Landing the jazz chords

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Flat6Driver, May 14, 2019.

  1. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    So I found a lesson on Willie Nelson's Night Life, which is about all my ability will allow. And barely that.

    The video shows the main progression as:
    Cmaj7 C7 F F#dim7 C A7 Dm G7 Cmaj7 Ebmaj7 Abmaj7 G7

    The guy in the video played the E string root 7th chords like this:
    5x565x (A7)
    4x554x (Abmaj7)
    3x343x (G7)

    So I'm not normally a player of chords like that. I would play A7 as 575655 (and probably not hit all teh strings). The muted out 5th string gives it a different flavor I suppose.

    I have a hard time "landing" those chords from another position. How would you do it? What seemed to work a bit was getting my middle and ring finger planted, then drop my index finger and tuck in the little finger. It's very cramped which means I need to focus on tipping my palm away from the neck more. But the whole accuracy of grabbing that is new, compared to the way I usually do it.


    Anyhow, anyone have any tips for this?
     
  2. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    form the chord on the strings with your fingers

    lift your hand up in that shape

    plop it back down

    do this till you're accurate

    then do the same thing for the next chord till you're accurate

    then practice hopping from chord one to chord two in the same way, by lifting, forming your hand to the next shape in the air, then plopping down

    takes time, but you'll get it

    all unfamiliar chords take some of this kind of work, so don't get discouraged
     
  3. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    +1 on the above post.

    When I was teaching private guitar students I had good luck with this technique ... Play the easy chord before the hard chord. With your hand fingering the 'easy' chord visualize what your hand would look like on the fingerboard playing the hard (next) chord. Move to it only when you really "see" yourself playing that chord. Basically: visualize then move.

    *Inner Game of Tennis stuff. If you can't 'see the point' or 'see the finish line' you'll never get there.
     
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  4. Junkyard Dog

    Junkyard Dog Tele-Afflicted

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    F6D, no tips on how to play that particular song, but...general advice based on my experience trying to learn new techniques:

    Most anything (maybe not Steve Vai stuff, but certainly Willie Nelson songs) is attainable for those of us learning or improving on guitar, but it will take some time to learn it and practice it. How long is hard to say and differs. 10 hours. 20 hours. Maybe 100 hours. But if you start chipping away at those hours in a methodical way (as described in Posts #2 and #3 above) you will eventually get there! And likely you will see improvement along the way to keep you encouraged/motivated!

    If you can help it, try not to do what I do. Which is to diligently practice to the point where I can half-ass-somewhat-competently play what I was trying to learn, and then call it good and move on to some other thing before REALLY getting it.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
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  5. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Once you get comfortable with these shapes, and the shapes with the roots on the fourth and fifth strings, your playing will be forever changed for the better.

    You’ll be comfortable in any key and voice-leading will become second nature. You’ll be able to play hundreds of great pop songs like Georgia on My Mind, Somewhere Over the Rainbow and Mean to Me.

    The downside is that your buddies who play only cowboy chords will be unable to follow your playing as easily, and they will chastise you for playing “jazz.”
     
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  6. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    Harry, please tell me more. The video I watched also had some 5 string root chords with the 4 the string skipped but I'm not clear on 4th string root chords. Or voice leading.
     
  7. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    For chord shapes, including shapes with the root on the fourth string, I recommend this book. One example in the book is a wonderful exercise based on the progression of an unnamed standard (Moonlight in Vermont), in which Berle takes you through three or four increasing levels of harmonic complexity.


    [​IMG]

    Here's a definition of voice leading:
    The term “voice leading” refers to the way in which individual voices move from chord to chord. The best voice leading occurs when all individual voices move smoothly. You can achieve this by moving between chords using the same note or moving up or down by a step in the inner voices of the chord, whenever possible.
    Voice Leading for Guitar – Berklee Online Take Note

    https://online.berklee.edu/takenote/voice-leading-for-guitar/

    As you work through chord progressions using the chord shapes you're learning about, you will notice that the next chord has one or more common tones with the previous chord. For example the Cmaj7 (X3545X) becomes a C#dim (X4535X) by raising the root by one fret on the fifth string, lowering the B to a Bb on the third string, with the G on the fourth strint (fifth fret) and the E on the second string (fifth fret) remaining in place. You move only your third finger.

    Voice leading is reduces hand movement and adds an element of smoothness and cohesion to the sound.
     
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  8. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    This is a great point. At first, one might be tempted to move from Cmaj7 (X3545X) to C#dim7 (X4535X) by lifting up all his fingers only to put some down again in the same place. The insight is to have the right fingers stay put. In this case, having the index finger start out barring A+D+G strings means it is already fretting the Bb in C#dim7 -- no need to move it. And in any case, the fingers fretting the D and B strings can stay put.
     
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  9. philosofriend

    philosofriend Tele-Holic

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    If it feels cramped you might like a guitar with a little wider string spacing.

    What you said about getting your palm off the guitar is right. When you get it so only the pad of your thumb and the tips of your fingers are touching the guitar, you can get the harder fingerings faster. Not that you have to play that way all the time, but some things come so much easier when you get relaxed with your palm off the neck.

    You can learn a lot by watching the left hands of famous players, for example Wes Montgomery plays some of his single line stuff with all the sloppy finger habits I used to try to get my students to stop, then he snaps to an absolutely correct classical position on chord melody stuff.

    As you pick up more jazz chord shapes you will find some that feel comfortable to you. When you get going in that style you find that depending on the progressions a lot of chords can have added sixths or seconds without disturbing the feel of the song, so everyone tends to find their own easy-to-finger ways to slip through famous chunks of progressions. For example, here's two chords that just feel super comfortable to me:
    3x3455 (G13) (a substitute for G7)
    x32333 (C9) (sub for C7)

    Danny Gatton's "Strictly Rhythm" video is kind of overwhelming, but he tries to give you an idea of how he fills out simple chord progressions with cool added chords.
     
  10. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    And the next move to the Dm7 or Dm9 is easy, too. From C#dim7 (X4535X), you simply slide your middle finger (on the fifth string) to the fifth fret and your index finger goes from fourth string second fret to fifth string third fret, with this result: X5355X; if you don't want the sound of the 9th, you simply don't play the E on the second string. Next, you play the next chord, a G dominant, as a G7 (3X34XX) or rootless G9 (X2323X) with minimal left hand and finger movement.

    You can also finish the phrase with the G dominant played as 7XX76X, which sets up an easy move to the next phrase starting with Cmaj7 as 8X998X, C#dim (9X898X), Dm7 (10X10.10.10), G9 (X10X10.10.XX), or a common substitute, Em7 (X757XX), to A7 (5X565X), Dm9 (X5355X), G7 (3X343X)

    Once you get these moves implanted into your muscle memory, you'll find yourself doing this all over the neck in any key. In the Berle book or other good instructional books, you'll find similar sequences with different string sets. By not playing chords with five or six strings, eliminating doubled notes, you get a much clearer chord sound, which works better with singers and other instruments. If you're playing with a bass or a keyboard or both, you'll find an advantage to using rootless voicings, which is also covered in the Berle book, which can focus on strings 1 through 4.

    When I began playing this way several years ago, I started hearing guitars being played this way on recordings, particularly by studio musicians, on all kinds of records.
     
  11. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    +1 for all that.

    What really blew my mind as far as voicings go was Bill Evans. Of course, close voicings are much easier on piano, but his note choice made me realize how conservative I was on guitar.

     
  12. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

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    I bought this book years ago and it helped me out a ton. I liked it so much I took it to the copy shop and had them spiral-bind it so I could use it on a music stand...in other words, unlike a lot of books I've purchased, I actually used (and learned from) this one. :)
     
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  13. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I should add that this economy of movement is an important part of learning classical guitar. It's not just jazz guitar.
     
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  14. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    That's super, I tried it in between my conference calls. I play a lot of blues and in "She Caught the Katy" I use the "mel bay" Eb7: x68686 to lead to the Edim7: x78686.

    I found the book on Amazon for $10/used. Even if I don't learn anything, I'll feel smarter since it's about jazz. LOL
     
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  15. GGardner

    GGardner Tele-Holic

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    I'm probably the least qualified person on this forum to give advice. So take this w/ a grain of salt.

    1. As a general matter, sometimes when there's a chord I have trouble landing, I find that by playing the low E string with my thumb, it opens up easier fingering options. Sounds nutty, but try it. You might be surprised.

    2. So many of these progressions are really standard and you'll start seeing them over and over. And then when you don't see them, you'll start substituting those chords for whatever's written on the paper. So alot comes down to muscle memory. Just keeping practicing the changes and believe that they will come -- because they do.
     
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  16. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    You're correct. I'd add that the chord shapes that we are discussing here aren't just "jazz chords" by any stretch. They are guitar chords that are extremely useful, which are used in many music genres.

    Playing jazz--which I only do the in most rudimentary sense of the word, because I'm not much of an improviser--is not determined by which chord shapes you use.

    I think of these chord shapes and progressions as essential to playing American popular music from the 20th century, including early jazz, Broadway songs, Tin Pan Alley songs, swing and other non-rock music from the big band era through the 1960s. Many of the rockabilly and country guitar players of the 1940s through 1960s used these chord shapes. The influence of Mel Bay's and Mickey Baker's instruction books, which laid out this formula for guitarists, is hard to overestimate.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
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  17. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    Dumb guys like me know them as "jazz chords" and I'm happy with thinking of them this way.

    I took some lessons from a guy that talked of a book, long out of print that would work through a song with "easy" chords and then work up through the song with a variety of substitutions. This book looks like it has some of this.

    I'm excited to check it out. One thing I never know what to do with/about. When playing in a band context, and you want to get into something fancier than rock and roll or a blues progression, how do you do that in working with the bass player or other guitar player? We do one song where I get to use my rootless 9 chord and that's a lot of fun, but it's never been discussed. I guess if I up my game, I will need to play with better players.
     
  18. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

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    Just pay attention to where on the neck the other folks are playing and you live on the fretboard where they are not. This is where inversions very much come in handy, and I initially learned them from the book in question. You will be good-to-go.
     
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  19. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Tele-Holic

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    Living in Japan, looks like Book Depository is my best bet. I might get it too. If only to stick it prominently on the bookcase where it'll look good... :)
     
  20. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    Every watch those videos online where a guy will show some nice progression while playing solo and throw in a bunch of bass runs or neat ideas? Sounds great solo, but if you add a bass player doing something else, it would clash. That's what I meant.
     
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