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I've seen these come up in a few places (Crazy Train and a couple of Jimi Hendrix songs come to mind offhand), however I've never figured how to work them in fluidly;the fingerings always seem awkward, especial when the shape changes from one chord to the next. Is there a guide to how to finger them properly?

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I'm interested in the answer too, though I'm not sure "jazz chord" is the proper term... maybe "dissonant chords" or "'colored' chords"? –  Rafael Almeida Jan 15 '11 at 8:06
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Jazz chords has become a blanket term for any chord that is rarely heard in more conventionally structured, not that its a bad term; i use it myself, but G#minb5 is a G#minb5; i have an answer for this but it will be long and i'm off :) –  DRL Jan 15 '11 at 8:15
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Don't think of them as "jazz" chords because jazz is just one style using them. They are extended chords, using more than the root, third and fifth of the key, which are the common intervals used for rock and the simpler blues. Other styles of music, like country, throw in fourths, sixths. Some blues use the flatted-seventh and ninth a lot to add some dissonance. Jazz and modern classical use them all, and more. The overall reason is harmonic richness. The more notes added, the more directions the melody can go, and the more tension that can be added to the sound. –  Anonymous Jan 16 '11 at 0:31

2 Answers 2

One of the best ways is to play scales using chords. Set up a metronome, and change a chord on every forth beat. Choose a slower tempo if you can't do it on time. When you get comfortable, try more complex rhythm or a finger picking pattern. Here is an example of the F scale with jazz chords:

Fmaj7 Gm7 Am7 Bbmaj7 C7 Dm7 Ehalfdim Fmaj7

Here are the fingerings, I've scanned my papers for you, so please do not mind the quality of an image :)

Jazz chords

When chords are down, try improvising with them - just mix the chords from a scale in a way you fill right. It's lots of fun and that what jazz is all about :)

Good luck in your playing!

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+1 Excellent answer; the only thing I would add to this it to look for and play inversions of each chord, play in different keys, and apply progressions when improvising starting with the basic ii v i –  DRL Jan 15 '11 at 8:21
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I'm disappointed I've never thought to do this, it's a great idea. –  Joel Jan 15 '11 at 15:14
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There are also a ton of voicings for different chords. For instance, in the m7 and 7 chords you have listed, you're not using the lower 5th. Adding that in doesn't change the composition of the chord, but it sure does change the fingering and sound. I'd suggest starting with a more comprehensive chord chart and exploring from there, as I think there are some more intuitive fingerings for someone already familiar with barre chords (although I do prefer the sound of some of the fingerings listed here). –  yossarian Jan 15 '11 at 17:36
    
I also think these kinds of chords are easier to learn based off your barre positions rooted on the E and A string than in the open position. For one, it's much easier to move them to different keys! –  yossarian Jan 15 '11 at 17:39
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I'm totally going to try this! =D –  Rafael Almeida Jan 15 '11 at 20:18

To take Silver Light's answer a step further (I can't seem to add this to the original, my apologies): Sal Salvador's book of chord scales systematizes most inversions of the major, melodic minor, and harmonic scale chords:

http://www.amazon.com/Sal-Salvador-Harmony-Comping-Guitar/dp/0871666480/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1295974240&sr=1-7

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