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Watch the Part 1 The Principles and The Blues online guitar lesson by Fareed Haque from Jazz Comping Survival Guide

In this first part of the course we will examine playing the blues using only guide tones, and we will also introduce four principles of chord substitution that will become the basis for all of the jazz comping we do from here on out. So please study these carefully and completely, they will have far reaching applications and will be with you for the rest of this course, and probably for the rest of your life as a jazz musician.The ‘guide tones’ only approach is a new way of describing what jazz guitarists have been doing for years.

Let's explore it a bit more in depth here.

What are guide tones?

Simple! They are the most important notes in a jazz chord - the 3rd and 7th. Sometimes called ‘color tones’, we will call them guide tones, as they outline the important notes in a chord and ‘guide’ the player (and listener) through a jazz chord progression.

One of the things I always hated about jazz guitar chord and scale books is how long they were, and how much memorization they expected you to do, page after page of chord symbols, block diagrams, little riffs and licks.

Piano players had nice little formulas for building chords - no memorization! - so did jazz arrangers, why not guitar players too?

Well, as I explored it more I found that building chords on the guitar was simple too. Especially when I started with guide tones. First off, 90% of the time the bass player will be playing the root, or whatever bass note is needed. And the 5th is usually just a clumsy note, often left out of nice chords anyway, so let's start with guide tones for G7. That’s the 3rd and 7th of G dominant 7, right? G7 is spelled G, B, D, F - that’s 1, 3, 5, b7 of the G major scale, So:

F nat and, B nat are guide tones of G7

move it down one fret and you got the IV chord – C7

move up 1/2 step and you got the V chord – D7

All of the basic building blocks of harmony I,IV and V in a three fret span!

OK, Let's build some chords:


-Now flat the third - what dya got? Gm7!

-Now flat 7th 1 ½ step - what dya got? Gm6! (This chord is same as G dim or G ½ dim since there is no fifth at all)

-Now flat the 6th ½ step - what dya got? Gmb6!

-Now raise the B6 ½ step - what dya got? You are back to Gm6!

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