Jazz Guitar Chord Construction Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Online Jazz Handbook

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1 Jazz Guitar Chord Construction Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Online Jazz Handbook welcome to the guitar chapter of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz s Online Jazz Handbook! A guitarist in a jazz combo can function as a horn player or in lieu of a pianist. Generally, if a combo includes both a guitarist and a pianist, the guitarist will assume the role of a horn player. Conversely, the guitarist in a combo without a pianist will take on the pianist s role. This role includes soloing AND comping for other soloists. Since the role of the horn player is discussed in other chapters, this chapter will focus on the guitarist role as a comping instrument. Remember that comping means to rhythmically play chords while accompanying a melody or solo (from the words Accompany and Complement). Generally, It is easier for beginning guitar students to learn voicings from chord diagrams rather than from standard notation. Therefore, the voicings in this chapter will be presented in chord diagrams. Here is a chord diagram. It is simply a picture of a guitar fingerboard with the headstock help up in the air. The six vertical lines represent the strings while the horizontal lines represent frets. The dots illustrate the position of left hand fingers on the fretboard. Let s play some chords! Below, are typical voicings for major seven, minor seven and dominant seven, and half-diminished chords. These four-note chords are voiced with the root on the 6th string. For this reason, we will call this set of voicings Root 6. Notice that these voicings omit the first and fifth strings. If the student is comping with a pick, these strings should be muted with the left hand. If the student is playing fingerstyle, these strings can be easily omitted by the right hand.

2 Major Seventh Minor Seventh Dominant Seventh Half-Diminished GMaj7 Gm7 G7 G! Once you learn the basic chord shape, it can be moved anywhere on the neck in order to play the chord in any key. Let s use the major seventh voicing from Set A as an example. Remember that in this example, the root is on the sixth (low E) string. So, if the root is on the eighth fret, the chord is CMaj7. If we move this shape so that the root is on the first fret, the chord is Fmaj7. This concept applies to any chord on the guitar as long as the voicing doesn t include open strings. Here is another set of common voicings for major seventh, minor seventh and dominant seventh, and half-diminished chords. These four-note chords are voiced with the root on the 5 th string. These are Root 5 voicings. This time, the first and sixth strings should be omitted or muted. Major Seventh Minor Seventh Dominant Seventh Half-Diminished BbMaj7 Bbm7 Bb7 Bb! Are these chords moveable? Of course! Just like the chords in Voicing Set A, these chord shapes can be moved around the neck in order to be played in any key.

3 What now? Practice playing each of these chords in all twelve keys. In order to do this, the student must be very familiar with the names of the notes on the fifth and sixth strings. As long as they can find the root and remember the chord shape, they can play these chords in any key. Activities Use the circle of fourths in order to generate chord roots. C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A D G Root 6 1. Play Major Seventh Chords using these roots. 2. Play Minor seventh Chords using these roots 3. Play Dominant Seventh Chords using these roots 4. Play Half-diminished chords using these roots. Root 5 5. Play Major Seventh using these roots 6. Play minor seventh 7. Play Dominant seventh 8. Play Half-diminished chords using these roots. ALTERNATE SETS (First chord =Root 6, second chord=root 5, etc.) 9. Play Major Seventh Chords using these roots. 10. Play Minor seventh Chords using these roots 11. Play Dominant Seventh Chords using these roots 12. Play Half-diminished chords using these roots. ALTERNATE CHORD QUALITIES-Root minor, Dom 7, Maj7,! ALTERNATE CHORD QUALITIES-Root minor, Dom 7, Maj7,! ALTERNATE CHORD QUALITIES AND SETS (First chord=root 6, second chord=root 5, etc.) 15. minor, Dom 7, Maj7,!

4 PART II Now we re ready for some new chords! The voicings we re about to learn are all dominant seventh chords. Note: The following chords are not literally dominant seventh chords spelled 1,3,5,b7. Instead, these voicings have some added notes. There are two main categories of dominant chords: 1) unaltered 2) altered. Unaltered dominant chords have a number next to them. For example: G7 G9 G13 Altered dominant chords have numbers that are preceded by sharps or flats. For example: G7(b9) G7(#9) G7(#5) G7(b13) G7(#9)(#5) Unaltered chords can be used interchangeably. For instance, G13 can be used instead of G9. Generally, altered chords can be used likewise. For instance, G7(#9) can be used in place of G7(#5). There is one exception, G7(#11) is an considered an unaltered dominant. Therefore, G7(#11) is interchangeable with G7, G9, and G13. The next set of voicings are dominant seventh chords from the Root 6 family. As in the other Root 6 voicings we learned, the fifth and first strings are to be omitted. The first chord, G13, is an unaltered dominant. The second chord, G7(#5), is an altered dominant. G13 G7#5

5 The following voicings are from the Root 5 Family. Like before, these Root 5s omit the first and sixth strings. C9 C7(b9) C7(#9) Are these chords moveable? YES!! Simply move the shape so that the lowest note is the root of the desired chord. Activities Part II Root 6 1. Play C13 F13 Bb13 Eb13 Ab13 Db13 Gb13 B13 E13 A13 D13 G13 Remember, whenever you see C7, C9, or C7(#11) you can play C Play C7(#5) F7(#5) Bb7(#5) Eb7(#5) Ab7(#5) Db7(#5) Gb7(#5) B7(#5) E7(#5) A7(#5) D7(#5) G7(#5) Remember, whenever you see an altered dominant chord, you can play this chord. Root 5 3. Play C9 F9 Bb9 Eb9 Ab9 Db9 Gb9 B9 E9 A9 D9 G9 Remember, C9 is equivalent to C7, C13 and C7(#11). 4. Play C7(b9) F7(b9) etc. Remember, C7(b9) is interchangeable with C7(#5), C7(#9), C7(#5)(#9) etc.

6 5. Play C7(#9) F7(#9) Bb7(#9) etc. Remember, #9 chords belong in the altered dominant family. Use the Cirlce of fourths for the following exercises. ALTERNATE CHORD QUALITIES-Root 6 6. minor, Dom 7, Maj7,! For example: Cm7 F13 BbMaj7 OR Cm7 F7(#5) BbMaj7 ALTERNATE CHORD QUALITIES-Root 5 7. minor, dom 7, Maj 7,! For example: Cm7 F9 BbMaj7 OR Cm7 F7(#9) BbMaj7 OR Cm7 F7(b9) BbMaj7 ALTERNATE CHORD QUALITIES AND SETS (First chord=root 6, second chord=root 5, etc.) 8. minor, dom 7, Maj7,!

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