Comping – What is it? Why is it important?

People talk of the great jazz pianists: Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Brad Mehldau, and what do they remember? Most often it is their lines and soloing ability.


What most people don’t think about when it comes to these great musicians is their ability to accompany or play within a group.



What is good comping?

  • Good comping is more than playing the right chord voicing when you see a C major 7th chord! (you mean I don’t have to play every chord of every measure??)
  • Comping supports a soloist in the appropriate way at the appropriate time
  • Some soloists appreciate interjections or interaction


  • The bass and drums are the rhythmic anchors of the rhythm section.
  • The bass provides the roots for the harmony.
  • The piano has the role of filling in the harmony.
    • As a percussion instrument, the piano works with the drums to create rhythmic input
  • The rhythm section supports the soloist.

Comping Techniques

Accompanying a melody

  • Play chords with the melody to provide harmonic support
  • Play around the melody as a form of response or interjection

Comping as counter-melody

  • Improvise a melodic idea or follow a contour to guide your chord voicings.






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