Jazz Guitar – Learning Chord Forms

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 33,633
    Expert guitarist Dan Leonard demonstrates a variety of chord forms on the jazz guitar.

    Dan Leonard

    Guitarist Dan Leonard has been a full time performer and teacher since 1987. He has taught hundreds of students jazz, blues and rock improvisation; from intermediates to working professionals. Over the years he has distilled his approach into the basis for his forthcoming instructional book “Organizing the fretboard for improvisation”. Dan began his career playing in regional rock bands. After studying classical guitar and composition in college he turned his focus to jazz, which is where it has stayed to this day. He is currently guitarist with Blind Pig recording artist Deanna Bogart as well as leader of The Dan Leonard Trio. His first solo recording “Time Alone” was released in 2000 with the follow-up, “The Middle Path” due out in the fall. His many performances include The Vaison Jazz Festival in France, The Monterey Blues Festival and The Clearwater Jazz Festival.

    Dan Leonard: Hi! I'm Dan Leonard and I'm going to show you some of the basic chord forms that youll need to know to play jazz guitar.

    Start with the root on the low E string, this is a major seventh chord and this were a little basic music theory can be very helpful. If you know the layout of this chord, the structure of it, this is the root, this is the seventh of the chord, this is the third and this is the fifth. If you flat the seventh from this major seven youll get a dominant seventh chord, if you flat the third from the dominant seventh chord, you get a minor seventh chord, if you flat the fifth of this minor seventh chord, you get a half-diminished seventh, and then if you flat the seventh, which is on the D string here, again you get a double-flatted seventh. This is the fully-diminished seventh chord.

    So, those are the forms with the root on the low E string. Heres the same set of chords with the root on the A string.

    Now, in this formation this is a C Major seventh, in this formation the layout is root fifth, seventh, third. So, if you flat the seventh from this chord you get a dominant seventh chord, if you flat the third you get a minor seventh chord, if you flat the fifth you get a half-diminished seventh chord, and then if you flat the seventh again a fully-diminished seventh chord.

    For the D forms, this is an F Major seventh. If we flat the seventh you get the dominant seventh, if you flat the third the minor seventh chord, if you flat the fifth, the half-diminished seventh chord, and then flat the seventh again and you get a fully-diminished seventh chord.

    Now to put these into a musical context, I'm going to play it in a diatonic progression, which means within a key. So, I'll go back to this G Major seventh, and I'm going to be taking a G Major scale up the low E string and building a chord off of each note. The first will be a major seven of the first note, then a minor seven of the second, a minor seven of the third, major seven of the fourth, a dominant seventh of the fifth, minor seventh of the sixth, and a half-diminished seventh off of the seventh, and then youre back to a major seventh. So, this progression sounds like this.

    Then that same process can be applied to the A forms, where you have the major seventh of the first, minor seventh, minor seventh, major seventh, dominant seventh, minor seventh, half-diminished seventh, and back to the major seventh, and then off the root on the D string forms, major seven, minor seven, minor seven, major seven, dominant seven, minor seven, half-diminished, major seven.

    So, this gives you a good context to practice your chord forms and gives you a format in which to switch the chords and also to hear them in a musical setting.