Clark JM Jazz Mandolin
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Sage Wisdom

"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."

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June 10, 2006 | Tying up the Chords

Fluency with lots of different ways to voice a chord (inversion) is an important skill in Jazz. Smooth voice leading is just as important in chord comping as it is in playing a melody. As a general rule, you want to try to move no more than two frets most of the time. Bouncing up and down the frets will not only slow you down, it's harder to listen to.

To build your chord vocabulary, start by transposing the ones you already know. If you struggle with doing this aurally or from memory, by all means write them down. Seeing them visually can be a good thing to help you learn them, but eventually you will want to memorize them, too.

Of course context will help. Like learning a 2nd language, you won't remember words and phrases if you don't use them. Chords are the same way, but in jazz comping, you get PLENTY of opportunity to use chord variations while accompanying the solo.

Here's a free fretboard template for you to document your own personal chord discoveries:

Download: JazzMando Chord Fretboard Template

Posted by Ted at June 10, 2006 6:03 AM

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