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CONCEPTS...............................................................

2
Joe's approach to chord comping......................................2
Traditional Jazz Rhythm Guitar:........................................2
Django guitar for the experienced player.............................3
TIPS FOR PLAYING AT SAMOIS By Ed Parsons.............................7
COMPING by Steve Korn................................................9
FUNCTIONAL COMPING....................................................10
INTERACTIVE COMPING...................................................10
TEXTURAL COMPING......................................................11
GENERAL THOUGHTS......................................................11
RHYTHM..............................................................14
WALKING AND CHEWING GUM...............................................14
PHASE ONE: SINGLE LIMBS...............................................15
EXERCISE: Playing In A Circle.........................................15
EXERCISE: Switching Pairs.............................................17
EXERCISE: Switching Trios.............................................18
GET SYNCHOPATED!......................................................19
Comping for drums...................................................19
COMPING EXERCISES.....................................................20
ORCHESTRATING THE PHRASE..............................................21
TRIPLETS..............................................................22
QUESTION-AND-ANSWER...................................................23
Learn the fundamentals of jazz chords.................................24
DISCOGRAPHY - MASTERS OF SWING RHYTHM...............................29
A Comparative Study of Rhythm Guitar Styles.........................31
PATTERNS..............................................................39
La pompe Manouche...................................................39
Two Note Comping......................................................43
HARMONIE..............................................................46
CONCEPTS............................................................46
L'Anatole.............................................................46
Le Christophe.........................................................47
Accords.............................................................48
La notation...........................................................48
Triades...............................................................52
GYPSY CHORDS..........................................................54
Accords Majeurs 6/9 (1)...............................................57
Accords Mineurs 7 (1).................................................58
Accords de septime...................................................61
Building a chord voicing vocabulary...................................63
Freddie Green.......................................................73
"I Got Rhythm" in the style of Freddie Green..........................74

Another Approach to Fingering Three-Note Chords.......................76


Basics of Freddie Green Comping.......................................77
Western swing.........................................................80

CONCEPTS
Joe's approach to chord comping.
A

little something

I picked

up from

Joe Pass:

When comping

for a

soloist, or when having someone comp for you, see if you can better hear and
express the solo ideas that you are exploring when soloing over small chords
four notes, three notes --sometimes even two notes.
Rock calls for many full bodied five and six string chords whereas jazz
often requires so much less and still expresses so much more. As you begin the
transition from rock to jazz one of the most difficult things to change is the
(five and six string) chord voicings that you have become so used to.
Joe emphasized the idea of being a chord minimalist. Mick Goodrick and
Jim Hall both have written about the use of smaller chords --often omitting
the root. Not only does this allow a more open field on which to solo but it
allows

the

accompanyist

more

freedom

to

explore

different

voicings

and

actually can make his job easier. Two, three and four note voicings are, by
their very nature, easier to play and offer a wider range of fingering and
fretboard position options.
This

can

be

particularly

useful

when

starting

into

chord/melody

stylings. The busy five and six string chords allow little time and few voice
options upon which to construct the melody lines. Keep it simple.
Good luck, good playing and have fun! Bill Wells.

Traditional Jazz Rhythm Guitar:


Interpreting what to play as a rhythm guitarist from a master rhythm
part requires good musical judgment. You would not literally try to play every
chord as indicated in the master part. Usually in the traditional jazz big
band, you would want to emulate Freddie Green of Count Basie's band. In this
style of rhythm guitar playing, the rhythm "groove" which you are playing with
the drums and bass is more important than the harmonic sophistication of the
chord symbols. Simplify the harmony when you are playing this style of rhythm.
I would venture to say that Freddie Green does not play more than two or three
notes in his chord voicings. He plays the basic harmony - whether the triad is
major or minor, and whether the 7th is functioning as a major 7th or dominant
7th. It usually is that simple! Always simplify the part harmonically so you
can concentrate on contributing to the feel or "groove" of the rhythm section.

Django guitar for the experienced player


(in 6 months, 10 easy stages (and less than $6 a day) By Mike Hardaker)
1. Dont buy a Selmer (or a good replica). Buy a crap guitar
Its too easy to sound like a half-decent manouche guitarist if the
guitar just oozes "that sound". The deep-down secrets are actually:
Physical strength (of fingers and wrist)
Dexterity
Knowing the fingerboard
Knowing the chords
Knowing the scales
Squeezing every ounce of tone from your instrument
Numbers 3, 4 and 5 in this list may seem pretty obvious, but theyre a
lot harder to crack than you might think (especially if youve been playing
guitar for a decade or two).
The rest are less obvious, and even harder to get tapped. If youve been
playing a Gibson, PRS, Martin, Taylor or even a Yamaha for a while, the odds
are that youre not very strong theres no need to be. Get one of those
things that are designed to build up hand strength in tennis players (they
look like two short sticks joined by a coil spring). Can you squeeze the thing
closed 50 times in each hand? And then do it again? And again? If not, youre
not ready for the Django stuff. Now youve bought the tennis thing you can do
some boring physical exercises every day and you should but its a lot
better to fight with an old plank of a guitar with a half-inch action at the
twelfth. Your innate desire to make the beast sound almost reasonable will
force you to press down harder, release quicker and, generally, build up the
strength of your fingers. Dexterity comes from this as well.
Finally, the odds are that the old plank sounds awful, so youll start
using serious finger vibrato while attacking the strings with your right hand.
And thats the secret to tone, basically.
Oh string the bugger up with flatwound 12s. Theyre even harder to
play, and sound particularly bad on most guitars.
If you dont have a crap guitar, buy one 1960s "student" archtops are
pretty cheap and almost always horrible. If you cant buy something crap
enough, go for a Hofner Congress or something like that not exactly "crap"
but totally inappropriate!
2. Get your right hand sorted
Most rock/folk/jazz guitarists rest their fingers on the guitar while
playing, holding the pick delicately between thumb and forefinger (or middle-

finger). This wont do. Clench your fist and then park the plectrum (which
should be seriously heavy like 3mm thick) at 90 degrees to your thumb. Clamp
it there. Play like this. Itll hurt (a lot but youve got that tennis thing
to build up your wrist) but thats what you gotta do. Honestly. Look at the
old photos: no fingers on the box...
Itll take a while before youre comfortable with this, but in the
meantime you can...
3. Learn the chords
I mean really learn the chords. Not the chords you already know. Unless
youve been dicking around on an ES-175 for forty years the odds are that you
know lots of chords that have your hands in completely the wrong position and
that youll never use in manouche jazz. Get Mickey Bakers book on Jazz Guitar
and look at the first few pages. Learn every one of the chords. Properly. Then
string them into sequences and get these off pat. Then do it again. And
again...
The chords may seem more appropriate to Bop than manouche jazz, but they
all even the really odd ones will help your soloing later.
Then start inventing chords. Find the bass note you want and work out
(1... 3... 5... 7... 11...) where the other notes are. Youll find new
inversions that arent in any book (because theyre a bit weird) but that
sound great when thrashed out with a boom-chicka beat.
But dont get hung up by finding all the notes in a chord. Any 7 th can
be perfectly satisfactory with only three notes (even though it "needs" four)
and so on. Look for the rhythm and the feel.
And get those changes moving at 300bpm, four changes per bar.
4. Learn the scales and arpeggios
Boring? Yes. Essential? Also.
Get the basics drilled into you: major, minor, major 6th, major 9th,
diminished, augmented, chromatic...
Then do them faster. And faster. Then pick a spot on the fingerboard at
random and do every scale you know from there. Learn every scale, every
arpeggio, in every position, until playing them is as natural as breathing.
If youre the sort of person who likes to know theyre playing a G
mixolydian over a B7 phrygian then learn all that stuff. Otherwise, just build
the sense-memory of where you fingers go for all the options. Both approaches
work...
5. Transpose standards, then learn them
Most jazz standards are in awful keys for the guitar eleven flats, and
the like. Transpose them into something civilised like G major and then learn

the rhythm part (using modified chords youve learnt earlier and with the
assumption

that

"G"

never

means

"G",

probably

means

"G6",

but

could

be

anything...). Then practice that rhythm part until you can produce the best
rhythm part for Sweet Georgia Brown (or whatever...) that anyones ever done.
Then build on the rhythm part, imagining Grappellis doing his solo while you
vamp. To stay fresh, try to be Eddie Lang behind Joe Venuti. Thats what
Django did, after all...
Only when you can hear the chord changes in your sleep should you learn
the top line. Get the melody down pat.
Then try the whole business in different keys. Eleven of them.
Itll be hard, because youll still be struggling with that crap guitar
but do it anyway.
6. Noodle
Record your brilliant rhythm parts and then play over them. Start by
just working around the top line and then, after a week or so, pretend you
dont know the melody and just follow the important notes of the chords (the
ones you "hear" best) and throw your scales over them.
7. Forget your roots, find Djangos
You probably grew up listening to the Beatles, the Stones, Nirvana or
that Spears woman. It doesnt matter remove all these things from your life.
Listen exclusively to French valses, flamenco, Bach, Satchmos Hot Seven and
the like.
Then bring in some Django, and the better disciples (Rosenberg Trio,
Romane...). Avoid the speed-freaks such as Jimmy Rosenberg pick up the
melodic sense (which often gets lost when too many notes are involved). Speedfreaks will just intimidate you, pointlessly. Django will intimidate you, of
course, but that does have a point...
8. Noodle solo
Forget the backing tapes. Just pick up a guitar and make beautiful
music.

Dont

worry

about

what

youre

playing,

just

play....

When

you

spouse/parents/offspring/SO/poodle think it sounds nice, move on to...


9. Buy a Selmer (or a good replica)
You are now ready. Its time to phone up Maurice Dupont (or your luthier
of choice). Youll be relatively scrappy, but you wont actually embarrass
yourself. And youll sound a lot better than you used to...
10.

Grow a moustache

You need this before your first gig. No manouche guitarist can be taken
seriously without one. If youre under sixteen (or female) then buy one from a
joke shop.
And if youve reached this stage in less than 6 months, youre either a
genius or youre lying to yourself....

TIPS FOR PLAYING AT SAMOIS By Ed Parsons


(Editor's

note:

Ed

Parsons,

aka

Archtop

Eddy,

is

guitarist

from

Colorado who plays in Mango fan Django. This year he took his first trip to
Samois. In the article below, he offers advice to guitarists for their firsttime

travel

to

the

festival.

Ed

can

be

reached

through

the

website

mangofandjango.com).
There are two types of guitar players that go to Samois. Those that play
and those that watch.
The thought of jumping into a jam session with all those incredible
players can be daunting. Every time you pick up a guitar, you're surrounded by
a crowd of expectant on-lookers.
This year, I took my first trip to Samois, and my guitar spent too much
time sitting in the gig bag. This won't happen to me next time. And if you're
prepared, it doesn't have to happen to you either.
Here are my suggestions for first-time pickers going to the festival. If
you follow these very basic tips, I guarantee you'll be ready to play at the
next Samois!
First, take your guitar. Don't let anxiety stop you from making the most
of your experience. If you don't have a guitar, stop by one of the luthier
booth such as Gerome or Dupont's. They have a fine variety of instruments for
you to try. Keep I mind though, if you don't have your own guitar you may not
be able to join the spontaneous jam sessions at the cafes and campgrounds.
Second, be ready to play rhythm. This is especially true if you aren't
dead-ready to tackle lead. I saw a lot of players standing around watching,
perhaps not ready to solo in the company of some of the best gypsy jazz
players in the world. Could you blame them? The problem was they couldn't play
rhythm either because they didn't know the chord changes. I'm not talking
about reading chord charts; I'm talking about knowing the chord changes.
After checking numerous jam sessions, I noticed something else. Some of
the same songs cropped up time and time again. This made me think of this next
suggestion.
Memorize the chord progressions to the most popular "jam session" songs.
Be ready to play them as confidently as you can play Minor Swing. The top
contenders during the three days included: Sweet Georgia Brown, All of Me,
Nuages (in G), Honeysuckle Rose, Djangology and Dark Eyes. (I'm assuming you
know Minor Swing but if you don't, add it to the front of the list.).
If you're already familiar with these songs, great! Just make sure
you're playing them in the proper keys and with absolute confidence. Make sure
you're using the correct gypsy-style chord forms. And above all, make sure
you're doing it all from memory. (They don't use no stinkin' chord charts at
Samois!).

Remember, and I can't emphasize this enough-the trick is to really know


these songs. Don't worry about knowing a whole head-full of songs. The songs
in the above list will pop up often enough to give you plenty of time to play.
Your goal is to be the absolute rhythm master of these songs.
Afterward, if you've got the chops, brain-cells, and the time, lock in
other songs. A safe bet would be popular Hot Club standards such as Swing 42,
Daphne, or Belleville. At the jams I heard quite a bit of Autumn Leaves, Bossa
Dorado, and I Can't Give You Anything But Love.
Some of you may be saying, "I don't want to play rhythm, I want to play
lead." In that case, I'd say, "Go ye forth guitarist and blaze your own path.
Be true to yourself." However, remember a great rhythm player is always
appreciated by both soloists and bass players alike. Playing rhythm is a sure
ticket at Samois.
Six of the songs mentioned above are included in Paul Meader and Robin
Nolan's Gypsy Jazz songbook which comes with a play-along CD. You can buy this
product from their website at www.robinnolantrio.com. I bought the book and CD in
Samois and love them. The CD contains 15 tracks and is a great way to work up
rhythm and lead skills. The songbook identifies correct gypsy-style chord
forms and provides sound advice to both rhythm guitar and bass players.
My next suggestion is that you get in some time with your guitar before
the festival. This year, my fiancee and I visited Paris before going to
Samois. Paris was wonderful but all the sight-seeing limited my practice time.
Next time, I'll take a couple of days off before flying to France and be more
mentally and physically prepared. Not having the "up-front" time greatly added
to my reluctance to play publicly in Samois.
But play publicly in Samois I did! And, while I wish that I'd played
more often, the times I played were very rewarding. One personal highlight was
playing with Robin Nolan, Paul Meader, Paul Mehling, Andy MacKenzie and other
great players at a hotel lobby and later, at an outdoor cafe. Both Robin and
Paul Mehling were very supportive of everyone who joined in. Additionally, it
was also great meeting Paul Meader, Andy, Frank Forte, Ian Cruickshank and a
host of other fine players-Europeans, North Americans, and gypsies alike. Tony
Green of New Orleans took the time to run me through some new material; and my
fiancee Laura, my friends Pascal (aka the Waffle Kid), Wayne-O and Barbara;
Patrick Saussois and his wife Laudie, and Mary and Peter Honcoop - all added
greatly to my experience.
My final suggestion is to know when to play and when not to play. Keep
your enthusiasm in check. Don't bulldoze over other players. Keep your head
clear

about

the

situation

around

you.

Several

times

saw

interlopers

intruding on a jam session, playing poorly, playing out of context, or just


plain playing when they shouldn't have. Sad to say, this usually happened
after

the

intruders

had

imbibed

in

excessive

alcohol.

witnessed

some

delicate and beautiful jam sessions disintegrate into mediocrity thanks to a


few thoughtless participants. Trust me, these "players" were noticed - and not
in ways they wanted to be.
One of your goals at Samois ought to be to learn something new. You
can't do this if you focus all of your energy on only your playing. Make the
most of your trip. Spend some time listening, watching, and talking with other
players.
Being in Samois was like being at one big family get-together where
everyone

was

supportive

and

generous

with

their

time,

knowledge,

and

friendship. I hope some of these suggestions will be helpful to you, and


hopefully the next time I'm at the Samois festival, we'll get a chance to do
some jamming.

COMPING by Steve Korn


Id like to share a few thoughts about comping, a subject that could
easily fill a book. Rather than diving in too deeply, I would like to outline
three fundamental conceptual approaches to jazz drumset comping. But first, a
basic definition:
Comping is the practice of providing a supportive foundation upon which
a soloist can improvise.
The term comping is derived from the words accompany and compliment,
terms that both imply a sense of support. This is vital to effective comping,
as the relationship between soloist and accompanist is defined by which player
is leading and which is supporting. The moment that the comping is not
supportive the relationship becomes a duet of equals, not a bad thing when
intended, but sometimes the line is inadvertently crossed. What is important
is that the comping is relative to what the soloist is playing, to the
composition and to the vibe that has been established.
Imagine yourself talking with a couple of friends. Generally, there is
one main speaker at any given time, in musical terms, the soloist. The others
comp for the soloist by listening and responding to what is being said. This
will

include

remarks

like,

uh-huh,

yea

and

oh,

remarks

that

affirm

comprehension and encourage the speaker to continue. These comments usually


occur in the spaces between the speakers sentences rather than in the middle,
allowing

the

complete

idea

to

be

expressed.

This

parallels

the

first

conceptual approach, functional comping.

FUNCTIONAL COMPING
Like the conversational example above, functional comping is the short
rhythmic figures played to help outline the form of a piece and provide a
frame to the soloists phrases. Imagine someone speaking to you and you offer

absolutely no response, instead blankly staring him in the face. It would be


awkward for the speaker just as soloing over straight time devoid of any
rhythmic variance would be. By playing short, simple rhythmic figures that
carry the listener and soloist from one section of the composition to another,
the drummer can help to provide a subtle frame of reference. These short
figures

are

the

uh-huhs

and

yeas

that

help

the

flow

of

language

in

conversational setting. In my experience, functional comping figures are most


effective if they are simple and short. Generally no longer than two beats. I
say this because its important to avoid rhythmically colliding with the
soloist, especially at the ends of their phrases. Too much activity over the
end of the soloists phrase will not support their idea but rather obscure it.
In a more advanced conception of this idea, many drummers will avoid clearly
marking phrases or will displace their figures in an effort to provide some
element of surprise and tension. Regardless of how it is manipulated, the
concept still achieves the same goal of outlining form and phrasing. Sometimes
when talking with friends we find that the conversation starts at one place,
gradually developing to another. This natural flow is imperative to a creative
exchange of ideas and is often the result of input from the comping listeners
to the soloist speaker. For example a conversation about health-care can
easily become one about politics when a few simple remarks are made from the
compers to the soloist speaker who in turn addresses those ideas, which
further

leads

to

remarks

from

the

comping

participants

and

so

on.

The

conversation follows a logical path because the interjected remarks are not
random or unrelated to what the speaker is talking about, health-care and
politics are interrelated issues. The result is that through the course of the
conversation a connecting thread can be seen which reveals the development and
flow of ideas. This demonstrates the most vital relationship between soloist
and compers and demonstrates the concept of interactive comping.

INTERACTIVE COMPING
Interactive comping involves listening and responding to the ideas the
soloist is playing. Ideally, the responses support the soloists ideas and in
turn inspire him to continue developing them. The goal is in creating a sense
of

interplay,

musically

conversing

with

the

soloist

while

maintaining

supportive stance. The relationship between soloist and comping players is as


highly varied as different conceptions of improvisation. Some soloists are
very thematic and motivic, developing small, fragmented ideas. These types of
players usually like to be very involved with the comping instruments because
their style lends itself to involved rhythmic manipulation. Some soloists play
longer, more melodic phrases and often like to hear longer, more melodic
phrases from the comping players. Sometimes these players prefer very little

interaction and activity from the rhythm section, preferring to float over the
top

of

the

ensemble.

Some

like

the

basic

call

and

response

model

of

interaction. There are many different approaches and the key is in listening
to the soloist, paying attention to how they respond to what you give them.
Sometimes players meet and have an immediate understanding for one anothers
needs, sometimes it takes a little time to develop a feel for what works.

TEXTURAL COMPING
The last concept Id like to touch on is related to interactive comping.
Textural comping is the use of sound colors and textures to create a desired
effect. This can be the combination of different sound sources or a wash of
rapidly played notes. These effects are often not related to specific ideas
played by a soloist, but rather are intended to enhance the vibe being created
by the whole ensemble. Sometimes the music has a mysterious quality that is
intensified by scraping a stick across a cymbal. Perhaps the energy level
reaches a point that rapid tom-toms and cymbal crashes will push it over the
edge. Sometimes a lot of rhythmic comping sets the vibe for a performance.
Check-out the way Elvin Jones played behind Coltrane, often very dense and
colorful. Or, the way Tony Williams would interrupt stretches of straight time
with brief explosions of drums and cymbals. What is specifically played is
less

important

than

the

collective

sound

and

energy.

This

approach

is

interactive comping in the sense that it is a response to what is happening


musically, it simply responds to the collective vibe more than to a specific
soloist.

GENERAL THOUGHTS
Ive

presented

the

three

concepts

above

from

the

perspective

of

drummer responding to a soloist, but it is also very common to respond to the


comping of the other members of the rhythm section as well. The rhythm section
must function as a comping unit if it is going to provide effective support.
The soloist is responding to the entire unit, so its imperative as a drummer
that I am listening to the soloist and my rhythm section bandmates. When a
soloist begins his solo, I usually simplify, perhaps moving entirely into the
realm of functional comping. If the rhythm section backs off a little, it
gives the soloist an opportunity to take it into the direction they want
rather than being forced to come in kicking and screaming. Whats important is
that the rhythm section is sensitive enough to immediately respond to the
first notes the soloist plays, supporting the vibe being created. As a solo
develops, its important not to push the soloist, forcing them to go in a
particular direction. Its their solo, let them set the pace. Something I try

to avoid is jumping on to obvious rhythmic patterns played by the soloist.


This is kind of like listening to someone speak and ending all of their
sentences with them because you know what they are going to say. Secondly, the
cool thing about rhythmic patterns is how they work against the time, creating
rhythmic tension. If the entire rhythm section gets on the pattern, it is no
longer pushing against anything and the tension is lost. Sometimes I like to
play

contrasting

rhythmic

pattern,

heightening

tension,

dramatically

releasing when both phrases end together. I dont want to give the impression
that I never play a soloists rhythmic pattern with him, sometimes it does
sound good, but I do try to avoid over doing it. Similarly, I try to avoid too
much

direct

mimicking

of

the

soloists

rhythmic

fragments.

Thats

like

repeating words after someone says them to you. All of this might lead you to
ask what I do play? I try to think about creating counterpoint to the melodies
and rhythms that I am hearing. I will often take fragments of what the soloist
plays and develop my own lines from them. This is very similar to the way the
Baroque era composers like J.S. Bach would construct contrapuntal pieces like
inventions and fugues. With this concept I try to comp complete ideas rather
than connecting scattered rhythmic fragments, yet Im always ready to abandon
my line if it sounds like it will conflict with the soloist. This approach is
far more interesting and challenging to me as it forces me to deal with the
music that is being created around me. This isnt always easy or successful,
but to me it is the essence of truly playing and creating as a group in the
moment. I would also venture to say that at least 30-40% of what Im playing
fits into the functional comping category. This is because so much of what I
play is in reference to the composition and the form. Playing the form is an
enormous part of my responsibilities as a drummer and it is something I am
always aware of. Soloists often develop their ideas around the built in
developmental mechanisms of the form as well as draw material from the melody.
So, if I am paying attention to the form and melody, I will very likely relate
to and support the soloist. One of the best pieces of musical advice Ive ever
received was from my friend Adam Nussbaum. He told me, Dont sit down and
play the drums, sit down and play music. I try to take this to heart every
time I get behind my set. Im not always successful, sometimes Im thinking
more about what Im playing on the drums than about what is happening around
me, but it really is the ideal way to approach creating music. Sometimes I
hear drummers that sound like theyre listening only to themselves, playing
the latest licks in their bag of tricks. I find this type of playing confusing
and distasteful. Its like being in a conversation, randomly throwing in big
impressive words regardless of their relevance or meaning to the context of
the discussion. I can imagine that it is distracting for the soloist as well.
Playing in the moment, dealing with what is happening around you provides a
profound challenge to your imagination and technical skills. You often find

yourself playing things youve never played before and to me that is a very
exciting

place

to

be.

Lets

talk

about

licks.

dont

want

to

give

the

impression that I never play them, on the contrary, I play them all of the
time. They are a big part of my musical vocabulary and if you hear me perform
a few times you are likely to hear things youve heard me play before.
Everyone is like this. No one is constantly in a mode of playing completely
new and original ideas. In fact, these are the things, along with tone, that
make players identifiable. Just like speaking, we often find ourselves using
the same set of words and re-expressing ideas. It is simply the way we think.
This is not a bad thing. I play what I play because it is what I am hearing in
that moment. I use the same ideas a lot because I hear them. Inserting licks
just to play licks without regard for the music in the moment is what we are
trying to avoid. Its important to remember that there are as many different
ways to approach comping as there are individuals playing music. I think what
is important is to try to approach the bandstand without preconceived ideas of
what or how you will play. Its better to wait, listen and respond to what you
are

hearing

in

the

moment,

while

also

composition is unfolding, the big picture.

maintaining

sense

of

how

the

RHYTHM
Technically rhythm
durations.

is the timing pattern created by notes of different

(A measure may contain more or less notes than beats.)

superimposed upon the beat.

Rhythm is

(To illustrate this sing Jingle Bells while clap-

ping your hands to a steady beat.


Another use of the word has to do with an attribute of a musician.
("That

player

coordination

has

good

rhythm

.")

in sync with time.

Here

the

word

refers

to

player's

It is this sense of the word that we will

deal with in this chapter.


Lack of rhythm (coordination) can be a major cause of frustration for
beginners but is also evident in many intermediate players.

It may mean the

difference between success and failure as rhythm difficulties slow down the
learning process, both in terms of technique and in perception of musical
phrases.

Also, within a group a single player without rhythm may become a

"rhythm parasite", relying on others to keep the beat while creating havoc
with the tempo of the music (I find that many bluegrass players in their rush
to play fast, have ignored rhythmic development.
or rushing of the tempo.

The result is "snowballing",

(It only takes one person in a group of four or five

to create this undesirable effect.

Watch a player's foot to see if they are

tapping right on the beat or if they are tapping arbitrarily.)

The following

exercise is invaluable not only as a remedy for rushing, but also for long
term rhythmic development and coordination).
The exercises in this chapter are a form of bilateral motor development,
a type of physical therapy if you will.

The exercises are heiarchial and each

can be achieved quickly with patient focussed intent.

WALKING AND CHEWING GUM


Every musician must be a "drummer" in the sense that your body must be
in sync with the music you are playing.
are able to play drums.)
imaginary drum kit.

(Many professional musicians I know

These coordination exercises will be played on an

(Tap your hands on your legs while you tap your feet.)

The following is a common 4/4 drum pattern that involves the four limbs.
is the final goal of the exercises.

LEFT FOOT
RIGHT
FOOT
LEFT HAND
RIGHT
HAND

(hi-hat)

(bass drum)

(snare drum)
(ride cymbal)

3
3

2
1 and

2 and

4
3 and

4 and

It

This

drum

pattern

can

be

learned

step-by-step

in

four

phases.

The

follow- ing exercises should be done with a metronome starting at 60-80 beats
per minute. Do each exercise until it becomes automatized . (That is, until it
is automatic--You should be able to carry on a conversation while doing this.)
Then speed up gradually.

PHASE ONE: SINGLE LIMBS


THE LEFT FOOT keeps the meter (steady beat) while tapping quarter notes
(single-beat notes) on the "high-hat". (On a drum kit, this is the foot pedal
that clangs two cymbals together.) Practice while counting with the metronome. (Start at 60-80 bpm then gradually increase.) NOTE: Keep the foot on
the ground until the next beat occurs--do not invol- untarily pick up the
foot on the "up-beat" (the "and") as this will encourage rushing. (You are
after total control with no flinching!)

count:
LF:

1
(and) 2 (and) 3 (and)
4 (and) . . .
tap (hold) tap (hold) tap (hold) tap (hold) . . .
THE RIGHT FOOT taps the "bass drum", half notes (two-beat notes) on

beats one and three. Keep the foot on the ground until the next tap.

count:
RF:

1
tap

2
(hold)

3
tap

4
(hold)

...
...

THE RIGHT HAND taps continuous eight notes (half beats) on the "ride
cymbal" (right knee).

count:
RH:

1
and 2
and
tap tap tap tap

3
and
tap tap

4
and
tap tap

...
...

THE LEFT HAND taps quarter notes on the "snare drum" (left knee) on
beats two and four. (Keep the hand down until the next beat.)

count:
LH:

1
(hold)

2
tap

3
(hold)

4
tap

...
...

EXERCISE: Playing In A Circle


The four limbs create a "circle". Clockwise starting from the left foot
the order is LF-LH-RH-RF. Starting slowly (with a metronome), play each limb
for four measures while you count "1-2-3-4 2-2-3-4 3-2-3-4 4-2-3-4". Without

stopping proceed to the next limb and do the same. Continue with each limb
around

the

circle

counterclockwise

until

circle

it

becomes

(LF-RF-RH-LH).

fluent.
Gradually

Then

do

increase

the

same

speed

in

in

both

directions. When this is mastered decrease the number of measures played by


each limb to two measures while counting "1-2-3-4 2-2-3-4". Play in both
directions (continually, then increase speed). Finally, play one measure with
each limb (four continual measures in either direction) while counting "1-2-34 2-2-3-4 3-2-3-4 4-2-3-4". Gradually increase the speed. Do not advance to
phase two until phase one is mastered. PHASE TWO: PAIRS Now you must walk and
chew gum. The following exercises are done two limbs at a time. There are six
combinations. Start at 60-80 bpm, do each exercise until it becomes automatic,
then increase speed. FEET

cou
nt:
LF:

...

tap

tap

tap

tap

...

tap

RF:

(hol

tap

d)

(hol

...

d)

HANDS

count:
LH:
RH:

1
and 2
and
(hold)
tap
tap tap tap tap

3
and
(hold)
tap tap

4
and
tap
tap tap

...
...
...

3
tap
(hold)

4
tap
tap

...
...
...

3
and
tap
tap tap

4
and
(hold)
tap tap

...
...
...

3
tap

4
(hold)

...
...

LEFT SIDE

count:
LF:
LH:

1
tap
(hold)

2
tap
tap

RIGHT SIDE

count:
RF:
RH:

1
and 2
and
tap
(hold)
tap tap tap tap

DRUM CROSSOVER

count:
RF:

1
tap

2
(hold)

LH:

(hold)

tap

(hold)

tap

...

3
and
tap
tap tap

4
and
tap
tap tap

...
...
...

CYMBAL CROSSOVER

count:
LF:
RH:

1
and 2
and
tap
tap
tap tap tap tap

Be sure to rid your body of flinches (involuntary movements) such as the


left foot, right foot, and left hand lifting too soon. (You want to attain
total control!) Do not advance to phase three until phase two is mastered.

EXERCISE: Switching Pairs


Combinations of the six pairs of limbs can be systematically practiced
as follows. HANDS-FEET: Starting slowly (with a metronome) play the hands in
four- measure increments while counting "1-2-3-4 2-2-3-4 3-2-3-4 4-2-3-4".
Without stopping shift to the feet. Speed up gradually until fluent. Reduce to
two-measure increments while counting "1-2-3-4 2-2-3-4", then reduce to onemeasure increments while counting "1-2-3-4 2-2-3-4 3-2-3-4 4-2-3-4". LEFT
SIDE-RIGHT SIDE: Starting slowly (with a metronome) play the left side in
four-measure

increments

while

counting

"1-2-3-4

2-2-3-4

3-2-3-4

4-2-3-4".

Without stopping shift to the right side. Speed up gradually until fluent.
Reduce to two-measure increments while counting "1-2-3-4 2-2-3-4", then reduce
to one-measure increments while counting "1-2-3-4 2-2-3-4 3-2-3-4 4-2-3-4".
DRUM CROSSOVER-CYMBAL CROSSOVER: Do the same exercise as above with these
combinations. LEFT SIDE-FEET: (same) LEFT SIDE-HANDS: (same) LEFT SIDE-DRUM
CROSSOVER: (same) LEFT SIDE-CYMBAL CROSSOVER: (same) RIGHT SIDE-FEET: (same)
RIGHT SIDE-HANDS: (same) RIGHT SIDE-DRUM CROSSOVER: (same) RIGHT SIDE-CYMBAL
CROSSOVER: (same) HANDS-DRUM CROSSOVER: (same) HANDS-CYMBAL CROSSOVER: (same)
FEET-DRUM CROSSOVER: (same) FEET-CYMBAL CROSSOVER: (same) Do not advance to
phase three until all elements of phase two are mas- tered. PHASE THREE: TRIOS
Now you must walk, chew gum, and recite the Gettysburg Address. The following
exercises are done three limbs at a time. There are four combina- tions. Start
at 60-80 bpm, do each exercise until it becomes automatic, then slowly build
up speed. NO LEFT HAND

count:
LF:
RF:
RH:

1
tap
tap
tap tap

2
tap
(hold)
tap tap

3
tap
tap
tap tap

4
tap
(hold)
tap tap

.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.

NO RIGHT HAND

count:
LF:
RF:
LH:

1
tap
tap
(hold)

2
tap
(hold)
tap

3
tap
tap
(hold)

4
tap
(hold)
tap

.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.

3
(hold)
tap
tap tap

4
tap
(hold)
tap tap

.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.

3
tap
(hold)
tap tap

4
tap
tap
tap tap

.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.

NO LEFT FOOT

count:
LH:
RF:
RH:

1
(hold)
tap
tap tap

2
tap
(hold)
tap tap

NO RIGHT FOOT

count:
LF:
LH:
RH:

1
tap
(hold)
tap tap

2
tap
tap
tap tap

EXERCISE: Switching Trios


Combinations of the four trios of limbs can be systematically practiced
as follows. NO LEFT HAND-NO RIGHT HAND: Play in four measure increments, then
two measures, and finally one measure. Slowly at first, then increase speed.
NO LEFT HAND-NO LEFT FOOT: (same) NO LEFT HAND-NO RIGHT FOOT: (same) NO RIGHT
HAND-NO LEFT FOOT: (same) NO RIGHT HAND-NO RIGHT FOOT: (same) NO LEFT FOOT-NO
RIGHT FOOT: (same) Do not advance to phase four until all elements of phase
three are mas- tered. PHASE FOUR: ALL TOGETHER NOW! Starting at 60-80 bpm, do
the

exercise

while

counting

"1-2-3-4

2-2-3-4

3-2-3-4

4-2-3-4".

until

it

becomes automatic. Gradually increase speed, then go join a rock band as a


drummer.

count:
LF:
RF:
LH:
RH:

1
tap
tap
(hold)
tap tap

2
tap
(hold)
tap
tap tap

3
tap
tap
(hold)
tap tap

4
tap
(hold)
tap
tap tap

.
.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.
.

GET SYNCHOPATED!
Let's advance to the next level. Assuming you've made it this far, this will not take a
lot of work. Change only the bass drum (right foot) as follows:

count:
RF:

1
tap

2
and 3
(hold) tap tap

4
and . . .
(hold) tap

Go through all exercises involving the right foot. If you enjoy drumming
(and who doesn't--just look at Animal in the Muppet Band!) there is a great
device for the novice. The Yamaha company makes makes an electronic drum kit
that can be bought for $300.00 or under (adapter sold separately). It is the
model DD-50 (digital drums) and does so many amazing things, among them: It is
complete touch-sensitive 5-piece drum set complete with hi-hat trigger (opened
and closed), bass drum trigger, snare, three toms, and two cymbals. It is very
light and about the size of a breadbox (do they still make those things?). Two
speakers are built in. It gets pretty loud, so if you want to jam with the
stereo . . . There is also headphone input that deactivates the speakers if
you want to practice in private. You can also plug it into an external
amplifier or p.a. system. It sounds amazing! It can run on batteries, but I
strongly sug- gest getting the a.c. adapter. 75 on-board percussion sounds can
be assigned to any pad or trigger. (In otherwords you can design your own
sets.) It has memory storage for 20 different kits. Now the clincher. Besides
having a built-in metronome it also has 100 songs of varying style built in.
You can change tempo and add or subtract the drums. (Can you tell I used to
work in a music store?) All in all it's a super impressive tool (and toy) for
not too much moola. Many of my students have bought them and it has made a
marked improvement in their overall rhythm. (Besides being able to work out
their frustrations by pounding on something!).

Learn the fundamentals of jazz chords.


The

term

jazz

chord

conjures

up

confusion

and

mystery

for

many

guitarists. The fingerings are unfamiliar, and technical terms such as major
seven,

seven

flat

nine,

dominant

seven

suspended

with

sharp

11,

and

diminished (Ive heard this referred to as "demented") are enough to scare


anyone off for years. Add to that the perceived difficulty of playing these
chords all over the neck and youve got a strong enough excuse to avoid them
for the rest of your life.
On the other hand, jazz chords offer the guitarist a vastly expanded
palette of tonal colors and entry into an unlimited universe of modern music,

including pop, rock, and classical. And if you want to play swing or jazz,
theyre essential.
The good news is that once you get into these types of chords, youll
find a system that is logical, regular, and easy to use. The trick is to
discover a bridge from what you know to what you dont know. In this lesson,
well make that bridge out of the blues by looking at the chords to a simple
blues

riff,

the

kind

that

players

as

diverse

as

Louis

Armstrong,

Benny

Goodman, Bob Wills, Django Reinhardt, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Charlie
Christian, Joe Pass, Wynton Marsalis, and George Benson have all composed,
played,

and

recorded.

Well

learn

some

basic

closed-position

chords

and

discuss how to move them around. In the process, well transpose our blues
riff from the key of G to the key of Bb.
Musically speaking, there is no such thing as a "jazz chord," any more
than there are special cubist colors for painters or designated mystery words
for writers. A chord is a chord, and jazz chords are often just basic chords
played in unfamiliar forms and positions on the fretboard, or extended or
altered versions of these same basic chords. The former can include chords
played up the neck in closed positions, which are sometimes called barre
chords.

These

chords

dont

utilize

open

strings;

each

note

is

fretted.

Extended chords have notes--the nines, 11s, 13s, etc.--added to basic triads
(chords with three notes). Altered chords have one or more notes changed, as
in flatted fives or sharp nines.
The main emphasis here is on closed-position and barre chords. If youve
tried them on an acoustic guitar, especially one with high action, you know
how difficult they can be to play correctly without buzzes or unintentionally
muted notes.
One of the reasons we use closed-position chords is that they can be
moved up and down the neck. Knowing this, you can learn chords by form and
move these forms anywhere. A chord then becomes, for example, a dominant
seven form rather than, say, merely a G7 chord. Most chord forms can be played
in at least 12 different places on the fretboard.
Heres an example: The chord on the left below is the familiar form of
the G7 chord that uses open strings. The 0s above the grid denote strings
played open. The chord on the right is a closed-position dominant seven form
played at the third fret. Its also a G7. With this form, the first and fifth
strings are muted; the Xs above the grid show which strings do not sound.

The open form is not movable, and wed have to learn a totally different
form for an F7 or a Bb7 chord. By contrast, the closed form is movable and
yields a new chord at every fret. Move it down two frets and its an F7. Move
it up to the sixth fret and its a Bb7.
Closed-position chords also allow you to control the rhythmic sound of
the strum with the fretting hand by loosening the grip between strums just
enough to mute all the sound from the strings. This creates a rhythmic pulse,
usually called a comp, that reinforces the groove and swing of the chords
played in swing and jazz as well as in blues, rock, and country music. If you
have open strings in the chord, you cant easily shut off the sound like this.
A blues riff is made up of a repeating lick played over blues chord
changes, in this case with a 12-measure form. Youll find this basic chord
progression in thousands of tunes played all over the world. The blues riff
youll learn here is presented in three versions of varying difficulty. The
first version is in G, and the other two are in Bb. All use only closedposition chords. Each could be played with simple open-position chords, but
open chords wont allow easy transposition up and down the neck or let you
play the comp mentioned above.
The chords in "Blues in G" are all dominant seven chords, which consist
of a basic triad with the flatted seventh of the chords major scale added.
Theyre usually just called seventh chords. Heres a very brief explanation.
The G-major scale looks like this:
G
Do
1

A
Re
2

B
Mi
3

C
Fa
4

D
Sol
5

E
La
6

F#
Ti
7

G
Do
8

A G-major triad is made up of the 1, 3, and 5 notes of the G-major


scale, as shown in this chord diagram.

Even though were playing six notes, were really only playing three
different notes: G, B, and D, which are the 1, 3, and 5 of the G-major scale.
If we add the flatted seven of the G-major scale, the Fn note, to this basic G
triad, well end up with a G dominant seven chord. (The seven of the G scale
is an F#. Flatting the note lowers it one half step to an F natural.)

Every chord has a unique recipe, and a chords name reflects the scale
tones it includes. In the process of learning a chord system, youll identify
how each chord form supplies the correct ingredient chord tones and learn how
to apply each in a variety of different situations. The chord forms in this
blues riff are from a collection of "orchestral" chords commonly played in big
bands in the 1930s and 40s. Theyre big, beefy chords, and theyre great for
swing and traditional jazz. Most are four-string chords with muted first or
fifth strings. In the chord diagrams below, each form can be identified by
determining which chord tone is in the bass. The first chord shown is a
dominant seven form with the 1 or root in the bass. Since this is a G7 chord,
the bass note is a G. The second form is a dominant seven with the fifth in
the bass. Since this is a C7, the bass note is G. The third form is the same
as the second, only two frets higher. In this D7, the fifth or bass note is an
A.

Take some time to learn these forms. If youre new to playing closedposition chords, be advised that it takes a while to build up the strength in
your fretting hand so you can play them cleanly and up to speed.
To get the required swing feel, start by setting up a rhythm pattern,
all downstrokes, made up of four even strums in each measure. Once you can do
that, try damping each strum a split second after you sound it and before you
play the next one by loosening your fretting hands grip just enough to stop
the sound without creating buzzes.

After youve mastered the chords, try learning the melody, which, just
like the chords, is written in the tablature in a closed and thus movable
form.
Now lets move this whole tune up three frets (or a minor third) to the
key of Bb. Try doing this in your head. Close your eyes and picture the chords
you just learned at their new position. After you move your fretting hand up,
everything will be the same, just higher on the neck. If you have problems,
look at the chord grids. Chord charts are quite different from standard music
and tablature. The first thing youll notice is that theres no written
melody. Instead, there are slashes like this (/ / / /), four to a measure,
which represent the four strums/beats in each measure. The chords and their
positions are written above the measures. Dont forget to try playing your
riffs in Bb.

Once you can play the first version of "Blues in Bb," try number two,
with several new chord forms. These changes are typical of a standard 12-bar
jazz blues, with many chords played for only two beats/strums (note the first
four measures). This gives the tune a kind of forward motion. The first
measure begins with a new movable Bb chord that uses all six strings and the
first finger as a barre. (The alternate fingering shown in the first chord
diagram has the thumb instead of the first finger acting as the barre.) The
first time it appears, each chord is diagrammed below its grid to show where
each part of the chord lies: 1, 3, 5, b7, etc.

The E diminished chord in measure 2, sometimes notated with a small open


circle (o), uses a different string set than most of the other chords. In this
case you mute strings one and six. The "dim 7" notation under the third string

of the grid means "diminished seven," and this note is one half step lower
than the flatted seven note. The natural seven of the E-major scale is a D#,
so the flatted seven is Dn. Lower it one more half step to Db. Measure 11 uses
another diminished form; this one, like the dominant sevens from "Blues in G,"
mutes the first and fifth strings. The G7 in measure 8 is shown with a
familiar

alternate.

Any

G7

chord

form,

even

the

open-string

G7,

can

be

substituted here. Get in the habit of figuring out different voicings to


substitute even though your fretting hand may be jumping from the third fret
to the eighth fret. Ultimately youll want to avoid these big jumps, but for
now, experiment to learn where all the chords are. What other dominant seven
form can you substitute for the given first chord in measure 2? The C minor
seven (Cm7) in measure 9 is another "orchestral" chord with muted first and
fifth strings. The root is in the bass, as you can see from the diagram, and
the chord is made up of the notes C, Eb, G, and Bb, which are the 1, b3, 5,
and b7 of the C-major scale. Finally, measures 11 and 12 make up what is
called a turnaround. These chords are meant to turn the progression back to
the beginning for another time through. If you were ending the tune, you could
hold a Bb chord through both measures. Musicians often play the chords used in
the turnaround as a repeating "vamp" to begin a tune or kill time before the
singer comes in.
Memorize all the chords and concentrate on keeping a groove, no matter
how slow or fast you play. Once you can play the Bb versions, bump everything
up two more frets to the key of C. Dont stop there--move farther up the neck
and then back down again. This type of transposing practice is the most
important thing you can do to teach yourself how these chords work.

DISCOGRAPHY - MASTERS OF SWING RHYTHM


Its difficult to describe on paper the rhythmic pulse or comp you need
to play in this style. Listening to just about any big-band swing guitarist
from the 1930s or 40s will give you an idea of what to shoot for. This can be
a frustrating exercise because its often difficult to hear clearly what the
rhythm guitarist is doing above the sound of the rest of the band. Your best
chance of identifying the sound is on slower tunes behind vocals or piano
solos. Listen closely (you may need headphones) to Freddie Green with Count
Basie. There are three or four cuts, including "Hey, Pretty Baby," on Basies
Basement (Bluebird/RCA 61065), where Greens very subtle magic is evident.
Charlie Christians rhythm can occasionally be heard with the Benny Goodman
Sextet (Benny Goodman Sextet, Featuring Charlie Christian, Columbia 45144;
Charlie Christian, The Genius of the Electric Guitar, Columbia 40846). Of
course Christians historic, exciting, and brilliant lead playing is always
right up front and featured. Django Reinhardts recordings with the Quintet of
the Hot Club of France have very prominent rhythm guitar, often with two

rhythm guitarists behind the leads. The Hot Club rhythm style is, well, "hot":
on top of the beat, not as laid back as the bluesier Basie/Green style. Duet
records by George Barnes and Carl Kress are great for hearing two different
styles of comping, as each guitarist backs up the other. A favorite recording
of mine, with very clear--though more modern--comping, is Kress and Barnes
Two

Guitars

(Jass

636).

Also

recommended

are

recordings

by

the

Ruby

Braff/George Barnes Quartet, which was drummerless and included an acoustic


rhythm guitarist, and Basie Jam 2 (Pablo 631) with Joe Pass.

A Comparative Study of Rhythm Guitar Styles


by Michael Pettersen
Tablature by Mark Allen
August 2002
Introduction
Freddie Green's rhythm guitar style is unique - - Freddie does not sound
like other famous rhythm guitarists. This lesson attempts to illustrate his
uniqueness by comparing five different examples of a twelve bar blues in G.
These examples are not transcriptions. All five examples were composed by the
author in the style of the player, or in the style of the music.
Note: Be certain to mute any string that is not fingered, but strum all
the strings. See Appendix 1 for a primer on rhythm guitar technique.
Example #1 - Western Swing

This style was born in the late 1940's with the rise of Western Swing a hybrid of western-themed songs with jazz rhythm and harmony. Note the four
note rhythm chords and the use of dominant 9th and 13th voicings. Though this
style of rhythm guitar could be played on a flattop instrument, an archtop
guitar was typically used. Examples of this type of guitar can be heard on
recordings from Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Riders In The Sky, and Dan
Hicks & His Hot Licks.
Example 1A and 1B are compliments of Ranger Doug Green, the superb
rhythm guitarist with Riders In The Sky.
Example #1A

Example #1B

Example #2 - Allan Reuss (see Appendix 2)

This style of aggressive, yet swinging rhythm playing came about as the
guitar replaced the banjo in big bands. Note the widely spaced three note
voicings. These voicings have an uncluttered quality and are easy to finger,
thus allowing very fast chord changes.
Example #3 - Teddy Wilson (see Appendix 3)

Pianist Teddy Wilson's style of playing influenced all rhythm guitar


players in the 1930's and 1940's. Wilson created a unique harmonic style where
a new chord voicing would be played on each beat. He had very large hands and
developed two and three note left hand voicings that were impossible for most
pianists. The interval between the lower left hand voice and the higher voice
was a major or minor tenth. Difficult on piano, a tenth is easy on guitar by
using the 6th and 3rd strings as these two strings are tuned a minor tenth
apart. Often Wilson added a middle note to the chord that would be a minor
6th, major 6th, minor 7th, or major 7th above the lowest note. On guitar, this
middle voice would be played on the 4th string. These three note "Teddy
Wilson" chords form the foundation of big band rhythm guitar voicings.
Example #4 - Barry Galbraith (see Appendix 4)

This style is not as aggressive as Example #2. It is a cooler, more


subtle style and harmonically more adventurous. Typical of big bands in the
1950's, the guitar would be miked and therefore the guitarist would not have
to strum as hard to be heard.
Example #5 - Freddie Green

Much like Basie simplifed his piano playing as his band grew larger and
played more complex arrangements, Freddie Green did as well. His guitar style
is based on the three note voicings shown in Examples 2, 3 and 4, but he would
often choose to sound only one or two notes of the three note voicings. This

technique allowed Green to create counter melodies and moving lines that did
not conflict with the bass player or with Basie.
Appendix 1
Fundamentals of Swing Rhythm Guitar
What types of music use this style of rhythm guitar?

Swing Big Band - Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman

Western Swing - Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys

Gypsy Swing - Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club of France


What type of guitar is used?

Archtop (f-hole) acoustic guitar with heavy strings.

Use a pick with a thickness of 1.0 mm to 2.0 mm.


What are the basics of swing rhythm guitar?
Four strums to the bar: hold down a chord with the left hand, and strike

the strings with the right hand on every beat of the tune.
Rhythm

guitar

is

about

time,

not

about

complex

chord

voicings:

concentrate on time.
"Choo-chit-choo-chit" describes the rhythm guitar sound. "Choo" on beats
1 and 3; "chit" on beats 2 and 4. Beats 1 and 3 have a longer sound, while
beats 2 and 4 have a much shorter sound. Create the "chit" sound by releasing
the left hand pressure almost immediately after the strings are struck. The
beats 2 and 4 "chits" should be slightly accented over the beats 1 and 3
"choos".
The right hand stroke uses the shoulder, the elbow, and the wrist. The
right hand motion must create a quick, crisp attack.
The

rhythm

guitarist's

job

is

to

propel

the

rhythm

forward

by

complementing the drummer, if there is one. The rhythm guitarist is playing


pitched percussion. Think of the guitar as adding pitches to the ride cymbal
on beats 1 and 3, and to the high hat on beats 2 and 4.
The rhythm guitar part must be barely quieter than the drums. The guitar
part should be more felt than heard. The guitar part is often times more for
the benefit of the other musicians (to drive the rhythm home) than for the
listeners.
Primarily use three note chord voicings on strings 6, 4, and 3; and four
note voicings on strings 6 (or 5), 4, 3, and 2.
Avoid barre chords. They sound muddy when playing this type of rhythm
guitar.
IMPORTANT: When playing the chord tablature in the examples, mute any
string that does not have a finger dot. This muting is done by the left hand.

The number of strings muted depends upon the chord voicing; it can be as few
as two strings muted and as many as five strings muted.
Thank you to guitarist Tim Berens for many of the ideas expressed above.
Appendix 2
Allan Reuss - rhythm guitarist
Born New York City, 1915, Reuss studied with George Van Eps in 1933. Van
Eps recommended Reuss as his own replacement with the Benny Goodman Orchestra
in 1935. He left Goodman in 1938 to freelance in the recording studios, and he
also taught guitar in New York.
In 1939, Reuss worked with Jack Teagarden and Paul Whiteman. He toured
nationally with Ted Weems in 1941/42, and with Jimmy Dorsey in 1942. After
Dorsey, Reuss worked in the NBC studio orchestra in 1942/43. Reuss rejoined
Goodman in 1943/44, then went with Harry James in 1944/45. During this time,
he won reader's polls in "Metronome" and "Down Beat".
After Harry James, Reuss led his own trio in Los Angeles. After that, he
concentrated on studio work and teaching. It is likely that Reuss gave guitar
lessons to Barry Galbraith and Freddie Green.
Although Reuss was primarily a rhythm guitarist, he occassionally soloed
as well. His solo style was an intense rhythmic chordal type (ala GeorgeVan
Eps) or an economical single note style. In 1935, Reuss played solos on "If I
Could Be With You" and "Rosetta" with Benny Goodman, and he had some short
solos

on

Lionel

Hampton

records

from

this

period.

In

1939,

he

recorded

"Pickin' For Patsy" with Jack Teagarden. His solo work from the 1940's can be
heard on recordings by Corky Corcoran and Arnold Ross with the Ross material
offering some of the best examples of Reuss's solo style.
Hear Reuss on recordings with:
Benny Goodman - on RCA Victor
Lionel Hampton - on Bluebird
Coleman Hawkins - on Capitol
Harry James - on Capitol
Gene Krupa - on World Records
Jack Teagarden - on Swing Era
Paul Whiteman - on MCA
Teddy Wilson - on CBS
Appendix 3
Teddy Wilson - pianist
Theodore

Shaw Wilson

(1912-1986) grew

up in

Tuskegee, Alabama,

and

briefly studied music at Talladega College. After working in Chicago with


Jimmie Noone, Louis Armstrong, and others, he moved in 1933 to New York and
joined Benny Carter's band. He played informally with Benny Goodman in 1935

and officially joined Goodman's trio the following year, thus becoming one of
the first black musicians to appear prominently with white artists.
Wilson remained with Goodman until 1939, performing on many of the
latter's small group recordings and also on recordings under his own name with
other important swing musicians, such as Billie Holiday and Lester Young.
After

leaving

Goodman

he

briefly

led

his

own

big

band

in

1939/40,

and

thereafter worked primarily as a leader of small ensembles and as a soloist.


Around 1950 he was an instructor at the Juilliard School in New York. He
often rejoined Goodman for reunions, most notably for a tour of the USSR in
1962, an appearance at the Newport Festival in 1973, and a concert at Carnegie
Hall in 1982.
Wilson was the most important pianist of the swing period. His early
recordings

reveal

percussive

style,

with

single-note

lines

and

bold

staccatos, ala Earl Hines. By the time of his first performances with Goodman
he had fashioned a distinctive legato style that served him for the rest of
his career.
Wilson's style was based on the use of 10ths in the left hand. By
emphasizing the tenor voice and frequently omitting the root of the chord
until

the

end

of

the

phrase

he

created

great

harmonic

and

contrapuntal

interest. For the right hand he adapted Hines' "trumpet" style, playing short
melodic fragments in octaves, frequently separated by rests and varied with
broken-chord passage work.
Hear Teddy Wilson on recordings with:
Benny Goodman - Columbia
Billie Holiday - Columbia
Teddy Wilson Orchestra - Columbia and other labels
Appendix 4
Barry Galbraith - rhythm guitarist
Barry

Galbraith

(1919

1983)

is

one

of

the

most

recorded

jazz

guitarists of all time. Galbraith grew up in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


area. In 1941, he was staff guitarist at radio station WJAS in Pittsburgh, and
also worked with Red Norvo, Teddy Powell, and Babe Russin. Galbraith then
joined Claude Thornhill's band in the latter part of 1941. In 1942, he joined
Hal McIntyre.
Galbraith served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946. He returned to the
Thornhill band in 1946. In 1947, Galbraith began worked for NBC and CBS in
their studios. By 1950 he was working as a studio musician in New York City
and was in high demand. He commonly appeared as sideman. His recording "Guitar
and the Wind" was his only recording as leader. In the 1950's, Galbraith
recorded with many artists, including Les and Larry Elgart, Hal McKusick, Sam
Most, Don Elliott, and George Russell.

During the 1960s he developed trouble with his left hand movement. It
was diagnosed as calcium deposits on his spinal column. In 1969, Galbraith had
surgery that seriously affected his playing ability. After surgery, he played
less and concentrated more on teaching. He produced a remarkable series of
instructional jazz guitar books that are still in print.
Barry

was

an

exceptional

rhythm

guitarist

as

well

as

versatile

electric player. He was perhaps the best reading guitarist in New York City
and consequently was hired for many of the jazz record dates that required
sight

reading.

Barry

was

also

life-long

student

of

music.

He

studied

classical guitar, Flamenco guitar, and attended the Manhattan School of Music
as a piano student.
Hear Galbraith on recordings with:
Les and Larry Elgart - on Columbia
Gil Evans - on Impulse
Tal Farlow - on Verve
Johnny Guarnieri - on RCA
Coleman Hawkins - on Milestone
Hal McKusik - on Bethelem and Coral
George Russell - on RCA
Claude Thornhill - on Columbia

PATTERNS
La pompe Manouche
La pompe s'effectue en marquant rgulirement les 4 temps de la mesure,
mais avec un accent sur les 2 et 4 temps.
Ces mesures doivent tre excuts de manire ternaire. Par ailleurs,
lorsque votre main remonte lors du retour relacher la main qui frette les
accords jusqu' la nouvelle attaque.
Les exemples suivants sont tirs du rpertoire de Romane. Le premier un
Anatol manouche (pompe droite) Swing For Ninine, et le second une pompe swing.
Vous remarquerez qu'on a l'impression que la guitare se substitue une
rythmique conventionnelle. C'est tout fait le cas. Jouez main leve. Celleci doit faire corps avec le mdiator et toucher les cordes. Cela donne ce son
si particulier, ce "groove" inimitable !
Les hampes des notes diriges vers le bas dsignent les attaques de
mdiator sur les cordes graves de l'accord, celles diriges vers le haut, les
attaquent sur les cordes aiges.
> = Accent. Accord jou plus fort.
^ =Coup de mdiator vers le bas, V= Haut

= Piqu. Accord devant durer le moiti de sa valeur.

= Tenu. Accord devant durer sa valeur entire

Pompe manouche droite les temps sont jous staccato

Pompe manouche swing les temps 1 et 2 sont jous tenudo

Latin Rhythms
by Mike Christiansen
The music of Latin America is rich in diversity of styles and rhythms.
Because of the complexity of the rhythms, Latin music can be challenging, but
at the same time rewarding to play on the guitar. If played correctly, the
rhythm guitarist can add a relaxed feel to the music. Of the many varying
styles of Latin music, this article will focus on the bossa nova and samba.
While these two styles of music differ, in some ways they are very similar to
each other. This article will concentrate on playing rhythm guitar (providing
chords for a solo instrument or vocalist).
At the root of much Latin music is a rhythmic pattern called a clave.
Example 1 shows the clave rhythm. The clave rhythm is in 4/4 time and takes
two measures to complete.

This rhythm is often played by percussionists in Latin bands. The clave


rhythm may also be strummed on the guitar. However, it is more common for the
guitarist to strum or play fingerstyle a rhythm which compliments the calve
rhythm. One of the most popular Latin rhythms is the bossa nova. Example 2 is
an example of a bossa nova rhythm. This pattern works for 4/4 time and takes
two measures to complete. Be sure to use the correct strum direction. When
eighth notes are written, divide the beat into two equal patterns. The eighth

notes should be even. It is uncharacteristic of the style to swing the eighth


notes. Hold any chord and practice this bossa nova pattern. After practicing
this

strum

holding

one

chord,

practice

changing

chords

and

playing

the

pattern.

Another way of strumming the bossa nova is written in Example 3. Again,


this pattern takes one measure to complete. The "X" which is written indicates
a muted strum. This is done by lifting the left-hand fingers slightly so the
strings sound dead when strummed.

Latin rhythms are frequently played fingerstyle rather than using a


pick. The bossa nova pattern played fingerstyle is shown in Example 4. The
letter "P" represents picking the bass string of the chord with the right-hand
thumb. The bass string of the chord is the lowest string in the chord which
would be played if the chord were being strummed. For example, if an open
position Cmaj7 chord (drawn below) were played, the fifth string would be
picked with the thumb. When a strum bar is written, pull strings 1, 2, and 3,
or strings 2, 3, and 4 with the right-hand fingers 1, 2, and 3. The pattern
written below is a popular bossa nova pattern.

The next bossa nova pattern in Example 5 is also played fingerstyle.


This pattern takes one measure in 4/4 to complete. Notice that if the chord
changes after playing the pattern, the pick on beat four is to be done on the
new chord.

Example 6 is a pattern for the bossa nova which is very popular. The
pattern takes two measures in 4/4 to complete. If "P" is written under a strum

pattern, the bass note is picked at the same time three strings are pulled
with the right-hand fingers.

Practice using the bossa nova patterns to play Progression 1 and 2.


First, use the same pattern throughout the entire progression. Then, practice
combining the patterns. If two chords appear in one measure, divide the
pattern.

The Samba may be played by using the bossa nova patterns but playing
them faster. The samba usually has a two-feel (two beats to the measure) and
is often written in cut time. There are, however, strum and finger-style
patterns which differ from the bossa nova and are commonly used to play the
samba. One of these patterns is shown in Example 7.

Example 8 is a samba pattern which takes two measures to complete.

The samba pattern shown in Example 9 uses the muted strum.

Like the bossa nova, the samba rhythm is often played fingerstyle.
Example 10 is another samba rhythm which is very popular and uses the picking
of the bass string with the right-hand thumb and the pulling of three strings
with the first three fingers of the right hand. The pulling of the three
strings is done where the strum bars are written.

Practice Progression 3 using the patterns for the samba.

It is crucial to the feel of the Latin music that these rhythms be


played smoothly. Be careful not to rush the tempo.
Each of the Latin rhythms which have been presented can be used to play
any bossa nova and samba. Try applying them to familiar bossa novas and sambas
from fake books and/or sheet music. If you have been playing folk strums or
jazz

comps

to

these

styles,

using

these

new

patterns

will

make

your

accompaniments sound more interesting and authentic. As with other styles of


music, to get a clear picture of what the style sounds like, you need to
surround yourself with the music. If you haven't already done so, listen to
the music of artists such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Louis Bonfa, Baden Powell,
Bola Sete and Jeff Linsky. They will direct you in getting the sound, and
inspire you.

Two Note Comping


Three simple intervals, played on two strings can cover the essential
elements of 90% of all the chords you will play in an evening of guitar
comping with a jazz trio. A perfect fifth, perfect fourth and a tritone,
played on the third and fourth strings are all you need to comp over most jazz
tunes. Although this seems hard to believe, it is true. This system is the
easiest

way

to

learn

effective

chord

comping.

Look

at

this

progression and notice the third and fourth string intervals.


Accords4a

ii

V-

If you take away the root, which on a jazz trio gig will be supplied by
the bass player, you have a perfect fourth interval for the Gmin7, a tritone
(flat 5) interval for the C7 and a perfect fourth interval for the Fmaj7 all
played on the third and fourth strings.
Accords4b
Why do these two notes sound so perfect when comping? Because they are
the "Guide Tones" or the 3rd and 7th of each chord. These are the most
important notes of any chord because they define the chord as major or minor
and they define all possible sevenths.
Accords4c
Now, lets take a look at all possible chord sonorities to see if this
theory holds true. I will start with the root six chords. Remember, the root
is not played, it is "virtual," so we will indicate it with a parenthesis.
Accords4d
Why do the Gmin7 and Gmin7b5 look the same? Simple. We avoided playing
the fifth so the interval (perfect 4th) works for both chord types. Is this
cheating? Not a bit, the third and seventh define the chord so strongly that
the flat fifth is not that important. The only chord sonority this does not
work on is a minor/major seventh chord; a chord with a minor 3rd and a major
7th. In that case, the interval is a major third. But, I said this will cover
90% of all chords you will use in a evening.
Accords4e
You cannot play a gig with all root six chords so lets look at all the
root five chord sonorities. Remember, the root is not played, it is "virtual,"
so we will indicate it with a parenthesis.
Accords4f
Why do the Cmin7 and Cmin7b5 look the same? Again, we avoided the fifth.
Of course the minor/major seventh chord for this set would not be covered by
our three intervals ( perfect 4th, perfect 5th and flat 5th). That chord type
would require a minor 6th.

Accords4g
So, you are not convinced, you may think this is too easy of an approach
to comping. What about altered dominant seventh chords like G7#5b9? You don't
need the #5 or b9 if you have the essential elements of the chord, the 3rd and
7th.
What about Gmin9? This chord is simply a Gmin7, the 3rd and 7th of both
Gmin7 and Gmin9 are the same two notes, Bb and F.
Yes, it would be a little sparse if you comped using only the two middle
strings all night, but is a great way to "cut to the chase" and play what
sounds right. This method should be considered another option when comping,
after you have used all your drop two chords, try two note comping for a few
choruses. Don't forget rhythmic variety; there are endless possibilities with
what the right hand could do with rhythmic variations.
When is absolute best time to use this method? When you are playing with
a ten fingered doubled fisted pianist. Pianists love to play all of the upper
extensions and alterations in their chord voicings, so instead of stepping on
each other, play the essential elements of each chord and let the pianist play
the extensions.
Guitarists

are

continually

in

the

process

of

learning

new

exotic,

creative chord voicings so that they can use the chords on the next solo or
group jazz gig. It seems the essential elements of the chord are sometimes
just as effective as a six note chord with all kinds of extensions and
colorations. Don't forget the "meat" of every chord lies in the "guide tones"
or the 3rd and 7th of the chord. Sometimes less is more.

HARMONIE
CONCEPTS
L'Anatole
L'Anatole est un cadence phare dans le Jazz.
Avant de parler de cette cadence un petit rappel thorique : Si l'on
prend la gamme de C maj et que l'on empile 4 intervalles de tierce partir de
chaque note constitutive de cette gamme on obtient une gamme dite harmonise.
On place le chiffre Romain I sous la note C, II sous D etc. On parle
maintenant de degr.Voici les degr de la gamme majeure :
I7M IIm7 IIIm7 IV7M V7 VIm7 VIIm75b
C7M Dm7 Em7 F7M G7 Am7 Bm75b
L'Anatole est la cadence constitu des degrs I VI II V
on remplace souvent le I degr par le III. En effet, les notes les moins
importantes d'un accord sont la fondamentale et la quinte.
En effet C7M peut tre remplac par Em7 car Em7=C7M(9).
Exemple : Swing 42, 32 mesures AABA.
Ici le A.
Entrainer vous chanter cette cadence par degr : I VI II V... I. Cela
vous permettre de reconnatre la premire coute cette cadence.
Une deuxime version de Swing 42 plus "enjoue".
A apprendre par coeur
Dans une gamme majeure diatonique :
Le degr I est toujours I7M
Le degr II est toujours IIm7
Le degr III est toujours IIIm7
Le degr IV est toujours IV7M
Le degr V est toujours V7
Le degr VI est toujours VIm7
Le degr VII est toujours VIIm75b
Swing

42

se

trouve sur

un livre/

disque (300

pages et

18 titres)

disponible sur le site de la Fnac. La deuxime version sur 100 ans de jazz.

Le Christophe
Le christophe est une variante de la cadence plagal I IV. Appel ainsipar par Jean-Claude Fohrenbach - d'aprs le thme "Christopher Colombus".
Cette cellulle harmonique de deux mesures est trs souvent mlange
L'Anatole.
La ligne chromatique de la basse peut-tre descendante ou ascendante.
Deux mesures dans lesquels seul le dernier accord va changer : I I7 IV
IVm7
Le dernier accord est le plus souvent IVm7, IV#dim ou VIb7
Exemple : I got Rhythm, 32 AABA (Anatole plus Christophe.)
Ce titre est disponible sur, l'un de mes albums prfrs (Django a 24
ans), Le Quintette du Hot Club de France 1934/1935 sur le site de la Fnac.

Accords
Des

grilles,

des

grilles,

des

grilles...

grand

coup

de

signes

cabalistiques et de mesures dcoupes en mille morceaux, tout a finit par


donner : du blues, du blues, du blues... Persuads que l'usage intensif
d'antidpresseurs finira par nuire votre coup de poignet ravageur, nous
avons fini par nous dire, un peu aids par vos demandes rptes, qu'un petit
mode d'emploi, faon dcodeur, serait de bon aloi. Alors, c'est parti, d'abord
la notation et quelques conseils de lecture puis, pour finir, les mesures
complexes.

La notation
Bon, rvision gnrale pendant que nous y sommes, nous utilisons, pour
de simples raisons de commodit et, disons-le, d'universalit, la notation
dite "amricaine". Chaque note est donc reprsente par une lettre de A G.
Les quivalences sont :
A = la ; B = si ; C = do (ut) ; D = r ; E = mi ; F = fa et G = sol
Jusque l, tout baigne. Passons la nature des accords et leurs
altrations. Passons en revue les diffrentes formes d'accords possibles pour
G.
G = Sol majeur. A jouer 6/9 la plupart du temps dans le style. Ca marche
aussi

juste

avec

une

sixte

ou

une

septime

majeure

(plus

rare

en

jazz

manouche) accompagne ou pas d'une neuvime.


GT et G8 = triade majeure. L, il s'agit plus d'une convention perso
utilise dans les suites d'accords avec une note qui volue. On partira de GT
(pour triade) pour faire monter la quinte vers la sixte, voire la septime, et
de

G8

pour

octave

pour

faire

descendre

la

fondamentale.

Les

prcisions,

uniquement quand elle s'imposent, concernant les accords majeurs seront :


G 6/9, G7M (septime majeure), G+ (triade avec quinte augmente) ou
G7M5+ (sept majeure avec quinte augmente) et G6.
G7, pas besoin de vous faire un dessin, les variantes essentielles
seront

G7+

(quinte

augmente),

G7-

(quinte

diminue,

G79+

(neuvime

augmente), etc, etc. Forme remarquable : G7alt pour "altr". Dans ce cas,
neuvime et quinte doivent tre altres, tout est permis : 5+9- ; 5+9+ ; 5-9; 5-9+. Ne pas confondre G7 11+ et G7-, la note importante est la mme mais
dans le cas de G7 11+ la quinte juste peut tre joue, le mode sous-entendu
est mineur mlodique une quarte au-dessus, alors que dans le cas de G7- la
quinte juste disparat.
Gm, gagn, c'est bien sol mineur. Nous nous embarasserons rarement de
vous

prciser

s'il

s'agit

d'une

septime

majeure

ou

mineure.

Disons

que

l'accord mineur avec une septime majeure est assez rare (mais beau) en jazz
manouche, on trouvera plus volontiers un accord de type Gm6 pour les premier

et quatrime degrs des tonalits mineures. Sinon, la forme mineure sept (ex
Gm7) est assez passe-partout.
Nous utiliserons le mme genre de convention que pour les majeurs dans
les suites du genre :
Gm8, Gm7M, Gm7, Gm6, donc, vous l'aurez compris, il faut se dbrouiller
pour que la descente de note G, F#, F, E, soit perceptible, note suprieure ou
au milieu de l'accord vous de faire le bon choix au bon moment.
G, celui-l a fait couler quelques mails... Il s'agit de Sol demidiminu,

soit

"Sol

mineur

sept

avec

une

cinquime

diminue",

que

vous

trouverez crit Gm75b ou Gm75- selon les auteurs. Comme nous ne sommes pas
auteurs mais ramiers, vous n'aurez droit chez nous qu'au rond barr, non mais
des fois...
Petite prcision, dans bien des grilles manouches (mais pas seulement,
c'est aussi le cas en New Orleans par exemple) il est remplac par son m6
quivalent. La raison est simple, il y a les mme notes dedans et a vite de
se prendre la tte avec ce bizarre truc, mineur sept avec une cinquime
diminu, on n'a pas ide. Allez donc construire un accord pareil alors qu'un
bon vieux mineur 6 le fait aussi bien, et en plus c'est le mme, alors...
En voil la liste (notre bont nous perdra) :
A = Cm6 ; Bb = Dbm6 ; B = Dm6 ; C = Ebm6 ; C# = Em6 ;
D = Fm6 ; Eb = F#m6 (Gbm6) ; E = Gm6 ; F = Abm6 ; F# = Am6 ;
G = Bbm6 ; G# (Ab) = Bm6.
Vous noterez au passage ce que cela sous-entend en terme d'harmonie, les
II V I mineurs de type A D7 Gm se trouve ipso facto transforms en IV V I
soit Cm6 D7 Gm. Habituez-vous reprer la combine dans les grilles, a vous
aidera pour l'impro.
Go, ah, revenons aux choses simples : Sol diminu
G/B, Gm/Bb, G/D, etc, etc... Sol basse si, Sol mineur basse si bmol,
Sol basse r... Ce sont des indications, jamais des obligations. Disons que
dans certains cas, notamment pour les thmes, a peut rendre l'accompagnement
plus intressant, mais gare, si vous avez un bassiste, c'est son boulot de le
faire la basse, si vous lui piquez son taf, il y a de la fcherie dans
l'air... Cherchez donc d'autres solutions, faon note changeante l'intrieur
de l'accord, en plus c'est classe !!
Voil,

pas

de

superpositions

de

triades,

de

dorien

et

autres

complications fusionnesques dans le style.


- T.A signfie "turnaround", soit tournerie en franais. Il s'agit des
mesures de fin de thme que, pour revenir au dbut de la grille, on remplit
avec une formule harmonique simple atterrissant sur le premier accord du
thme.

- Le rond avec une croix dedans est bien sr la Coda, quelques mesures
supplmentaires ajoutes parfois la fin du dernier thme pour finir en
beaut.
- Les mesures hachures sont des breaks instrumentaux. A convenir entre
les musiciens du groupe, soit personne ne joue, soit l'accompagnement se tait
et le soliste a quelques mesures pour lui tout seul, soit...
Les mesures complexes
Passons au comptage des temps. Un seul accord par mesure et tout baigne.
Mais a peut se gter et, dans certains cas, pches contretemps et/ou
enchanements d'accords compliques dans une mme mesure amnent livrer de
vritables patchworks pas toujours simples lire.
Les dcoupages principaux des mesures quatre temps sont :

Pour les mesures trois temps cela nous donne :

Rien de bien sorcier vrai dire mais bon, il est bon de s'tre mis
d'accord au moins une fois. Essayez-vous la grille de Tears, vous verrez ce
n'tait pas inutile. Profitez-en pour nous signaler au passage les erreurs que
nous ne manquerons pas d'avoir faites dans les grilles existantes et venir.

Triades

GYPSY CHORDS
OK, here are some inversions for everyone to check out. These are
generally four and five note chords which sound bigger than the average three
note inversion. I strongly urge all who haven't seen the "J'Attendrai" footage
of Django and the Hot Club to check it out. All shots of Joseph and Baro, the
rhythm guitarists in the video, show them playing no less than four note
chords. If you can get a hold of contemporary Gypsy guitarists on video, get
it, take an afternoon and study it. It will back up my assertions 100%.
Maj.
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|--R--|-----|
|-----|--I--|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|--M--|-----|
|-----|-----|--M--|-----|
|--T--|-----|-----|-----|
Alternate fingering:
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|--P--|-----|
|-----|--M--|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|--R--|-----|
|-----|-----|--R--|-----|
|--I--|-----|-----|-----|
Favored by Kamlo Barre
This is the most standard Gypsy form of a major chord. Sometimes they
play the root, other times they don't. The same can be said of the minor chord
below. You can see Django using this form in the "J'Attendrai" video. In a
tune like "Nuits de Ste. Germaine des Pres", where the II-V-I progression
(Amin7-D7-G) signals the end of the form,
it's much easier to resolved to this shape than to move to either of
these:
|-----|--R--|-----|-----|
|-----|--R--|-----|-----|
|--I--|-----|-----|-----|
|--I--|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|--M--|-----|-----|

|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|--I--|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|--M--|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|--R--|-----|
|-----|-----|--P--|-----|
|--T--|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|--R--|-----|
|--I--|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|--M--|-----|-----|
The flow of the tune and closeness of the chords is intact. This is a
textbook gypsy move. If you want to play GYPSY jazz, use this method. If you
want to play swing, Use the other chords.
Min.
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|--R--|-----|
|--I--|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|--M--|-----|
|-----|-----|--M--|-----|
|--T--|-----|-----|-----|
The standard version of the root inversion minor chord:
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|--R--|-----|-----| - optional and not always played.
|-----|--R--|-----|-----|
|--I--|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|--M--|-----|-----|
These chords are interchangeable.
Dominant 7 inversions
A7
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|--M--|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|--R--|-----|-----|
|--I--|-----|-----|-----|

|-----|-----|--P--|-----|
|--T--|-----|-----|-----|
Favored by Nous'che Rosenberg, among others.
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|--I--|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|--M--|-----|-----|
|--I--|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|--R--|-----|
|--X--|-----|-----|-----| - this string is muted, i.e. no root note is
played.
Favored by Jean-Yves Dubanton. Easier to grab (especially if you have
smaller hands).
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|-----|--P--|
|-----|--M--|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|--R--|-----|
|-----|-----|--R--|-----|
|--I--|-----|-----|-----|
Kamlo Barr uses this form.
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|-----|--P--|
|-----|--I--|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|--M--|-----|
|--T--|-----|-----|-----|
Mondine Garcia and Recardo Reinhardt use this form often.
Tenor banjo players will recognize the shape.
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|--R--|-----|-----|
|--M--|-----|-----|-----|
|-----|-----|--P--|-----|
|--I--|-----|-----|-----|
This is the Romane, Doudou form, both of whom use this shape almost
exclusively. Sure, a lot of these chords are the same, give or take a note of
two and fingered differently. However, if you listen carefully, you will
notive that each chord has a particular tonal quality. Some are awkard at
first, but I would suggest that everyone take a tune like "Sweet Georgia

Brown" and work out all of these inversions and play a full version of the
tune with each one. You'll find the unique sound of each chord ring through.
Just remember that every chord has its place.
There are no hard and fast rules as to what to play when, although once
you get used to these, some are more "natural" to play in certain spots than
others. Keep Swinging!
Ted

Accords Majeurs 6/9 (1)


Bon, pour changer, petit rappel de principe. Dans une grille, un accord
donn comme Majeur, sans autre prcision, peut presque toujours tre jou avec
une septime majeure ou une sixime (voire les deux pour les gourmands) et
accompagn ou pas d'une neuvime. La raison est simple, c'est l'tat naturel
de l'accord de premier et de quatrime degr d'un ton majeur (voir notre page
sur la construction des accords).
Dans le style, la prfrence va assez systmatiquement la forme 6/9,
tout bonnement parce que c'est celle que Django utilisait haute dose,
toujours cause de sa main gauche. Les accords avec une septime majeure sont
plus rares et essentiellement utiliss sur les bossas, introduites dans le
swing gitan aprs la mort de Django.
Deux formes essentielles retenir : la premire, avec la fondamentale
sur le mi grave
Accords3a
Ah ben oui, a commence, la sance de torture avec pouce par-dessus le
manche.

Vous

avez

"the"

forme

de

majeur

6/9

du

style

et,

dj,

les

acrobaties digitales qui vont avec. Exercez-vous passer cet accord partout
sur

le

manche

et

profitez-en

pour

apprendre,

l'aide

des

fondamentales

"secondaires" les notes de la corde de Sol.


Par la mme occasion, ce ne sera jamais en vain, trouvez aussi le nom de
toutes les notes de l'accord pour chaque nouvelle position et essayer de
comprendre, chaque fois, ce que chaque notes est dans l'accord en question :
tirce, neuvime, etc, etc.
La deuxime, avec la fondamentale sur la corde de La
Accords3b
Plus facile passer, cette forme d'accord est extrmement utile. Le
deuxime exemple reprend le principe d'un petit barr dans les basses avec le

majeur, mais on peut aussi trs bien jouer une fois la fondamentale, une fois
la quinte sans craser le doigt pour conserver la fondamentale. Reprez bien
les quatre notes sur les cordes aiges, cette position reviendra souvent,
seule

ou

accompagne

d'une

ou

deux

basses,

avec

une

tripot

de

valeurs

harmoniques diffrentes selon les circonstances.

Accords Mineurs 7 (1)


Dans le style manouche les tonalits et sonorits mineures ont une
grande importance. Du coup, les accords mineurs sont utiliss la pelle avec
une foison de positions. Commenons par les mineurs 7, soit mineurs avec une
septime

mineure.

Ce

sont,

notamment,

ceux

qui

serviront

dans

les

enchanements rsolvant faon II V I, III VI II V I, etc. On peut aussi les


utiliser un peu par dfaut sauf quand le son mineur 6 s'impose, c'est--dire
pour donner la tonalit d'un morceau ou pour remplacer les accords mineur 7
quinte bmol, ou demi-diminus, (par ex : si mineur 7 bmol 5 remplac par
rmineur 6) mais nous y reviendrons...
C"est parti : avec la fondamentale sur la corde de mi ou de la grave,
exactement le mme renversement.
Accords2a
Ce sont les obligatoires pouvoir passer mac III dans tous les tons.
Vous aurez not l'alternative pouce ou pas pouce pour la premire position,
essayez les deux, a vous servira un jour ou l'autre.
La deuxime, avec la fondamentale sur la corde de La
Accords2b
Ah, a rigole un peu moins... travaillez ces positions elles sont trs
utiles dans les enchanements et vous aideront d'ailleurs faire copain avec
le

contrebassiste

en

jouant

de

temps

en

temps

une

autre

basse

que

le

fondamentale. Vous aurez, bien sr, repr la deuxime forme, basse quinte
( Dm/A par exemple) et la quatrime basse tirce (Gm/Bb par ex). A vous de
choisir parmi les doigts de la premire srie. En v'l d'autres...
Accords2c
Allez, aprs a, repos... Les trois sont basse septime (Dm/C, etc),
retenez bien la dernire, elle ne servira peut-tre pas souvent la pompe
mais se rvle trs utile dans les suites du style Em/E - Em/D - Em/C#, etc.
C'est, par exemple, la position utilise traditionnellement pour le
deuxime accord de Mlodie au Crpuscule.

Accords Mineurs 7b5 ou


Le voil, le coupable... il a fait couler tellement d'encre, ou plutt,
crouler tellement de claviers depuis que ce fameux rond barr est apparu sur
le site que, tt ou tard, il fallait bien y venir. L'accord mineur 7 bmol 5
(quinte bmol), ou demi-diminu ou encore, pour les ceusses qui viendraient du
classique, septime de sensible (parce que sa fondamentale est sur le septime
degr de la gamme, dit sensible) sert beaucoup en jazz, manouche ou pas. La
seule diffrence d'usage est qu'en jazz, on l'interprte pour ce qu'il est,
donc un accord demi-diminu ou mineur 6 selon les cas, alors qu'en jazz
manouche il sera quasi exclusivement donn comme mineur 6. Explication : dans
la suite d'accords on ne peut plus classique D-G7(b9)-Cm, vous vous trouvez
en face d'un simple II-V-I mineur (quivalent mineur de Dm-G7-C dans la
tonalit majeure). Vous aurez donc remarqu que notre fameux septime de
sensible est aussi deuxime degr des tons mineurs. C'est cette place que
vous l'utiliserez le plus, croyez-nous sur parole ;-) Evidemment, il n'y a
aucune raison pour qu'il en soit autrement en swing gitan, qui n'est autre que
du jazz mis la sauce raboune par un gnie deux doigts en vrac. Mais, la
tradition gitane ne faisant pas spcialement dans la thorie harmonique aux
cours du soir, du coup, inconnu au bataillon le mineur 7b5. Malgr tout, ce
n'est pas parce qu'il n'a pas de nom qu'on ne l'utilise pas le bougre. Or,
comme il se trouve qu'il contient les mmes notes qu'un accord mineur 6 (Dm6 :
r-fa-la-si - B : si-r-fa-la) la solution tait simple, et pas dnue de
sens, D-G7-Cm devint aussi sec Fm-G7-Cm. Ne comptez pas trop sur un rabouin
patent pour vous dire que le Fm avec cette drle de position est en fait un
Fm6, c'est vident quoi, mon cousin !! Ca rappellera quelque chose ceux
d'entre vous qui connaissent un peu le jazz. Et oui, ce n'est rien d'autre que
la mme volution de la cadence frquente en vieux style, IV-V-I (F-G7-C)
devenue II-V-I (Dm-G7-C) avec le temps, la comprhension et un usage plus
riche de l'harmonie par les musiciens middle puis bop.
Enfin bref, passage l'acte, rappelez-vous simplement la correspondance entre
ces deux accords et exercez-vous reprer quand vous jouez un demi-diminu et
quand il s'agit d'un mineur 6. Avant de vous en coller une tonne de formes
d'accords, notre trop grande bont va mme jusqu' vous faire un petit tableau
des quivalences entre les deux pour les 12 tons, enfin des sept notes de la
gammes de do, vous de jouer pour les bmols et les dises.
m
6

m6

D
m6

E
m6

F
m6

C
#

G
m6

A
m6

B
m6

F
#

G
#

Dans tous nos exemples, la fondamentale de l'accord sera l'habituel


rond vide et celle du mineur 6 quivalent, un rond rouge
Accords1
Bien sr, le tableau est loin d'tre exhaustif, il y en a beaucoup
d'autres, c'est juste une base pour commencer bosser, alors... suivre !

Accords de septime

Building a chord voicing vocabulary


This series on comping - the skill of accompanying with chord structures
- will happen in four installments. We will start in this edition with
harmonizing the major scale by building seventh chords on this seven step
system. We will realize this within chord systems by basing the roots of the
voicings on individual strings of the guitar. After defining this context and
working the obtained shapes into your playing along the lines of typical jazz
cadences (one to two bar chord progressions that are encountered in most jazz
tunes), we will apply the learned material to a song.
In later installments, we will talk about concepts of adding extensions,
the

use

of

quartal

chord

voicings,

and

their

applications

to

songs

and

progressions, including "Autumn Leaves," Rhythm Changes and more.


Harmonizing the Major Scale System
In the figure below, you can see the C major scale harmonized with
seventh chords; instead of playing a scale with single notes, you can do the
same with a series of chords that consist of notes from that scale:

The steps are numbered for a certain reason:


Steps I and IV are harmonized with major seventh chords,
II, III, and VI with minor seventh chords,
step V with a dominant seventh chord,
and step VII becomes a half-diminished chord (minor7 b5).
This structural knowledge becomes handy when applying the shapes to the
guitar. First, place the root of each chord on only the sixth string, and
you'll notice that there are only four initial voicings:

Since we repeat and recycle some of the shapes, we can break down the
list of voicings to these four:

The same system can be played with the roots on the A-string:

The four different voicings we encounter here are the following:

Note: Please keep in mind that these voicing types are basic versions,
which we will modify in later installments by adding extensions to turn them
into typical jazz voicings.
How to practice:
Practice both systems (system I with roots on only the E-string, and
system II with roots on A-string) of the C major scale chord progression
illustrated above, ascending and descending.
Transpose the C major systems to Bb major (one whole step down) and
repeat the same exercise in that key; here, the first chord of system I has
its root on the sixth fret, sixth string. In system II, the root of chord I,
Bbmaj7, falls on the first fret, fifth string.
In the key of Bb-major play the following typical jazz cadences (chord
progressions that you will find in almost all jazz tunes):
Major II-V-I's:

or

I-VI-II-V's (turnarounds):

or

in more modern Jazz, the VI-chord is more often than not played like as
a dominant seventh:

or

Let's apply these voicings now to the jazz standard "Autumn Leaves":
Download song here. (PDF Document - 50KB)
You will notice that some of the same cadences are used as the building
blocks for these changes, while you will also encounter II-V-I cadential
movement in the relative minor key; we will pick up this topic later in
conjunction with altered extensions.
In

later

installments

in

this

series

we

will

talk

about

adding

extensions to these basic chord voicings to create a jazzier tone; these we


will then apply to this song. The next column will add one more voicing system
for the diatonic chords, as well as Rhythm Changes as a typical song form for
exercising more chops on cadences.
Extending the chord voicing vocabulary - part II
In the previous installment in this series we defined and applied chord
voicings with the roots on the fifth as well as sixth strings. We will achieve

an even higher degree of flexibility by defining and practicing the same major
scale harmonic layout in the following system:

Here, we also have the four essential shapes (in the order left to
right: Maj7, Min7, Dom7, Min7b5):

Cadence: II-V-I
Let's add this knowledge to the cadence progression, II-V-I major key,
from the previous column installment, by mixing up the three systems. Recall
that

the

first

voicing

system

has

the

chord's

root

on

the

6th

string

exclusively. The second voicing system has the root note on the 5th string and
the third system, as illustrated above, the root is on the 4th string. Mixing
the three systems will be really easy, if you have played through these
applications in conjunction with the first column on Jazz Comping:

Here are the voicing combinations for this key:

There are obviously more possibilities in combining voicings from the


three systems. Experiment by figuring out all the variations that you can
think of.
Review the song "Autumn Leaves" and apply voicings from the third system
discussed in this column. Approach this in the same way the cadences above
were treated; for example, try to play all the changes of the song staying
between frets III and VI.
Cadence: I-VI-II-V
In the example below, you can see the first eight bars of "Rhythm
Changes" - a song form we encounter in jazz frequently; the sign means to
repeat the chords from the previous two bars:

The

main

building

block

here

is

I-VI-II-V,

essentially

our

now

familiar II-V-I (Cm7, F7, Bbmaj7) with one extra chord added: the VI (G7). The
diatonic seventh chord built on this root, G, is a minor seventh (examples a.
through c.). But, as already mentioned, this often gets played as a dominant
seventh chord (d. through f.):

Once again, we can use a dominant seventh chord for step VI:

Remember: There are plenty more possible variations of pairing up the


three systems. I recommend searching for all of them, in as many keys as
possible.
Below you'll find the complete "Oleo" (S. Rollins). It is a song based
on this typical form in jazz. You'll notice that voicing diagrams for the
song's chords and progressions are illustrated just once, though a chord or
progression may occur repeatedly in the song. Also, the voicings in this
version all fall into one small region on the neck, which is made possible
through the three voicing systems covered so far.
Download Oleo. (PDF Document - 45KB)
In the next installment we will introduce extensions and alternate ways
of voicing these basic chord types. That will bring about an even jazzier, and
sometimes more modern, sound.
Extending the chord voicing vocabulary - part III : Chord Extensions
By
previous

adding
two

extensions

columns

on

to
this

the

basic

subject

guitar
you

voicings

automatically

covered

in

increase

the
your

flexibility when interpreting songs and when comping for co-musicians. We will
accomplish this by progressively layering these extensions over the already
acquired cadence foundations.
Making the Connections with Ninths
Lets start with this on minor chords. When we add a ninth to the IIchord, the typical major II-V-I connections look like this:

Once Again, there are more possibilities in combining voicings from the
three systems. Explore!
When playing through these connections, compare and analyze how and
where the basic voicings have changed. The ninth is equivalent to the second
step of the minor chord scale; it is located a half-step below the minor
third.
Turnarounds (I-VI-II-V): Lets add a ninth on both the II- and the VIchords. Below you will find only one of the connections illustrated; go back
and figure out the other possible positions for this change yourself!

Dont forget the other positions!


As in the previous unit on comping, lets also show one connection with
the VI-chord as a dominant seventh chord. In this turnaround situation, the
VI-chord needs to have altered extensions to best work with the raised third;
this means that most possible extensions added here need to be raised or
lowered by a half step. Lets clarify this a bit: altered thirteens on the VIchord (G7) in the key of Bb represent typical steps in the diatonic material
of the key; the major thirteen of G7 would be E. That, however, is not
contained in the Bb-major scale where we have an Eb. Since G7 functions as the
VI-chord of Bb in this situation, an added 13 would have to be a b13. This
works

similarly

for

other

situations.
Examples with VI 7(b9):

extension,

with

some

exception

in

certain

Example with VI 7(+9):

Notice how the +9 is attained by raising the b9 by a whole step! Figure


out the other possible positions/connections.
Making the Connections with Elevens
By Adding 11s to the minor II-chord shapes, it becomes easy to once
again vary the comping sound on the now quite familiar II-V-I and turnaround
connections. Learn the individual minor 11 shapes below and insert them in all
the possible connections/positions of those two cadence types.

Check out how the first Cm7(11) chord fits with its position on the IIV-I:

It is merely a variation of the same cadence that features the ninth on


the II-chord from earlier:

Experiment with all possible positions you can think of.


Heres an example for one turnaround connection:

As

you

can

see,

adding

more

and

more

extensions

on

different

chords/steps of these typical cadence connections is actually quite easy, if


the foundation is in place. We will continue with the other possible steps but
mostly by listing their possible extensions in the different positions. It is
up to you to place the individual chord voicings in the positions/connections
learned before.
I would recommend to take this in strides and to apply a new combination
in the song examples Autumn Leaves and Oleo learned in the previous two
columns. This ensures a deeper processing in your motor-memory.
Extensions for Specific Chords/Steps Dominant Seventh Chords
There are two versions of extended dominant seventh chords: 1) nonaltered dominants, and 2) altered dominants. The non-altered dominant seventh
chord is used most often as a V-chord in major. Viewing the two cadence
connections so far, major II-V-I and turnarounds, both examples would yield F7
in the key of Bb-major as a non-altered dominant chord.
Here are a few F7(9) voicings to be inserted in the cadence connections:

Use

the

middle

finger

for

the

root

on

each

of

these

three

chord

voicings. Also, compare these extended versions to the basic voicings of this
type: The ninth (9) is situated a whole step below the third, and at the same
time a whole step above the root/octave.
Elevens on this step in the key are treated in a special way. It would
be too much background information to get into in this column, so for now just
accept that elevens in this context are played as +11s by jazz musicians:

The last extension introduced in this column will be the thirteen. It is


located a half step below the dominant seven of this chord example. Here are
some suggestions:

To round out this foundation in comping skills in the next issue, we


will look at some really hip voicings by combining several extensions on
single chords (notice the differing terminology on the last set of voicings,
more on this next time) and will also introduce one more vital cadence.
So hang in there, because, if you havent had any fun with this stuff
yet, the pay off for all your hard work is right around the corner.

Freddie Green
Freddie Green
When I was in my 20s, I tried to pattern my life after Freddie Green.
During my hours on the road behing the wheel of the Jimmy Guiffre Three
Volkswagen van, I used to think "how can I make my driving like Freddie
Green's playing?" Comfortable, no bumps, pleasant. His playing makes you
smile. It also made you play, judging by the way Count Basie's band sounded
all those years. I once heard the band without Freddie, who was sick. Boy, did
they miss him! That great Basie band was like a ship without the rudder. It
just wasn't the same.
Freddie once told me that his biggest joy was playing behind Lester
Young, who returned the compliment by playing all of those classic solos with
the Basie band. I sometimes have a fantasy that, if the tree of jazz were
pruned down far enough, we'd be left just with Freddie Green strumming away
and making you feel like playing and smiling. After all, Charlie Christian and
Charlie Parker heard Lester Young, who heard Freddie Green, etc.
I'll always regret that I didn't watch Freddie more closely or ask him
more specific questions about his playing. I did ask Freddie once if he had
any fatherly advice for me and he said: "Yes, always pack your bag the night
before and leave your uniform on top." I've already described what I felt from
his playing. What I heard was something very simple and spacious: chord
voicings that allowed the guitar to speak and yet not bump into other rhythm
section instruments. For instance, a simple chord progression (Bm7 - E7 - Am7
- D7 - G) at a medium tempo might sound like this:

Whether he was playing more notes, I can't say, but this was the effect
and, with his magnificent time feeling, it was perfect. It allowed the bass
plenty of room to move. And Basie's piano playing never got in the way of
anythng. That's a subject for another whole book!

"I Got Rhythm" in the style of Freddie Green


George Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm" is the basis of countless jazz tunes.
Even the theme for "The Flintstones" cartoon television series is a "Rhythm"
tune. Freddie Green undoubtedly played "Rhythm" changes thousands of times in
his fifty year career.
The music below is not a transcription; it is a hypothetical example of
how Freddie might have played "Rhythm" changes. Note the use of one note
chords, two note chords, passing notes, and added upper notes on beats 2 and
4. All are typical techniques of Freddie Green's rhythm guitar style.
The form of "I Got Rhythm" is A-A-B-A; it is typically played as a 32
bar tune. I have notated the A section only once. Use it as a guide to create
your own A section "changes ala Freddie Green".
Refer to other articles in this "Lessons and Technique" section for
detailed explanations of Freddie's playing style.
Michael Pettersen
November 2003

Another Approach to Fingering Three-Note Chords


Mark Allen's DCMN article suggests the three-note chords are typically
fingered with the first three fingers of the left hand, but in all the
performance photos of Freddie Green on this website, his fourth finger (little
finger) seems to be planted on the G string. I've found that anchoring the
fourth finger on the G string permits one to play all the common three-note
chords with the least amount of movement in the hand and wrist. Here are
examples:
The basic hand position is that of a M6 (1) chord -- to use Allen's
notation. Let's say it's a Bb6 (1) at the 6th fret:
The fourth finger is on the G string, 7th fret (D)
The first finger is on the D string, 5th fret (G)
The second finger is on the low E string, 6th fret (Bb).
From this position, it's possible to produce three additional chords by
placement of the third finger:
BbM7 (1) - third finger on the D string, 7th fret (A)
Em7 (5) - third finger on the low E string, 7th fret (B)
Bb7 (1) - third finger on the D string, 6th fret (Ab)
Returning to the basic Bb6 (1) position, lift the fourth finger and
half-bar the D and G strings at the 5th fret (G and C) with the first finger
to produce a C7 (7).
Returning to the basic Bb6 (1) position, move the fourth finger down to
the 6th fret (Db) to produce an Eb7 (5). From this Eb7 (5), placing the third
finger on the D string at the 6th fret (Ab) yields a Bbm7 (1).
Note that these chord forms may serve more than one function. For
example, the basic Bb6 (1) form is also:
Gm (3)
EbM7 (5)
Em7-5 (5)
These fingerings are the easiest ones I've found, particularly at fast
tempos. As an experiment, I also tried playing them with the guitar top nearly
horizontal, ala Freddie Green, and all the forms were relatively easy to
reach. I don't claim that they're the same fingerings Freddie Green used; in
photos his middle finger seems arched too high to be on the low E string. But
once you get used to them, they will likely be smoother and faster than
fingerings that utilize just the first three fingers of the left hand.

Basics of Freddie Green Comping


Much

has

been

written

about

Freddie

Green

comping.

have

the

opportunity to play quite a bit of this style on my gigs as the guitarist for
the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. I've played Freddie Green style guitar with a
variety of well-known performers, and also played on a recording of old swing
arrangements by Nelson Riddle. I have considered this subject quite a bit
during rehearsals, concerts, and recording sessions. Here are my thoughts.
WHAT IS FREDDIE GREEN COMPING?
Freddie Green was one of thousands of guitarists that comped in this
style. Freddie Green was certainly a master of this style, if not "the"
master. But he was not the first or the only player to comp in this style.
The phrase "Freddie Green" style comping refers to a style of swing
comping that is most often used in big band guitar playing. The phrase
"Freddie Green Comping" is seen quite a bit in charts if you play gigs that
require reading, such as show work. The label "Freddie Green Comping" does not
refer specifically to the person Freddie Green, but rather to the rhythm
guitar style of four strums to the bar. Likewise, when I use the phrase
Freddie Green style guitar, I am not referring exclusively to the way Freddie
Green played.
The beauty of Freddie Green comping is that the basics can be explained
so simply: hold down a chord with the left hand, and strike the strings with
the right hand on every beat of the tune. The ugly side of Freddie Green
comping is that when done badly, the guitar player can single-handedly mess up
the rhythm section.
TIME
Rhythm guitar is about time, not about voicings. Voicings are a detail,
but they seem to take up a great deal of space in discussions about Freddie
Green comping. If you are just learning the basics of swing rhythm guitar, pay
little attention to the discussions of voicings. I suggest that to learn this
style you should first concentrate on time.
"CHUNK-CHUNK-CHUNK-CHUNK"
These words are often used to describe Freddie Green comping. I don't
think these words are all that helpful. If you really do play something that
resembles "chunk-chunk-chunk-chunk", you will likely muddy the rhythm section
and thus mess up the tune.
I think the words "choo-chit-choo-chit" more accurately describe the
rhythm guitar sound. "Choo" on beats 1 and 3; "chit" on beats 2 and 4. There
are variations depending on how fast or slow the tune is played, or how busy

the drummer is, but these are the basics. Beat 1 and 3 have a longer sound,
while beats 2 and 4 have a much shorter sound.
THE DRUMMER
The

guitarist's

job

is

to

help

propel

the

rhythm

forward

by

complementing the drummer. The rhythm guitarist is playing pitched percussion.


Think of the guitar as adding pitches to the ride cymbal on beats 1 and 3, and
to the high hat on beats 2 and 4.
The guitarist must lock on to the drummer's high hat. Beats 2 and 4 are
what swing is about. The drummer's high hat (or snare in the loud parts)
define beats 2 and 4 more than anything else. If you can lock on to the
drummer's high hat, meaning that your strike your "chit" beats at exactly the
same moment as the drummer's high hat sounds, you will be swinging with the
drummer. Create the "chit" sound by releasing the left hand pressure almost
immediately after the strings are struck.
The "choo" beats of 1 and 3 should be in lock step with the drummer's
ride cymbal. This is much easier if you play with the same drummer all the
time. Drummers all define time in slightly different ways, and it often takes
a couple of sessions with a new drummer to really lock on to his time.
Locking on to the drummer is more difficult than it sounds. The better
the drummer, the easier he is to lock on to. Never forget that you are there
to support the drummer.
The beat 2 and 4 "chits" should be slightly accented over the beats 1
and 3 "choos". Even if you played the "chit" with the same exact right hand
stroke, the "chits" will have a natural accent because they are cut short. The
interruption of the sound creates the effect of an accent. This is nearly
enough.
I create the accent by gripping the pick just slightly firmer on beats 2
and 4. Then I use the exact same arm and wrist motion on all four beats. A
firmer grip causes the pick to displace the strings more, thus creating more
volume, and an accent.
VOLUME
A big issue with Freddie Green comping is the volume: how loud should it
be? The answer is just loud enough. Not particularly helpful, but completely
accurate. Here are things to consider when deciding how loud to play:
The guitar part must be just barely quieter than the drums.
The guitar part should be felt not heard.
If anyone in the audience (except other rhythm guitarists) actually
notice the guitar, it is too loud.
The

guitar part

is often

times more

for the

benefit of

the other

musicians (to help drive the rhythm home for them) than for the listeners.

As the band gets louder, so should the guitar, but not too much.
The sound quality of the guitar (and amp, if used) also play a part in
how loud the guitar should be.
If playing this style of guitar professionally and amplified, buy a good
volume pedal and keep your foot on it at all times. Let the volume pedal
become part of the guitar.
SOUND
The realities of most live performance dictate the use of an amplifier.
But the typical amplified jazz guitar sound is too "thick" to properly play
Freddie Green comping. The big fat jazz box sound will simply muddy up the
rhythm section because it will interfere with the bass player's lines.
You can get a passable Freddie Green feel from many types of guitars,
but in my opinion, the best sound will come from an archtop. I use a Gibson
L5.
My amp of choice for this type of style is a Trace Elliott Acoustic. It
has a very clean sound. I notch out the middle and upper midrange (330 Hz to
1,000 Hz) with the built-in equalizer. This gives a sound that does not
interfere with the bass player, is reasonable warm, and is still clear enough
to cut.
Keep in mind the phrase "pitched percussion" when deciding on a sound.
Create a sound that blends well with the drums, but does not muddy up the bass
player's sound.
VOICINGS
Do not get obsessed with voicings as a beginner. Remember that you do
not have to play voicings exactly like Freddie Green to play good Freddie
Green comping.
Here are several guidelines for voicings:
Primarily use three note voicings on strings 6, 4, and 3; and four note
voicings on strings 6, 4, 3, and 2.
Avoid barre chords. They take up too much space in the sound spectrum.
Avoid perfect fifths between strings 6 and 5. This sounds muddy and will
interfere with the bass player's sound.
Don't add extensions past the 7th, unless specifically called for in the
chart.
Don't add your own extensions as they will likely conflict with the
piano player's part as well as the horn parts.
SWING Swing your ass off.

Western swing
Greetings fellow net.pickers. This is a short lesson in Western Swing or
Texas contest-style backup guitar. I'll be presenting the basic concepts and
some arrangements of tunes with backup parts.
This style of playing has a few defining characteristics:
a) Frequently changing chords, generally two per measure (in 4/4).
b) A walking bass line beneath the chords.
c) Frequent use of closed-position chords (i.e. with no open strings)
instead of open-voiced chords (such as the standard G, C, etc.).
d) "Passing chords" used between the major harmonic areas in a tune.
e) Extended chords (6ths, major 7ths, 9ths, 13ths, minor 7ths, minor
9ths), altered chords (b9ths, augmented, diminished).
We

want

to

use

these

techniques

to

transform

the

simple

chord

progressions that are found in many fiddle tunes and country tunes into more
complex progressions _that will still fit the melody_. This is an important
point: what you do still has to fit and make musical sense. You probably won't
want to use very complex chords like, oh, say, an A13b9sus4 in one of these
progressions:
A13b9sus4
+-+-+-+-+-+
o | | | | o
5 +-+-+-+-+-+
| | | | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | o o |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | o | | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
It probably won't work very well. But just use your judgment. If a chord
sounds like it works, then it works.
These are essentially jazz-based techniques, and it helps to have at
least

some

knowledge

of

jazz

harmony

to

get

grip

on

this

stuff.

The

discussion does get a little tech-oid, but even if you don't understand the
theory, just try playing through the examples - they're a lot of fun and they
sound really cool.
Listen to recordings by the great Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys for
good examples of this type of backup playing. The Texas Playboys guitarist,
Eldon Shamblin, is responsible for much of the development of this style as it

is applied to country-style tunes. Another great group to listen to if you


want to hear this stuff in a more traditional jazz setting is the Quintet of
the Hot Club of France, with the virtuoso Django Reinhardt on guitar. Another
master practitioner of this style is Ranger Doug from Riders in the Sky.
OK, so, on to the first tune. This is an arrangement of "Sally Goodin,"
a great old Texas fiddle tune. The backup part is from an article in a 1990
issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine. This is the same TAB that I posted out to
the net a few months ago. The backup part will also fit with the arrangement
of "Grey Eagle" that I posted to the net some time ago.
Here's TAB for Sally Goodin, a traditional fiddle tune, and a Texasstyle/Western Swing accompaniment for it. This is from the article "Swinging
With Sally Goodin" by Jim Wood, from the Sept/Oct 1990 issue of Acoustic
Guitar magazine.
I have TABbed the melody as if it were played in G. The accompaniment is
in A, though, so you'll have to capo at the second fret to make the melody
work with the accompaniment. Each "|" above the staff represents a quarter
note.
Sally Goodin (traditional) arr. Jim Wood
Note the nice walking bass lines. The whole thing is done bass-strum, bassstrum, etc.
A
|

A9/C#

D#o7

A#o7

Bm7

E7
|

|-----------------|-----2-------2---|-----------------|-----2-------0---|
|-----2-------5---|-----3-------1---|-----2-------2---|-----3-------0---|
|-----2-------4---|-----2-------2---|-----2-------0---|-----2-------1---|
|-----2-------5---|-0-------1-------|-----2-------2---|----(0)------0---|
|-0-------4-------|-----------------|-0-------1-------|-2-----------2---|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|---------0-------|
A
|

A9/C#

D#o7

E7

F#m
|

E7/G#

|-----------------|-----2-------2---|-----3-------5---|-----7-------5---|
|-----2-------5---|-----3-------1---|-----3-------5---|-----5-------5---|
|-----2-------4---|-----2-------2---|-----4-------6---|-----7-------6---|
|-----2-------5---|-0-------1-------|-2-------4-------|-6-------7-------|
|-0-------4-------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|

A
|

D/F#

Dm/F

A/E

A7/G
|

E7/D

E7/B

D#o7
|

|-----5-------5---|-----------------|-----------------|-------------0---|
|-----5-------5---|-----7-------6---|-----5-------7---|-----5-------0---|
|-----6-------6---|-----7-------7---|-----6-------5---|-----4-------1---|
|-7-------5-------|-----7-------7---|-----7-------7---|-----6-------0---|
|-----------------|-9-------8-------|-7-------6-------|-5-------2-------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
A
|

A9/C#
|

E7

D#o7
|

E7/G#

E7/B
|

|-----------------|-----2-------2---|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----2-------5---|-----3-------1---|-----5-------5---|-----3-------2---|
|-----2-------4---|-----2-------2---|-----7-------7---|-----4-------2---|
|-----2-------5---|-0-------1-------|-----6-------6---|-----2-------2---|
|-0-------4-------|-----------------|-7---------------|---------0-------|
|-----------------|-----------------|---------7-------|-4---------------|
---------------------------------------------------------------------------An important point about this backup style is the articulation. You
should strive for a sound like this:
boom-CHUNK-boom-CHUNK-boom-CHUNK-boom-CHUNK...
1

"Boom" is the bass note (which is allowed to ring), and "CHUNK" is an


accented, muted chord strum. So in other words, the chords should not be
allowed to ring out - they should be cut short by lifting the fingers of your
fretting hand as soon as you strike the strings. This gives a little rhythmic
jab or "sock" on the backbeat, and leads, BTW, to this style sometimes being
referred to as "sock guitar." This also is why we use primarily closed-voiced
chords - it's hard to properly mute open-voiced chords.
Another way these chords are articulated sometimes is like this:
CHUNK-CHUNK-CHUNK-CHUNK-CHUNK-CHUNK-CHUNK-CHUNK...
1

i.e. with no separate bass note - just the whole chord strummed staccato on
beats 1, 2, 3, and 4. This is more like the way that big-band guitarists play,
for example Freddie Green with the Count Basie Orchestra.

Another point to note is that we don't always use chords voiced with the
root in the bass. A good example is this voicing, which appears in the first
measure:
A9/C#
+-+-+-+-+-+
| o | o | |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | o | o |
5 +-+-+-+-+-+
Such voicings are used primarily to keep the bass line moving. Another
point about this chord is that it provides a I dominant (I9), which leads very
strongly to the IV chord in the next measure.
An example of a passing chord, as mentioned above, is the D#dim7 chord
found in measure 2:
D#dim7
0 +-+-+-+-+-+
| | o | o |
+-+-+-+-+-+
| | | o | o
+-+-+-+-+-+
This chord adds interest to the progression in two ways: First, it
provides an interesting harmonic transition between the IV chord (D) and the I
chord (A/E). Second, the D, D#, A run in the bass gives a very nice jazzy,
chromatic sound to the progression. A similar use of a passing chord (an
A#dim7) is found in measure 3. In fact, just playing through measures 1
through 4 will give you a good idea of where this stuff is coming from.
Now the next tune, Westphalia Waltz. This is a lovely old fiddle waltz
that sounds great with a Texas-style backup. As above, I have provided a
guitar TAB for the melody with the "straight" chords indicated on the upper
line of chords above the TAB and the Texas-style chords indicated on the lower
line of chords above the TAB. The next TAB is just for the backup part.
When playing a waltz, it sounds best if you let the chords ring rather
than muting them. So, you want a sound more like this:
BOOM-strum-strum-BOOM-strum-strum...
1

where the 1 is accented and the 2 and 3 are unaccented.

Also, note that the moving ("walking") voice in this backup part is
sometimes in an inner voice rather than in the bass. For example, see the G,
F#, E, F#, G run on the 4th string in measures 1 through 5.
TAB- Westphalia Waltz (arr. Bo Parker, fbparker@hiwaay.net)
Backup Same for both parts
G
|

Gmaj7
|

G6
|

Gmaj7
|

|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|-----3---3---|-----3---3---|-----3---3---|-----3---3---|
|-----4---4---|-----4---4---|-----4---4---|-----4---4---|
|-----5---5---|-----4---4---|-----2---2---|-----4---4---|
|-----5---5---|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|-3-----------|-3-----------|-3-----------|-3-----------|
G
|

G#dim
|

Am7
|

D9
|

|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|-----3---3---|-----3---3---|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|
|-----4---4---|-----4---4---|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|
|-----5---5---|-----3---3---|-----5---5---|-----4---4---|
|-----5---5---|-------------|-----------4-|-5-----------|
|-3---------3-|-4---------4-|-5-----------|-------------|
Am7
|

D9
|

Am7
|

D9
|

|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|
|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|
|-----5---5---|-----4---4---|-----5---5---|-----4---4---|
|-----------4-|-5-----------|-----------4-|-5-----------|
|-5-----------|-------------|-5-----------|-------------|
Am7
|

Daug9/C
|

G6/9/B
|

G
|

|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|-----3---3---|-----0-------|
|-----5---5---|-----3---3---|-----2---2---|-----0-------|
|-----5---5---|-----4---4---|-----2---2---|-----0-------|
|-----------2-|-3-----------|-2-----------|-------------|
|-5-----------|-------------|-------------|-3-------0-2-|

G
|

Gmaj7
|

G6
|

Gmaj7

|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|-----3---3---|-----3---3---|-----3---3---|-----3---3---|
|-----4---4---|-----4---4---|-----4---4---|-----4---4---|
|-----5---5---|-----4---4---|-----2---2---|-----4---4---|
|-----5---5---|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|-3-----------|-3-----------|-3-----------|-3-----------|
G
|

G#dim
|

Am7
|

D9
|

|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|-----3---3---|-----3---3---|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|
|-----4---4---|-----4---4---|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|
|-----5---5---|-----3---3---|-----5---5---|-----4---4---|
|-----5---5---|-------------|-----------4-|-5-----------|
|-3---------3-|-4---------4-|-5-----------|-------------|
Am7
|

D9
|

Am7
|

D9
|

|-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|
|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|
|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|-----5---5---|
|-----5---5---|-----4---4---|-----5---5---|-----4---4---|
|-----------4-|-5-----------|-----------4-|-5-----------|
|-5-----------|-------------|-5-----------|-------------|
Am7
|

D7
|

G
|

G/D
|

|-------------|-------------|-----3---3---|-----3---3---|
|-----5---5---|-----3-------|-----0---0---|-----0---0---|
|-----5---5---|-----5-------|-----0---0---|-----0---0---|
|-----5---5---|-----4-------|-----0---0---|-0-----------|
|-------------|-5-----------|-------------|-------------|
|-5-----------|---------0-2-|-3-----------|-------------|
An

interesting

chord

in

this

progression

is

the

augmented

chord

(actually a Daug9/C) in measure 14. Remember that a D augmented chord has the
notes D, F#, A#. Well, that A# is the same as as a Bb, which is the flat-third
"blue note" in the key of G. Its presence in the D augmented chord (which is

used as a V dominant chord) gives the V - I cadence a really cool bluesy,


"down-home" kind of sound.
I have provided you with a short overview of the Western swing or
"Texas" style of backup guitar playing. Play with these progressions for
awhile and you will discover that there are many contexts in which these
concepts, particularly walking bass lines and passing chords, can be applied.
Use these techniques in a few places in the songs you like to play, and you
will find that they can really spice up your rhythm playing. Have fun!