These drop 2 and 3 chord voicings.....

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......that I'm currently trying to get my head around. Aren't they just chord inversions......but called drop voicings to make them sound all jazzy and mysterious.
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  • BradBrad Frets: 235
    ......that I'm currently trying to get my head around. Aren't they just chord inversions......but called drop voicings to make them sound all jazzy and mysterious.
    In a nutshell, you drop the 2nd or 3rd highest notes in any given close voiced 7th chord down an octave. This helps facilitate playing the other inversions easily otherwise close voiced inversions are real tough to play. 


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  • RolandRoland Frets: 3098
    Looking at it another way, you want to play a chord but the notes don’t stack in the same sequence as they do further down the neck. For example, xx978x makes a nice G, and xx545x is a useful Em.
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  • If you want to go deeper then I highly recommend Randy Vincent's Drop 2 book.  It has loads of ideas and explains the drop 2 concept well.  His 3 note voicings and beyond book is also another great book on shell voicings and is 200 odd pages. 
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  • markblagdonmarkblagdon Frets: 1243
    edited December 2018
    Roland said:
    Looking at it another way, you want to play a chord but the notes don’t stack in the same sequence as they do further down the neck. For example, xx978x makes a nice G, and xx545x is a useful Em.
    Aren’t those just C and Cm shape (ie 5th string root) based chord inversions or is this just another name for that?
    Karma......
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  • ArchtopDaveArchtopDave Frets: 584
    edited December 2018
    Roland said:
    Looking at it another way, you want to play a chord but the notes don’t stack in the same sequence as they do further down the neck. For example, xx978x makes a nice G, and xx545x is a useful Em.
    Aren’t those just C and Cm shape (ie 5th string root) based chord inversions or is this just another name for that?
    Look at the explanation by @Brad above - you're treating the notes within close voiced chords in a specific manner, and it defines how they sound.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 3098
    Roland said:
    Looking at it another way, you want to play a chord but the notes don’t stack in the same sequence as they do further down the neck. For example, xx978x makes a nice G, and xx545x is a useful Em.
    Aren’t those just C and Cm shape (ie 5th string root) based chord inversions or is this just another name for that?
    Depending on the bass note xx978x (b d g) could be Em7 or G, and xx545x (g b e) could be Em or Cmaj7, but that’s not the point I was making. Each of them is an inversion of their respective chords:
    Em7 - e g b d
    G - g b d
    Em - e g b
    Cmaj7 - c e g b

    The point I was trying to make is that there are two ways of looking at this. You can follow the theory of drop 2 and drop 3 inversions, work out the notes, and find the fret positions that fit. Alternatively you can play the notes you want at whatever fret position falls under your fingers, and then work out which inversion it is.
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  • BradBrad Frets: 235
    Just to clarify, my initial response could suggest drop chords as being particular to the guitar by making inversions easier to play but it’s not really the case. 

    Drop chords are more likely from arranging horn sections, accounting for the range of given instruments, song tempo etc. As @ArchtopDave ;says, it’s about the sound. But as with all things music they have been applied and adapted to the guitar to great effect and just so happen to make life easier once you get your head around them. So just a little explanation of some terms that might help...

    Voices - the notes of a chord. We only use each note once so no duplicate notes. 

    Close voice - all the notes of a chord are within an octave regardless of inversion.

    Drop 2/3/4 etc - extends the range of the voices beyond an octave by dropping the appropriate voice down an octave. But initially this can still create some awkward (but useful) shapes that we can then adjust in order to make them more finger friendly. Lets look at a drop 2 Cmaj7...

    Root position close voice (C E G B - 1 3 5 7)
    = x x 10 9 8 7. The 2nd highest note (G at fret 8 of the B string) drops down an octave. This gives you a 2nd inversion Cmaj7 (G C E B - 5 1 3 7) with the shape of x x 10 10 9 x 7. Now we’re going to rearrange these notes so that they’re in the same order, but on adjacent strings.

    So x 10 10 9 x 7 becomes x x 5 5 5 7. 

    This x x 5 5 5 7 is much easier for most people than playing x x 5 4 1 0 which is the same inversion but close position. There are sound implications too, not better or worse, just different. 

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  • xavrileyxavriley Frets: 4
    For me, I think of drop 2 as a voicing which is a bit different. For the four notes in Cmaj7 (C E G B), you get a very different feel depending on how you space those notes out. Register also has an effect - using a major 7th as the lowest voice might sound great if you are high up the neck but too muddy if you are too low down. The other factor in choosing a voicing is voice leading i.e. which chords come before and after and how far each note has to move. Usually the most beautiful sounds are when you get smooth voice leading where every note moves a minimal distance from one chord to the next (Chopin's Raindrop Prelude is a whole piece composed around this one idea)

    Voicings are a massive subject, but you can get 90% of what you need just by learning drop 2s on the top two string sets. Wes Montgomery played incredible chord solos and arrangements and he basically just stuck with drop 2s and a few drop 3s.

    If you want to go in at the deep end, Ted Green did some incredible work on this which is only just starting to be published at tedgreene.com He called it his "V-system" - for four note chords, you can have 14 different types of voicing:

    V1 - close voicing
    V2 - 2nd voice from the top is dropped by an octave
    V3 - 3rd voice from the top is dropped by an octave
    ...

    The fun starts when you do things like drop 2 and 4, or when you start dropping voices by 2 octaves. He boiled it down to 14 possibilities (the maths is explained on the site but you'll have to take my word for it) and as far as I'm aware Ted Green practiced them all. He also spent a lot of time curating them - picking ones he liked and rejecting ones he didn't. He talks about some voicings being beautiful and others being a bit "meh" in his videos somewhere.

    If you listen to his playing or have a look at any of his chord books they are incredible - this is the secret sauce behind how he came up with so many possibilities for something that seems relatively simple like a ii-V-I. As I say, the deep end...
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