Author Archives: jens

Simple Ideas That Make Your Solo Better

You know the feeling: You are practicing and in your jazz guitar solo you are using the right notes, the right scale, and arpeggios but it is also really boring. In this lesson, I am going to go over some of the things I like to mess around with and try to change things up a bit with different arpeggios, rhythms, and melodic ideas. It should give you some inspiration and a way to change things up a bit in your own playing.

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Content:

0:00 Intro

0:44 #1 How to not sound like scales and arpeggios – with (Secret) Arpeggios

2:18 #2 How to not sound like scales and arpeggios – with Scales

3:48 #3 How to not sound like scales and arpeggios – Wrong Scales and Arpeggios

4:57 #4 8th-notes in groups of 3 notes

6:01 #5 Triplets in Groups of 4 notes

7:21 Triads – The Strongest Melody we have!

7:40 Like the video? Check out My Patreon Page

Expanding your solo vocabulary

Lady Bird – Arpeggios & Pentatonic Scales

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The Magic Arpeggio Solves A LOT Of Problems

Have you ever found yourself wondering what arpeggios to use when you improvise over a m7b5 or an altered chord? There are quite a few chords where we don’t have a lot of great options with the standard diatonic arpeggios, but the arpeggio that I am going to show you in this video is a great tool to cover a lot of those chords and it works great for a lot of other common chords as well.

This lesson is going to show you where you can use it and some of the things you can play with it, including a dominant sound that is really great and almost nobody uses.

The Arpeggio and The League of Internet Theory Trolls

The arpeggio I am talking about is a Maj7(b5) arpeggio, which is hard to give a correct name, and when I call it a maj7(b5) arpeggio I can already feel the rumble of the internet theory trolls. That is because that description doesn’t really fit with the context it is used in, but the problem is that any other description also doesn’t really fit unless you want to describe it as a Maj7(#11, omit5 omit 9) and my life is too short for that, so let’s call it the magic arpeggio.

If you are in C major then the magic arpeggio would be built on the 4th degree of the scale: F

So it would be F A B E (which if you play it sounds like a maj7 chord with a b5:

A practical and compact way of playing the arpeggio could be something like this:

I am going to show you more ways along the way but this version is one I use a lot.

Side note: The most important skill for super-imposing things in Jazz

What this lesson also will help learn is how to relate a set of notes to a root, something that is very useful if you want to find more melodies by super-imposing triads, and pentatonic scales.

Getting used to relating a set of notes to a root to have an idea about what those notes help you hear what they sound like and if they will work for the chord.

Magic Altered Arpeggio

As you can see I am moving the keys around a little in this lesson so you get used to thinking a little in different keys because that is very useful for getting used to working with stuff like this.

Here I am using the Bmaj7(b5) arpeggio over G7 alt

B Eb F Bb – 3 b13 b7 #9  – Great altered sound

And of course, you also have this note set in the altered scale where G altered is the same set of notes as Ab melodic minor:
Ab Bb B Db Eb F G Ab Bb (highlight the Bmaj7(b5)

The lick is really just playing the arpeggio pattern and then I am changing the order of two notes, this arpeggio already sounds different from a normal scale or arpeggio melody so it is easy to get it to sound good. You can see how is it really just this pattern:

Augmenting Your Half-diminished Vocabulary with Magic

m7b5 or half-diminished chords are often tricky to improvise over and it is one of the few chords where the arpeggio from the 3rd is difficult to use because of the b9. But the magic arpeggio works really well in a minor II V l like this

Here I am using the magic arpeggio from the b5 of the chord, so Bbmaj7(b5) on Em7b5. This gives us
Bb D E A which is b5 b7 1 11

The line is coming out of this basic arpeggio pattern

EX 6

Tonic Minor – Symmetrical Solution

In the altered example, you saw that we have a magic arpeggio in the melodic minor scale on the 3rd note of the scale.

If you look at A melodic minor that is: A B C D E F# G# A

and the magic arpeggio would be C E F# B

related to Am that is b3 5 6 9  so it is a great Am6/9 sound

that could sound like this:

EX 7

This line is using a symmetrical fingering that you can move up in sets of two strings. This is easy for playing the arpeggio but is limited when it comes to playing more moving melodies with the arpeggio.

EX 8

Phrygian Chord as a Dominant Sound

The Phrygian chord is really a great dominant sound. It is a sus4 dominant with a b9, and the magic arpeggio works really well for that:

EX9

Here I am using the Abmaj7(b5) to create a G7(sus4b9) sound. This works because we have Ab C D G which is b9 4 5 and 1 over a G7. We don’t have a 7th, but if you have a b9 and a root then you don’t hear a maj7th you hear the b7.

The line is made using the “basic arpeggio” that I introduced in the beginning.

EX10

Now that you have seen a lot of the different ways you can use this arpeggio then you can probably also easily see how this works if you use the Magic Arpeggio as a chord voicing. If you want to see some great examples of how that can be applied to different chord progressions then check out this video.

Super-impose Pentatonics

Lady Bird – Arpeggios & Pentatonic Scales

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5 Exercises That Will Help You Solo over Chord Changes

Learning how to solo over chord changes is pretty difficult, especially if you also want to be free to play melodies that move across the chords so that you are not just playing something on one chord and something else on the next. In this video, I am going to show you 5 exercises that will help you develop these skills. The exercises are mostly pretty common and are probably more about how you understand the chord changes and think about the exercises that will help you learn to play better solos. I think you will see what I mean along the way.

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You can get the PDF and the GuitarPro files for these examples through my Patreon page here:

5 Exercises for soloing over chord changes – Patreon

Content:

0:00 Intro

1:00 #1 Learn The Arpeggios  But Not Only How To Play Them

2:13 Not Only Thinking In Intervals – Here’s Why!

3:56 #2 Give It Some Context – Add the Scales

4:47 #3 Put It In The Same Range – Where the Real Overview Is

5:56 #4 Connect the Chords – Voice-leading and Melodies

6:48 #5 Think Ahead – Universal Good Advice, Also in Jazz Solos

10:07 Avoid these mistakes in your solos!

10:18 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page

Improvising over Chord Changes with Target Notes:

Rhythm Changes – Target Note Strategies

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Harmonic Minor Is Amazing On These 3 Chords

The Harmonic minor scale is a very distinct sound and it is one of the cornerstones in the songs we play. It is also just a beautiful color that you can add to your solos. In this video, I am going to show you how you can apply the harmonic minor scale to some chords and get some great sounds.

I sometimes see people comment that you don’t need the harmonic minor scale, I think this video will clearly show you why you don’t want to miss it.

I am going to apply it to 3 chords, and to have some chords that you can use we need to just check out the diatonic chords in harmonic minor.

A harmonic minor – What we use it for and why

A harmonic minor is: A B C D E F G# A

The diatonic 7th chords of A harmonic minor would be:

AmMaj7 Bø Cmaj7(#5) Dm7 E7 Fmaj7 G#dim

The 3 chords that I am going to focus on are the 3 last diatonic chords: E7, Fmaj7 and G#dim.

Two are extremely common and in a lot of songs and one is a very specific sound that is a great way to change things up a bit and a good introduction to poly chords.

One way to understand Harmonic minor is to see it as a minor scale that Is changed so that we have a dominant chord.

The A natural minor scale has these diatonic chords:

Am7 Bø Cmaj7 Dm7 Em7 Fmaj7 G7

A harmonic minor A B C D E F G# A has these diatonic chords:
AmMaj7 Bø Cmaj7(#5) Dm7 E7 Fmaj7 G#dim

You want to have a dominant chord to really hear that the piece is in A minor. This is the primary function for A harmonic minor

E7 – In Minor and in Major

In this scale we have an E7 with a b9 and a b13:

E G#B D F A C

You get this chord by stacking 3rds in the scale.

This gives us these E7 chords shown below. Of those three the E7(b9,11) is not that nice, but the E7(b9,b13) is a great description of how the dominant sounds.

And some of the arpeggios that work well for this chord would be:

Using E7 from harmonic minor

You can use the E7 in a minor II V I like this:

But it also works great in a major cadence as a surprising sound that quickly resolves back to the tonic:

G#dim – More than just A minor progressions

If you look at the A harmonic minor scale and the key of A minor then the G#dim is a dominant chord that wants to resolve to the tonic

Notice that I don’t use harmonic minor on the tonic chord, I am using melodic minor which is a more common tonic minor sound.

The “difficult” dim chord

But in Jazz we mostly come across subdominant diminished chords, and here the harmonic minor scale is also very useful. Mostly the diminished chord is then written as an Abdim chord like this in F major:

Am7 Abdim Gm7 C7 Fmaj7

The way you arrive at the A harmonic minor scale here is by altering the F major scale:

F major: F G A Bb C D E F

And if you want to fit the dim chord in there then we need an Ab(or G#) and a B:

F G# A B C D E F = A harmonic minor

An example of a line sounds like this:

Fmaj7(#9,#11) – Harmonic Minor Poly Chord

This chord is not very common, in fact I don’t think it is in any Jazz Standards I know. It is however a great different sound that you can use to play something surprising in a solo. Monk used this chord in Round Midnight and Wayne Shorter uses it in Speak No Evil.

This chord is in fact the diatonic chord on F in the scale:

A harmonic minor: A B C D E F G# A

Fmaj7(#9,#11) : F A C E G# B

You could look at this as being an E major triad over an F major triad.

The way you usually play this chord on guitar is like this where you leave out the 5th of the lower triad:

A line using this sound as a substitute for a tonic F major chord:

Melodic Minor – The Other Cornerstone

Harmonic minor is a cornerstone in tonal harmony and is what you want to use for a lot of essential chords in a key. Another very important and also very beautiful minor sound that sounds really great on especially tonic minor chords is melodic minor. If you want to check out this scale and how to use it then this video will really give you something to work with.

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The 3 Hidden Arpeggios in Melodic Minor

With some of the great Melodic minor sounds like Lydian dominant and altered dominants, it is difficult to find arpeggios that really work, especially if you only check out the diatonic arpeggios.

In this video, I am going to show you some arpeggios that you can use that really nails the sound of these chords and adds some beautiful colors. And once you get started using them here you will discover how they also great in some other places.

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You can check get the PDF of the examples via Patreon here: The 3 Hidden Arpeggios in Melodic Minor

Content

Get a free E-book

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The PDF for this lesson is available through Patreon in the Patreon FB group. By joining the Patreon Community you are in the company of 200 others supporting and helping shape the content on my YouTube channel.

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics 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.

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This Is A Great And Easy Recipe For Jazz Licks

You probably already know that a big part of what makes a solo sound like jazz is the are chromatic passage like this:

And another part of it is how there is a close connection to the chord that you solo over using arpeggios to spell out the harmony.

In this lesson, you are going to see how putting these two concepts together is a solid recipe for making some great sounding licks.

Even if you are not that familiar with Jazz then I think this way of making lines could be a good way to try and make your own licks that have more of a Jazz sound.

Let’s start with a basic 1-octave Cmaj7 arpeggio like this. You probably already know this one.

You want to add some chromaticism to this arpeggio and there are a few ways you can do that. Let’s start with this chromatic enclosure.

Here’s an enclosure that I learned from Pat Martino:

What is a Chromatic Enclosure?

In this context, a chromatic enclosure is really just a short melody with some chromatic notes that resolves to a target note, and when we are using it here the target note is one of the notes in the Cmaj7 arpeggio. You can read more about them here: Chromatic passing notes – Instant Bebop guitar lesson! And if you put together the arpeggio and the enclosure then we get:

This already sounds pretty good, but we can add something at the end like this:

Chromatic below – diatonic above

And now I added an extra chromatic approach which is using a scale tone above and a chromatic note below. In the lick it is on the 5th, G and then you have A and F# to resolve to G.

You can do this on the entire arpeggio like this:

And you can even add one more to the lick like this:

Let’s try making another lick, but now start with a descending arpeggio

the lick could be something like this:

Here I am using an enclosure that works really well on the 7th and also on the 3rd like this:

And you can go back up and add another part like this:

Better Rhythm

You can also change the rhythm of the arpeggio a little by making it a triplet and then adding some chromaticism, something like this:

Here we have an enclosure of the C, then the arpeggio played with an 8th note triplet and then a double approach going from B via Bb to A:

Benson’s chromatic run

Another great variation that you can hear George Benson do a lot is using this type of arpeggio and then connect the top-notes with a chromatic run.

Something like this:

And putting this into a lick could sound like this:

Of course he actually stole this from Charlie Parker who also does this all the time, but you probably knew that already…

Descending Benson

And you can also apply the triplet to a descending arpeggio and add an ending to it:

Add More Chromaticism to Your Playing

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Maj7 Chords

How To Use Maj7 Chords As Amazing Substitutions

Maj7 chords have a great open yet resolved sound, but even if they sound very much at rest you can easily use them in some very interesting chord substitution concepts.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the great sounding chord progressions you can make using maj7 chords in chord substitution, and later in the video, I am going to show you how changing one note in the voicing gives you a lot more beautiful sounds.

Get the PDF on Patreon

You can get the PDF and the GuitarPro files for these examples through my Patreon page here:

 

Content:

0:00 Intro – Maj7 Chords for reharmonization

0:39 Tonal and Chromatic

0:50 bVImaj7 – Borrowing from minor in major

1:41 Using it on a few Jazz Standards

2:47 bIImaj7 – The Neapolitan Subdominant

4:01 Finding a scale for the chord

4:28 How to use it on a few Songs

6:09 Chromatic maj7 chords #1

6:54 Chromatic approach #2 

7:28 Maj7(b5) Chords (and a little disclaimer)

8:58 Maj7(b5) as an Altered dominant

9:48 Maj7(b5) as a Backdoor dominant

10:28 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page

The Most Important Solo Tools For A Maj7 Chord

Sometimes it is hard to come up with something that inspires you when you are improvising a jazz solo. There are a lot of things you can use if you want to improvise over a maj7 chord, and in this video, I am going to give you some of my favourites terms of arpeggios, triads, pentatonics and a few special tricks as well.

You should have a lot of things to start working with at the end of this video, and most of it is really just a new way to use the things you already know.

Focus on how it sounds because I think that is how you are going to be inspired by it, and I will also give you some other tips on getting new ideas that are not only about what notes to play.

Cmaj7 – You can always get more out of this!

The basic material in this video is this chord, the C major scale.

And the one Cmaj7 octave arpeggio

Chromaticism – Pure Bebop

A great way to tap into Jazz as a sound and getting this type of melodies into your playing is to use chromaticism.

The example below has two short lines using different chromatic enclosures and a melody build around a Cmaj7 chord. You can check out more information on different types of chromatic enclosures here: 5 chromatic enclosures

There are more examples in this lesson: 10 Great Chromatic Ideas in Jazz Licks (Easy to Weird)

Be creative! Don’t just run up and down arpeggios

Very often when I listen to a great line and check out what it is and how to use it. Often I find that the melody is actually a basic arpeggio melody. Below are some examples of lines like this that I have come across.

You can use a variation of the Rosenwinkel melody like this:

You can also experiment with inventing melodies playing patterns with a one octave arpeggio. Try to mess around and see if you find something that sounds like an interesting melody.

Em7 – Don’t Box yourself in, you are missing out

The Em7 arpeggio is the diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of Cmaj7.

If you look at the notes of Cmaj7: C E G B – and look at the notes of Em7: E G B D you can see that they share most of the notes and the Em7 adds a D, the 9th of C. That makes it a great arpeggio to use on a Cmaj7.

In fact the arpeggio found on the 3rd of the chord works great for most chords.

Sometimes you miss great melodies because the focus is on learning in a position, in a scale or in some other shape. This example using an Em7 arpeggio is branching out of the regular patterns and making specific melodies a lot easier to play.

Gsus4 – Not Obivous and Very Cool

The thing with the sus triads is that they sound a little less obvious and that is why they are great to use once in a while. In this first example I am using the Gsus4 triad to make a 5-note group that I can repeat before continuing, another way to change things up in a solo: odd-note groupings.

Another way to play the notes of the Gsus4 triad is this beautiful C quintal arpeggio that is the perfect way to add some larger intervals to your lines. In this case, I am combining it with a sus4 triad which is another great tool on a Cmaj7.

The Esus4 triad is really useful (leave this clip out?)

Esus4 – Complete Chord And some Color!

The Esus4 is really the complete chord, it has an E and a B so the 3rd and 7th of Cmaj7 and also the 13th: A adding some color. Here I am using it as a 3-note grouping and again taking advantage of sus4 triads being less obvious so that it is easier to repeat them in a melody without it getting boring.

Em pentatonic – Quartal Cmaj7 licks

The Pentatonic scale is very closely related to the sound of quartal harmony, and since it is a scale that we guitarists are usually very familiar with then it is a great place to find some interesting lines.

Practicing the pentatonic scale in the way shown below can help you explore melodies similar to what I use in the example.

Triad Pairs

This triad pair works fantastic for Cmaj7, besides that they are also what I used to make the most annoying picking exercise I ever cam up with…. (B-roll) and the way I usually improvise with triad pairs is by chaining together inversions to get different colors on top of the chords. This has a sound that is different from other types of melodies and still produces very strong melodies.

Putting these concepts in a song

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Something You Are Not Practicing But You Should Be

One thing that is not often part of most people’s Jazz solo practice is really ignoring the way that people like Wes Montgomery or Kenny Burrel play most of their solos. And that is a pity because it is surprisingly easy to work on and is also very effective.

In this video, I am going over what you are missing and how you can start working like this to get that sound of compact strong phrases.

Content:

0:00 Intro -The difference between You and Wes

0:45 Different types of phrases 

1:18 An Angry YouTube comment 

1:38 How to get started 

1:52 Breaking down a Wes solo for phrases

2:54 Example solo on Out of Nowhere 

3:18 Rhythm – Less notes = better rhythms

3:55 Repeating Phrases and making a solo that is a whole piece of music

4:53 Breaking down the structure of Autumn Leaves 

5:27 Example solo moving a phrase through Out of Nowhere 

5:54 How to start practicing this. 

6:30 Developing Phrases in a solo

7:02 Solo example developing phrases. 

7:36 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page

Improve you Jazz Phrasing

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics 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.

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Rootless Jazz Chords – This Is What You Want To Know

If you are getting into some of the rich sounding Jazz chords on the guitar and want to use that in your playing then one thing that can really add a lot more life and color to your chord playing is to start using rootless Jazz chords.

Playing Rootless Jazz chords in your chord melody, comping and chord soloing will give you 10x as many options and also really start to free you from thinking static grips and more work with playing progressions that flow into one another.

And it is pretty simple to get into…

Basic Example with Chords Already You Know

You probably already know these chords:

Making these chord voicings that you already know into rootless voicings is really simple:

Now you are probably asking what is the big deal? They are a little bit easier to play but for the rest it doesn’t really matter.

Advantages to Rootless Voicings

There are two advantages to using rootless voicings:

1 If you are in a band then you want to stay out of the way of the bass player, and constantly having the root in that register is often clashing with the bass player which is not so nice for you or the bass player.

2 You have a lot more freedom to improvise with the notes when you don’t have to play the root. I am going to give you a lot of examples of this in the video, but if we take the example from above then you could start working on changing the top note of the chords and get some really great sounding chord movements That’s what I am going to cover next.

Making Easy variations to the chords

In this example I am using other melody notes from the scale that are easy to add to the chord. The examples are all practical and pretty easy to play

But there is one note that is added in there which is the b9 which acts as a chromatic leading note in the G7 to the 5th of Cmaj7. This is another way to understand alterations on dominants.

And you can go a lot further than this by adding notes on the top string as well, which is now a lot easier:

And with this you can also start to make movement inside the chord and make the different voices move independently. That’s the next thing to explore

Voices not chord grips

Let’s try this with another set of chords that you probably already know:

This can be turned into this set of rootless voicings:

And a basic variation of this could be something like this:

Notice how I am again using a b13 as a chromatic leading note to go from E down to D on the Cmaj7.

Another thing to notice is that I am only playing the chord once and then moving the melody on top while the other notes are sustaining, this gives it more of a polyphonic or even orchestral sound.

And you can expand on this quite easily adding more movement in the voices, especially G7:

Chromatic inner-voices

The next thing to start experimenting with is adding chromatic movement in some of the lower voices not just moving the melody.

Here I am adding the melody C A# to lead to the B on G7 and a great chromatic movement from B to Bb to A moving the maj7th to the maj6th

Get a solid foundation in Rootless Jazz chords

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics 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.

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