THE CROSSROADS Chord Voicings
Guitar Techniques|October 2021
This month at the Crossroads, John Wheatcroft finds the chordal connections from modern bluesman Kirk Fletcher, to jazz legends Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery, via the great Robben Ford.
John Wheatcroft
In jazz-speak the term ‘comping’ is used an abbreviation for the all-encompassing topic of accompanying. For any aspiring blues or jazz guitarist this is a crucial and absolutely essential area of study. The ability to acccompany with intelligence and sensitivity is one of the most effective skills we can develop. Even though you might have the most incredible single-note chops, with phenomenal speed and articulation, if you can’t comp well you’ll probably never get the opportunity to showcase these assets as nobody will want to play with you!

Secondly, rhythm playing need not be the poorer relation to soloing. With intelligent consideration and skill, the rhythm part can be every bit as creative, challenging, sophisticated, hip and impressive and you’ll find your popularity among fellow musicians will rise exponentially as your comping skills develop. To be a good rhythm player, you need to be a good team player. Familiarise yourself with the roles of each respective instrument in the ‘rhythm section’, usually the drums, bass and often in classic jazz settings you’ll need to share comping duties with a piano player; while in blues styles it’s not uncommon to find yourself on stage with any combination of piano, keyboards and even another guitarist, all playing at the same time.

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