In this lesson, I would like to expand the minds of rhythm guitarists playing in jazz, funk and blues. Specifically, in the way one would play chord tones to help accent the changes in larger ensembles or playing at a fast tempo!
To start off let's take a basic blues I7-IV7-V7 progression in C maj.
The chords are as follows: C7, F7, G7
So, let's say you're playing in a blues band and there is another guitarist. Since there are two guitarists, it makes sense that one should be playing something different! The question is, what can you play to sound different?
Here's an idea: Play the 3rd and 7th of each chord!!
Let's take a look:
The notes of a C7 chord are C-E-G-Bb
////F7 chord are F-A-C-Eb
////G7 chord are G-B-D-F
If we strip away the root and the 5th of each chord we are left with these notes for each chord:
When playing the 3rd & 7th of these chords you create a tritone.
Now, go identify where the 3rd and 7th of these chords on your guitar. Play them. Sounds harsh right? It should!! But, this interval works really well in a blues context!
*Try playing in different positions and on different strings.
With chords the 3rd and the 7th are often the key components that make up a chord and determine what quality it will have. If you're in a band or participating in a jam session, the bass player usually takes care of the root and the 5th, leaving the 3rd and other tonalities out for the other instruments to accent. This is a new way to view adding "color" and bringing out the progression.
For a neat exercise, identify the I-IV-V blues progressions in all 12 keys and figure out the 3rd and 7th for each chord. Then play along to a backing track or, pick a blues tune and play these tones against the chords!
Try this in other genres such as funk, and jazz. Take the progression of a song and map out each of the chords. From there identify the 3rd and 7th and play on!!
Granted, this gets more complicated with chords such as 9's, 11's, and 13's!
This method also works well in jazz especially when the tempo is burning and you have to play multiple changes within a bar. You'll be amazed at how fast you'll be able to fly through the changes when using this method.
Give it a try sometime when you're at the next local jam session or band practice. I guarantee that it will spark some new creative approaches to rhythm guitar playing!!