Watch the Chapter 18: Voice Leading online guitar lesson by Frank Vignola from Modern Method for Guitar

Voice leading, or using moving lines within chords, is a great way to add movement and excitement to rhythm playing. This lesson has four different exercises that will develop your voice leading skills. When doing the following exercises, make sure you strive for clean sounding chords.

For this first exercise, refer to the chord shapes provided.

1. Using the low 4 string inversions, identify each of the major 7 chords and their inversions.

2. Move minimally on each chord, to the major 6 chord. All you have to do is identify the major 7th interval and drop it a whole step. Strum the major 7 chord for 2 beats followed by the major 6th chord for 2 beats and repeat until it is smooth and clean.

3. Next we play a ii-V change in the key of G with the Am7 and the D7. From the ii chord, move a 1/2 step down from the minor 7, or G note, to the next scale tone F# for the D7. It might help to think of this as playing a D7 with a raised 4th to a D7. Again, play 2 beats of each chord going for a smooth clean sound.

4. Next, move from a Gmaj9 to the G as demonstrated in the video.

5. We can also continue moving the line from the 9 to the root to the maj7th and finally the 6th, all on the same string.

6. Using the above method, play each of the following chord changes. Try different keys and different sets of strings. Refer to the chord grids on the following pages for chord shapes and a sample of suggested fingerings.

||: Gmaj7 G6 | Gmaj7 G6 | Am7 D7 | Am7 D7 :||

||: Gmaj9 G | Gmaj9 G | Am7 D7b9 | Am7 D7b9 :||

||: Gmaj9 G | Gmaj7 G6 | G Maj9 G | Gmaj7 G6 :||

||: Am9 Am | Am7 D7 | Am9 Am | Am7 D7 :||

||: Am Am(maj7) | Am7 D7 :||

||: Am9 Am | Am7 D7 :||

7. Play over songs using the above to elaborate, especially when a song calls for the same chord for more than one bar of music. Listen for the melody and be careful not to clash with it.