Translate Piano Voicings to Solo Jazz Guitar

Fingerstyle Jazz Essentials Book Cover

by Sean McGowan

McCoy Tyner influenced an entire generation of jazz musicians with his innovative work as the pianist in John Coltrane’s legendary quartet. One of Tyner’s trademarks was his comping based on voicings featuring stacked fourths—three- to five-note chord voicings consisting strictly of fourth intervals (for example, C–F–Bb–Eb). These types of voicings work well for solo guitar because they sound modern and are easy to play.

Piano Voicing ex6_7
Click to enlarge.

Example 6 moves through a C Dorian scale (1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7) harmonized in fourths. You’ll see that almost every voicing features a pair of stacked fourths—the third and seventh voicings are exceptions in that each has one fourth and one tritone (a raised fourth or lowered fifth) so that we can stick to the notes of the scale. Try not to think of these as separate chord voicings with their own roots and extensions, but rather a family of voicings derived from the C Dorian scale. These types of voicings sound great over vamps, like the Dm7 vamp shown in Example 7.

Excerpted from Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Essentials: Complete Edition

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