Regarding Chord Melody and Chord Chart PDFs

Question by Alek

Chord Melody

Several questions regarding your PDFs on the Jazz Standards section of

  • Why do the chords differ slightly between the Chord Melody and the Basic Chord Chart (Autumn Leaves for example)?
  • Would one use the Basic Chord Chart chords when comping?
  • Could one use “three-note” chords, say A#,D#,G for Cm7, etc., when comping?

These may seem like simple questions, and seem to be taken for granted on many instructional sites, but for someone learning jazz guitar on their own they are essential.


M-A Answers:

Hello Alek,

Very good questions, and indeed, for the self-learner it is essential to know where we are going with all this stuff! Here:

  • The chords found in the Chord Melody (first page of PDF) are the “best fit” to harmonize the melody of the tune as the highest note of the chord voicing. They do not necessarily represent a chord that can be used often and they are chose for the specific arrangement.
  • So, yes: the Basic Chord Chart chords (second page of PDF) can be used as you most basic “chord grip” to comp behind a soloist. They do not reflect what was done with the melody in the Chord Melody arrangement.
  • You can absolutely use the “three-note” (1-3-7 or 1-7-3) for comping. I call them shell voicings. See the Book “Three-Note Voicings” by Randy Vincent.

And now for the scolding: although the notes you used for the Cm7 chord are enharmonically correct, it is better to spell chords relating to the original key … and use flats or sharps accordingly.

This Cm7 chord in the tune Autumn Leaves is in fact the ii chord in the key of Bb. The Bb major scale goes:
Bb C D Eb F G A


So the Cm7 is 4 notes, diatonic (in the key) in Bb. Try as you might, you will not find notes like A# and D# in the key of Bb major!!! (You’d only find them in the key of A# major, which would have three double sharps at the armatura … and Cm7 would need to be called B#m7 … yuk!)

So, do me a favor, and just spell Cm7 as C – Eb – G – Bb


There, feeling better now!

Marc-Andre Seguin
“Improve Your Jazz Guitar Playing with a REAL Teacher”

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