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Songwriter September

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Watch the Week 7: More Advanced Variations with Substitutions online guitar lesson by Bob Wolfman from Essential Guide To Jazz Blues Comping

More Advanced Variations with Substitutions/"Sub. Dominant Minor and Sub V's" -

Well, the term advanced here is only intended to connote that we have a bit more complexity, more deviation from the standard 12 bar blues form, and we are using more colorful substitutions. You could say that this is the moment (or lesson) you've been waiting for. At least from my own personal experience, this lesson most closely relates to my earlier brief, anecdotal mention of my mentors Larry Coryell and Joe Beck. When I was attempting to learn how to create those rich chordal arrangements and hipper "comping", I was basically trying to do the kind of chord substitution used in the examples in this lesson. Most of the fingerings are pretty practical and physically easy to play with a couple of exceptions. You will notice smooth voice leading from chord form to chord form more often than not. I did not try to use the most complex, sophisticated, esoteric chord forms. Any great master of the guitar that I know or have known all maintain the same philosophy and work ethic about comping and guitar playing in general..."The Simpler The Better!" Joe Pass said it, and I've learned the hard way just how true and gratifying this is. Throughout my life and my career as a professional musician, I can recall many instances where I had attempted to learn/figure out, decipher, analyze/shed, and play a particular part of a tune by one of my favorite guitarists. In some instances I spent weeks (or even months) thinking I had finally "got it". I knew the way it was being played by my hero on the record, but something was still just slightly off; just didn't sound quite right! When I finally did get it right, or someone showed me the exact, correct way my hero played it on the recording, I was always blown away! I would always be shocked and amazed at how simple what they were playing and how they played it actually was. Each of the 5 examples has two different versions, and thus 2 different charts.

First, you will see a simple chart which implies very basic 6th and 5th string root chord forms. Very basic, generic, "vanilla" chord symbols, indicating that barre forms may be used or simple moveable forms. The second chart for each tune will have the more colorful chord substitutions and thus more advanced chord forms. So, that's 10 charts all together, and all examples are in the key of "F". Each of the examples uses another method or harmonic "device" which enables to depart from just the standard 12 bar blues form. We travel from the basic contemporary form to the slightly modified, to the use of Sub. Dominant Minor chord and SubV7 chords to Chromatic II-V's and then finally using the III-7 as well. It's pretty obvious that each example has a it's own distinct mood and color, some darker, some brighter, but keep in mind that these are only beginning ideas for you. Again, experiment like crazy! Explore different combinations and textures! Use forms from the chord charts that were not used in the 5 examples! Use different rhythms, tempos, techniques and combinations to play different styles and "feels". It may sound "corny", but you are only limited by the boundaries of your imagination. If one chord sounds lousy in a sequence of great sounding chords, get rid of it, don't use it! For the moment only, as it might sound phenomenal in another context. Always try to get the best sounding combinations, and keep experimenting until you get it the way you want it. It's kinda like painting, mixing a drink, or trying to get just the right ingredients for a recipe when you're cooking. I pretty much guarantee that once you get the examples down and get comfortable with most if not all of the material here........you'll be cookin' up some mighty tasty jazz/blues!

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