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Elements of Jazz








9. guitarists and pianists, when it is their turn, improvise solos as well; when soloing, pianists usually comp chords with their left hand, accompanying their own right hand solos

IV. Harmony

A. Chord


Two or more notes played at the same time constitutes harmony, also known as a chord (also known as a “change” among jazz musicians). 

B. Jazz Chords


Jazz chords are usually four to seven notes played simultaneously. 

C. Chord Voicing


Each chord and each chord voicing (the way the notes are arranged) depict a different emotion, e.g., happy, sad, angry, hopeful, etc. (most can’t be labeled as the emotion they convey is beyond wording and different for every listener; “music is in the ears of the beholder”).  

Audio Snippets

speakerspacer Chords and Chord Progressions - Mark Gridley

D. Chord Progression


A series of chords (known as a chord progression or simply the “changes”) accompanies the composed melodies of and improvisation on tunes (songs). 



Although there are some chord progressions that are used over and over for several different tunes, most tunes have their own distinctive chord progression. 



Jazz musicians (primarily pianists and guitarists since they are the ones who play chords) have the autonomy to voice chords (put the notes in a particular order from bottom to top) the way they want, add notes to chords, and substitute other chords for the original ones, all in order to make the music “hipper,” i.e., more up to date, better sounding, more “happening,” and more personal. 

E. Comping



definition: the rhythmically interesting playing of chords 



pianists and guitarists comp the chords 



the term comping comes from two words: to accompany and to complement; that is precisely what pianists and guitarists do: they accompany and complement the soloists9 



watch video Video of Mulgrew Miller discussing the art of comping 

Audio Snippets

speakerspacer Comping and Syncopation - Mark Gridley
the Herbie Hancock institute of jazz
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