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

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

mattbrownmattbrown replied're right. That chord is also mis-labeled.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

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

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

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


feb52feb52 replied

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

mattbrownmattbrown replied

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

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

mattbrownmattbrown replied

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

mr_marcmr_marc replied

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep up the good work Matt; really enjoy this site

thisisliamthisisliam replied

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

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

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

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

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

Length: 31:36 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Voicings & MelodiesLesson 2

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Set II VoicingsLesson 3

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

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Length: 18:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
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Length: 23:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
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Key of FLesson 20

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Jazz Heads in B FlatLesson 21

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Blue Bossa #2Lesson 25

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Matt Brown

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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