Bebop is a fundamental part of all modern jazz. In this video I am going to go over three concepts that are used a lot in bebop solos. I will turn them into some simple exercises and finally demonstrate how you can put them together to make some solid bebop jazz licks.
All the examples and exercises are in the key of G major, and the lines I will end up with are all going to be II V I licks in the key of G major.
The exercises are not necessarily meant as something you need to learn to play really fast. They are more aimed at things you can check out so that you get better at composing lines, explore the possibilities and develop your vocabulary.
Concept 1: Triplet arpeggios with chromatic leading notes
Using 7th chord arpeggios to emphasise a note is a very common device in Bebop lines. One of the ways that you will see this used the most is to take a 7th chord arpeggio, play it with a leading note before the first note and the rest of the arpeggio as a triplet. This makes it a natural way of highlighting the 7th in the arpeggio.
To practice playing this we can do this for each of the arpeggios in a scale. In example 1 I have written this out in a G major scale. You probably want to take it through the different positions you use
Working through a position like this is a great work out for your technique and you need to figure out different ways to execute the triplets which may vary from position to position.
Another way you want to work on these arpeggios is to not work in a position but to work on a string set as shown in example 2 here below:
Concept 2: Adding Chromatic Passing notes to the scale
The 2nd idea is to be able to insert chromatic passing notes between any two notes in the scale.
In this example I will use the same position for the G major scale as above:
We can insert a chromatic between any of the notes in there as shown in example 4 below.
This is really simple in all examples except when we don’t have a chromatic note between the notes. This is the case between B and C. One way to solve this is to use the diatonic note above, so in this case the D. This is also shown in example 4.
Of course you can expand on this and start to use several chromatic passing notes in a line. I won’t cover this in detail, but an example of adding passing notes between A and B and also between B and C is shown below:
Concept 3: Octave Displacement
The concept of octave displacement is a way to introduce larger intervals into your melodies by displacing part of a simple melody an octave. A few examples of this is shown in example 6 here below. The only thing to remember is that the octave displacement works the best if it is introduced on an off beat.
The first line is a simple II V I in G major using an Am7 arpeggio and a scale run on D7 to resolve to the 3rd on G major.
The 2nd line is displacing the phrase from the G in the Am7 arpeggio . This yields a beautiful descending 6th interval and it resolves to the B an octave lower.
In the 3rd line the octave displacement is on the D7, where the line is displaced an octave up on the E.
The final example is using octave displacement on both the Am7 and the D7 to get two nice skips.
It is quite amazing how useful this idea is and how we can make several melodies that sound quite different from the same simple statement.
Creating bebop lines with the concepts
In this section I am taking the three concepts and putting them to use in some II V I lines. This will show how easy they actually are to use. Hopefully it will also show you how strong the concepts are in making solid bebop lines.
Arpeggios, Scale runs and diminished sounds
In the first example here below, I start with an Am7 arpeggio with a leading note. From the targeted G on the 3rd beat the line continues up the scale adding an A# between the A and B. On the D7 it is first descending down the scale to F#. From the F# it goes on in an F# diminished arpeggio. The arpeggio is octave displaced which adds a very nice major 6th interval between the F# and the Eb. It then descends down to resolve to a B on the G major chord.
The arpeggio from the 3rd
In the next example I start by encircling the 3rd(C) of Am7. The line then continues with a triplet Cmaj7 arpeggio and then adds a “chromatic” D between B and C .
The D7 line is again utilising an F#dim arpeggio that is octave displaced. This time between the high Eb and the F#. It then continues first up to C and then down the arpeggio to resolve to the 5th(D) of Gmaj7.
Interval skips leading into an augmented triad
The third line is also using the Cmaj7 arpeggio on the Am7. This time in the lower octave. From the B on beat 3 it then descends down an Em pentatonic fragment which serves to encircle the 3rd(F#) of D7. On the D7 the line starts with an octave displacement moving the descending line up between F# and Eb. From the Eb it descends down the (G harmonic minor) scale to the b13(Bb). This becomes the first not of an augmented triad that is then resolved to the 9th(A) of Gmaj7.
How to use the material in this lesson!
To get the exercises into your fingers and ears you probably want to play the exercises in different positions and keys.
Where I would suggest that you spend most of the time when working on this is in making lines with the material. Once you can play the exercises a bit you can start working on coming up with lines using the three concepts and in that way expand you vocabulary. You cna work on this both by writing down material but also just sitting around and coming up with melodies. If you do the latter you are better off making sure that you can play them in time so that you are sure that it makes sense rhythmically.
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Another way to work further on developing your Bebop phrasing is available in this lesson:
You can also download the PDF of my examples here:
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.