#1
Hey gang. It's time to kick things off again and enter into a new era of JTJ. An era focused on comping, the art of playing rhythm guitar intelligently and sophisticatedly.

But, we can't just start running immediately, and I have no idea where everyone's knowledge base is, so today I'm going to share with you some new concepts on how you can maximize the mileage you get out of your harmonic palette with chord shapes you already know.

This is also going to be a very short JTJ, because we're bringing everyone up to speed.

So:

DISCLAIMER:

THIS IS MORE LIKE A "FOOD FOR THOUGHT" JTJ, than a large treatise on a big theoretical concept. Treat accordingly.

This, like everything else, is Jet's way of doing things and is not THE WAY. However, it works really well and is a concept worth integrating into your own playing. Bear with me, because certain things (like naming chords contextless-ly) may seem unnecessary at first.

Step 1: Admit We Have A Problem

Unlike piano, the other big chordal instrument, us guitar players have a huge issue. Realistically, we can only play 4 notes at a time. This means that when a big harmony, like a 13th chord shows up, we need to omit some notes.

Yes, piano players do this too, but they don't HAVE to. Our options are limited on the instrument due to the tuning and nature of how it is played.

To make things worse, certain chord extensions are just plain difficult to play, or only have one real practical fingering. As a result, our options are limited when playing rhythm. And to make matters worse, we have more of a struggle to be harmonically clear, and effectively communicate the exact nature of the harmony we are implying.

You can imagine, as the crazy kid I am, this irritated me to no end until I figured out how to deal with it. I was (story time) studying with some killer jazz players at the time and they shared with me the concept I am going to share with you now.

Basically it comes down to this:

We need a set of voicings that are practical and easily invertible. This means we can finger it multiple ways on the same string set, so we are going to (for now) SHUN 5-note and higher voicings. Our voicings are going to all be 4 note with NO repeated pitches.

That's only half the battle. We also need voicings that are multi-purpose and work over a variety of contexts. That means that the chords themselves are not going to be extended harmony.

Instead, we will CREATE extended harmony in how we apply said voicings.

Keeping all this criteria in account, we are left with a series of easily grabbable and invertible chords with many applications (the 'lego' strategy strikes again). These chords are our primary chords, the bread and butter of our harmonic system. You've probably learned:

Maj7, min7, Dom7, Dim7, m7b5

And if so you already have 5 down. But now, we are going to take things to the next level.

Part 2: The Primary Chords

Here is a list and spelling of all the primary chords, or the ones I've integrated anyways. I'm going to get into application after, but for now, let's see what we have to work with. Feel free to write 'em all down. And BEAR with me on the names, these are contextless names, for simplicity's sake.

Maj7 Type

Cmaj7 = C E G B

Cmaj7#5 = C E G#B

Cmaj7b5 = C E Gb B

*Maj7sus2 = C D G B

*This is also G/C, a hybrid voicing. There is no maj7sus4, because as I will explain later, we need to be harmonically clear.

Min7 Type

Cm7 = C Eb G Bb

Cm/maj7 = C Eb G B

m7b5 Type

Cm7b5 = C Eb Gb Bb

dim7 Type

Cdim7 = C Eb Gb Bbb(A)

*Cdim(maj7) = C Eb Gb B

*A Quick respelling of this yields B/C, another hybrid.

Dom7 Type

C7 = C E G Bb

C7#5 = C E G# Bb

C7b5 = C E Gb Bb

C7sus4 = C F G Bb

*C7sus2 = C D G Bb

*Gm/C, another hybrid.

1235 Type

Wait what? If you recall from previous JTJ's, a powerful pattern that retains its logic no matter how we play it is a 1235 (CDEG). We can play all those notes at once, yielding:

*C(1235) = C D E G = or Em7#5 (E G C D)

*This could ALSO be called Em7#5, but if you rearrange it, it doesn't sound like Em.

*Cm(1235) = C D Eb G = or Ebmaj7sub6 (Eb G C D) = or Cm/D

*Good lord, that's quite a chord. Call it whatever you want, I like the contextless name.

The Weirdos That Aren't Harmonically Clear

These two I discovered recently. I have one use for each of them, and conxteless names are very hard.

Cmaj7sus2(b5) = C D Gb B

Cmaj7sus4(b5) = C F Gb B


Whew. Don't feel the need to memorize these all. But, as I'm going to demonstrate, you can more or less grab EVERY harmony from one of these.

Part 3: He Demonstrates

The name of the game is REINTERPRETATION & HARMONIC CLARITY. Allow me to demonstrate.

We're jamming out and we need to play C13sus4. Here are the notes in that chord.

C F G Bb D A = 1 4 5 7 9 13

We also need to be harmonically clear. In order to properly convey the chord quality, we need to preserve the 7 and the 3(in this case sus4) in our voicing. So:

We need an F and a Bb. That's 2 fingers gone. We're also gonna need the 13, otherwise it won't be a 13 chord.

So we have Bb, A, and F. We have one more finger. And we aren't going to WASTE it on the root note (C), or 5th(G) so that leaves us with D.

Bb, A, F, D = Bbmaj7 = Bbmaj7/C = C13sus4.

Wah-lah. That's how you do it. Now granted, that was a bit of a mind exercise, but, if I simply commit this fact to memory:

13sus4 = Maj7 off b7, we are in complete business.

You can do this for basically any chord you need. Just find the primary chord that works, using these guidelines.

1. Keep the 3rd and 7th at all costs

2. When in doubt, omit the root. When in doubt again, kill the 5th.

3. Always keep the chord tones that are in the name.

4. When in doubt, keep the higher number UNLESS it violates #1-3.

Part 4: Now What?

This is NOT all harmonic possibilities. Check out:

1. Grabbing 3 or 4 notes out of appropriate pentatonic scales against each chord.

2. Try it with chord scales too.

3. Quartal/Quintal/Secundal harmony.

4. Grabbing the primary chords and adding a 5th note.

5. Multiple chords against one, or new implied harmony (coming soon, who says you can't play E7 over C major? )

6. Less Harmonically clear chords, without 3rd and 7ths (or split 3rds and 7ths).

Part 5: But I don't want to do all that mental calculating!

Well technically you only have to figure it out once....

Ugh, Fine. Here. I'll Do It. That's All Of 'Em. Jerks.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B34HoyhGhGbIZzNPWGlfRzlPUWs/view?usp=sharing
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#2
Q&A Double Post, as usual.

Also you really owe it to yourself to take each primary chord through all it's inversions, drop2 AND drop3. There's some voicings in there you either:

1. Never would have dreamed of playing

2. Play all the time and didn't know it!

ANOTHER Thing I forgot to mention above is that the process is twofold:

1. Yes, you want to identify the subs, and think "G7(b9 b13) = Fm7b5"

2. But eventually, you want to start seeing the Fm7b5 chord AS the G alt chord, thus removing the calculation step, and seeing each chord shape as a list of possible chords all at once.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#4
Excellent JTJ! Mostly stuff I already know - I don't know fingerings for all of these off hand and I'm not as familiar with the substitutions as I'd like to be, but can figure them out. I think I see where you're going with this and think the next one is going to be very interesting and helpful for me.
#5
That doc was the product of the last time I was sick.

Only I would be laying in bed with a fever and go "I'm gonna figure out every enharmonic sub"
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#7
1235 Type

Wait what? If you recall from previous JTJ's, a powerful pattern that retains its logic no matter how we play it is a 1235 (CDEG). We can play all those notes at once, yielding:

*C(1235) = C D E G = or Em7#5 (E G C D)

*This could ALSO be called Em7#5, but if you rearrange it, it doesn't sound like Em.


*Good lord, that's quite a chord. Call it whatever you want, I like the contextless name.


It's the "mu" chord to all Steely Dan fans.
"No one is a sorcerer every hour of the day. How could you live?" — Pablo Picasso
#8
^That too. Forgot about mu.

I haven't heard of that. I'll check it out. Always good to look at a new approach.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#9
The way I do this, is pretty close to what you did there. I just use the primary chord tones.

1. Omit the 5th if it's non-altered

2. Keep the 3rd and 7th, unless it's a sus chord, then I keep that.

3. Omit the root, if it's otherwise covered.

4. Endeavor to use the highest extension at the highest voice to bring out the character.

5. Only use "fillers" if practically accessible, for example, if it's an 11th chord, I'd use a 9th only if it was easily available and in the middle voices.

So for an Fmaj7#11 I might use:

A E B

With B as my highest voice.

x x 7 x 5 7

Best,

Sean
#10
^That works too, but I should point out that A E B is a quartal chord, so it can fit almost anywhere.

I always try to grab the highest extended notes I can, and prefer dropping the root over the fitfh.

3 5 7 9 is an easily invertible chord. Playing 1 3 7 9 (the way most guitarists grab a 9th) is not easy to take through 4 inversions not each string set, so I avoid that voicing.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#11
Hey Jet, you are the love of my UG forum life. I love this stuff, especially since i have been wanting to dive deeper into advancing my skill in regards to harmony.

I will be playing with these concepts over all of my jazz standards this summer, see if i can find some new ways to approach the harmony of the tunes and combining it with the melody of the tunes.
#12
^Hey thanks man. I'm gonna do part 9 on how to choose the right alterations and harmonies, so stay tuned.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#14
^Only slightly.

That's why I said drop 2's and 3's. Voice them like:

1 5 7 3 = 4 adjacent strings

OR

1 7 3 5 = Low E, and D-B strings.

THOSE can be easily inverted. Just slide em up and down the string sets.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp