Voice leading occurs to a greater or lesser extent any time chords follow each other in a progression. The most natural musical sound to the human ear is the voice. The voice is built into us in a way that no other instrument is. As a result, we latch. Voice leading, a vital component of harmony and composing, should be part of every guitarist's technique. Here's a great introduction to this musical topic.


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By simply learning standard chord shapes and moving them from one to the next without regard to how the chords are actually moving it is easy to lose track of this concept.

Jazz Guitar Tips: Voice Leading

Guitarists who appear to play more intricate chords often voice leading for guitar their chord shapes, and progressions with voice leading in mind. Let us expand on some of the voice leading concepts found in example two. Often a note will possess more than one potential move between its own chord and another.


This D note also remains in the same position but also moves to the B note, the third of the G chord. Multiple moves for notes frequently occur when the texture increases, as in example two, or decreases.

Voice leading for guitar essential voice leading of example two is summarised in example four.

voice leading for guitar The third F sharp of the D chord, is also the leading note in the key of G major and, as the leading note,it tends to move to the root of the key G ; the fifth A of the D chord tends to move down by step to G; and the root of the D chord either remains in the same part, moves to the voice leading for guitar of the G major chord, or moves to the third B of the G chord.

The same basic movements occur.

Jazz Guitar Lessons: Tips for Voice Leading (for Jazz Guitarists)

Note, the seventh of the D major chord C moves down to the third of the G chord. The seventh and leading note C and F sharp respectively are called Tendency tones, as they have a tendency to move in specific directions: The two voice leading for guitar tones in a dominant seventh also form a tritone which has a strong pull towards the root and third of the tonic triad.

Even when the dominant seventh is inverted the same movements occur. Not in every case, but in more cases than you might think.


Regardless of how true as the above accusations might be, however, they all pale in comparison to the gaping hole in the harmonic knowledge of many rock and metal guitarists: So what is voice leading? Voice leading is the horizontal component of harmony.

In other words, while the vertical component of harmony moves from one chord to the next in a given progression, the horizontal component creates a set of simultaneously occurring melodic lines. In other words, voice leading for guitar the notes move up or down from one chord to the next and every note of every string stays at the same voice leading for guitar distance from one another.

In the first measure we now have oblique motion, where one or more voices stay the same while other voices move: Think of it as directing a choir on your fretboard, rather than playing a series of shapes.

Move the note on the second string up the scale one note, while leaving the other notes where they voice leading for guitar. Then move up the scale one note on the third string.


Then move up on the fourth string. Every time you move up a note, you should get a whole new shape.

Voice Leading for Guitarists - An Introduction - Guitar Noise

Some of these shapes may be familiar, and some may not. Now for, some intermediary steps to get you started. Then have fun with extensions!