Are you interested in learning Chord Melody for solo guitar? So you can make your own arrangements for jazz and popular songs? One thing you must understand in order to make nice solo guitar arrangements are drop 2 voicings. Today I’ll show you what drop 2 voicings are, how to make them, and even show you how to use them in a simple nursery rhyme melody.
What is a Drop 2 chord?
A drop 2 chord is a way of playing four note chords that allows you to quickly arrange songs for solo guitar. Even though it’s popular with guitar, it was actually used by big band arrangers in the early days to SPREAD out the different instruments with different notes in the chord. This will make more sense as you walk through this.
Please note, you have to use a four note chord to form drop 2 chord voicing. For example, a major 7th, a dominant 7th, minor 7th, etc. This does not apply to simple triads like G major. We will be using a Major 7th chord today.
- Advantages of Drop 2 Voicings
- How to form Drop 2 Voicings
- G Major 7 Drop 2 Voicing
- 1st Inversion turned into Drop 2 Voicing
- 2nd inversion turned into Drop 2 Voicing
- Mary Had a Little Lamb harmonized with Drop 2’s
Advantages of Drop 2 voicings
- Often Easier to play
- Pleasant sound due to how the notes are spread out. Clarity
- Systematic approach to harmonizing notes
How to form the Drop 2 chord voicings
- Find the second highest note of the chord in closed form
- Move that note down to the bass (making it the lowest note in the chord)
A C major 7th chord shape in closed-root position is spelled out
1 3 5 7
C E G B
The 2nd highest note is the G note. If we move this down into the bass, we get the following:
G C E B
Let’s take a moment to look at how this voicing lays on the guitar versus the prior closed position one:
Even if you don’t read sheet music, notice in the 1st version how close all of the notes are together on the staff. Look at the second version; you’ll see they are more SPREAD OUT. The 2nd one is the drop 2 voicing. Since the notes are more spread out, your ear can distinguish the individual notes better-giving it a sense of clarity that the other voicing doesn’t have. In addition, it’s easier to play.
Let’s give one more example to make sure you have this. This time I’m going to switch to a Gmaj 7 chord.
Drop 2 G major 7 Root Position
A G Major in ROOT POSITION is spelled out:
1 3 5 7
G B D F#
Using our drop 2 rules we get
D G B F#
This looks like this on the guitar.
1st Inversion G Major 7th Drop 2
The 1st inversion of the chord in CLOSED POSITION would be
3 5 7 1
B D F# G
If we drop the 2nd note down, we get
F# B D G
Here is the CLOSED POSITION followed by the DROP 2 voicing for this inversion on the guitar.
At this point, you are thanking your lucky stars that there is such a thing as Drop 2 chords, because look at the 1st inversion Major 7th chord in closed position. Good luck playing that!!! It has you reaching all the way from the 9th fret to the 3rd fret. OUCH!
Meanwhile, look at the Drop 2 version; it’s the exact opposite. It’s sitting close together within reach, even though in the sheet music you can see the notes are more spread out.
I will spare you going through every single one of these on every single string set. However, I’ll I am giving you all four Gmaj drop 2’s on the top four strings.
2nd inversion G major 7 turned into Drop 2
Using our drop 2 voicing rules, the 2nd inversion G major 7
DF#GB becomes GDF#B
It looks like this on the guitar:
The 3rd inversion F#GBD becomes BF#GD (This is the only one of our drop 2’s that’s difficult to play by the way).
Now you have all four possible drop 2 voicings on the top four sets of strings. What I want to do next is use a simple Nursery Rhyme harmonized with major 7th chords to show you how to put this stuff to use.
Mary Had a Little Lamb Harmonized in Drop 2’s
Here is the basic melody to “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
Now, I am going to put Major 7th chords on all of the chord tones
First, notice that there is one note that doesn’t have a chord. That is because it’s an A note. In a G major 7th chord, there isn’t an A note. So, we do not have a way of harmonizing that note with our Major 7 drop 2 voicings (at least for now).
Do you see how I put the drop 2 voicings to use here? I took a single note melody and I changed it into a full arrangement.
Now, in real life, you wouldn’t use only a Major 7th chord. You will use minor chords, dominant 7’s, whatever the song calls for. However, this is just an exercise to get the idea and chord shapes under your fingers.
I urge you to try more simple melodies like this. See what it sounds like, see where you get stumped.
Stay tuned for more Drop 2 voicings. Please visit my ii-V-I Jazz Chord progressions if you haven’t already done so.
There are plenty of other Guitar Articles.