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Jazz Guitar Lesson is part 13 in a 15 part series on Learn to Play Guitar Lessons. We'll look at diatonic jazz guitar chords and the jazz guitar chord system.
In parts 3-9 we looked at diatonic triads and how they were built in each key. We will now add a 7th to each chord and create 4 note chords. In addition, we will look at augmented chords, diminished chords and chords with tensions such as 9s, 11s and 13s.
It's important to listen to and watch some of the jazz guitar greats like Joe Pass, Jim Hall and Pat Metheny, to see how they utilize all of these chords and jazz guitar theory. Lastly, a better understanding of jazz theory helps to make us better songwriters!
In this jazz guitar lesson I will show you all of the diatonic jazz chords in a key on the guitar. In the video above we looked at the key of G. A 4 note chord combines the 1st note (also called the root), the 3rd note, the 5th note and the 7th note of the scale.
Here's how all the 4 note chords are spelled in the key of G.
Remember the notes in a G major scale are: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#
DIATONIC JAZZ GUITAR CHORD SYSTEM
G Major 7 - G, B, D, F#
A minor 7 - A, C, E, G
B minor 7 - B, D, F#, A
C Major 7 - C, E, G, B
D Dominant 7 - D, F#, A, C
E minor 7 - E, G, B, D
F# minor 7b5 - F#, A, C, E
These chord patterns are the same no matter what key you're in.
Below are some common 4 note diatonic jazz shapes (or voicings).
Gmin7 (version 2)
JAZZ GUITAR LESSON 2 (tensions 9, 11, 13)
Once we understand the diatonic jazz chords, we can then add "tensions" to the chords for interest. Tensions are just additional notes that can be played instead of, or in addition to, the chord tones we are already playing.
A 9 is just the 2nd note of the scale played an octave up. When a 2nd is played instead of the 3rd, it is called a SUS 2 chord. When a 2nd is played in addition to the 3rd, it is called an add 9 chord.
(NOTE: b9 chords and #9 chords are just the 2nd being lowered or raised a half step)
An 11 is just the 4th note of the scale played an octave up. When a 4th is played instead of the 3rd, it is called a SUS 4 chord. When a 4th is played in addition to the 3rd, it is called an add 11 chord.
A 13 is just the 6th note of the scale played an octave up. When a 6th is added to a triad, it is called a 6th chord. When it is added an octave up, it is called a 13 chord.
NOTE: Chords called C9 or C13 are actually dominant 7 chords with these added tensions (see blues scale and chords to explain dominant chords). CMaj9 or CMaj13 are not dominant chords.
*other tensions include:
sharp 5 written #5 (also called b6 or b13) is just a raised 5th
flat 5 written b5 (also called #4) is just a lowered 5th
NOTE: 6 major and minor chords are not considered chords with tensions. They are 4 note chords that have the 6th instead of the 7th.
For a full review see: Music Theory Intervals
Below are a variety of 6 chords and typical chords with tensions.
A (add 9)
A sus 2
JAZZ GUITAR LESSON 3 (augmented chords and diminished chords)
On the blues page we discussed how diminished chords are stacked minor 3rds. Augmented chords are stacked major 3rds. We have the 1st note (or root) of the chord, a major 3rd, a raised 5th (or sharp 5) and we are back to the root.
There are only 4 augmented chords because they share the same notes.
Caug, Eaug and G#aug are the same chord because they all have C, E and G#
C#aug, Faug and Aaug are the same chord because they all have C#, F and A.
Daug, F#aug and A#aug are the same chord because they all have D, F# and A#.
D#aug, Gaug and Baug are the same chord because they all have D#, G and B.
Below are typical augmented and diminished chord shapes.
Here are two popular jazz standards combining all of the chords we have learned. I add a walking base line and "comp' the chords to give it a jazz feel.
Let's look at the next Jazz Guitar Lesson entitled Jazz Guitar Scales!