4 Minor Swing Chord Studies for Jazz Guitar
4 minor swing chord studies for jazz guitar are presented in this article. Each study varies in difficultly. The first three etudes are for beginner to intermediate students. The third study is more harmonically advanced with faster chord changes aimed at advanced players who want to develop their jazz chordal chops.
All four of the Minor Swing chord studies are applied to the blowing section of the tune. Although the chords to the intro and outro are not included, the chords and modulations that occur in them are all found within the four studies in this lesson.
Minor Swing Chord Progression
The chord chart below shows the chords to the most harmonically stripped down version of Minor Swing. The chords used in this version are perfectly acceptable to play at a jam session or gig. Most gypsy jazz musicians will be playing a chord progression that is very similar to this one.
Minor Swing is a 16 bar minor progression usually played at a medium to fast tempo. The second and fourth lines in the progression are exactly the same. The first line is reversed on the third line.
The most common jazz gypsy comping rhythm is four to bar or Freddie Green style which is featured in most of the studies.
Minor Swing Chord Study 1
The first minor swing chord study is arranged for a beginner to intermediate level guitarist. Playing gypsy jazz rhythm guitar is mostly about creating a strong percussive feel.
Only use down strums and take the fingers off the chord after each down stroke to keep each strum short and percussive. Keep the fingers roughly over the chord so quick access is guaranteed for the next down strum.
The chords used in this etude are mostly triads.
Minor Swing Chord Study 2
The second minor swing chord study uses the same chords as the first example and features alternating between on the two low strings. The bass movement on each chord is root to fifth, like in bossa nova comping.
Playing root to fifth bass lines with chords is common in this older style of comping and can be heard in other genres besides gypsy jazz such as bluegrass, folk, and country.
In the recording I palm muted the chords so that I had more control over the sustain.
Minor Swing Chord Study 3
Minor Swing chord study 3 shows the most common way to play the chord progression. The study exclusively uses shell voicings on the middle strings of the guitar.
Using shell voicings without any extensions with a four to a bar comping feel creates a great and authentic gypsy jazz feel.
A ii-7b5 has also been added before E7 providing us with a full minor ii V I progression.
Minor Swing Chord Study 4
The final minor swing chord is much more harmonically advanced than the first three studies. All of the new chords are passing chords used to create more movement and interest.
Although the final study may seem confusing at first, this is still essentially the same Minor Swing chord progression.
I learned the walk up in this lesson from watching this youtube jazz guitar lesson.
As harmonically rich as this study is, it isn’t the safest best to play in the first chorus of comping at a gypsy jazz jam session and therefore needs to be handled with care.
Try throwing it one or two of the harmonic embellishments at a time before playing the full etude. The full progression will work fine in a duo situation with another guitarist.
The first two bars feature a chromatic walk up to the IV chord. The last chord of the walk up is a C#dim7 which is functioning as an A7b9 chord.
This provides a smooth V-I cadence to D minor in the next bar.
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