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rules for funk rhythm comping

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Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1281
Topic starter  

I have been having some success with funk comping using 9ths, 7ths,13ths, major triads, and sus chords (also throwing in some pentatonic or single note stuff).

I am finding it great fun - however, there are a couple of things nagging me that i cant seem to figure out by myself and google is of limited help in this area. By the way - everything I am talking about here is Major :-)

1) How exactly does the Eb7#9 fit in here? When i try to include it in my comping it sounds wrong. I am presuming this is due to perhaps a clash with the regular 9th chords I am using. So do i have to use either the regular 9th, OR the Eb7#9? I have read that the old hendrix chord is very popular in funk - but i cant seem to make it work :-(

2) I have read claims that people like Robben Ford and Ross Bolton are able to use triads from the i iv and v chord in their comping. So, if they start off with the E9, they can throw in triads from A and B major also. Well - when i try this, it sounds more junk than funk - but I have also seen articles that claim it is not the i iv v, but actually the vii i and iv chords. This would mean that in a comp based off E9, i would be using triads of D major, and A major - again I cant get this right. I think I have confused myself so much with this bit, i really need somebody just to give me a simple rule to stick to here :-)

3) Finally because funk stays on onechord for so long - can i treat each chord change as essentially a key change? In other words, should i be able to use all the same tricks and devices when i change to the A9, that I am using on the E9 - regardless of whether or not some of the notes here clash with the Key of E?

Thanks in advance for any help with these - I am sure that i will have more questions - but these are the ones that currently nag me.


"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)

New Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 1

1) use this chord as the 5th of what ever key you're in to add tension. If you're playing an Amin throw the Eb7#9 every once in a while, specifically if you're transitioning to another chord. You can also comp with it and play in many different keys, since you could also call it a maj/min chord. E natural min, E dorian, E mixolydian will all have their own Interesting sounds.

2) There are no rules. Inversions can sound cool without changing what the bassist is doing.

3) Yes. Many jazz players play a different scale over each chord. The clashing causes tension which gets released when you resolve to a certain chord, this is what the b5th is for in the blues scale. Variety is the spice of life remember.

Eminent Member
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 11

As you have said - the 9th and #9th don't happily coexist. You can play them in succession. For example, play E7#9 then slide your pinky down to the regular 9th.