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wrestlingmatt51
10-01-2013, 02:21 PM
For those of you who play jazz ukulele, I was wondering how you play jazz chords. I'm not talkin maj7, I mean stuff like 11s and 13s. Since the uke is limited to four notes, I was wondering which parts of the chord should be played, and which should be left out. Thanks.

Jim Hanks
10-01-2013, 02:47 PM
You really have to choose which "color" to accentuate. For an 11, maybe that's the 4 and 7 and for 13, maybe 9 and 6 - or whatever. Usually you can leave out the root or fifth without losing the essence of the chord. Also if you are playing with someone else filling in some of the missing notes that might be a consideration.

Check out Curt Scheller's books and website for lots more info.

PhilUSAFRet
10-01-2013, 03:49 PM
You really have to choose which "color" to accentuate. For an 11, maybe that's the 4 and 7 and for 13, maybe 9 and 6 - or whatever. Usually you can leave out the root or fifth without losing the essence of the chord. Also if you are playing with someone else filling in some of the missing notes that might be a consideration.

Check out Curt Scheller's books and website for lots more info.

Wow, I am more impressed with your knowledge with each post. You are a handy guy to have around this place.

Jim Hanks
10-01-2013, 05:21 PM
Wow, I am more impressed with your knowledge with each post. You are a handy guy to have around this place.
:o if I could only play as well as I talk.

sugengshi
10-01-2013, 05:41 PM
You really have to choose which "color" to accentuate. For an 11, maybe that's the 4 and 7 and for 13, maybe 9 and 6 - or whatever. Usually you can leave out the root or fifth without losing the essence of the chord. Also if you are playing with someone else filling in some of the missing notes that might be a consideration.

Check out Curt Scheller's books and website for lots more info.

Well said! Well said! This concept is very important to grasp.

wendellfiddler
10-01-2013, 05:42 PM
Your question gets to the primary reason why jazz uke is so challenging. There are so many options and chords can be used in so many different ways - it's hard to keep it all in order. In some ways, despite having only four strings, it isn't that much different a question than jazz guitar players encounter. Many times Jazz guit players use only three strings.

One important factor is the chord progression - i.e., what's before or after the chord you are identifying. It's often desirable to find a chord that changes only a note or two from the previous chord - but not always because on the uke, subtle changes like for example, B-7b5 to G7b9 to G7 may sound better or be easier to discern if they aren't played in the same position - even though it's basically a change of only one note (A, Ab. G) if you play them between the third and fifth fret. I think of it as chord choreography. In this example, if the clarity of the second chord (G7b9) was important to the melody or the sense of change in the tune, it might be more effective to play it (a spider chord) on the first and second frets instead of the fourth and fifth.

Duk

sugengshi
10-01-2013, 08:16 PM
One important factor is the chord progression - i.e., what's before or after the chord you are identifying. It's often desirable to find a chord that changes only a note or two from the previous chord - but not always because on the uke, subtle changes like for example, B-7b5 to G7b9 to G7 may sound better or be easier to discern if they aren't played in the same position - even though it's basically a change of only one note (A, Ab. G) if you play them between the third and fifth fret. I think of it as chord choreography. In this example, if the clarity of the second chord (G7b9) was important to the melody or the sense of change in the tune, it might be more effective to play it (a spider chord) on the first and second frets instead of the fourth and fifth.

Rather than using B7b5 - G7b9 - G7, it may be better to use B7b5 - Bdim - G7. It's easier to understand and to finger. :cool:

cdkrugjr
10-02-2013, 01:24 AM
Much of the time "11" and "13" are "What the melody note is doing in relation to the note root." Another thing that can happen is you have two perfectly conventional chords, but between them the there's an "easy" (for a given instrument...) transition path that's really best described as "Play this...."

I also see that in anything written by Donald Fagin (Steely Dan). Most of his "This is a weird chord" turn out to be, "Oh sure, it's a 13 chord, but you only need to change one note, and the bass player's picking up the root change."

Look for "Bill Evans Chords" on google for a common variation, and of course the aforementioned "Jazzy Ukulele." John Mehegan's first volume of "Jazz Improvisation" series also talks about translating "sheet music chords" into something a jazz improvizer can use, though I suggest your local library for that one, as it's very piano-centric IMO.

wrestlingmatt51
10-02-2013, 12:58 PM
You really have to choose which "color" to accentuate. For an 11, maybe that's the 4 and 7 and for 13, maybe 9 and 6 - or whatever. Usually you can leave out the root or fifth without losing the essence of the chord. Also if you are playing with someone else filling in some of the missing notes that might be a consideration.

Check out Curt Scheller's books and website for lots more info.

Ok thanks a lot I'll check that out. Do you think I could leave out the root even if I'm playing solo?

wrestlingmatt51
10-02-2013, 01:00 PM
Your question gets to the primary reason why jazz uke is so challenging. There are so many options and chords can be used in so many different ways - it's hard to keep it all in order. In some ways, despite having only four strings, it isn't that much different a question than jazz guitar players encounter. Many times Jazz guit players use only three strings.

One important factor is the chord progression - i.e., what's before or after the chord you are identifying. It's often desirable to find a chord that changes only a note or two from the previous chord - but not always because on the uke, subtle changes like for example, B-7b5 to G7b9 to G7 may sound better or be easier to discern if they aren't played in the same position - even though it's basically a change of only one note (A, Ab. G) if you play them between the third and fifth fret. I think of it as chord choreography. In this example, if the clarity of the second chord (G7b9) was important to the melody or the sense of change in the tune, it might be more effective to play it (a spider chord) on the first and second frets instead of the fourth and fifth.

Duk
Ok thanks I think I get what you're saying

wrestlingmatt51
10-02-2013, 01:01 PM
Much of the time "11" and "13" are "What the melody note is doing in relation to the note root." Another thing that can happen is you have two perfectly conventional chords, but between them the there's an "easy" (for a given instrument...) transition path that's really best described as "Play this...."

I also see that in anything written by Donald Fagin (Steely Dan). Most of his "This is a weird chord" turn out to be, "Oh sure, it's a 13 chord, but you only need to change one note, and the bass player's picking up the root change."

Look for "Bill Evans Chords" on google for a common variation, and of course the aforementioned "Jazzy Ukulele." John Mehegan's first volume of "Jazz Improvisation" series also talks about translating "sheet music chords" into something a jazz improvizer can use, though I suggest your local library for that one, as it's very piano-centric IMO.

Yeah that makes sense. Thanks a lot I'll check that out

sugengshi
10-02-2013, 07:48 PM
You may also want to check out http://www.jazzyukulele.com. Glen Rose simplified the jazz chords into major and minor patterns with only few variations. Once mastered, you can play a lot of jazz songs.

Disclaimer: I am not related and affiliated with him. I just admire him as one of my jazz gurus. :D

cdkrugjr
10-03-2013, 01:12 AM
That too! When I've my keyboard player hat on, and I'm feeling grumpy about my guitarist, I can write "C13."

If I'm feeling more charitable, I'll write Dm/C or Dsus2/C or . . .
8-)

wrestlingmatt51
10-03-2013, 05:07 AM
You may also want to check out http://www.jazzyukulele.com. Glen Rose simplified the jazz chords into major and minor patterns with only few variations. Once mastered, you can play a lot of jazz songs.

Disclaimer: I am not related and affiliated with him. I just admire him as one of my jazz gurus. :D
Ok cool thanks

Ambient Doughnut
10-03-2013, 05:15 AM
I stumbled across the Glenn Rose tutorials on youtube recently and am having a lot of fun with them! :)

Ukejenny
10-03-2013, 05:18 AM
Wow, I am more impressed with your knowledge with each post. You are a handy guy to have around this place.

Agreed! Ukulele theory is a whole new world for me.

phil_doleman
10-03-2013, 07:49 AM
All good advice. most chords can be expressed in very few notes. If you have the 3rd and 7th of a 7th chord, that's enough to suggest the harmony (especially if playing with a bass player). I also have background in jazz guitar, and you be surprised how many of the chords commonly played use only 3 or 4 notes (the rest of the strings being muted)

I find that the physical limitations of the instrument force you decision, too. For example, the 9 (and b9 and #9) are most easily found on the same string as the root, so often when you add them, you end up losing the root. The 11th is often found on the same string as the 3rd, so you end up losing the 3rd. I find that it pays to pay attention to the melody above all else if you're playing solo (and, as has been said, the melody is often the note that turns a 'simpler' chord into a more complex one anyway!), and if you're playing rhythm, then think about the voice leading- sometimes the most important thing is the 'flow' of the chords, rather than making them more 'complete' but in the process forcing the changes all over the neck and making it sound clunky.

Also, it's amazing what the power of suggestion can do! If the audience know the tune, or you have played it through in a more straightforward way the first time around, you can really take liberties and the audience will go with you because they'll mentally 'fill in the gaps'!

wendellfiddler
10-03-2013, 03:06 PM
Rather than using B7b5 - G7b9 - G7, it may be better to use B7b5 - Bdim - G7. It's easier to understand and to finger. :cool:

You misunderstand. B-7b5 is B minor 7 b5 - it's the same chord as a dminor6 and close to a G9. Many people use the minus sign to indicate minor.

The fingering of the chord in question is fifth fret on the 1,2,3 strings and 4th fret on the 4th string. And sure, B dim is the same chord as G7b9 but it matters not much what you call it. Whether or not it's easier to understand probably depends on the understanding of the notes in the chord and how they relate. They are fingered EXACTLY THE SAME BECAUSE THEY ARE THE SAME SPIDER CHORD. That's actually the whole point. Jazz uke chords have soooo many options.

BTW, the Glen Rose stuff is great, except his arrangements are often not in the most commonly played keys. That's a problem if you intend to play with others, but doesn't matter much if you play alone or with folks who are willing or able to play in the key you find most uke friendly.

Also - picking chords from a chord chart has it's place, but more is gained by figuring them out yourself and learning the notes in the chords. Thus one discovers that a b9 chord is similar enough to a diminished chord that if you play the diminished shape that includes the b9 you will be golden - but you won't be playing the root.

Duk

wendellfiddler
10-03-2013, 03:18 PM
And, oh, it might be helpful to bring up the dominant chord issue. As far as I know, if an extended harmonic chord doesn't indicate otherwise (by defining major 7th - often indicated by a triangle - or Add9) then it is a dominant chord which means it contains the flat 7th - and that note is often important to include. For example in that spider chord that also a diminished, the flat 9 is there, but so is the flat 7. Only the root is missing.

Duk

Kimosabe
10-03-2013, 07:00 PM
Glen Rose is the way to go. One of his video courses deals with advanced chords. One thing you learn from Glen is chord substitution.

The simplest way to begin is to understand that 9ths and 13ths are substitutions for 7th chords, dominant chords. They're the fifth chords in the progression. They're the chord that provides the tension away from the one chord. Glen teaches you substitutions for the one chord, which are commonly major sevenths, sixths, or six /nine chords, all cool jazzy chords. When you start fiddling around by flatting or sharping notes in the dominant chords you get subtle differences or you get a momentary chord movement that leads to another chord that leads to another chord that gives a certain melodic or chromatic movement to the song. Glen teaches how standards are constructed from certain patterns that are used over and over again and that these patterns can be varied by learning advanced chords. I'm a student of and friend of Glen Rose. My other great teachers are Mark Kailana Nelson and Craig Brandeau. Neil Griffith provides some nice beginning lessons on chord soloing.

wendellfiddler
10-04-2013, 05:37 AM
All true, however it could be frustrating for a beginning jazz player to think that dominant chords (7ths, 9's,#11's, etc) are always or only used as dominant chords in the progression - they're called dominant chords because their origination is as a dominant chord in the scale in which they are the V chord - so they include the b7. However, in jazz, unlike lots of folk and blues, they're all over the place. In part because many if not most jazz standards move harmonically from one key to another (without changing the key signature of course) so the role of chords is more complex -- and very interesting. The substitutions for the root chord are useful in other places in the progression as well - where a dominant chord isn't appropriate. Harmony/chord theory is challenging, but I've found it to be an intriguing and rewarding study. Much fun! Keeps the brain exercised. A chord chart grid, or memorized patterns without understanding of how it works may not do that as much, but there's nothing wrong with doing it that way either.

One thing I've found helpful is software that shows you all the notes on the neck of any chord you choose (I use chord wizzard, but there are others). The advantage of that is that when you plug in a chord it doesn't just show you grids with options but you see all the notes that could be involved - then you can try different combinations in the context of what you're doing. It also shows you other chords that use some or all of the same notes, and you can see what happens chord-wise if you add a note that wasn't originally included! Very helpful if you don't have instantaneous recognition of all the notes on the fingerboard as well as the notes in every chord (which I certainly do not - but some people do - wow!).

Duk

Wicked
10-04-2013, 06:44 AM
BTW, the Glen Rose stuff is great, except his arrangements are often not in the most commonly played keys. That's a problem if you intend to play with others, but doesn't matter much if you play alone or with folks who are willing or able to play in the key you find most uke friendly.Duk

Not to wander too far off topic, but....

This is a bit of a pet peeve for me. Jazz standards are typically played... well.... standardly. The world plays "Take Five" in Eb minor. Period. Clearly, there are 11 other optional keys, but if you want to be taken seriously as a musician, then you better know how to play it in Eb minor. The true beauty of fretted instruments is that you can play in any key without even really having to think about it... just move your hand to a different place on the fretboard and have at it.

There are a couple of pseudo fake books that have recently hit the market that change the keys of standards to something presumed to be more ukulele friendly. This basically defeats the purpose of the fake book - which is to be able to pull it out and play with any group. Therefore, they are not fake books... just collections of lead sheets in non-standard keys.

I understand the desire to simplify things to keep people from being intimidated, but we really don't do anybody any favors by not exposing them to other keys. This isn't rocket science.

wendellfiddler
10-04-2013, 09:41 AM
Yah, playing standards in the most uke friendly key rather than the most commonly played key (sometimes there's more than one - Like Indiana in F or Ab) kind of put ya in the same category as vocalists :)

Duk

fromthee2me
10-05-2013, 02:58 AM
This thread is way above my head, but having learned and adopted using shapes, I could identify with Mike Lynch's two lessons on youtube where he takes you through the intro of a Kimo Hussey performance. I have not yet found how to fit those jazz chord shapes into the major, 7th , and minor shape progressions, that I often use, but that'l' come in time, I'm sure.