Voicings for comping

Hi Hayden, would it be possible to create a course around comping in a band and which voicings to use there?

Hi Martin,

Yes this is certainly a course that I want to offer in the near future.

My passion and interest is more solo piano performance and I’m actively looking for a tutor to teach the intricacies of comping in a trio and bigger band setting.

Current Lessons On Comping

I have a created a lesson on comping voicings here: Jazz Piano Comping Voicings | Comping Chords & Rhythms Tutorial - we cover both 4 and 6 note comping voicings which can be used over major and minor 251s.

A more advanced topic would be Pentatonic Harmony: Pentatonic Chord Voicings | Pentatonic Harmony

These voicings are derived from 4th intervals. Chords built from 4ths are harmonically ambiguous and so they give you a lot of freedom to comp with. They also give the soloist a lot of freedom.


I recently sent a student some information on comping which I think you may find useful… here’s what I wrote:

The iRealPro App

I’d recommend that you always use the iRealPro.com app when working on comping and also when jamming over medium/up-tempo tunes.

Comping is a very rhythmic art and so you must learn to do it in time. To do this, use tools like the iRealPro.

You can find an in-depth forum thread on the iRealPro here: iRealPro Backing Tracks Setup

Listening To The Masters Is The Best Way To Improve

The Charleston rhythm is a solid rhythm to comp with, listen to some recordings of Red Garland on YouTube or Spotify - he uses this rhythm frequently and he plays it with a beautifully delicate and light touch.

Ahmad Jamal and Wynton Kelly are also a great players to listen to for rhythm inspiration for your comping. This is perhaps the biggest and most valuable tip I can give you… The quickest and most effective way to get this stuff down is through listening and imitators the masters.

Check out Red Garland playing under Paul Chamber’s bass solo in this recording - bass solo is at 3:07… one of may favourite recordings of Red Garland!

Red Garland Trio - Almost Like Being In Love

Red uses a lot of dominant passing chords in his comping, but perhaps the most effective element is the rhythmic placement and syncopation.

Playing With A Bass Player

If your goal is to play with a bass player, first spend the time to get comfortable with the iRealPro.

To play with a bass player effectively, you will need to be comfortable with rootless voicings. I will also be adding more on this area in the near future, in the style of the recording above.

Next attend local jazz jam night. You can use sites like www.meetup.com to find jazz jam sessions. Also search google.

You should have no problems finding a bass player who will be willing to jam with you. Playing with better musicians than yourself is the fastest way to improve.

I hope this helps Martin :slight_smile:

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Thank you very much Hayden, I did not notice that you already have such lessons under Block chords and pentatonic harmony, so I will definitely look at them there.