Lesson 5: Drop 3, Minor ii, V, i, Autumn Leaves, Voice Leading

What I learned from Master yesterday:

Introduced to ‘Drop 3’ voicings which I can use to complement the Drop 2s. Can’t say I absorbed enough of the theory yesterday to be able to speak that authoritatively about them but he says that once I have learned them (and we were getting ahead of ourselves yesterday a little) I will have a complete useable system for chording at any place on the neck.

What’s a Drop 3? Well, looking back at the derivation of a Drop 2 from a closed voicing chord consisting of stacked triads, i.e.. 1, 3, 5, 7 and moving the 5 (the 2nd voice from the top, i.e. the dropped ‘2’) to the lower register giving us 5, 1, 3, 7, similarly doing this with the third voice (dropping the ‘3’) will result in 3, 1, 5, 7.

Why useable? Well, if we consider the closed voicing (stacked thirds) of 1, 3, 5, 7, inverting this up the neck quickly results in chord forms that are too difficult to finger. On the guitar at least, the Drop 2 and Drop 3s can all be fingered all the way up and down the neck. In conjunction with the useable forms of the closed voicing chords these *should* be all the chord forms I should ever need.  And that’s saying something….  There will be plenty more info on this in coming lessons no doubt.

– Decided that I liked the Minor ii, V, i progression. In case you hadn’t noticed I mentioned long ago that I actually don’t really like jazz and I think I can trace at least part of that to the happy sounding major ii, V, I progression that is so ubiquitous (especially when it’s all bebopped up and jolly sounding). However, being a minor key kind of guy I was instantly drawn to the dark broodiness of the Minor ii, V, i – for example in key of E minor [relative to G major] we get F#min7b5, B7, Emin7 (note we have a secondary dominant substitution of the B7 instead of a Bmin7). 

– Anyway, to cut a long story short, he showed me the progression from the tune ‘Autumn Leaves’ (nice Sinatra version here) which starts with a Major II, V, I moving to the relative Minor ii, V, i.  I love it – especially with that gorgeous Amin7 to A7 at the end.

| Dmin7 | G7 | Cmaj7 | Fmaj7| Bmin7b5 | E7 | Amin7 A7|

Major ii     V      i                        Minor ii    V      i

– One thing that Master keeps stressing when talking about all the chord voicings is the correct employment of ‘voice leading’ which Wikipedia describes as “the relationship between the successive pitches of simultaneous moving parts or voices” and goes on to say that “Voice leading may be described as parsimonious if it follows ‘the law of the shortest way’ moving as few voices as few steps as possible and thus often retaining common tones“. Thus, the progressions we worked on included fingerings such as:

autumn1 autumn2


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