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Online Workshop: Chord Comping
By Andrew Wasson

Comping refers to the accompaniment for a soloist provided by a piano or guitar. Your approach to comping should vary according to the style of the soloist you are playing behind. Therefore, you must be intuitive and sensitive about their direction. This article will attempt to suggest a few guidelines which might be helpful while playing behind a soloist.

The musical situation plays an important role in establishing what type of comping will be appropriate. If the soloist is busy and a more verticle player, (implying all of the progression with substitutions), then the comping should be sparse. For the soloist who is more of a linear player, the accompanist can be more vertical using extended harmonic structures.

Listening is one of the key elements when approaching your comping's phrasing and rhythm approach. The entire rhythm section must listen and work together. The goal is to complement but not mimic and to develop an awareness of all of the connecting lines within a progression. The best way to gain a solid understanding of this approach is to work in as many different styles of music as possible with as many different players as possible. This kind of training provides a strong awareness of meter within different kinds of music.

Below you will find an example progression. Play through the example and practice how you can move chord tones from one chord toward the next chord, or have the chord tones remain the same.

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Download a PDF of the "Comping Exercise"
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