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10 Jazz Guitar Endings

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There are so many ways to end a song, here are 10 of them. Use them as a starting point to develop your own endings.


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1) Major 6/9/#11 Chords

#11 chords are the bread and butter of jazz endings. I usually combine them with a 6 and/or a 9 in my end voicings because the 6 is a more stable tone than a major 7.

Here are 2 voicings for a C6/9/#11 chord:

Cmaj6/9/#11 guitar chord                     Cmaj6/9/#11 chord diagram

Here's an example for songs that end on a major II V I. The G7 is substituted by the Db9#11 (tritone substitution).

Jazz guitar endings

You can also use the major #11 chord in minor keys.

2) Major 7/#9/#11

A major 7 with a #9 has a nice tension and is an interesting chord to end on. This is not a m/maj7 chord, the b3 acts like a tension (#9).

Here's an example:

Cmaj7#9#11 chord diagram

3) bVImaj7 to bIImaj7

This is a nice one, instead of going to the I to end the song, first go to the bVImaj7, then to the bIImaj7 and then conclude with the I. Play this progression ad lib (free time, without a fixed tempo).

An example in C major, instead of this chord progression:

|Dm7   G7    |Cmaj7    |

We play this one:

|Dm7   G13   |Abmaj9   |Dbmaj7    |Cmaj7(#11) |

Here's the guitar chord chart for this progression:

Endings guitar chord chart

Note that the roots of the added chords are the tritone substitutes of the II V (Ab is the sub of D, Db the sub of G).

4) bVIImaj7 to bIImaj7

This is a variation of the previous one, instead of the bVI, we play a bVII:

|Dm7   G13   |Bbmaj9   |Dbmaj7    |C6/9/#11 |

Here's the guitar chord chart for this progression, with an ascending voice leading in the melody note:

Guitar chord chart

5) A combination of 3 and 4

You can combine the 2 previous into this one:

|Bbmaj9   Ebmaj7   |Abmaj9   Dbmaj7    |C6/9/#11 |

Here are the guitar tabs for a possible voice leading:

Jazz endings guitar tabs

6) bIIm7

A very fresh way to end a song, play a bIIm7 after the Imaj.

Example in C major:

|Dm7   G7    |Cmaj7   |Dbm7    |

7) #IVm7b5

Another classic ending: instead of going to the I, you play this progression, starting on #IVm7b5:

|IIm7   V7    |#IVm7b5   IVmaj7   |III7#9   bIII9#11   |II7#9   bII9#11 |I6/9/#11  |

In C major:

|Dm7    G7    |F#m7b5    Fmaj7    |E7#9     Eb9#11     |D7#9     Db9#11 |C6/9/#11  |

Here's the guitar chord chart for this example:

Guitar chord chart

8) m/maj9 Chords

m/maj9 chords in minor keys are the equivalent of #11 chords in major keys. Here are 2 basic voicings:

Minor key endings

9) m6add9 Chords

Minor 6 chords also work good to end songs in minor keys:

Cm6add9 chord diagram

Or combined with a major 7:

Cm6maj7 chord diagram

10) Repetition

Another way to end a song is to repeat a part of the melody. Let's take the last 4 bars of There Will Never Be Another You as an example:


There Will Never Be Another You


You can repeat the melody and chords of bars 1 and 2, before moving to the end:


There Will Never Be Another You coda


Please don't play this the way I wrote it, it's just a theoretical example. Add some flavor to it by playing a variation, rhythmic or melodic. Let your ears decide what part of the melody should be repeated.

Do you know more interesting ways to end a song, let us know at the forum...



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