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FREE music lessons fromBerklee College of MusicVoice Leading for GuitarJohn ThomasChapter 1Harmony Review and Introduction toVoice LeadingPress ESC to cancel sound.Check out Berkleeshares.com for more lessonsjust like this one. 2005 Berklee College of Music licensed to the publicunder erify at http://berkleeshares.com/legal-noticeBerklee is offering free music lessons onlinedesigned to expand educational opportunitiesfor musicians around the globe. The musiclessons are available for free download fromthe Berkleeshares.com Web site and via agrowing network of partner Web sites. Thesefree music lessons are also available ondigital file sharing networks. We encouragepeople to share our lessons with othermusicians. While Berklee stronglydisapproves of stealing copyrighted musiconline, we believe that file sharing offers newopportunities for musicians to learn, and topromote and distribute their work.

CHAPTER 1Harmony Reviewand Introduction to Voice LeadingHarmony ReviewChord Types: Diatonic Seventh ChordsIn jazz, you will encounter only seven kinds of diatonic seventh chords (from major, melodic minor,or harmonic minor keys). This book will show you how to voice lead smoothly and easily betweenthese chords and their variations. The simplest forms of these chord types appear below.Symbol:CMaj7C7C–(Maj7)C–7C–7( 5)Cmaj7( 5)C 7Chord Name:major 7dominant 7minor-major 7minor 7minor 7( 5)major 7( 5)diminished 7I7I–(Maj7)I–7I–7( 5)Imaj7( 5)I 7Roman Num.: IMaj7Fig. 1. Diatonic seventh chords in the key of CNote: Major 6 chords fulfill the same function as major 7 chords.Sometimes minor 6 chords can fulfill the same function as minor 7 chords.Harmony and ProgressionsIn order to move smoothly from chord to chord–to voice lead–you must know the rules thatgovern the behavior and relationship of individual notes and groups of notes (chords) in a chordprogression.Chords and chord progressions help to establish tonal areas. In Western music, there are threetonal areas: tonic (T), subdominant (SD), and dominant (D). Each area is associated with a scaledegree and the chord built upon that scale degree. Nearly every type of composition, from thesimplest folk song to a Beethoven symphony, is based on movement between these tonal areas.CMaj7D–7E–7FMaj7G7A–7B–7( 5)IMaj7TII–7SDIII–7TIVMaj7SDV7DVI–7TVII–7( 5)DFig. 2. Diatonic seventh chords and function in the key of C1

CHAPTER 1 Harmony Review and Introduction to Voice LeadingChord FunctionsEach chord has a distinct function within a chord progression, depending on its tonal area. Thechord’s function determines its tendency to establish either motion or stability within a musicalphrase, a song, or a larger composition. Chords that have similar function can substitute for eachother.Tonic: In a major key, the tonic area includes chords built upon scale degrees 1, 3, and 6. In major,IMaj7 is the defining sound of the tonic area. In melodic and harmonic minor, I–(Maj7) is thedefining sound. Tonic chords have a resting or stable function. Tonic-area seventh chords cansubstitute for each other because they all share three common tones and have the same harmonicfunction.Subdominant: The subdominant area includes seventh chords built upon scale degrees 2, 4, and 6.Chords built on scale degree 4 are the defining sound of the subdominant area. Subdominantchords impart a moderate sense of forward motion in a progression. In major, both II–7 and VI–7can be substituted for IVMaj7 because they share several common tones and the same harmonicfunction. In melodic minor and Dorian, IV7 can be replaced by II–7 or VI–7(%5). In harmonicminor, IV–7 can be substituted by II–7(%5) or %VIMaj7.Dominant: The dominant area includes chords built on scale degrees 5 and 7. The V7 chord isthe defining sound of the dominant area. Dominant chords tend to sound unresolved because ofthe tritone interval between chord tones 3 and 7. They impart a strong sense of forward motion ina progression. Although less common, the VII–7(%5) chord can be substituted for V7 in major andmelodic minor, because the two chords share the same tritone and have the same harmonicfunction. In harmonic minor, VII”7 can replace V7.Secondary Dominant: Every major key, melodic minor key, and harmonic minor key has adominant. Additionally, every chord has its own dominant, which is the seventh chord located afifth above it. It is referred to as a secondary dominant. (The only exception to this rule is thediminished chord, which has no dominant.) Secondary dominants can help smooth out voiceleading between chords and add new dimension and color to every key by introducing notes thatare not in the key.2

Voice Leading in Action:Simple Chord Families on the Guitar NeckThe term “voice leading” refers to the way in which individual voices move from chord to chord.The best voice leading occurs when all individual voices move smoothly. You can achieve this bymoving between chords using the same note or moving up or down by a step in the inner voices ofthe chord, whenever possible.Read and play through this simple voiceleading exercise. Chords are voice led so that only onevoice moves at a time. Note how the stepwise motion between the chords illustrates how closelythe chords are related. These chord families form the backbone of comping using standard four-partharmony.Practice this exercise chromatically, in all twelve keys.G1.4.G343434110111222G–(Maj7)G–7G–6G– 6G–32432433343143143112222G7( 13)0G7(13)G7( 11)3424324321431112G–7G–7( 5)333143143131222214233331C7( 9)1312G6.G( 43124312GMaj74231C7( 9)4312G74131G64132G 7C7sus41432C7sus4(9)1111G7sus441313

CHAPTER 1 Harmony Review and Introduction to Voice ( 9)C7(9)31424132G–6G–7( 5)G 7423131424132C7( 5)C7( 5,9) C7( 5, 9)412131414131Fig. 3. Simple chord familiesVoice Leading Chord Tones and TensionsIn the classical voice leading tradition, there are strict rules that govern how individual chord tonesand tensions should move in a harmonic progression. Functional jazz harmony also follows theserules. In general, voice leading favors conservation of motion: chord progressions sound smoothestwhen each note in a chord moves in stepwise motion, or in short leaps of no more than a majorthird, to corresponding chord tones or tensions in the next chord.Voice Leading Chord TonesIn a II–7/V7/I progression, for example, the seventh of the II–7 chord must resolve to the third ofthe V7 chord. Additionally, the third of the II–7 chord must resolve to the seventh of the V7chord.D–737II–7G7( 9)CMaj773V7IMaj7Fig. 4. Resolution of chord tones 3 and 7 in a II–7/V7 progressionWhen moving from V7 to I (major or minor) the seventh of the V7 chord resolves into the third ofthe I chord. Conversely, the third of the V7 chord resolves to the seventh of the I chord.D–7(9)G7(13)37II–7V7CMaj7(9)73IMaj7Fig. 5. Resolution of chord tones 3 and 7 in a V7/I progressionThere is an important exception to the rule. When the third or the seventh in either of the firsttwo chords in a II–7/V7/I is doubled, only one of the doubled notes resolves to the target note(the third or the seventh of the chord).4

In the following example, the third of D–7 is doubled. The first F does not move, and becomes theseventh of G7. The other F resolves downward to E, which is the thirteenth of G7.D–733G71113CMaj7137II–7V7IMaj7Fig. 6. Resolutions with doubled thirdsIn fig. 7, the D–7 spelled D, A, C, F, C would resolve to a G7 spelled G, D, F, B. You will noticethat in the first chord, the seventh (C) is doubled. The upper C resolves to the third of G7, whichis B. The lower C in D–7, however, moves up a whole step to D, the fifth of G7.D–777G7CMaj735II–7V7IMaj7Fig. 7. Resolutions with doubled seventhsThese are not the only possibilities. The two examples below illustrate how doubled thirds resolveto doubled sevenths, and how doubled sevenths resolve to doubled thirds.D–7G7CMaj7373373II–7V7IMaj7Fig. 8. Resolutions with doubled thirds and g. 9. Resolutions with doubled sevenths5

CHAPTER 1 Harmony Review and Introduction to Voice LeadingVoice Leading Chord TensionsAs illustrated in fig. 3, jazz musicians will almost always add color to the basic chords by usingtensions—ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths placed above the basic seventh chord. Tensions arenonessential notes used to add color to a chord. These tensions are rarely indicated in most jazzcharts, however. Each musician chooses which tensions to use, based on the musical context.Tensions, like chord tones, have very specific behaviors, as indicated in the following musicalexamples. The resolutions in the examples below are common in II–7/V7/I progressions.G7913CMaj7(9)9G7( 9)CMaj7955Fig. 10. Tension 9 resolves to 5.9 1311G79C6(9)G7( 9,13)6CMaj76979Fig. 11. Tension 9 can also resolve to 6(13) or 7.1113G711C–Maj7(9)G7( 11)111C–7(9)1Fig. 12. Tension #11 resolves to 1.913G7C–7(9)913G7C–Maj7(9)131399Fig. 13. Tension 13 resolves to 9.G7913C6G791313C7(13)1131Fig. 14. Tension 13 can also resolve to 1.G7sus4(9)C6G7sus44/114/111Fig. 15. Suspended 4 or 11 resolves to 1.6C6(9)1

Whether a 13 goes to a 9 or %9 depends on the construction of the scale that the chord is built on.These scales are called chord scales. Some chord scales have %9 instead of 9, or %13 instead of 13,and so on. (Refer to the appendix for a discussion of chord scales and modes.) Note the resolutionsof 9 and 13 in the chord progression below.E PhrygianD Dorian913E–7(11)A7III–7V7/II–7E PhrygianD–7(9)G7II–7V7913D DorianE–7A7( 11)D–7G7III–7V7/II–7II–7V71113Fig. 16. Resolutions of 13 and 9 vary according to chord scale.Finding the Correct Chord Scale: A GuideChoose tensions carefully. The quality of the tensions you choose must correspond to theappropriate chord scales and must be compatible with the chord’s harmonic function. Below is alist of chords and their corresponding chord scales and modes. (Refer to the appendix for moreinformation on chord scales and modes.)ChordsChord ScaleIMaj7 (IVMaj7, IIMaj7, IIIMaj7, VIMaj7, and VIIMaj7 whenpreceded by their respective dominants)IonianII–7 ( II–7, III–7, IV–7, IV–7, and VII7–7 whenpreceded by their respective dominants)DorianIII–7PhrygianIVMaj7, IIMaj7, IIIMaj7, VIMaj7, and VIIMaj7Lydian(V7 in major), IV7, I7, IV7, II7, III7, VII7, VI7, II7,or any dominant resolving in majorMixolydianVI–7 or IV–7AeolianVII–7( 5), VI–7( 5), or any half diminished chordLocrianAny minor chord with a major seventh and perfect fifthMelodic MinorAny substitute dominant (SubV7)Lydian 7Any –7( 5) chord with a major 9SuperlocrianAny dominant (one of the three options for dominants of minor chords) AlteredAny dominant (one of the three options for dominants of minor chords) Mixolydian 9especially those resolving to minor chordsDominant of any chord with a major thirdWhole ToneAny diminished chordDiminishedAny dominant (one of the three options for dominants of minor chords) Symmetric Dominantcan also be used for substitute dominantsThis chart covers only the scales used most often in traditional functional harmony andimprovisation in jazz. However, you’ll find many other scales being used extensively inmodern tunes, such as modal music composed by Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and othercontemporary musicians.7

CHAPTER 1 Harmony Review and Introduction to Voice LeadingOther Smooth Moves: Parallel MovementWhen a chord moves to another whose root is only a second or third away, all voices must move upor down stepwise or in thirds, respectively, to corresponding notes in the second chord: root movesto root, third to third, fifth to fifth, and so on. This is called parallel movement. It is a commonmeans of leading voices and is the easiest one for a guitarist to perform–however, it can only beused when chords move stepwise or in thirds. (You’ll see examples of parallel movement in “IShould Have Thought About Me” and in bars 5–6 of “I Smell Catastrophe,” both in chapter IV.)For instance, in measure 1 of the example below, chords move from CMaj7 spelled C, B, E, G toD–7 in the key of C. D–7 is spelled D, C, F, A. Note that all notes in D–7 are located a (diatonic)second above those of CMaj7.Accordingly, if you had to move from CMaj7 spelled C, B, E, G to E–7, you might spell E–7 in thisway: E, D, G, B.To summarize, thirds go to thirds, fifths to fifths or thirteenths, sevenths to sevenths, and tonicsto tonics or ninths. To those of you who have already been initiated into the world of traditionalharmony, this might sound like heresy. For us jazzers, however, it is the Holy Grail.Parallel movementCMaj7D–7E–7D–7CMaj7F7(9)E–7A7( 9)D–7G7(9)E –7A 7D–7G7( 9)CMaj7G7sus4Parallel movementD–7Fig. 17. Chord resolutions8E–7FMaj7E–7

Drop-2 VoicingsThe chord voicings you use can make an enormous difference in the quality of your voice leading.One of the most helpful voicings is the drop-2 voicing. Drop-2 voicings are chords played in closeposition, in which the alto (middle) voice is played one octave lower than the original alto, in closeposition.This lays well on the guitar fretboard and makes voice leading from one chord to the next easier.Drop-2 voicings are everywhere in jazz guitar voice leading.close voicingdrop-2 voicingCMaj7CMaj7close voicingdrop-2 voicingC–7( 5)C–7( 5)Fig. 18. Close and drop-2 chord voicingsThe following drop-2 voicings are in the key of C. Learn and practice them in all twelve keys.Starting on D stringKey of GIonian Major 7223133314132Ionian 62231423141312231221111114131111411119

CHAPTER 1 Harmony Review and Introduction to Voice LeadingMixolydian11214243143321121321Mixolydian Sus 221122314234132111Lydian 7314224311121441321213321432142211Mixolydian 9/ 1104121243144132