Chord voicing affect sound?



  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    I almost never play chord inversions involving the high B and E strings unless I can't avoid it.
  • hmmm..why....just my ear they work in some places and not in others
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320

    Initially it's just how I learned for the classic jazz stuff (Freddie Green-ish) so I just like the crunchier lower register for the 'tones' as it is what my ear expects to hear. The higher notes are just too glaring to me in the rhythm section. Of course you want to hit all the strings hard to get that percussive effect but damp out the B and E strings. Besides, like Pompier notes above and is my inclination, it seems like the reality is most of the time if the player is actually fretting the notes on the B and E strings, let's say for example on a D7 the 9th (B string 5th fret) and 5th (E string 5th fret), they typically lay off the right hand on those strings to stay out of the way of the soloist in the higher register. At least I don't like all those higher notes in the rhythm section. But hey, it's all personal taste. Plus it's 'safer'. And 'crunchier' IMHO. Conversely, if one is fretting all those notes but then laying off the right hand on those strings so as not to ring out too much in the high register it sort of loses some punch and defeats the purpose of having a percussive sound.

    Also, in the example above, I would not want to impose the 9th on a soloist over a dominant chord especially in this style since the more common sound is the b9 or diminished. It wouldn't be safe to throw in a dominant 9th. As far as the extra 5th on the high E string, the bass player is already covering the root and the 5th and I've already got one 5th on the low E string so why would I need to put in yet another 5th 2 octaves higher? What's the point? I don't need it for percussion as I'm already whacking that string and I certainly don't need the tone.

    Does that make sense? Again, not knocking anyone's personal preference but if you are using 'color' tones or higher register tones in your rhythm playing please do it tastefully and with caution and ears wide open so that you don't fall into the trap of being too busy.
  • edited January 2018 Posts: 3,707
    IMO not only should a rhythm player try not to step on the soloist, the soloist should try not to step on the rhythm player. In fact I have come to a place where I think no one should step on anyone else in a band. Perhaps because I play with vocalists in every band I am in, my perception has changed but for me a combined harmonic statement that makes sense and contributes musically with good voice leading is the most satisfying. It takes effort from all band members to make that work.

    Sometimes it is fun to play something with a simple harmonic and rhythmic métier, and just let the soloist wander away but I find that for me,the most rewarding pieces whether listening or playing, are when everyone is adding to the conversation at a sensitive level. If a soloist cant react to a tastefully played 9th rather than a 7th he's either not listening or artistically limited. Just my $0.02

    Its a bit like composing on the fly rather than improvising on the fly if that makes any sense.

    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Posts: 4,816
    Yeah but when you do that (not playing the high strings) what happens to bossa and ballad tunes, medium tempo swing tunes and such?
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited January 2018 Posts: 3,320
    If the melody has a lot of space I might put in more tones but generally not. Again, I just don't feel the need to add tones in the higher register from the rhythm section but that's just my own preference. Plus it's easier on the left hand (and hence cleaner) and gives that nice 'dry' sound that we are looking for.
    Most soloists tend to fill in where necessary especially during solos. Not usually a lot of space there in GJ :-). If you are backing up an experienced soloist I just never feel the need to add much besides basic harmonic structure and pulse/timekeeping. If the soloist is a novice you might want to 'help' them out a bit but in reality a good lead player really even outlines the harmonic structure (arps) and along with the bass so I feel like my main job is percussion and time. Kind of like a drummer.

    Bossas, NP. Basic harmonic structure and percussion. Same deal.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    Honestly I think we could analyze it to the Nth degree but a lot of it is just personal preference. It's just the way I've always done it so my 'ear' expects to hear it that way. That is true for everyone to some extent. We 'want' to hear what our ear 'expects' to hear. If someone has always played big thick chords that's what they are used to. Nothing necessarily wrong with that and can actually be a big positive in the right setting. But it needs to be done tastefully and with big ears or you can easily clash. Thick chords are just more fraught with risk in that regard. Conversely, if I'm only playing 'safe' notes in the low register I won't hardly ever clash with or step on anyone. Plus as I grow older my old messed up hands aren't getting any stronger so I'm not about to change now :-)
  • I think you are absolutely right bout it being personal preference. There is a lot in what you are saying about simplicity @Bones.

    Certainly its a necessity in jams unless at a very high level.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Charles MeadowsCharles Meadows WV✭✭✭ ALD Original, Dupont MD50
    Posts: 432
    Thanks for the input. In the end I suppose the fingerings make not too much difference. It does seem to me that perhaps certain fingerings are perhaps more conducive to getting a more even sound on the 2 and 4 if that makes sense. Rhythm is harder for those of us in isolation who rely on Youtube and CDs for most of our teaching!
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    Jazza, yes DEFINITELY in jams!!! Nothing kills a jam like 4 or 5 rhythm players chunking big fat chords.

    Yeah Charles, I think we got off on a bit of a tangent but my original idea for your question is that to get a dry crunchy sound it is more about left hand damping and right hand technique I think. At least it is for me. If you are struggling with that then use simpler voicings so you are not struggling with the left hand grip and therefore you can concentrate on the right hand and left hand technique. You should be able to get the crunch that you want with whatever grip you are using. Generally, it seems like when the crunch goes away it is because the grip isn't comfortable. You sometimes hear that on the 1 beat (right after a chord change) where the player lets the 1 ring way longer (i.e. doesn't damp quickly enough). I think that is because the grip is tougher so they actually get to it a fraction too late (during a chord change) and hence damp a bit too late (or not at all).

    BTW, here's an example if I wanted a 'thicker' sound.

    Normally for an A7 I would play:

    But if I wanted more thickness I would play:
    5456xx (two 3rds an octave apart)

    You could add a 5th up in the higher register (B string) like the following but what if the soloist is emphasizing a b5 or #5 on the same string? Clash time. And, again, I just don't prefer that higher register in the rhythm section but that's just me. Plus that is a slightly more 'complicated' grip so harder to get to cleanly at faster tempos.

    Ok no more drinking tea and surfing the net. I'm off to the shop to make some wood chips :-)
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