Comping Basics

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Jazz Guitar Comping
Andrew Green
Paperback: 136 pages with Online Audio
E-book with Online Audio
Publisher: Microphonic Press
ISBN: 0-9700576-4-4

Multi-Use Chords

One of the ways to expand your chord voicing and therefore comping palette is to learn different uses for the same voicing. Take this voicing in fourths for example:

3-note voicing

At first glance, this voicing can be used for G7sus. What about C as the root? The presence of F in the voicing means C7sus (possibly C-11, but since Eb is not present it would depend on context). If F is the root, it yields F Maj. This is a more modern concept of what an F Maj chord can be, since there is no third or seventh. When the context is appropriate, and when playing with experienced improvisors, the chord sound doesn’t have to be spelled out as explicitly. This opens up a wide range of possibilities for voicings that you might not consider at first.

This voicing has many possible uses over different bass notes. The first option that comes to mind is over a D root:

3-note voicing_b

This creates a D-7 sus or D-11 and is usable in almost any situation where you see D-7 as the chord symbol.

Another use for this voicing is Eb 6/9:

3-note voicing_c

Over a Db root it becomes DbMaj7+4 (also good for C-phrygian):

3-note voicing_d

If you add C#, use this voicing over A7 alt:

3-note voicing_e

Over Bb it yields Bb6/9:

3-note voicing_f

And last but not least, Ab Maj7 with the 6th also in the voicing:

3-note voicing_g

This kind of approach can be used for any voicing that doesn’t have a root played in a low register, and three-note voicings are easier to apply in different ways than voicings made up of more notes.