Chord Comping – Three Easy Tips

In this article we’re going to look at three easy ways to create two-handed chord comping. In order to do this we’ll need to learn our 4-way, close position, rootless voicings (big name, I know, but we’re going to make sense of all of it). These three easy tips for chord comping will allow you to capture the sound of the jazz pros. Let’s get started!

4-Way, Close-Position, Rootless Voicings

The title “4-way, close-position, rootless voicings” seems a bit scary. But here’s what it means: “4-way” means 4 notes. “Close-position” means chords that are within a one-octave range, as opposed to spread voicings. “Rootless voicings” means that these chords will have no roots.

For major and minor 7th chords, we have three steps that we’ll follow for building these chords.

First, build the chord in root position:

chord comping 1

Second, invert the chord so that the 3rd or 7th is the lowest note in the chord:

chord comping 2

Lastly, replace the root of the chord with the 9th:

chord comping 3

This leaves us with the same chord in 2 different inversions (3rd or 7th as lowest note). Follow these three steps for major 7th and minor 7th chord. For dominant 7th chords we follow the three steps above and add one additional step – replace the 5th with the 13th:

chord comping 4

Once you’ve learned these rootless voicings, you’re ready for the three easy chord comping tips below.

Chord Comping: Easy Tip #1

For two-handed comping, a common easy device is simply doubling the chord in both hands in octaves. So instead of playing something like this:

Chord Comping 5

You would play this:

Chord Comping 6

Chord Comping: Easy Tip #2

Since we learned that we can play all of our rootless voicings in one of two inversions (3rd or 7th as the lowest not in the chord) we can play one inversion in one hand, and the other inversion in the other hand. For example:

Chord Comping 3

Chord Comping: Easy Tip #3

We’re going to call this tip the “common tone” exercise. Here’s how it works: with your left hand you’re going to play any of the rootless voicings that we learned above.

Chord Comping 4

In your right hand you will choose a note that “works” when played with the chord from your left hand. Play this note in octaves. For example, over the D minor 7 chord we could play a ‘C’ in our right hand in octaves, because ‘C’ is the 7th of the chord.

Chord Comping 5

Now, the next step is that we only change the note in our right hand if we have to in order to accommodate the next chord. AND, if we have to change the note, we must move the note up or down by the smallest amount possible. So, is ‘C’ an available note that we can play over G7? Not really, because it will clash with the ‘B’ (the 3rd of the chord). So we have to change that note. We can go up to ‘D’ or down to ‘B.’ Since be is closer (a half-step) we’ll do that. And we can keep that ‘B’ for the C major 7th chord because it is the 7th of that chord.

Chord Comping 6

author avatar
Willie President
Willie Myette is a pianist, serial entrepreneur and author of over a dozen books on piano and music education. He received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music and graduated in under 4 years. Willie is the creator and president of online piano instruction sites Jazzedge® Academy, Jazz Piano Lessons and HomeSchool Piano.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top