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Music Theory for Guitar - Voice leading

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Previous page: Music Theory for Guitar - Primary Chords Next page: Music Theory for Guitar - 7 means 4: 7th chords

Voice leading

If you play all chords in the same inversion, all the notes in the chord have to move up or down a rather large interval if you Chaney from I to IV, I to V or back to I. The interval will be the same whether you play horizontally or vertically on your guitar. It does not sound very good if all the notes move up or down a perfect fourth or fifth.

You should think of the three (or more) notes of a chords as different voices. You could think of them as different instruments or different singers in a trio. Each voice play their own melody, and the melody voices add up to the harmony. The way the different voices move is what is called voice leading. If a melody move from one note to the one next to it, it is called a conjunct move. It it moves a third or more, it is called a disjunct move. Generally conjunct moves will sound better - but the music will be boring if you play conjunct moves only. If you play the chords in different inversions, you can get smaller intervals and better voice leading. We can look at a few examples.

In the first example we can go from C-major in root position to F-major in second inversion. The bottom note is C in both chords, and does not move. The function of the note changes from the root of the C-chord to the fifth of the F-chord, but it is still a C.

C-major
Root position
F-major
2. inversion
G - A
E - F
C = C

The E moves up just one half step to F, and the G move up one step to A.

Play it in reverse, going from F to C. Listen carefully to the half step move from F to E. It is as if the F wants to go to E. The F - the 4th note - is called the leaning note, as it is leaning towards the third.

The next example also starts from C-major in root position, but now we go to G-major in first inversion. The G is a common note between the C and the G chord, and can stay in the same position. It is the fifth of the C and the root of the G.

Now the E goes down to D and the C goes down to B.

C-major
Root pos
G-major
1. inv
G = G
E - D
C - B

Play this in reverse too, and listen to the half step move from B to C. It is as if the B wants to go home to C. The B - the 7th note - is the leading note of the scale, leading up to the tonic (root).

Do the same with other combinations of chords and iversions, and play them in different positions on the fingerboard. Listen carefully to the sound of each chord sequence.

Voice Leading For Guitar: Moving Through The Changes

Written by John Thomas

A must for every serious jazz guitarist! Just knowing how to play a chord is never enough to make good music.

A must for every serious jazz guitarist! Just knowing how to play a chord is never enough to make good music. Voice leading - moving individual chord voices smoothly from one chord to the next - is an essential skill for jazz guitarists. This book shows you how to voice lead both chord tones and tensions, and will haelp you add a new level of sophistication to your music. Just knowing how to play a chord is never enough to make good music. Voice leading - moving individual chord voices smoothly from one chord to the next - is an essential skill for jazz guitarists. This book/CD pack by Berklee associate professor of guitar John Thomas shows you how to voice lead both chord tones and tensions, and will help you add a new level of sophistication to your music. This book is designed for intermediate to advanced guitar players. The accompanying CD features jazz tunes, blues and rhythm changes that you can play along with.

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RefNr: HL50449498
Level: 4
Pages: 144
Format: Method
Medium: Book/CD
Series:
Publisher: Berklee Press
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