Fig. 11 employs the 7sus4 voicing in a jazzy R&B-style riff. We use a similar feel in Fig. 12, but use the stacked-fourth voicing concept. We combine both open-style voicings in Fig. 13.

We can also make our voicings denser by having the lower two notes be only a minor second or major second apart. Fig. 14 runs the chord scale up with this tight voicing. You can think of the voicing as a rootless 9 chord with the 9th degree of the scale (or 2nd degree, if you like) on the bottom. Or you could think of it as a 7th chord with the 7 on the bottom—or a mixture of both. So the chord-scale could become Em9–A7–Bm7–A9–Dmaj7–Em7–F#m7–Em9. Because there are only three notes in the voicing, it’s certainly open to interpretation—and wide open for music making. Fig. 15 uses three-note voicings in a riff that starts off with a typical Em7 barre chord voicing, so we get a nice mix of a stock funk chord with chimey cluster chords.

Avi Bortnick
Avi Bortnick plays rhythm guitar and electronics in the John Scofield Band, and is the creator of the Time Guru metronome iOS/Android app. He lives and gigs in the New York area, performing with Jim Weider’s Project Percolator, Rene Lopez, Jihae, Bunga Bunga Party and others. He can be reached at or on Facebook.