3 Easy Bebop Licks – How To Sound Like Jazz

What makes a phrase sound like Jazz? Even if you know the chords and can play the right notes there is more to get it to sound like Jazz. This video is going to give you 3 examples of Bebop licks which really use some of the core elements of the jazz sound. I also give you some exercises so that you can get them into your playing and add them to your own solos.

The techniques and the licks

The topic of this lesson is jazz and bebop sounds so it makes more sense to also work with a moving chord progression like the II V I. But at the same time the techniques and exercises will work just as well on static chords, and you can easily convert them.

#1 Lick using Arpeggios and how to use them

The first example here is using arpeggios on the different chords of the II V I.

On the Dm7 the arpeggio from the chord is played with a C# chromatic leading note. On the G7 the melody is created from the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord: Bø. Here I am adding a scale note between the F and the A.

When you improvise with arpeggios the melodies are created by mixing arpeggios and the scale that fits the chord.

Arpeggio from the 3rd and the Exercise

Something that I have discussed earlier is the concept of using the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord.

The concept is really simple. Let’s look at a Dm7: D F A C.

You were to build a chord from the 3rd(F) then you would have an Fmaj7: F A C E. Obviously these two chords share a lot of notes and the Fmaj will sound great on the Dm7.

Using that logic we have two arpeggios per chords, the one from the root and the one from the 3rd:

Dm7 – Fmaj7

G7 – Bø

Cmaj7- Em7

Practicing these two arpeggios through the progression could be like this:

#2 Lick using Chromatic Leading notes (and an alteration)

Another very characteristic part of Jazz is the use of chromaticism. Chromatic leading notes and Chromatic enclosures .

This lick is using chromatic leading notes. The two places where they are used are both to lead to a chord tone, so the G# resolving to the 5th of Dm7 and the A# leading up to the B on G7.

Notice how the A# is used to transition to the G7 and in that way really drive the progression and the lick forward.

Practicing leading notes

A great way to work on this is to play through the arpeggios and then add a leading note to each chord tone. This is shown in the example below.

#3 Lick using 8th note triplets

Jazz and especially bop-oriented jazz consists of a lot of 8th note lines. An amazing way to add variation to 8th note lines is to use some 8th note triplets, and especially when playing arpeggios.

8th note triplet arpeggios move quickly over almost an octave range and nicely break up the 8th note flow.

The lick below is using a Dm7 arpeggio played as a triplet and with a chromatic leading note before the root.

Similar to the first exercise this can be used on the arpeggio from the root and equally well on the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord. This is what the exercise below shows:

Explore these concepts on a song!

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