13 Jan La Vie en Rose – Gypsy and Jazz Chord Study
Let’s talk about your chord playing and about your chord vocabulary.
But , before we start, what are chords?
A better answer, for our needs, than the basic definition of a chord as a set of (at least) three notes played together, would be to think of chords more as a suggestion, a code, an invitation to explore and create various sounds.
If you play accompaniment for a song using the same few shapes in the same places on your fingerboard every time, then this article is for you. I would like to invite you to expand your chord vocabulary and explore different sounds, making your accompaniment playing more interesting.
What do you have in mind when reading the chord “G”? How many shapes do you think of?
A lot of us play one or two shapes all the time. But you have so many options! Why be satisfied with two?
The aim of this lesson is to help you expand your chord vocabulary, using chord inversions. We’ll learn a few chord shapes that you can use for each one of these three main chord types:
- Major chords: Chords you can play for all the major chords (tonic or subdominant major chords) which don’t function as Dom7.
- Dom7 chords: Chords you can play for major Dom7 chords in no matter what function they play in songs.
Minor chords – Chords you can play for all minor chords, whether they function as tonic or subdominant
Feel free to change the fingerings I use to make them comfortable for you
Let’s take a standard chord progression that we can play as an accompaniment to La Vie en Rose. We have nine chords in this song; let’s classify them into our three main chord types:
Major chords: G, C.
Dom7 chords: D7, F#7, G7, E7, A7.
Minor chords: Am, Cm
The following chord diagrams are all in the key of G. They suggest one chord shape for each inversion. Transpose them to all the other chord roots that we have in this song and combine them creatively:
Improvisation with chords
The ability to improvise when you play accompaniment – playing accompaniment to a song a little bit differently – with different chord shapes, bass lines and colors each time, gives you two important skills for jazz playing:
- Mastering the form of the song.
- Having the option to choose your preferred colors at any moment, according to the way your soloist is playing.
Knowing chord theory is very important if you want to expand your chord vocabulary further on. With this knowledge, you can change each chord, add colors and explore this magical world by yourself. Stay tuned for my book about chord theory – I’m working on it now.
Free Chord Book: