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  1. #1

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    Would someone be able to explain to me what is meant when chord inversions are described as either Drop 2 or Drop 3?

    Thanks,
    Zach

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Sure. This term was invented by piano players, so imagine you are at a keyboard.

    Start with a seventh chord, say G7. Imagine all the notes of G7 lit up on the keyboard: G B D F G B D F G B D F ...

    Any four consecutive notes forms a "close voicing" called that because there are no gaps:

    G B D F
    B D F G
    D F G B
    F G B D

    Drop 2. Take the second highest note and drop it an octave.

    D G B - F (xx0001)
    F B D - G (xx3433)
    G D F - B (xx5767)
    B F G - D (xx9.10.8.10)

    Drop 3. Take the third highest note and drop it an octave.

    B G - D F (7x576x)
    D B - F G (10.x.9.10.8.x)
    F D - G B (1x000x)
    G F - B D (3x343x)

    Exercise: drop 2,4 voicings. With these 12 voicings you have every possible combination of bass note and distinct treble note for G7 chords.

  4. #3

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  5. #4

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    It's really drop 2 and 3 voicings, not so much inversions.

    Why? Because:
    - chords in close/closed voicings can be/are inverted too,
    - the most frequently played Drop 2 and 3 voicings have the root in the bass, and hence are not "inversions".

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by zkinard
    Would someone be able to explain to me what is meant when chord inversions are described as either Drop 2 or Drop 3?

    Thanks,
    Zach

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhaskins
    JGO has it all!

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles
    Sure. This term was invented by piano players, so imagine you are at a keyboard.

    Start with a seventh chord, say G7. Imagine all the notes of G7 lit up on the keyboard: G B D F G B D F G B D F ...

    Any four consecutive notes forms a "close voicing" called that because there are no gaps:

    G B D F
    B D F G
    D F G B
    F G B D

    Drop 2. Take the second highest note and drop it an octave.

    D G B - F (xx0001)
    F B D - G (xx3433)
    G D F - B (xx5767)
    B F G - D (xx9.10.8.10)

    Drop 3. Take the third highest note and drop it an octave.

    B G - D F (7x576x)
    D B - F G (10.x.9.10.8.x)
    F D - G B (1x000x)
    G F - B D (3x343x)

    Exercise: drop 2,4 voicings. With these 12 voicings you have every possible combination of bass note and distinct treble note for G7 chords.
    Thanks, BDLH!

  9. #8

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    I hope you find it helpful.

    Learn Drop 2 Voicing #1

  10. #9

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    There are also mechanical reasons for drop chords getting one up on playing the piano. With a lead sheet, you see the single note melody line scored, and the chord harmony indicated by a generic chord symbol. The pianist can form the chords so that the melody line is the top note in the right hand. Dropping the second from the top note leaves a gap below the melody note (to set it apart) and makes the right hand ring finger free - so the melody may be played smoothly with the top two fingers of the right hand. That dropped note is played by the top of the left hand an octave below in order to force a nice voicing under which the rest of the left hand may assemble.

    There is a whole series of drop chords. On the piano they mechanically provide a quick way to interpret the chord symbol and integrate the melody line fairly automatically in a way that sounds better than raw chords stacked from their roots, before you really learn how to internalize things.

  11. #10
    This was a wonderful explanation and NOW this finally makes sense! THANK YOU!

  12. #11

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    I quite like this way of describing voicings now - used to hate it - I actually find it much more useful to organise chords by the top note: so you choose a top note for instance the 7th and the go through close (if possible), drop 2, drop 3, drop 2/3, drop 2/4, drop 2/3/4

  13. #12

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    Here's a very clear video guide from Roni Ben-Hur (this is an extract from his DVD 'Chordability' that I have recommended many times).


  14. #13

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    To hijack the thread a bit -- I confess that I find the concept to be superfluous. If I was arranging horns, I think it would help, but, for guitar comping, not so much. As it stands, I've never been in a situation playing guitar where I thought that the drop-n concept would be helpful. Maybe I'm missing something - if so, it isn't the voicings themselves -- I know all the usual voicings.

    I think about voice leading and making a melodic statement with the chords. So, it's the top note to define the melodic aspect and the rest of the notes to make the voice leading smooth. Choices are finite. If, for example, I want a G7 (or similar) with a B in the soprano voice, I am not going to be thinking drop-n. I'm going to be thinking about the chord before the G7 (or sub) and the chord after.

    One top player told me "I never play drop-2". Turns out to be a slight exaggeration (I've heard him play a few), but mostly it's true. Why? Because the drop-2 (and drop 3, to my ear) voicings are the sound of jazz guitar of decades ago. I think he avoids them so that he can sound more modern.

  15. #14

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    I like having words to describe things.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    To hijack the thread a bit -- I confess that I find the concept to be superfluous. If I was arranging horns, I think it would help, but, for guitar comping, not so much. As it stands, I've never been in a situation playing guitar where I thought that the drop-n concept would be helpful. Maybe I'm missing something - if so, it isn't the voicings themselves -- I know all the usual voicings.

    I think about voice leading and making a melodic statement with the chords. So, it's the top note to define the melodic aspect and the rest of the notes to make the voice leading smooth. Choices are finite. If, for example, I want a G7 (or similar) with a B in the soprano voice, I am not going to be thinking drop-n. I'm going to be thinking about the chord before the G7 (or sub) and the chord after.

    One top player told me "I never play drop-2". Turns out to be a slight exaggeration (I've heard him play a few), but mostly it's true. Why? Because the drop-2 (and drop 3, to my ear) voicings are the sound of jazz guitar of decades ago. I think he avoids them so that he can sound more modern.
    Yeah, they have a lot of stylistic associations. Most contemporary style players tend to look for other options. I also think Peter Bernstein said he doesn't like drop 2's very much.

    One thing about drop 2's though - the chords generally (not always, but generally) encompass a tenth. This makes them incredibly useful for meat'n'potatoes harmonisations, as the melody is often on the 3rd. So, if you want 10ths but do avoid that drop 2 sound, you end up using shapes such as x 5 3 6 7 x and x 7 5 7 6 x (i.e. fifthless third doubling voicings.)

    OTOH, I notice that many contemporary players enjoy parallel fifths and fourths in their voice leading (TBF you get these in all eras of jazz) - these do show up in drop voicings - for instance 3 3 2 4 x x is a Kurt Rosenwinkel favourite.

    TBH, I think if one focusses exclusively on drops you miss a lot of cool voicings that are distinctive to the guitar. The four voice 1 3 5 7/6 thing is a bit pedantic really. I often find myself wanting to work on voice leading in three voices a lot of the time as well, because of the extra options one has for movement, while four voice chords don't have so much flexibility just from a guitar playing point of view.

    I don't think one needs to feel especially bad if you don't know all the drops, the important thing is to have a repertoire of chords that work for all the situations you find yourself in, curated, if you like for what sounds good to you. OTOH, it is important to organise chords in terms of the soprano voice. It's easy to get stuck on the bass.

  17. #16

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    Anyone want to have a go at C9? x3233x

    Closed: C-E-G-Bb-D

    Voiced: C-E-Bb-D

    How do you get there by drop voicing?

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles
    I like having words to describe things.
    Fair enough, but please help me understand the advantage for a guitarist (not a horn arranger).

    This is a real question. Others find this stuff helpful on the guitar and I don't understand why.

    G7 in a drop-2 voicing is not one chord. Rather it's each inversion of G7 with the drop 2.
    Similarly for drop 3, drop 2 and 4. So that's 16 voicings, counting close voicings.

    Since 4 notes can be arranged 4! ways, so there are 8 other voicings. I don't know what they're called.

    So, if I want to specify a certain voicing, I have to say chord name, inversion, and drop number(s). Seems to me it would be more efficient to say something like 5R37. Why isn't that a better way to name things -- from the point of view of a guitarist, not a horn arranger?

    I've heard people say that the drop system facilitates learning by organizing the material to be learned. Maybe that's it? I didn't check, but maybe all, or most, drop voicings have the advantage of being playable on guitar? If you write out the 24 possibilities for G7, some are unplayable without open strings, some are just unplayable but might be playable with open strings in a different key. Some are playable in multiple places.

    Even further off the OP's topic ...

    In my internal system, I use the chord name and the highest note. So, I think G7 with a B on top. That brings a handful of voicings to mind.
    xxx5767
    x8x787
    xx9 10 8 7
    xx7767 - xx 9 10 10 7 -- G9
    xx5567 (contains a C, derived from melodic minor, but often sounds good)
    x89987 -- G13

    There are others, but I'm not likely to think of them on the fly.

    The way I hear them, most of them sound like G7, even though the note order is different. The exception are voicings of G7/F. Putting the b7 in the bass makes it a "sound".

    The others that don't sound like G7 actually have a 4, 6, or 9 in them, so they aren't G7, but, if the tune calls for a Gdominant, you can consider them.

    I don't have individual names. Didn't learn them that way. I learned them a tune at a time. Find a chord that works, understand the function and make sure to learn it in 12 keys. Same thing for sequences of chords.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Fair enough, but please help me understand the advantage for a guitarist (not a horn arranger).

    This is a real question. Others find this stuff helpful on the guitar and I don't understand why.

    G7 in a drop-2 voicing is not one chord. Rather it's each inversion of G7 with the drop 2.
    Similarly for drop 3, drop 2 and 4. So that's 16 voicings, counting close voicings.

    Since 4 notes can be arranged 4! ways, so there are 8 other voicings. I don't know what they're called.

    So, if I want to specify a certain voicing, I have to say chord name, inversion, and drop number(s). Seems to me it would be more efficient to say something like 5R37. Why isn't that a better way to name things -- from the point of view of a guitarist, not a horn arranger?

    I've heard people say that the drop system facilitates learning by organizing the material to be learned. Maybe that's it? I didn't check, but maybe all, or most, drop voicings have the advantage of being playable on guitar? If you write out the 24 possibilities for G7, some are unplayable without open strings, some are just unplayable but might be playable with open strings in a different key. Some are playable in multiple places.

    Even further off the OP's topic ...

    In my internal system, I use the chord name and the highest note. So, I think G7 with a B on top. That brings a handful of voicings to mind.
    xxx5767
    x8x787
    xx9 10 8 7
    xx7767 - xx 9 10 10 7 -- G9
    xx5567 (contains a C, derived from melodic minor, but often sounds good)
    x89987 -- G13

    There are others, but I'm not likely to think of them on the fly.

    The way I hear them, most of them sound like G7, even though the note order is different. The exception are voicings of G7/F. Putting the b7 in the bass makes it a "sound".

    The others that don't sound like G7 actually have a 4, 6, or 9 in them, so they aren't G7, but, if the tune calls for a Gdominant, you can consider them.

    I don't have individual names. Didn't learn them that way. I learned them a tune at a time. Find a chord that works, understand the function and make sure to learn it in 12 keys. Same thing for sequences of chords.
    You can come up with your own naming system but who else will know what you are saying? The drop-X convention is well-known. It may not include every voicing but, even though it wasn't developed for guitar, they are playable on guitar. So, a well-known system that is useful on guitar. Now what's that saying? The only thing harder to herd than cats is jazz cats?

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by WILSON 1
    Anyone want to have a go at C9? x3233x

    Closed: C-E-G-Bb-D

    Voiced: C-E-Bb-D

    How do you get there by drop voicing?
    I don’t. Only the 3rd and 7th are needed to define a chord. With the 9th added as a color tone you’re good.

  21. #20

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    "Only the 3rd and 7th are needed to define a chord" is not incorrect and not even incomplete, if one understands that at the moment the two pitches are identified as a 3rd and a 7th, that harmonic naming context implicitly identifies the root as C.

    If you play the tri-tone E and A#(Bb) on your guitar and play C on the piano with your toe, your ear will adopt the harmonic perspective of C7, but if you play F# with your toe, you will hear F#(7).


    A relative tri-tone interval is part of numerous harmonies:

    - it's in all the diatonic scales of the 30 keys
    - it's in many chords, especially extended/altered
    - it's in all the diminished chords and scales
    - it's in all the whole tone scales
    - it's in many other structures (modes, unusual scales)


    To rpjazzguitar's question, the advantage for a guitarist of having words to describe things?

    This is a good question about "drop x" because the dropped pitch is not identified by:
    - note name
    - chord tone name
    - interval name
    - scale degree name
    - string number
    - fret number
    - finger number of either hand

    Worse yet, the initial chord's structure is an accident of inversion or voicing, not in any kind of normal form or reference form.

    So what is left to call the musical object reverts to the construction operation itself; the dropped pitch is identified mechanically by its ordinal position counting down from the top within the initial chord. This is a completely non-canonical music theory description for a real musical object whose main element of the construction operation has no reliable music theory identification except "this one, whatever it is".

    - - -

    The harmonic context of the perspective
    like water; they not knowing they're wet
    informing us, of the roles, of the pitches
    composed beautiful oceans full of fishes.

  22. #21

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    If I have to say second inversion G7, drop 2 and 3. I won't know what I'm saying either.

    root close G B D F
    second inversion D F G B
    drop 2 and 3 F G D B

    I would rather say 7R53. Perfectly clear, far more succinct and therefore less prone to error. At least, when I'm trying to communicate a voicing.

    It's the horn arranger who might prefer to say, "I changed the chart. I had the trumpets in four way close, and now they're all in drop2.
    The guitarist would have some interest in being able to understand what is meant.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    I often find myself wanting to work on voice leading in three voices a lot of the time as well, because of the extra options one has for movement, while four voice chords don't have so much flexibility just from a guitar playing point of view.
    Absolutely.

  24. #23

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    Close voicing:

    G B D F

    Take the second highest note and drop it an octave.

    D G B F

    Take the third highest note and drop it an octave.

    B G D F
    Fine theoretically, not so on a guitar. Who plays GBDF?

    Easier to say G7/D and G7/B.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Fine theoretically, not so on a guitar. Who plays GBDF?

    Easier to say G7/D and G7/B.
    Isn't the issue that G7/D might be any of the following? I couldn't begin to name them in drop-n nomenclature. I can name them as, say, 5R37

    D G B F
    D G F B
    D B G F
    D B F G
    D F B G
    D F G B

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Isn't the issue that G7/D might be any of the following? I couldn't begin to name them in drop-n nomenclature. I can name them as, say, 5R37

    D G B F
    D G F B
    D B G F
    D B F G
    D F B G
    D F G B
    Well with drops you are always going from the melody note. this is different and I think in some ways more useful than the traditional way of doing it with inversions, especially when harmonising a melody line on guitar or for that matter, ensemble. It’s quick and intuitive when you bear that in mind, and if you are playing with a bass player it’s not so important if you play chords in inversion.

    So if you know the melody note (and you should really if you are harmonising something, presumably) you know we have for your examples

    Drop 2
    drop 2 and 4
    drop 2 and 3
    Close
    drop 2 and 3

    might be some mistake in their - it’s easier to see in notation obv. But it’s not hard. Actually I think for reading it would be really helpful - each voicing type looks a certain way graphically.

    anyway so grouping in terms of drops might work more like this: these aren’t all possibilities just the most used

    G B D F Close
    D B G F Drop 2
    B G D F Drop 3
    B D G F Drop 2 and 3 or ‘split voicing’
    G D B F Drop 2 and 4 kind of like open or spread voices triad but a 7th chord.

    Drop 4 - close voiced but with the bass down and octave can also work on guitar. You see voicings like that in Bach, Joe Pass etc

    3 x x 4 3 1