.

    Once you learn to SEE the different movement patterns on the fretboard and can stay on your feet, then you can always apply a greater variety to your voicing vocabulary and all the movement rules still apply. Drop chords, 3rds and 7ths, spread shapes, close position, triads, arpeggiated chords... whatever... it's all fair game.

    Anyways... take it with a grain of salt. Just my thoughts and how I like to work on things.
    Wow, I'm at a loss for words. What'd you do, give me 25% of your course in a single post? Thank you very much. You've given me something that will keep me busy for quite awhile. I will definitely check out your course.

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack E Blue
    Wow, I'm at a loss for words. What'd you do, give me 25% of your course in a single post? Thank you very much. You've given me something that will keep me busy for quite awhile. I will definitely check out your course.
    It's probably closer to like 40ish% of the course haha
    AND this month I launched a new 'Lite' version of my study group that includes access to our Intro Course and a free sample video/PDF from each additional course, including the comping course... and that's completely free. So basically... I'm just the worst business person on the planet ?????

    Hahaha but either way, I love talking about this stuff. I honestly didn't mean to write SUCH a long post. I thought I'd just encourage a breaking of older practice habits and a few ideas of other things, but once I get going about this stuff my passion gets going, and it all starts pouring out.

    It's amazing though, how many lifetimes it would take to truly master the basic fundamentals. But our little monkey minds are sold on the idea that we should be chasing the shiny objects instead. I don't know, forgetting how to play and needing to relearn really taught me a lot about patience, persistence, prioritizing the basics, focusing on the fundamentals, and then just learning to be playful with it all... for me I'm happiest that way and I'm happier with my playing. The more advanced stuff and challenging elements can always be added on top of the mix once the fundamentals are there carrying us through the tunes.

    It's just singing and dancing

    Glad you dug the long winded message. Hope it inspires some ideas and practice strategies.

    Oh PS.. if you want to check out some more advanced stuff built on these same idea but with more then JUST shell voicings... I recently started writing more etudes for my study group. I posted the bridge for Stella using some of our more advance melodic triads harmonic ideas. Technically the entire approach is built on top of triads and shell voicings... but it can lead to stuff like this...



    It was a section of the etude that I wrote specifically to work on this technique of combining bass-type lines with higher pitched voicings. Trying to emulate a piano player playing a lower range figure with their left hand while playing cluster voicings with their right hand. All the bass line type stuff, in my mind, is effectively arpeggiated shell voicings... and all the cluster stuff is basically funky variations on triads derived from different melodic triad techniques and concepts.

    Damn it. I came here to write a 1-2 sentence response and ended up spitting out another long one. Sometimes you think you're gonna take half a chorus and end up taking 5.