No doubt about it, the Take the A Train chord progression is one of the most commonly played set of changes in jazz.

Besides being a great tune in it’s own right, the A section of the Take The A Train chords is used in countless other tunes. Songs such as The Girl From Ipanema, So Danco Samba and Exactly Like You all use the A section Take The A Train chords.

This article will focus on 3 different ways that you can comp, what’s known amongst jazz musicians, as the “Take The A Train chords”.

Like my Autumn Leaves chord article, the etudes in this lesson will help prepare you to comp the changes in different performance situations. Each of these Take The A Train chords studies should be practiced slowly and cleanly as demonstrated in audio example for the secound study.

All the examples are written using simple rhythms, but you should experiment with different jazz guitar rhythms. So, grab your guitar, tune up, and get your ready to better your jazz guitar comping chops!



Take The A Train Chords Analysis


Before looking at specific ways to comp the take the A train chords it is important to understand what is harmonically happening in the progression.

Take the A Train is a 32 bar tune that use the AABA song structure.

The A sections to this chord progression are essentially in C major and the B section is F major.

The exact same modulations happen in the Hank Williams classic “Hey Good Lookin”.

The bridge presents us with four bars of Fmajor7.

While some jazz guitarists will enjoy playing one inversion of Fmajor7, this is an excellent opportunity to practice different inversions of this chord type.

Because this song only modulations between two different keys it is very easy to transpose to different keys.

The “Girl From Ipanema” uses the Take The A Train chords in the A section in the key of F instead of C.

The chart included here should be close to what jazz musicians use when you go out to a jam.

But there is nothing to stop you experimenting with various substitutions and superimpositions.

The chord in the second bar of this set of changes is usually written as a Lydian Dominant chord.

But for the purposes of this article it as a regular 7th chord so the study can be applied to other tunes that use the same chord progression.

If you are new to playing the Take The A Train chords try playing through the progression using the four to a bar comping style first.


Take The A Train Chords



Take The A Train Chord Progression Study 1


This first take the A train chords study uses 4th voicings, drop 2 chords and dominant 7b9 chords.

Mixing up different chords is an effective way to create movement and interest within your chord solos and comping.

Each bar in this chord study starts with a 4th voicing then goes to a drop 2 chord.

Those who have taken a Skype guitar lesson with me will know that I prefer using dominant 7b9 chords in place of drop 2 dominant 7th chords.

This is why the formula is slightly different for the dominant 7th chords.

To practice this take the A train chords study I recommend that you apply these to different strings of the guitar.

You can also start with a drop 2 chord then pick a 4th voicing to mix things up.


Take The A Train Chords Study 2Example 1


Take the A Train Chords Study 2


This next Take The A Train chords study is a pianistic way to approach comping that uses 3 note voicings on strings 1, 2, and 4 of the guitar.

Hybrid picking or finger style right hand techniques are recommend to play through this Take The A Train chords study.

Sus chords are used exclusively in this chords study to give it an open and contemporary sound.

Though they can work well, the chords over the dominant 7th chords will not work all the time.

But, if you practice them and get the sounds into your ears, you will be able to hear when to use them in the right situations.

Like with the first Take The A Train chords study, I recommend that you practice this example on a different string set of the guitar.

You can also start by playing lower on the neck and move up to create a different effect.


Take The A Train Chords StudyExample 2


Take the A Train Chords Study 3


To conclude this article, here is a take the a train chords study that helps you create movement on the lower strings of the guitar.

This etude uses the four to a bar comping style with a passing chord on the last beat of the bar.

Aside from the ending jazz guitar chord, all the chords are 3 note voicings on strings 3, 4 and 6.

Once you can play this take the a train chords study, I recommend figuring out another 3 note voicing study on strings 2, 3, and 5.


Take The A Train Chords Study 3example 3


I hope that you enjoy playing through each of these take the A train chords studies for jazz guitar.

If you are looking for a further study of ‘Take The A Train’ check out Matt Warnock’s in depth article.


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