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Set II Voicings (Guitar Lesson)

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Matt Brown

Set II Voicings

In this lesson, Matt will teach you set II voicings with both 6th string & 5th string root notes. You'll learn major, minors, suspensions, sharps, flats, 11ths, and 13ths.

Taught by Matt Brown in Jazz Guitar with Matt seriesLength: 27:08Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (13:48) Introduction Lesson 3 continues with the remaining Set II jazz chord voicings. Remember to vary the voicings you use while comping! Otherwise, your playing will sound boring and monotonous.

Note: Click the “Supplemental Content” tab for fingerings of all the chords presented in this lesson.

A. Set II Major Chords
Scene 1 presents the remaining options for a Major chord. Any chord that is written as a major chord in the lead sheet (i.e., CMA, C6, CMA7, etc.) can be substituted for any other major chord. The substituted chord must not clash with the melody however. Remember, in the jazz genre, the melody is sacred. Chords can be changed and substituted, but the melody cannot be changed. Be careful using chord voicings that include alterations such as CMA7(#11). The altered extensions in these chords provide color, but they frequently clash with the melody line.

The following chords are now viable options to add to your major chord vocabulary:

CMA13 (6th string root)
C6(#11) (6th string root)
B. Set II Dominant Chords
These chords can be substituted for any chord written as a DOM7. Once again, analyze the melody first to see if any of these options will clash with it. Frequently, if the tune calls for a dominant chord with altered extensions, the composer will write CALT. The “ALT” stands for altered. This indicates that a dominant chord with altered extensions must be played (#9,b9,#11,#5).

The following chords are now viable options to add to your dominant chord vocabulary:

C7(#5) or C+7 or C7(+) (6th string root)
C7(#11) (6th string root)
C. Dominant 7 Suspended chords
These chords can only be used when C7SUS is written!

The most common suspension is the suspended fourth (SUS4). This means that the 3rd of the chord is omitted and replaced with the fourth. The sound of this chord is meant to leave you hanging. Hence the name “suspended”.

Here are some options for C7SUS:
C13SUS (6th string root)
C7SUS (6th string root)
Chapter 2: (5:11) Set II Voicings A. MIN7 Chords
When MIN7 is written, any minor chord can be used except for chords that function as minor tonics. Minor tonic chords are MI6, MIN6/9, MI13 and the MIMAJ7. These chords can only be played as tonic in a minor key. (Tunes in minor keys will be discussed in a later lesson.)

Note: CMIMA7 is a C minor triad with a major 7 interval added on top.

The following chords are now viable options to add to your MIN7 chord vocabulary:

CMIN11 (6th string root)
B. Minor Tonics:
CMI13 (6th string root)
CMIMA7 (6th string root)
Chapter 3: (8:07) String Root Voicings The previous two scenes dealt entirely with chords that have roots on the 6th string. This scene continues with all the Set II voicings that have 5th string roots.

A. Major Chords

This chord is spelled 1,3,5,6,9. The fifth scale degree is almost always omitted from this chord.
B. Tonic Minor Chords
C. Dominant Chords
D. Dominant 7 SUS Chords

At this point, you should have all of the Set I, rootless Set I, and Set II voicings memorized. Keep in mind that it is impossible to memorize all of these chords if you don’t use them in a practical musical setting. In the lessons to come, these chords will be used to comp over a jazz 12 bar blues and some other basic tunes.

Video Subtitles / Captions

Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

Mhayoung1012Mhayoung1012 replied on May 23rd, 2014

I also so get why the altered Cmaj7#11 is not C7#11. The chord looks dominant to me. Please help. Thanks

mattbrownmattbrown replied on February 20th, 2015're right. That chord is also mis-labeled.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on February 20th, 2015

ok...The wrong chords are fixed now. I'm currently working on compiling a review sheet of chords that I'll be adding to this lesson. That will be up in the near future.

Mhayoung1012Mhayoung1012 replied on May 23rd, 2014

the Cm9 is confusing me because it has a major 7th not a minor 7th. is it mislabeled in the supplementary? please help. in the last lesson the same exact chord has a minor 7th.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on February 20th, 2015

Hi! The Cm9 chord is mislabeled in the supplemental content. That's a Cm9(maj7). I didn't do the supplemental content for this particular lesson. I'll work on getting it fixed up over the next couple of days.

alex sousaalex sousa replied on September 2nd, 2012


feb52feb52 replied on April 9th, 2012

Matt, theres a lot of chords to remember in lesson 3, should learn 2or3 at atime and move on to lesson for

mattbrownmattbrown replied on April 10th, 2012

I know what you mean...The best way to learn new chords and actually retain them is to apply them to an actual tune. Otherwise, I think memorizing a bunch of voicings is kind of pointless. Don't overwhelm yourself...At first, play through a tune using just a handful of voicings that you might know from this lesson and the previous ones. Then, as you feel more comfortable, begin to substitute in new voicings. For instance, play a Cmaj7 or Cmaj13 instead of a C6....The focus must always be on playing actual music well. Like I said, keep it simple and effective at first. As you learn more rhythms, chord voicings, chord substitution principles, you can start to make your comping more and more elaborate. Hope this helps! Oh...and don't forget to listen to the greats and imitate what you hear...Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery are a great place to start.

aristophanesaristophanes replied on July 13th, 2011

Matt, I appreciate your lessons. You're providing me with a wealth of information worth more than the price of admission.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on July 16th, 2011

Thanks for your kind words! Don't hesitate to ask if there's ever anything you need help with.

mr_marcmr_marc replied on January 16th, 2011

Hi Matt,I just finished the beginners phase 1, As a smooth jazz lover I'm really enjoying the jazz classes so far.Great job Matt!!

mattbrownmattbrown replied on January 17th, 2011

Hey! I'm glad to hear you're enjoying these lessons. Let me know if you need some help filling in some of the gaps between phase 1 and these jazz lessons...I recommend you check out the blues lessons on the site in addition to these jazz lessons. That should help out a lot with basic chords and improv.

marina_levaimarina_levai replied on November 11th, 2010

Hi Matt, great lessons! just one thing: how do I know when a chord should be played with either a major 7th or a minor 7th if it doesn't say so? for example (taken from the supplemental content of your lessons): the chord C Min 9 is played with a minor 7th, and the chord C Min 11 is played with a major 7th. How do I know when to use major or minor 7th?

mattbrownmattbrown replied on November 16th, 2010

Hi! The Cm11 chord actually features a minor seventh. Basically, when you see a minor chord indicated on a chord chart, you can use either Cm7, Cm9, Cm11, or Cm13. There are some exceptions though. If a minor chord functions as tonic (i) in a minor key, then you have to play either a Cm6, Cm6/9, or Cm(maj7). If a major chord is indicated on a chord chart, you can play C6, C6/9, Cmaj7, Cmaj9, or Cmaj13. You can also play Cmaj7(#11), Cmaj7(#5) as long as the altered noted in parenthesis doesn't clash with the melody. Hope this helps! Let me know if you are still confused!

akelleyakelley replied on January 22nd, 2010

wow i did the first 3 lessons in a few hours and my mind is gonna explode from all of these damn chords!! LOL!

mattbrownmattbrown replied on January 25th, 2010

I totally know what you mean. At this point, play through some tunes using the voicings that I have shown you. Maybe get a copy of the Real Book and start playing through some basic songs like "Take the A Train," "All of Me," "Here's That Rainy Day," etc. The best way to memorize chord voicings and to retain them is to use them in a practical musical context as possible. Memorizing a whole bunch of chord shapes really isn't all that beneficial unless you use them to play music.

nate_thegreatnate_thegreat replied on November 13th, 2009

hey guys, one of the the maj7#11's is supposed to be just 7#11. great lessons btw, I can honestly say I know too many chords

nolan1nolan1 replied on October 25th, 2009

Keep up the good work Matt; really enjoy this site

thisisliamthisisliam replied on September 13th, 2009

Hey matt, A bit confused on the C Maj 7 Sharp 5, 6th String Root, Wouldnt that be a C7 sharp 5? Just that it has the b7 like a dominant chord? Thanks Liam

mattbrownmattbrown replied on September 18th, 2009

You're absolutely right. That chord is mislabeled. I'll take a look at the rest of them and make sure they are all correct. Thanks so much for the heads up!

dash rendardash rendar replied on August 31st, 2009

Wow, that was a lot of chords. It's gonna be a while before I can play these all instinctively without having to work them out from first principles every time!

Jazz Guitar with Matt

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

In this lesson set, Matt will teach you everything you need to know to fluently play jazz guitar.

Lesson 1

Intro to Jazz

Check out this lesson to learn some basic jazz theory & chord voicings.

Length: 31:36 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Voicings & Melodies

Learn some more advanced chord voicings as well as the Charleston rhythm.

Length: 19:13 Difficulty: 3.0 FREE
Lesson 3

Set II Voicings

Learn a handful of Set II voicings & round out your knowledge of the basic jazz chords.

Length: 27:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

Applying Chords / Solo Ideas

Apply the chords you've learned & experiment with some solo ideas.

Length: 32:47 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Scales and Chords Together

Learn which scales work with which jazz chord voicings.

Length: 43:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Circle of Fifths

Matt sheds some light on the circle of fifths.

Length: 28:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Proper Practicing

Learn how to get the most out of your time when practicing.

Length: 31:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

Proper Practicing Part 2

Here's the second installment of Matt's proper practicing lesson.

Length: 32:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Physicalities of Playing

Learn how to avoid carpal tunnel and other hand injuries by using proper technique.

Length: 46:19 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

All of Me

Matt Brown teaches the jazz standard "All of Me."

Length: 31:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

Lead and Scales

Matt Brown explains how to improvise over the changes to "All of Me."

Length: 7:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Estudio No. 1.

Matt Brown begins talking about solo arrangements in this lesson. He teaches Carcassi's "Estudio No. 1" as an introduction to this concept.

Length: 18:10 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 13

Reviewing the ii V I Progression

Matt Brown returns to his Jazz series with a review lesson. He applies the standard ii V I progression to the circle of fifths.

Length: 18:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Turnback Progression

In lesson 14, Matt discusses the turnback progression in the jazz style.

Length: 22:20 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 15

Set Three Voicings

Matt brown discusses and demonstrates the set three voicings used in jazz guitar.

Length: 25:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Jazz Solo Arrangement

In this lesson, Matt demonstrates how to practice jazz solo arrangements by taking a look at "Here's That Rainy Day."

Length: 35:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Expanding on the 12 Bar Blues

In lesson 17, Matt reviews and expands on the jazz version of the 12 bar blues form.

Length: 23:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Adding Voices

In this lesson, Matt adds to your voicing repertoire while playing the Charleston rhythm.

Length: 14:22 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Key of B Flat Major

Matt Brown talks about lead options when playing a blues in B flat major.

Length: 23:35 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Key of F

Matt Brown provides instruction and examples of playing jazz heads in the key of F. Once again, all examples follow the 12 bar blues form.

Length: 18:22 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 21

Jazz Heads in B Flat

Matt Brown takes another look at blues heads in the key of B flat. In this lesson, he covers a head by Thelonious Monk.

Length: 10:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 22

Tools for Solo Arrangements

Matt Brown takes a look at a solo arrangement and provides thoughts and tools necessary to complete this type of guitar playing.

Length: 23:13 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Introduction to Bossa Nova

Matt Brown starts breaking down the rhythmic tendencies and patterns to the Brazilian Bossa Nova style of playing.

Length: 17:56 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Lesson 24

Blue Bossa #1

In lesson 24 of his Jazz series, Matt takes a look at the melody to Blue Bossa.

Length: 9:12 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Lesson 25

Blue Bossa #2

Matt Brown takes a look at the available chord voicings for Blue Bossa.

Length: 10:39 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only

About Matt Brown View Full Biography Matt Brown began playing the guitar at the age of 11. "It was a rule in my family to learn and play an instrument for at least two years. I had been introduced to a lot of great music at the time by friends and their older siblings. I was really into bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins, so the decision to pick up the guitar came pretty easily."

Matt's musical training has always followed a very structured path. He began studying the guitar with Dayton, Ohio guitar great Danny Voris. I began learning scales, chords, and basic songs like any other guitarist. After breaking his left wrist after playing for only a year, Matt began to study music theory in great detail. I wanted to keep going with my lessons, but I obviously couldn't play at all. Danny basically gave me the equivalent of a freshman year music theory course in the span of two months. These months proved to have a huge impact on Brown's approach to the instrument.

Brown continued his music education at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He completed a degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 2002. While at Capital, he also studied jazz guitar and recording techniques in great detail. "I've never had any desire to perform jazz music. Its lack of relevance to modern culture has always turned me off. However, nothing will improve your chops more than studying this music."

Matt Brown currently resides in Dayton, Ohio. He teaches lessons locally as well as at Capital University's Community Music School. Matt's recent projects include writing and recording with his new, as of yet nameless band as well as the formation of a cover band called The Dirty Cunnies.

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