Voicings starting from a chord
Voicings starting from a chord
As always, we should start with simple things and gradually raise the difficulty: let's start with voicings around a known chord. This stems from my personal experience, before thinking about voicings, I wanted to play richer comping. And the first hurdle I came across was to find other ways of playing the same chord to leave the same old left hand positions. The hardest part of it was to forget about the root notes. Once I left the root notes and got into inversions, I discovered a wonderworld of chords. Another part of the solution was to find chord sequences that started from typical chords. Even though there are more than 20 chords fingering (far more actually) on the four top strings (see site Jazz-Primer), and the same for the four central strings, at first, it's just wiser to stick to four or five chord types that we will get slowly accustomed to and be able to hear mentally just by knowing the shape. It's actually more important in my opinion to hear those chords internally than to know their names. The rationale is simple: in the voicings world, inversions rule and each chord shape can be reused in a wealth of different harmonic contexts.
To get back to voicings starting from typical chords, it should be said that certain chords can be easily substituted to others: 6/9 chords can generally replace M7 chords for instance. 7 can also be replaced by 9 if the melody allows it.
Here's a F#7M.
You can notice on the previous chart that 6/9 chords with root on the lower E string and on the A string have the same fingering on the four top strings. Good news: here's your first easy inversion one 4th highest with a simple hand shift. For the rest, we almost have a scale with equivalent chords:
Are you with me ? These are just a few basics to try voicings with chord types.
A few chords that I often use in voicings
The main 20-ish chord fingerings I use for now on the four highest strings are the following (most of the times, I'm able to recognie them by hearing them, well maybe not all the time). There are many more with their own sound but each one should experiment (nothing replaces personal work). I purposedly omitted to name those chords since the objective of the work here is to be able to hear them before actually plucking them.
Exercise to get familiar with voicing sounds
A way that I find efficient to mentally anticipate the rendering of a voicing, is to start from a four-note chord and randomly change one note at a time just to hear how it sounds. This is litterally chordal morphing. To be done at home of course as an ear training exercise.
Later, you can do the same exercise but changing two notes at a time.
From time to time, a random sequence will sound so good that you will want to memorize it to use it in comping.
A few voicings in chords which notes are all within an octave
This kind of chords is often used on a keyboard but much less on a guitar. The reason is quite simple : they are hard to play because of the wide extension of the left hand's fingers they require. Nonetheless, it is as usual: with some work, these positions become a little more natural. On each position, the root is depicted in red.
Progression over a chord change in A7M:
An interesting progression: