Endless New Ways to Play the Same II V I Voicings - With Jens Larsen

I made this lesson to bring an aspect of playing chords to your attention that there is a big chance you don't think too much about, and which can give you a huge number of new ways to play progressions with the voicings you already know.

Ultimate Guitar
I made this lesson to bring an aspect of playing chords to your attention that there is a big chance you don't thinktoo much about, and which can give you a huge number of new ways to play progressions with the voicings you alreadyknow.

The Progression and the Voicings

What I will try to demonstrate here is how many different ways you can play the same set of voicings byarpegiating the voicings and not just playing them all together as a block.

In the lesson I will use this II V I and only these voicings:

As you might notice they are all Drop 2 voicings. A subject I've already covered in previous lessons.You can check out the series here: Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings – Part 1

If you are used to Drop 2 voicings you will probably agree that my choice is fairly straight forward.

Arpeggiate You Voicings!

So usually we are trying to create melodies and use certain types of voicings to extend the range of sounds wehave available while comping, but as I mentioned we can do really a lot by just arpegiating the voicings we alreadyuse.

Here are 5 examples to illustrate how easily you can vary the sound of one set of voicings.

The first example is quite simple, for each chord I play the voicing spread in two string sets so that you emphasizethe sound of two of the contained intervals. On the Fm7 and Ebmaj7 chord that givesus a diatonic 7th and a diatonic 6th. On the Bb7 there are two7th intervals.

Another way to split the voicing is to have an inner and an outer interval set, which with the Drop 2voicings gives us an inner 3rd and an outer 10th or 11th.

So after a few systematical approaches we can also try to make more of a melodic statement by freeing up how eachvoicing is arpeggiated. In example four I am using the outer voices on the Fm7 and making a shortmelody with the inner 3rd. On the Bb7alt the chord is arpeggiated in a spread outpattern that almost suspends the sound of it. On the Ebmaj7 voicing I am splitting in strings sets inthe same way as in Variation 1

The Fm7 line in variation 4 is first introducing the whole chord and then a melody with the innervoices. On the Bb7 the first part is the 2nd and 4th voice followedby an arpeggiation of the Dmaj7 shell voicing that is the top of the Bb7alt chord.The Ebmaj7 is played by first the lower 3 strings and then as an added melody later the top note.

The final example is using a more traditional way of arpeggiating a chord on the guitar, followed by 2 string sets,which is another way to draw out more sounds within the voicing. Something that is often used in Brazilian guitarmusic. On the Bb7 the entire chord is first played before a string skipping arpeggio pattern isplayed. The line resolves to Ebmaj7 with a pattern that is first the Bb melody noteand then the rest of the chord.

As you can see there are a lot of possibilities to play even a simple three chord progression. If you are used toarpeggiating chords in different ways then you probably do not need to work on anything in a systematical way, but youcan better just try to apply it while playing with others or when practicing a tune.

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As always you can download the examples I used as a PDF here: Endless ways to play the same II V I voicings

About the Author:
By Jens Larsen. There are more lessons on his website. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

6 comments sorted by best / new / date

    how is that first chord a Fm7 and not Fm7add9?
    In jazz you are free to color the chords to your own taste, so often it makes more sense to just write the type of chord and not all the extensions. Hence the Fm7 and not Fm9
    The Harvest
    Yes, I was using the "-" to make the chord name easier to read in this font. In my opinion, the name of the chord is supposed to help you determine its location on the neck, and should jive with the notes on the staff. If the lowest note in the chord is not the root, then it should be written as a slash chord, or Triad/Bass Note. Cm/Ab. If you name chords this way, there's no mistaking the omission of F, or what notes are to be played. The context for whatever is played is had through the heading of, II-V-I in Eb. Minor 9th chords are a different type of chord than Minor 7th chords (5 notes versus 4 notes), will take you to different modes, and are different shapes on the fretboard, so why not call it what it is?
    You don't spend a lot of time playing jazz with jazz musicians do you? Surely the name of a chord is not about finding it on the neck? That information is useless to any other musician reading the chart. In jazz a chord is open to interpretation, if you have ever listened to a jazz guitarist you will notice that he doesn't play the choruses with the same voicings every time, but uses the chords as a means to improvise and play voicings that fits what is going on at the time in the music. The pianist, and bass player will do the same, and so does the drummer (though he doesn't play harmony) I guess you have another opinion which is fine, but what I am telling you is common practice among jazz musicians and they are not aware of your opinion on the subject and I doubt that they are interested. If I was to use your system I would not help people function in a jazz setting where they are reading music from a lead sheet, which is the most likely scenario for something like a II V I progression and how to improvise with it. Doesn't the Nashville number system work in a similar way, so that you know what chord it is but you are free to fill in the voicing? Or in C major 1 can only be one chord, and the bar chord in the 3rd or 8th fret is not allowed.
    The Harvest
    I would prefer it be called Ab-Maj-7..
    But then you are leaving out the context it is played in. In jazz you will very often have to interpret what is being played within the context of a progression, so chords are often rootless or lower parts of the structure has been replaced by extensions. Incidently you also have to look out with Ab-Maj7 notations because the "-" often is used for minor, so when I first saw your comment I thought you meant AbmMaj7, but I take it that you actually mean AbMaj7?