Hiya, hope you’ve had a great Christmas. This time around, I’d like to share a little exercise I often use to get used to different inversions and how to get smoothly from one chord to the next…let’s do it over the first few bars of Stella.


I often like to start a tune with a voicing which isn’t too familiar and see where it takes me. I’ve also limited myself to the lowest 4 strings for the sake of this exercise…so two limitations…let’s see where we go.


Now, as I mentioned before, this column places itself squarely on the lowest 4 strings of the guitar and doest get too far up the fretboard…an area lots of guitarists might call ‘muddy’…to my ears though, I think many more guitarists are starting to exploit this area of the guitar ( Tim Miller’s “Electric” and Allan Holdsworth’s “Letters of Marque” are 2 tunes which immediately spring to mind which use voicings in this area of the neck). Also, it gives plenty of space between you (if you were comping these chords) and a soloist. Once these chords are under your fingers, feel free to play around with them (split them into string sets, arpeggios etc).


 The first thing you’ll notice about this is the voice leading from E mi7b5 to A7b9, all I did was change the note D to a C#...it’s tiny movements like this within the harmony that make it sound more ‘pianistic’. The next 4 chords are all inversions, all arrived at in order to make a smooth transition from one chord to the next. This is kinda the reason why we put restrictions on ourselves, we’ve got some new voicings here which we may not have discovered if we weren’t painted into a corner. The Ebma9 is quite a cool voicing, mainly because it just screams “Play G minor pentatonic over me!”.  


Hopefully you’ve got some new voicings out of this, but remember, this is just one way around the changes…there’s tones of chords out there and there’s an unlimited amount of ways of playing them. Try starting somewhere different…and seeing where it takes you!! See you soon.