Bebop Jazz Guitar Licks – Classic Bebop Sound Decoded

Checking out bebop jazz guitar licks is a huge part of learning a style of music like Bebop. This also means out how to incorporate what makes them Bebop Guitar them into your playing. This would be true both for phrasing and specific arpeggios, chromatic enclosures that are being used in Bebop.

In this video I will go over 3 good examples of Bebop Jazz Licks, and then I will analyze them and talk about how they are constructed and what the building blocks of this type of jazz lick is.

The Bebop Dominant

Since the bebop style is very focused on dom7th chords I have made examples of V I progression in the key of G major. It is of course also possible to use these on a II V I in G major.

In general the people who play bebop and teach it (like Barry Harris) will focus more on the dominant than the II chord in a cadence.

Bebop Jazz Guitar Lick #1

One of the really common Bebop phrasing ideas is to use 16th note scale runs in the middle of an 8th note line to create some variation. The first example here below has this in the middle of bar 1.  The easiest way and to play this and get it to sound good in terms of phrasing is to use pull offs towards the target note.

Another very common device is using chromatic enclosures which what you see in the 2nd half of bar 1. The enclosure is used to target and emphasize the 3rd of D7 on the 1 of the 2nd bar.

The first half of the 2nd bar is in fact just a D7 arpeggio, but the line is constructed by playing a descending D7 arpeggio and then displacing the last three notes an octave. This yields a very beautiful and melodic 6th interval between the F# and the D.

At the end of the line I included a D augmented triad that nicely resolves to the 9th(A) of Gmaj7.

To practice playing the 16th note trills with legato you can take this exercise through a position of 3 notes per string major scale. I have only written out the first 3 string sets.

Bebop Jazz Guitar Lick #2

This example contains two ideas that you will find in a lot of bebop lines. The first is playing a 7th arpeggio with a triplet, which is how the line starts. In the line I am playing a descending Em7 arpeggio. 

From here the line skips back to A for a descending scale run. 

In the 2nd bar you’ll first hear a 16th note triplet trill between root and b9. This is again executed with legato. From here the line continues down the arpeggio. Inserts a leading note a half step below the 3rd of D7 and uses another octave displacement before resolving to the 3rd(B) of G

The triplet idea can be practiced in position as shown in the exercise here below. It’s an extremely good alternate picking exercise if you use that technique and will also work really well with sweeping (as I demonstrate in the video)

To work on the trill (and work on your legato technique) you can do this exercise which is taking the trill idea from the line above through a G major scale position.

Bebop Jazz Guitar Lick #3

The ascending 7th chord arpeggio with an added leading note is a very typical for bebop licks. In this example I am using that on an F#m7(b5). F#m7(b5) is the arpeggio from the 3rd of D7 and a great arpeggio to use over a D7.

 From the high E I add a chromatic leading note and make a short chromatic run before going to C on the 1 of bar 2.

The 2nd bar is first a descending Cmaj7 arpeggio that then continues to the b9(Eb) on beat 3. From here the line uses octave displacement and continues with a line to resolve to the 3rd of G, and tagging it with a G. Another trademark bebop move.

To practice the arpeggios you can of course take them through the scale. There are several ways to do this, one of them is shown here below.

Making new licks with the building blocks

The main point of this lesson is of course that you can start making your own lines that sound more like bebop. To demonstrate how you might do that I have included two bebop licks that are constructed from the ideas that I used in the first three licks.

Derived Bebop Lick #1

In this first line I start with the opening idea from Lick no 3, but now I am using it on a D7 arpeggio.  This is followed by a 16th note scale run fill as in the first example.

In bar 2 I continue with a descending scale run. This leads into the 3rd of D7 where I use the same octave displacement idea that I used in Lick no 2, only now played an octave higher.

In this way we end up with the lick shown here below:

Derived Bebop Lick #2

In the last lick I am starting with the 16th note trill idea from Lick no 1. This is followed by a scale run that leads into two arpeggios chained together, an Am7 and a F#m7(b5). The line ends with the “bebop” ending that resolves to a D and then drops down to the 9th(A)

I hope you can use these exercises and building blocks and the process to start incorporating some more bebop into your lines. Bebop is a very rich melodic language with a great amount of things you can use even in more modern bop based jazz guitar solos.

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Bebop Jazz Guitar Licks – Dominant Ideas and Analysis

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