Skip to main content
Steve Weiss Mallet Workshop


So I heard it said somewhere that great comping should include a variety of both opened and closed voicings. I think I'm at the point now where I can play and voice lead open and close voicings in all their permutations and variations (i.e. w/extensions) pretty well. However, I sometimes have trouble combining them in a coherent and musical way. Anybody have any advice re: this? I haven't seen it discussed anywhere on the site. I know the obvious answer: use your ear. I suppose then I'm looking for tips that will help me develop my ears to hear the combinations better.


rogersvibes Sun, 08/25/2013 - 04:12

Since no one has chimed in yet, here are a few ideas I've come up with:

1. Follow the "soprano voice" in the voicing, as you hear it develop, and play whatever voicing suits the note or is easiest to "grab", given the harmony.

2. Alternate according to the form of the tune. So, if you play mostly open voicings on the A section, play closed on the bridge, and vice versa. This seems analogous to a drummer switching cymbals.

3. Let the range limitations of the vibes dictate what you play. I've found that once you are getting pretty low, crunchy closed voicings make logical and musical sense.

Lastly, this is hard to incorporate into practice, but obviously whatever the soloist is playing should influence the type of texture we choose to employ. I think a step before this though has to be developing the ability to seamlessly switch back and forth. And I can't do that yet.