Spice Up Your Voicings With George Van Eps Style Chords
In today’s instalment of the 30 Days to Better Jazz Guitar Comping program we’ll be checking out how to add cool pianist technique called inner string movements or George Van Eps Style Chords to our chord voicing’s on the guitar
Inner string movement is simply moving notes within a ‘static’ position chord to create passing tones.
The following chord diagram shows a drop 3 G major 7th voicing which you will probably be used to fingering with your first finger on the root (G), third finger on the seventh (F#) and little finger on the third (B).
For the purpose of this exercise you will need to re-finger this so you have your second finger on the root (G), third finger on the seventh (F#), and your little finger on the third (B).
The advantage to playing the chord this way is that it frees the first finger. When you apply the new fingering to the G major 7th chord keep the first finger on the ‘E’ below the ‘F#’.
This allows you to transform the major 7th chord into a major 6 chord by only changing one note.
The fingering provides very good voice leading, but the key here is making sure you pull off the F# into the E note and keep the other chord notes sustaining for a smooth transition between the chord types.
This George Van Eps style chord technique can be applied to minor chords too, just finger the chord the same way by placing your second finger on the root, G, third finger on F, the seventh and your little finger on Bb, the third of the G-7 chord. The technique also works with dominant 7th chords.
Now that you have all three chord types under your fingers, let’s check out how to apply these George Van Eps style voicings over a harmonized major scale
This technique should be practiced in a few different keys moving up and down the neck.
Ascending and descending harmonized scale George Van Eps style movements are often applied to static points within chord melody arrangement or a comping situation.
Inner string movements can be applied to the adjacent set of strings, but for this example the key has been changed from G to C major so that we don’t start too high up the neck.
Finger the first C major 7th chord by placing your second finger on the root (C), third finger on the seventh (B), small finger on the third (E), and have your first finger resting on the sixth (A), behind the seventh.
As with the G major 7 drop 3 example, the next step is to apply this technique over the other chord types, dominant 7th, and minor 7th.
As with the first set of inversions practice this in all 12 keys and then take it through the harmonized C Major scale
When you comfortable with incorporating inner string movement on both string sets each one can be taken step further by adding another cool passing note in each voicing.
As with the first example this will sound much smoother if you make sure the other chord notes sustain when you hit the passing notes on the ‘D’ string. To do this just keep your fingers around the chord as you hit the passing notes.
Use the same fingering as with first example in G for this and I hit the additional passing note which is Eb in the example of the first chord by sliding my first finger back.
Continue going up the harmonized G major scale using this technique then you’re your way back down the neck. When you feel comfortable with this string set apply the same technique to the example in C major on the adjacent string set.
Applying George Van Eps Style Movements to a Diminished Chord
Besides the three main chord types, major 7th, dominant 7th, and minor 7th inner string movements can also be applied to diminished chords.
In case you do not know the voicing, here’s the diminished chord shape that this technique is going to be applied to.
To apply the technique to the diminished chord loose the b5 (Gb), and add the B as a passing note.
To finger the new diminished shape place your second finger on the root (C), third finger on the B natural passing note, fourth finger on the minor third (Eb), and have your first finger on the A note underneath the B.
Diminished chords are symmetrical so you can use the same shape all the way up the neck, just move it up a minor 3rd or up three frets and apply the inner string movement technique
George Van Eps Style voice movements are some of my favorite voicings to play on the guitar. They make great solo jazz guitar intros, and add that something extra to your chord vocabulary.
I hope you’ve had fun with these chords and it’s been of some use to you in your development in learning jazz guitar.
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Have you come across inner string voicing’s before? Do you have your own variations on them? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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