Jazz Guitar Comping Lesson 4: Altered Fifths on the Sixth String
In order to accomodate the minor tonality, jazz harmonies alter certain chord tones or tensions by raising or lowering them a half step. Altering the fifth is among the most common, as the fifth is a chord tone that is not essential in defining the quality of the chord. The third and seventh are the quality defining chord tones or “guide tones,” and in these voicngs they remain unaltered.
Listed above are the three most common altered fifth Drop-3 voicings with roots on the sixth string. You will see these utilized most frequently in “minor II-V-Is” where the minor 7 flat 5 is followed by either dominant 7th with altered fifths before resolving a perfect fifth to a minor 7 chord. We’ll explore some of these chord progressions in the accompanying examples.
In addition, let’s begin expanding our rhythmic palette. Another fundamental jazz rhythmic pattern starts with a dotted quarter on the downbeat proceeded by either an eight note attack or an eighth note tied to half note on the “and” of 2. Count this as “one, and” with the “and” following one extra beat. On paper it looks like this:
Let’s apply these rhythms and voicings to the following examples: