Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Instrumental Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

John A. Daversa

Second Committee Member

John S. Hart

Third Committee Member

Martin B. Bejerano

Fourth Committee Member

Rafael M. Padron


Throughout the history of jazz, the guitar has competed with its chordal counterpart, the piano, in providing the harmonic foundation for both small and large jazz ensembles. Initially a rhythm instrument assigned to fill the role previously occupied by the banjo in Dixieland, the jazz guitar evolved into an instrument capable of providing everything from a sparse and rhythmic harmonic palette to lush chord voicings that rival it’s eighty-eight key brethren. This paper explores a method of studying harmony on the jazz guitar by building chords from the inside out, beginning with two note dyads, and working up to six note voicings. The respective density of these chords will be discussed, and how this affects their suitability for musical settings including solo guitar, small ensembles, big bands, and orchestras.


Jazz; Guitar; Harmony; Chords