Lesson #1 - Hybrid Chords and the II-V-I  

by Az Samad

Welcome to the first in a new series of exclusive guitar lessons for the William Jeffrey Jones Guitar website! In this first lesson, we'll explore some ways to spice the classic Jazz chord progression, the major II-V-I! You can listen to all the examples and learn them with the aid of both the audio clips as well as the musical notation (and tablature!)

In this lesson, we'll be using chord voicings called hybrid chords, also known as 'triad over bass' chords. These are essentially triadic structures (three note chords) - in our case, Major and minor triads over the bass note of the progression. This is useful and strong sound as triads form a clear sound that is recognizable, portable and easy to use. The first part of the lesson introduces the voicings I've used and in the second part, I've written out lines that demonstrate the use of the line as a linear melodic phrase.

Let's look at the examples! For ease of understanding, I've written all the examples as Major II-V-I progressions in the key of C Major. (the notation and tablature for the voicings and the line examples is illustrated below, but all are available in one separate PDF file here.



Ex. 1 - This example combines some of my favorite sounds. C/D is a great alternative to playing Dmin7, Db/G implies a G altered scale (G Ab Bb B Db D# F G) and D/C implies a C Lydian scale.

Ex. 2 - F/D is essentially a Dmin7 but thinking of it as an F Major triad over a D bass note enables us to think of the triad structure. E/G can be looked at a G7(b9/13) chord, implying possibly a G half-whole diminished scale (G Ab Bb B C# D E F G).

Ex. 3 - G/D is not a very strong Dmin7 sound but is possible in this context when combined in a progression where it leads into a Ab/G (Gsus4/b9/b13) and then into G/C.

Ex. 4 - Here I used minor triads: Amin/D = Dmin9(no 3rd), Abmin/G = G7sus4(b13), Bmin/C = CMaj 9/#11 (no 3rd)

Ex. 5 - Similar to Ex. 3, I used only two triad to navigate the II-V-I.


Ex. 1 (Listen) - In this line, I used the C Major and Db arpeggio in a descending and then ascending direction followed by the arpeggios as linear open-voiced triads.

Ex. 2 (Listen) - Here I use repeated notes to create interest in the ascending F Major arpeggio and the for the next two triads, I utilized open voiced triads yet again.

Ex. 3 (Listen) - Rhythm is probably the most important element here accentuating the large interval skips by the open voiced triads.

Ex. 4 (Listen) - A straight forward example that may pose a slight technical challenge due to the ascending A minor arpeggio. An element of surprise is created by the large leap of a major 10th in the closing notes of the phrase.

Ex. 5 (Listen) - Here I start off with a linear open voiced triad phrase followed by the use of a four over three polyrhythmic grouping to create forward motion in the phrase.

Have fun exploring each example and write your own lines inspired from these! Play them in different keys, different fingerings and morph these into other ideas. Be playful and have fun! Till next time! - Az

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