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Inspired by Tony's video on the subject, I'm working on left hand guide tone technique for solo playing. So what do you think: on a flat five chord, does playing the 3 and the b5 or playing the b5 and 7 make the most sense to your ears? To me the b5 has to be in there somewhere for the color, but both options sound odd (or maybe weak) to my ear.


Wyld_Thing Sun, 02/20/2011 - 05:28

I've played this through a few times and had a think. The problem is that 7, maj7 and min7 chords only have two key notes, but the half dim has a b5 as well as the 7th and 3rd.

If you play 3 and b5, then you miss out the 7th which resolves nicely down to the 3rd of the following dominant, which isn't ideal. Equally missing out the 3rd altogether leads to a weakened sound, but at least there's nice voice leading in the top note.

I found that the best way to make it work is make sure which ever note you're missing out is in your soloing right hand. This way, I find the nicest voicing is the 3rd and the 7th in the left hand and the b5 in the right.

Does that make sense/help?

p.s. having written this I've realised I've assumed you're using the b5 chord as in a minor II-V... is that what you were going for?

tedwolff Sun, 02/20/2011 - 13:48

I may be in a minority here, but I've never felt that 2-note left hand voicings fully define a chord sound. You need at least 3 notes to flesh out a chord. So...your right hand needs to be doing double duty - playing an interesting line AND adding another necessary note or 2 to support and expand the notes in your left hand.

Thus, your 2 hands are working both together and independently at the same time with your left providing the essence of the chord which is often 3 and 7 but can be other things too (like your suggestion of 1 and 5 for a -7b5 chord) or something else entirely. The right hand, even though it is probably playing a melody or improvised line, needs to also coordinate with the left hand to make sure the overall sound of both hands correctly expresses the chord of the moment. It can be a tough balancing act to accomplish all that.