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Improve Your Improvisation With Movable Chord Extensions

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In this quick JGT lesson, guitarist Vince Lewis will help you become a strong and effective improviser. Audio example included.

As a young aspiring Jazz Guitar student, I was totally in awe of all the new sounds of the chords that I was hearing in the new music I began to listen to.  So many folks will buy chord books with tons of shapes and fingerings that may be technically correct but difficult to play.  This can lead to much frustration and disappointment with their progress and be quite discouraging in many cases.  I believe that having a solid vocabulary of the most common movable shapes of all types of chords is a terrific aid in learning to be an effective Jazz player.  As an accompanist, and soloist as well, extended chord knowledge is critical in your development.

The most important part of becoming a strong and effective improviser is having as many colors and sounds in your vocabulary as possible.  These chord shapes are using no open strings, and so they are movable around the neck just the same as any barre chord you play.  One main reason for using these chords to replace the basic harmonies in the original music is to give you more “Target Tones” to visualize and head towards when planning your solo lines.  The larger chords also fill out the accompaniment greatly and give the option for individuality depending on your personal preference for different sounding substitutions.  You will take a closer look at some general rules for chord substitutions later on.

Here now is a chord chart of many shapes of the most important extended chords you will use in playing Jazz.  Do not try just to memorize the shapes here. Simply use it as a reference as you will be using and playing the chords in the more common progressions of Jazz Standards.  I have found most players progress much more quickly by playing songs and interesting music rather than just spending time being bored with too many repetitive technical exercises.

Movable Chord Extensions Shapes

Arrangement by Vince Lewis

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