The Crazy World of "Jazz Power-Chords"

The Jazz Power-Chord Concept

Power Chords are not limited to Rock and Blues. We can create unique cut-down versions of jazz chords that will also produce a similar effect...

If you're like a lot of guitar players, you probably started life on guitar by playing rock songs. Those easy three chord riffs and licks that make up rock tunes generally revolve around the infamous power-chord. 

For the uninitiated, that's a Root and a fifth (taken from either the major or the minor scale, and used on its own to replace larger chords like major and minor triads). 

The principle of the power-chord is simple. It's a standard chord (cutting out the 3rd) to produce an interval rather than a full chord type. 

In Jazz we can sort of do the same thing, by taking a more interval based approach to the larger 7th-chords. Some jazz players refer to this approach as using "Shell Chords." Another nickname for this idea is calling these smaller jazz chord voicings, "Jazz Power Chords." In this lesson, we're going to apply this concept, along with a few other cool ideas.

PART ONE: The first example works through the isolation of the primary chord tones found in seventh chords. These include the "Root, 3rd and 7th." Example one, breaks down Major, Minor and Dominant 7th chords to smaller isolated chord voicings. The new smaller "Jazz Power-Chord" patterns are easier to perform and have a smaller footprint on the neck. 

Example two explores mixing the intervals of three chords from the key of "E Minor." The progression not only applies small pieces of each chord used in the riff, it also displaces the chord tones through the octave range of each phrase. A focus is placed upon adding or subtracting various chord tones through only slight position shifts on the neck

PART TWO: Example three operates with small interval movements through a phrase that blends specific chord tones using inside and outside harmony. This sound is popular to Jazz-Fusion and introduces wider (more intervallic) chord voicings that will tend to use various suspended chords. This progression in ex. 3 also applies a unique jazz oriented root and 5th style power chord played between the 4th to 2nd string. 

Example four examines harmony outlines using intervals and licks to connect the chord types of Minor, Major and Dominant 7th chords. The harmonic effects can become highly customized this way since the outlines will use scale tones to produce suggested harmonies. The chord tones are still very limited, but the sound becomes both sophisticated and powerful in how it complements available tones. This effect works well in both ensembles and for solo guitar performances.

The Crazy World of "Jazz Power-Chords"

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