Thursday, May 04, 2006

[quote="mr. beaumont"]becoming a good rhythm guitarist/accompanyist is the best thing you can do for your playing-- sight reading, feel , phrasing, it all gets better, including that big element you just can't teach--taste.[/quote]


This is absolutely true.

As I said in another thread, ear training is very important. You must "hear" harmony almost innately to be a great player. Start by teaching yourself to hear chords. I'll bet right now, any one of us on this board can conjure the sound of a major triad in their head. Now, can you conjure the sound of a lydian dominant chord [dom7b5]? How about a dominant 7+5 chord? These two chords are frequently used in jazz progressions. Don't be alarmed if you need to get a guitar out and play these chords to know what they are.

Most of us can conjure the sound of the Jimi Hendrix "Foxey Lady" chord without a guitar. Some of you know that this chord is an E7#9. This will be the V chord in any jazz progression in the key of A. Why do you know that chord? Because you have heard it 20 gajillion times!

Repetition is maybe the only way you can get the sound of each specific chord into you ear. Train your ears to hear the "harmonized" major scale. Make a recording of yourself playing each chord, then make a loop out of it. Choose one chord a week, and play your loop for 5 minutes at a time, at least 5 times day when you are doing other things like driving, working out, et cetera. You don't need to give yourself a headache listening to your chord loop! Slowly the sound of that chord will enter your cell structure.

After a few weeks, you will be much more comfortable with progressions and solo ideas without even learning one new lick! Any new licks or runs you do learn will make sense faster and will integrate [ntgr8 :D ] into your playing much quicker.

The harmonized major scale is as follows:

I Maj 7
II min 7
III min 7
IV Maj 7
V Dom 7
VI min 7
VII min 7 (b5)

In the key of C, this would translate to:

C Ma7
D mi7
E mi7
F Ma7
G 7
A mi7
B mi7 (b5)

Incidently, this is the basis for the Nashville numbering system!

Like horn players, you want to hear these chords in every key. Add the augmented 7th and the diminished 7th to this list, and you have all of the basic chords EVER USED in jazz or any other type of modern American music! That is a grand total of SIX chords in all!!! What a relief for those of you who have ever thumbed through Ted Greene's book "Chord Chemistry" [which ever guitarist should have]!

[1] The Major 7th {spelled 1, 3, 5, 7}
[2] The minor 7th {spelled 1, b3, 5, b7}
[3] The Dominant 7th {spelled 1, 3, 5, b7}
[4] The Half-Diminished or minor 7th (b5) {spelled 1, b3, b5, b7}
[5] The Augmented 7th {spelled 1, 3, #5, b7}
[6] The Diminished 7th {spelled 1, b3, b5, bb7}

Beyond this, you can easily train your ears to hear extensions [9ths, 11ths, and 13th] added to these basic chord types, alterations [b5, #5, b9, #9, #11, b13], and specialty chords like the minorMajor 7th {spelled 1, b3, 5, 7} or the minor 7th +5 [aka the Steely Dan chord] {1, b3, #5, b7}



  • Chris,

    i think this did for me on guitar what Steve Smith's dvd,"The History of the American Beat" did for my drumming: took me a quantum leap forward. Well chosen name, guitar mentor!


    By Blogger Wordrumstrings, at 4:49 PM  

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