[Sheet Music]

Lesson 137: Comping Part IV - Rhythms and Voicings

My Other Lessons on Comping

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Comping Rhythms

Practice the following standard comping rhythms:


  • The first one is the classic four to the bar "Freddie Green style"
  • The second one is the so-called charleston rhythm
  • The other three are variations on or displacements of the charleston rhythm
    • The third one has the first chord an eighth note earlier
    • The fourth one has both chords displaced by an eighth note
    • The fifth one has both chords displaced by a quarter note

Here is an MP3 file of a guitar taking a Cm7 chord through all of these rhythms. Play along with it so that you get the feel of every single one of them.

Chord Voicings

Check out lesson 125, where I talk about chord voicings playable on the guitar. The idea is to learn and make up a personal library of fingerings/ voicings that are

  • comfortable/ easy to play
  • versatile
  • contain the right notes so that they have a full/ rich/ the right sound
Learn to play all the voicings on different string combinations. That will enable you to use them in all keys, since you will be able to play them in all areas of the fingerboard.

Four Note Voicings/ Rootless Voicings

Four note voicings is usually the most you will need. The most important notes of a chord are the 3rd and the 7th and the third and fourth voice can be chosen from the 5th, 9th, 11th or 6th/ 13th.

Often these voicings are referred to as rootless voicings. This is a bit misleading, since a rootless voicing can contain the root of the chord, but it means that the root is not the lowest note.

Below you can see a few examples of how four note voicings can be taken through a II-V-I cadence. First a few versions in C major: Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7 and then three versions in C minor: Dm7b5 - G7b9 - Cm7.

Here is a very good example of very playable, rich chord voicings taken through a standard jazz blues progression in C:

Last, but not least, a chordmelody arrangement. The shout chorus of Splanky by Neal Hefti is playable using very few fingerings/ voicings and it is a very good example of versatile voicings.

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