1. #1

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    Put this in the wrong sub forum initially so I apologize for the dual post on here.


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

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

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

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by BiscoDrew
    Put this in the wrong sub forum initially so I apologize for the dual post on here.


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

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


    I have a lot of the basic moveable shapes down which has made it possible to learn things by ear but it takes me a long time to dial each chord into precisely how I want it to sound in context.
    You're doing it a great way. You'll end up with the sounds you like best and maybe your own style of playing harmony.

    If the goal is to be able to hold your own at a typical jam, then the thing to do is apply your approach to the usual standards that are recommended. You might start with Bruce Forman's list of 10. If you know those, you can find somebody else's list of a zillion.

    Eventually, you'll want to expand your horizons and there are a lot of choices about how to do that.

    No question that theory can help a lot. So can just learning chord melodies and, every time you figure out a new chord, learn it in every key and every place else you can play the same notes on the neck (same order and, eventually any order).

    And, no doubt, there will come a time when learning chord construction, function, substitution etc will be relevant.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by BiscoDrew
    Put this in the wrong sub forum initially so I apologize for the dual post on here.


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

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

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

  5. #4
    A pro here on the forum laid out a process for this several years ago which has helped me tremendously. I don't remember where it's laid out, but it's systematic.

    * Basically, learn basic "melodic" voicings for chords with roots on the 6th, 5th and 4th strings. So, systematically learn chord voicings with the top "melody" note being the Root, then the 3rd, 5th, 7th.
    * Then, learn the melodic tension above each and you get 9th, 11th and 13th. Do this for all 7 scale degrees of major.
    * Then, work on expanding your associations with chords up or down a diatonic 3rd. [So, Gmaj7=B-7, Gmaj7=E-7 etc. (Learning to see/hear B-7 as Gmaj9 and E-7 as G6 etc etc)].
    * Repeat this process with Melodic Minor and eventually Harmonic Minor.

    Anyway, this is a pretty limited set of starting voicings, and since you're using "subs" to create your 9th and 13th (or 6th) chords, you can pretty quickly learn to start combining them to create chromatic lead lines and work on altering chord tones. Melodic minor is especially helpful for contextualizing or organizing "chromatic", altered or blue notes. If you just randomly "alter" one note at a time in voicings for years, you're going to mostly arrive at standard types of chord patterns anyway. Your ear is going to demand it. Why not approach it from the beginning in an organized way?

    Once you start practicing the up- or down-a-3rd chord subs, you'll find that you can get a ton of mileage out of standard major diatonic voicings for playing altered or other melodic minor sounds. The easiest are probably the 9th and min7b5 voicings from the 4th and 6th degrees of melodic minor, because you should already know them from major. You simply apply them in a new context. Even with a limited number of voicings, there's years worth of material to be developed in applying them to different types of harmonic patterns.

    He posted a bunch of comping videos and discussed much of this in this thread: Looking for the best book on creating chord movement to use on standards

    In fact, that may be the one where he laid out this process more. I'd have to go back and reread.