Guitarist Zakk Jones shares the concept and applications of “drop voicings” – focusing specifically on the double drop 2/drop 3
In the quest for harmonic mastery on the guitar, the concept and application of “drop voicings” are ubiquitous across all genres and levels of player. Given that this is such an axiomatic technique with endless literature on the topic, I will jump right into one of the most underused and elusive drop voicing types–double drop 2/drop 3.
What?? You’re probably wondering if this isn’t just some fancy name for a drink at your new local gentrified cocktail lounge “oak & storm”. No folks, this is really a voicing type! There are actually 5 unique drop voicing categories:
Double drop 2/drop 3
Keep in mind that if you were to spread out a 4-note chord any more than this, you would be displacing multiple notes by octaves and you would not find any new organizational order. If my math is correct, there are only (hah!) 24 possible ways to organize 4-notes with all inversions if you include closed position voicings.
As the name suggests, you will be starting with any 4-notes (a stock 7th chord is best to start with) and dropping the 2nd note from the top two octaves, and the 3rd note from the top one octave.
C E G B becomes G E C B
These sounds are incredibly lush and rewarding to play once you get the hang of some very tricky fingerings and stretches. As with any chordal concept, you can take these through all the same voice leading and note alterations that you would do with any other drop chords! However, there is only one string set possible on a standard 6-string guitar, as the spread nature of these voicings will always include both the low and high e strings.
In my 18-minute video, I highlight some possible alternate fingerings when they are available. In addition, I breakdown all of the inversions for the 5 basic 7th chord types with the same root – Cma7, C7, Cm7, Cm7b5, and Cdim7. I then play through ii-V-I voice leading in the keys of C and C minor.
Go slowly with these, and only grab the ones that you can reasonably play without hurting yourself. I always suggest thinking of chords melodically, by hearing your top note as a melody that is being harmonized in some way underneath.
Once you start getting a grasp on these, you’ll begin to recognize them in the uber-modern playing of Allan Holdsworth, or all the way back to the source of Western harmony as we know it…Bach!
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