Get Away Completely from Root-Centric Guitar Comping
In previous courses, we focused on giving you the basic tools to jump right in and accompany other jazz musicians on the bandstand. In Comping 101
, we began three main chord types: the ii chord, the V chord, and the I chord, otherwise represented by m7 chords, dominant 7 chords, and maj7 chords respectively.
expanded on all of these topics by taking your basic shells and altering their extensions; further fleshing out a more advanced “jazz” blues form; teaching you about cycles of fourths and their importance in jazz chord progressions; and showing you how to play “minor” ii-V-i progressions.
Now, in Comping 103, we’re going to turn what you know on its head. As guitarists, learning chord voicings based on finding the root on the 6th or 5th strings is like learning to swim with a life-jacket: it can help keep us afloat, but we eventually need to learn to let go if we want to become great swimmers or great compers.
Let go of your “rooted” shell voicings and dive into the deep end of jazz comping, making full use of the fretboard !
Must somehow still be rooted in the 5th/6th string shell voicings we started the series with! How far can we stray?. This course covers:
- Advanced Blues Comping - Drop 2 riff-based comping - specific voicings
- Drop 2 Chords, inversions
- Applications: how-to comp with inversions of Drop 2 Chords
- Drop 2 Chords as "upper structures"
- Tritone Subs as chromatic root motion
- Expanding on minor ii-V-i progression
- Minor Blues
- Dos and Don’ts of comping behind a melody (or solo)
The Ideal "Where do I go next with jazz guitar chords?!" Tutorial
In Comping 102
, we saw hints of what was to come when you learned how to practice your shell voicings without the root and when you learned Drop 2 chord voicings. Comping 103 is definitely a little more “sink-or-swim”, but don’t worry - I’ll be your lifeguard throughout the whole process, walking you through each video.
Keep in mind that comping, like most jazz disciplines, is based in improvisation. This means that I definitely want you to practice the exercises as they are, but to truly get the most out of this course, take specific techniques that you learn here and apply them to a real song in real time.
For now, have fun, and welcome to Jazz Guitar Comping 103!
Content and Overview
First, we will spend time learning Drop 2 chords, their inversions, and their extremely varied uses. We used them directly by playing specific 7th chords using the shapes we learned, and then we started using Drop 2 voicings as the “upper structures” of the chords we were trying to play. This gave us easy access to the 9ths of these chords, without having to worry about the root of the chord at all.
After that, we will learn the importance of keeping an ear out for exactly who you are comping for. Also we are going to revisit common chord progressions based on the cycle of fourths that we learned in Comping 102
. However, we will put an “unrooted” spin on it this time.
After that, we will look at several different techniques for “harmonic plumbing”: ways of getting around in the same chord, or getting from one chord to the next. We are going to practice using a Blue Monk chord melody as a piece of comping vocabulary; “old-school” bebop comping using major or minor 6th chord inversions and passing °7 chords; using half-step motion to get to 1st inversion, Barry Harris-style; the passing °7 chord as a replacement for the VI in I-VI-ii-V progressions; and ii-V interpolation. These are all techniques you’ll want to review and practice individually to master them all and see how to fit them into your own comping style.
Next, we will look at two minor blues forms: an older style I referred to as “tonic minor” blues; and a newer style I called “dorian minor” blues. Each name refers to how soloists and compers approach the harmony of the blues form, with the latter focused less on getting to I and more on exploring a modal sound for each chord in the progression.
Finally, I will discuss a couple of miscellaneous topics with you, including an expanded “half-step above” approach to ii-Vs involving interpolating an extra ii-V a half-step higher than the intended ii-V. We'll also talk about two really neat chord voicings that can be heard as different chords, depending on the bass note.
Comprehensive analysis of each chord shape is provided, both in video and PDF formats. The last few sections of this course include a wrap up summary to help create your own full-fledged jazz guitar accompaniments on other songs.