World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000492513
Reproduction Date:

Title: Comping  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Chord chart, Accompaniment, Jazz guitar, Melodic pattern, Jazz improvisation
Collection: Accompaniment, Jazz Terminology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


"Charleston" rhythm, simple rhythm commonly used in comping.[1] About this sound Play example  

Comping (an abbreviation of guitar players use to support a jazz musician's improvised solo or melody lines. The term is also used for the action of accompanying, and for left hand part of a solo pianist.[2]


  • Types 1
  • Roles of a comping musician 2
  • See also 3
  • Further reading 4
  • References 5


In a standard jazz combo, the pianist or guitarist typically comps during the horn and double bass solos by improvising chords and countermelodies.

The chordal accompaniment used in jazz is different from the chordal accompaniment style used in many types of popular music, such as rock and folk.

  • In a rock or folk band, a guitarist or piano player will accompany by playing primarily root-position triads consisting of the notes of the chord known as the root, 3rd, and 5th. In the key of C, the G chord would include the notes G, B, and D (the root, 3rd, and 5th of the chord).
  • In a jazz band a guitarist or pianist will comp by playing a variety of chords that include the notes of the chord known as the 3rd, 7th, 9th, and 13th (the bassist usually plays the root). In the key of C, the G chord might be performed by playing the notes B, E, F, and A (the 3rd, 13th, flat 7th, and 9th notes of the chord). As well, jazz compers may use altered chords that contain flattened or sharpened 5ths, 9ths, and 13ths for some songs or soloists. For example, an altered G7 chord might be played with the notes A, A, C, and E (9, 9, 11, 13).

In combos with a guitar player, the guitar player usually comps for soloists. If there is both a pianist and a guitarist, as sometimes occurs in big bands, they may either alternate comping or comp at the same time. Having two chordal instruments comp at the same time is difficult to do well. The two compers may make different, clashing interpretations of the same chord (e.g., the pianist may add a flat 13th, while the guitarist plays a natural 13th), or the texture may become overly cluttered.

During swing-feel songs, drummers will usually comp with one hand on the snare drum while playing time on the cymbals (see drum kit). More skilled drummers often comp with even all three limbs excluding their right-hand ride pattern (snare drum, bass drum, hi-hats). They will most likely develop the simple jazz drum pattern and add a few "bomb" bass drum notes for extra effect. In small jazz ensembles ("combos") with more unusual instrumentation, horn players (e.g., saxophone, trumpet, etc.) can comp by playing the melody line in the background, or by playing a sequence of notes called "guide tones" which outline the harmonic framework. Guide tones are usually the 3rd, 7th, or 9th notes of a given chord. Guide tone lines are constructed by descending through the guide tones of the chart, normally by semitone. For instance, in a duo for saxophone and bass, the saxophonist will usually comp during the bass solo by playing guide tones.

During a drum solo the pianist sometimes comps, often using a predictable pattern of rhythmically played chords called "hits". A well-known example is the second half of "Take Five", with Dave Brubeck's piano vamp comping for Joe Morello's drum solo. During piano solos, pianists often comp for themselves, playing melodic lines and solos with the right hand while comping with the left hand.

Roles of a comping musician

While any jazz instrument can be used for comping, the chordal rhythm section instruments (piano, organ, and guitar) have developed the largest collection of pedagogical materials about comping. Since a jazz solo has such wide ranging harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic possibilities, chordal instruments must have a similarly wide range of tools at their disposal to support the soloist properly. Comping musicians must know many different types of Wynton Kelly and Herbie Hancock are examples of pianists who are responsive when comping. Oscar Peterson usually comped busily, while Count Basie comped sparsely. There is no single appropriate way to comp for a soloist.

See also

Further reading

  • Green, Andrew (2005). Jazz Guitar Comping. ISBN 0-9700576-4-4.
  • 60 Top Hat Piano Grooves is an example of how to comp for a songs in different styles

mDecks Music


  1. ^ Hughes (2002), p.6.
  2. ^ Hughes, Fred (2002). The Jazz Pianist: Left Hand Voicings and Chord Theory, p.5. ISBN 9780757993152.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.