Go to the Playground and Swing Music

Swinging music is used in many genres. It is a great way to add rhythmic variation to your rock solos and it is the primary rhythmic source used in jazz. A lot of people tend to get all philosophical when they talk about swing, but in this article I will explain practical thing you need to know about swing. What is swing and how do you do it? Read on to find out the answers to these questions.

Swing is a style of music based on the triplet feel. There are different ways you can swing, but all swing is based on the triplet. All triplet options work for the swing feel. You can play quarter note triplets, 8th note triplets or 16th note ones.  If you are not sure what a triplet is, an 8th note triplet is 3 notes per beat. The way I think of it is saying tri-path-let each beat. The tri being the first beat of each beat. All these notes are exactly equal in length. What are some different ways to swing?

You can swing a couple different ways. First you can play the normal triplet. However you will need more options than just that. So you have 3 equal notes per beat. The first way to swing, and is the most common, is to play the 1 and 3. You do not play the middle note of the triplet. In jazz music all written 8th notes are played like this. Another way you can swing music is to play the 1 and 2 and skip the 3. This isn’t as common, but is still used a lot. Both of these options are usable with all options of the triplet. Quarter note, 8th note and 16th note can all use these 2 options.

Swing is the primary rhythmic option in jazz. Everything in jazz is based on swing. Swinging music is not just a jazz concept though. There are examples of rock guitarists that swing, and swing is used in country music all the time. Swinging can add that extra little spice to your playing. Being rhythmic is always a good way to improve your solos.

Swing music is all based around the triplet. There are different ways you can swing, but they all revolve around the triplet feel. You can count triplets by saying tri-pa-let. You can also count it by saying banana or any other 3 consonant words. It can be used in virtually any style of music and can spice up your playing if used well.  Blessings!

Shell Chords the Power Chords for jazz guitar

Power chords are the simplest way to comp in a band setting, but regular power chords don’t work in jazz. There is a set of chord voicing’s known as shell chords that are used in jazz. Shell chords are the simplest type of chord used in jazz, and it is a foundation to be used to build your own guitar chords. In this lesson you will learn what makes a jazz power chord, how to finger them and how to use them to create your own new chord voicings.

Most jazz chords are built off of the shell chord. It is a 3 note chord that contains the root, third and seventh. This chord style originally came from a big band guitar player named Freddy Green. These shapes are typically played on lower strings with the root on the low E or A string. These chords are not extremely useful in non jazz music. So how to you play these?

Typically the lowest note is going to be the root note, and the 2 higher notes will switch depending on the chord shape. These are played with the index, middle and ring fingers. Most of the time shell chords have their root on the low E string or the A string. On rare occasions you will find a shell voicing on higher strings. This is just the typical. If you find that shell voicings in higher registers sound better to you then you should use them.


a Shell Chords shape for a major 7th chord.

A shell chord for the major 7th chord.

Shell chords shape for major 7th chord.

A shell chord for the major 7th chord.

Shell voicing shape for a dominant 7th chord.

Here is a shell chord for dominant 7th chords.

A shell chords voicing for dominant 7th chords.

A dominant 7 chord shell voicing

Shell voicing for minor 7 chords

A shell voicing for minor 7 chords.

Shell voicing for minor 7 chords

A jazz power chord for minor 7 chords.

These jazz power chords can be played by themselves, or you can use them to build more complex jazz chords. How do you build upon them? You can use your pinky or hold down one of your fingers to add-on notes. With this you can stretch with your pinky, or skip strings. To get the most benefit from these chords I suggest you memorize which notes are what scale degree. Here are some examples that use these chords and build upon them.

Extended shell voicings

An extended shell voicing.

Extended shell voicings

Another example of extended shell voicings

If you need to comp with a jazz band, or if you need to play a complicated jazz chord, shell chords are a great place to start. They consist of tones 1, 3 and 7. You can build upon these chords easily to make any chord you need. Memorize all the chord tones to get the most benefit from it. This will be a base for your jazz chords so you can rely on these whenever you need a new chord. Discuss this topic below.