Drop 2 Chords (Stella)

In this lesson we will look at the chords for the first 9 bars of “Stella By Startlight.” We will use Drop 2 chord voicings to create a comping pattern which is melodically and rhythmically interesting.

We will achieve our goal by following these steps.

  • Learn to play the Drop 2 chords we need.
  • Arrange them so they create a melodically interesting melodic line.
  • Add extensions to the chords.
  • Add jazz rhythms

Take a look at the chord voicings below and make sure you can play all of them. Also important to note is that no positions or chord names such as “Cmaj7” are given. You will need to find the roots for each of the chords. Once you know where the root of each chord is, you will then be able to move them around and play them in any key.

dom7 (form 1)
dom7 (form 2)
dom7 (form 3)
maj7 (form 1)
maj7 (form 2)
min7 (form 1)
min7 (form 2)

Here are the chords to the first 9 measures of “Stella By Starlight. Play through the progression using any of the voicings above.

In order for our comping to sound melodically interesting, we need to arrange the chords so that the top notes of our chords create an interesting melodic line. In this example, I have chosen to create a descending line. At this point, all of our chords do not have any extensions. Even though there are no extensions, the use of a descending melodic line helps to make our comping sound interesting.

Next we add extensions. In choosing which extensions to use, it’s very important to pay attention to the top note and make sure your melodic line is still strong. It’s ok if it changes but just make sure if it does change, it still sounds musical.

maj9 (form 1)
maj9 (form 2)
min9 (form 1)
min9 (form 2)
dom9 (form 1)
dom13 (form 1)

And finally, we add some jazz rhythms.

Your next task should be to find “Stella by Starlight” in your fakebook and apply all the steps we’ve taken to the remainder of the song.

As a furthur exercise, you might want to start from the beginning and use a different starting note and work out your own comping pattern. Look at other jazz standards and try applying this comping technique to them as well.