Category Archives: Blog

Blog Posts by Jens

Are You Wasting Valuable Time Practicing Jazz Licks Like This?

We all study jazz licks to add new ideas and techniques to our improvisations and our vocabulary. But I often get told by students how they choose a very in effective way of studying licks and are in fact really just wasting their time. In this video I will outline what is not useful when studying licks and also what is a better approach if you want to add material to your repertoire.

I will also use a part of a Grant Green solo as an example of how he gets it right and uses it in his solo.

Practicing Jazz Licks – Contents

0:00 Intro – Learn licks and increase our vocabulary

0:53 The bad way to practice licks even though they are good examples

1:25 Playing some licks (from paper with a metronome?)

1:51 Play the licks over a song

2:22 What is wrong with this approach

2:27 Too Much Information

2:49 A more focused approach to learn from licks

3:10 A II V I lick is about the same as learning a Jazz Standard by heart.

3:35 Why Complete Licks don’t work well in solos

4:03 Converting licks to useful and flexible building blocks

4:33 A lick from the Grant Green Solo on I’ll Remember April and how he uses it

5:21 Finding a better Chunk size

5:39 Making lines with the Grant Green Phrase

6:01 Using the same idea on other chords

6:27 Other examples of how great players use licks.

7:18 How do you work with licks? Do you avoid them? Leave a comment!

7:35 Barry Harris story on learning from Charlie Parker

8:11 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Claus Levin Guest Lesson and collaboration

A few weeks ago I was talking to Claus Levin. We decided to work together on some guest lessons for each others channel.

I think it is a great way to meet other YouTube guitarists by having them do a guest lesson and get a small introduction. 

Claus’ videos are mostly focused on the psychological and technical aspects of learning the instrument and with some useful insights and philosophies there is a lot to learn from his videos. 

You can check out the Claus Levin YouTube channel here: Claus Levin

The videos

I will add the videos as the come online so be sure to check back for more info! They will go online later today!

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Get the 3 Notes Per String Pentatonics PDF!

My lesson on the Claus Levin channel is on using 3 notes per string pentatonics and the PDF that you can download via that is available here:  3 NPS Pentatonic scales

 

 

Allan Holdsworth Modal chords – You can add new textures to your comping

This Allan Holdsworth lesson will look at three chord voicings and show how you can take them through a scale and use them to make a great varied comp over a modal D dorian background. I will also talk about how you can use the different textures or sounds that the different chord voicings create to have more options available while comping.

Using all three chord voicing types

The main example here below is using all three types of chords that i will cover here. For each line in the example I have a different type of voicings moving from very spread to more and more closed chord voicings.

The open Looking Glass voicing

No Allan Holdsworth lesson would be complete with out this type of chord! The first type is a chord that i have talked about before in the Allan Holdsworth lessons. It is a structure that is very common to Holdsworths music and you can see it as being a quintal arpeggio with an added note or as derived from Drop2&4.

When creating the scale exercise here below I focus on using sounds that are either directly a Dm7,Dm13 or Dm6 or at least neuatral so a sort of Am or Em7 voicing. The  Am and Em chords will easily work as diatonic passing chords in the context and if sound more vague that directly like another chord. 

A Closed structure: m7(11,13)

With the 2nd type of chords we have a closed version of the above material. These voicings are for the biggest part completely like the ones above, except that these can actually be voice-lead through the scale and still work as a combination of neutral or Dm.

These can be a bit difficult to play so you have to be a bit careful and make sure you are warmed up before you start working on them.

The basic construction is a diatonic 7sus4 chords. 

The Holdsworth Chords version of block chords

In Jazz it is common to have passages of comping that are harmonized melodies. The previous voicings in this lesson are a bit tricky to move around too much. When Allan does this (using this type of voicing in 0274 off Sixteen Men Of Tain) he goes for another type of voicing. In other songs he also uses triads (who would have thought).

It is worth noticing that there are not many straight drop2 voicings, simply because this would not really fit with the sound and the harmony of his music.

In this example the voicing is a 2nd interval and a 7th interval from the lowest note. This structure is not very clear but does have a great sound with the combinations of intervals in there.

The exercise taking these through the scale is shown here below:

Creating different textures by using different voicing types.

As you can see these voicings work very well in a D dorian context and you can easily move them around and create some great sounds. Switching between different types of voicings is a great way to get more sounds to pull from when comping. This is really something important to check out since we often forget that and just connect the same types of chords all the time. In that respect there is something jazz guitarists can really learn from this Allan Holdsworth lesson.

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Learning Voicings From Holdsworth

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.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Get the E-Book – Sign up for my newsletter

Receive an Ebook with 15 II Valt I licks via e-mail and you can stay up to date with new things happening, lessons, album releases etc.

You can do so by filling in this form and confirming via the e-mail sent to your e-mail address:

The E-book is in a PDF format so you will need a PDF reader of some sort to open it.

About the book

The E-book has a few different approaches to making altered dominant lines and I explain how I the licks are constructed. For each lick I discuss the arpeggios and melodic ideas that I use. This should help you get started writing your own II Valt I licks. And you can of course also check out some of my other lessons on altered dominants if you want some more inspiration!

I very much hope you enjoy my E-book with II Valt I licks!

Join me on Patreon!

If you want to help me make videos You can also consider supporting me on Patreon.

It is through the support of my Patrons that I can keep making videos every week and we have a nice small community over on Patreon. The great thing about Patreon is that I can give you something in return for your support!

Depending on your support level you get access to Extra videos each video on the topic of the weekly lesson. The Monthly WebStore lesson or the Monthly Chord melody.

Have a look and Follow the link here below!

Thank you for your support!

Jens

 

Synthetic Jazz Scales and How You Can Make New Personal Scales and Sounds for Your Solos!

In this video I am going to show you how you can take any chord and easily make a completely new scale for it that you can use when you improvise. With some really cool (but also a bit strange) sounds.
The method will work for any chord and I will also discuss some of the ways that you can use Synthetic Jazz Scales to improvise including a few outside jazz licks using the scale.

Content:

0:00 Intro Solo with a Synthetic 8-note Scale

0:15 Construct a scale for any chord

0:43 The Scale construction principle – From analyzing C major

1:26 A basic construction for a Cmaj7 chord

1:43 Go for Out There or Re-make the major scale?

2:03 First example of an 8 note scale for Cmaj7

2:32 The Scale and some thoughts on diatonic harmony

2:46 Improvise with this scale – Approach no 1

3:03 Some Diatonic harmony: triads

3:39 This is like Barry Harris 6th diminished scales!

3:52 Why this is not ideal for Cmaj7

4:30 Improvise with this scale – Approach no 2

4:45 Shifting between the colors

4:58 Synthetic Lick No 1

5:46 Synthetic Lick No 2 – Opening up and mixing the chords

6:18 How to develop the 2nd approach and how it works better for the chord.

6:48 Digging into find more structures in the scale

7:24 A 7 note example from music I have played

7:51 A new perspective on Double Harmonic Major

8:19 Dbmaj7(#9#11b14)

8:26 Where I learned about this: John Ruocco

8:56 When to use this scales and why.

9:28 Do you work with creating your own scales? Are you a mad music scientist? (Am I?)

10:25 Like the lesson? Check out my Patreon Page!

 

Three Ways to Add Arpeggios to Your Jazz Guitar Licks

We spend a lot of time practicing and learning Arpeggios, so it makes a lot of sense to have several ways to use them in our playing. In this lesson I will show you 3 ways you can add arpeggios to your lines so that they help you create more interesting licks and you get more out of the time you have spend practicing.

The examples in this lesson are all on a II V I in Eb major, so Fm7, Bb7 to Ebmaj7.

Emphasizing a Target note

Really bringing out interesting extensions and alterations is a great way to use arpeggios.

In the example below the target note G, the 9th, is given an extra emphasis because it is the top note in an arpeggio. The note is given even more energy by the fact that the arpeggio is played as an 8th note triplet. This heightens the velocity towards it and makes it sound more like a resolution. The fact that the G is on a heavy beat also helps give it more emphasis.

Learn from Charlie Parker and Wes Montgomery

Playing arpeggios and using the top note as a target is something that has been common in Jazz since Charlie Parker. Wes Montgomery also uses 5 or 6 note arpeggios to bring out specific targets in his solo. A recent video I did on his playing talked about his use of this to emphasize the 11th over a minor chord.

Moving this to the Eb major II V I then that would be:

In the example above the Ab major triad is used to target the Bb on beat 3. The arpeggio is really useful and the technique of summing up your lines in the important target notes can be useful to realize this and also for a lot of other things in the line.

Changing direction and adding large intervals

Playing lines that consist of melodies that only move in one direction can become boring and predictable for the listener. Arpeggios and especially arpeggio inversions can help doing this really well. If you look at the general movement from Fm7 to Bb it is a scale run from C to F and then moving from Eb to D on the Bb7.

The arpeggio is here used to introduce a skip from F down to Ab. From there it moves back up to then return to the D.

Change direction on Chord tones

The strong place to do this is to use it when you are on a chord tone. In the example above it was on the root (F). Below I am using the same technique but now the arpeggio is inserted on the 3rd(Ab). The arpeggio I use is a 1st inversion Abmaj7 arpeggio.

Coltrane and his descending Arpeggio Cascades

The previous technique used the arpeggio to introduce a large interval skip which is then resolved by the rest of the arpeggio. In the example below I am using a quote from John Coltrane’s Cousin Mary Solo, a song off “Giant Steps”

One way to summarize the Fm7 bar is to see it as a three note descending scale run: Bb, Ab, G with two arpeggios inserted after the last two notes. The arbeggios are an Fm 2nd inversion triad and an Abmaj7.

This melody is more radical but therefore also more dramatic and surprising. This probably has to do with the fact that the large interval skip is at the end of the arpeggio and not at the beginning. At the same time the dramatic cascade effect is a great way to shake things up a little.

For me personally this is a great example of how powerful Coltrane’s melodic concept was!

Use what you Practice and explore what is possible!

Exploring how to use the things we practice is almost as important as practicing them in the first place. Of course there are many ways we can do this, both by composing and experimenting but certainly also by transcribing and analyzing. 

This lesson demonstrates both transcribing and composing as examples, and for me those are the two main sources of inspiration and knowledge when it comes to applying what I practice.

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If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Three ways to Use Arpeggios in Scale Runs

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.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

The 7 Levels Of Cm7 Dorian – Triads to Complete Voicing Arpeggios

The search for more ideas and new things to play never ends! This video will go over 7 different types of arpeggios, scales and other voicing structures you can use when improvising over a Cm7 chord some you probably already use and some you may not have in your vocabulary yet.

Thinking in categories can help you check if there is something you never really checked out or got to use while soloing, and it is also quite likely that some of these you never used before.

 

Content: 

 

0:00 Intro

1:11 Level 1 – 3 Basic 7th Chord Arpeggios

1:30 Discussing the different arpeggios

2:13 Difference between Modal and more dense progressions

2:31 Level 2 – Pentatonics (and Super-imposing them)

3:01 Overview of the different pentatonics

4:27 Level 3 -Triads

5:00 Triads and triad upper-structures

6:03 Level 4 – Quartal Arpeggios from the Dorian mode

6:24 Quartal arpeggios for a Cm7

7:22 Level 5 – Shell-Voicings

7:41 What they are nmd Which Shell voicings to use

8:36 Level 6 – Quintal Arpeggios

9:02 Quintal harmony and linking it to a pentatonic scale

9:51 Who said “Andy Sumners and Jimi Hendrix”

10:05 Level 7 – Drop2 voicing arpeggios

10:30 Using and playing arpeggios with a larger range.

11:21 Did I miss something you use a lot?

11:59 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Passing Chords – The 3 Types You Need for Comping and Chord Solos

Passing chords are a great way to expand the sounds you have available in your comping and chord solos. As you will see in this lesson they are also making it easier to make you comping sound more melodic and musical. In this lesson I am going to discuss 3 types of passing chords and demonstrate how they can be used.

The Diatonic Passing chords

The easiest place to look for chords to use when harmonizing a melodic comping idea is of course to use the diatonic chords of the scale at that point in the song.

This is what I am doing in example 1 here below. The example is on a II V I in G major, which is the chord progression that I will use for all the examples.

In the example the diatonic passing chords are used on the Am7 chord. The first part of melody consists of the notes C, D and E. On the Am7 I am harmonizing the melody with the chords Am, Bm7 and Am7. Using the neigboring chord when harmonizing notes is a very common and very useful way to use diatonic passing chords. In this example the Bm7 chord is used to harmonize the D and it voice-leads nicely up to the following Am7(9) voicing that harmonizes the E.

Different versions of Passing chords solutions for an Am7 melody

Of course there are several ways you can take diatonic passing chords. Below you’ll see examples using only Am7 voicings, a Bm7 and a G6 diatonic passing chords.

Diminished Passing chords

This approach to using passing chords is to harmonize melody notes with a dominant diminished chords. On the II chord, Am7, the dominant is E7 and the associated is a G#dim.

This example is also using a G# diminished chord to harmonize some notes on the Am7 chord. The notes that belong to the dominant in the scale are the prime candidates for using the diminished chord. In the example below I am using it to harmonize the D and B notes.

Practicing the Diminished passing chords

One way to work on practicing the this way of alternating a II chord with a diminished chord is to do the exercises here below.

You may recognize this exercise as the Barry Harris 6th diminished scale, which is build on exactly this idea of alternating tonic with a dominant chord.

Chromatic Passing Chords

Chromatic passing chords is a great way to especially harmonize chromatic passing notes in the melody. This means that having this in your vocabulary is going to make it possible to add chromaticism to your comping melodies. 

The example below shows how you can use chromatic passing chords on both the Am7 and the D7 chords.

On the Am7 the B, Bb, A melody is harmonized with Am(9), Bbm7 Am7 and in the same way the D,Eb,E melody on the D7 is harmonized with D7,Db7 and D7.

Notice that the voicie-leading is also chromatic, so the way to use this is to look at the note that the chromatic note is resolving to. The chord that is used to harmonize the resolution will also work well to harmonize the chromatic note. On the D7 it is clear that the Db7 is just shifting up a half step to become the D7. 

Sometimes you can also reverse this so that the chord moves one way and the melody another which can be a great effect, but that is for another lesson. You can always leave a comment on the YouTube video if you would like a video on this,

Expand you the possibilities with chords

Passing chords is a very powerful tool in comping and chord solos and of course also in chord melody arrangements. Checking out these techniques are really something that is applicable in so many areas of playing and will pay off on a lot of levels besides the direct use.

Get a free E-book

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Using Passing chords in Comping

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.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Modern Jazz Reharmonization Techniques: Tritone sub, Coltrane Changes and Modal

Reharmonization techniques are useful in many ways in Jazz both in improvising and arranging. In this video I will go over 5 reharmonizations of a part of All The Things You Are. The different versions will illustrate several techniques and options for reharmonizing the standard. Some of the concepts are tonal and functional others are in the modal or atonal end of the spectrum.

I mostly hope to give you some ideas on how to think about the progressions that are not really functional and tonal, but that you can still percieve and mold as musical phrases.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:53 Basic All The Things You Are Chords

1:09 How the lessons is build

1:34 Reharmonization of the Melody!!

2:17 Don’t reduce it to chords and go from there

2:51 Reharmonization 1 – Triton Subs and Dom7th Chains

3:07 Analyzing Reharm 1 – Techniques used

3:35 Basic analysis of ATTYA progression

4:03 Understanding the movement and modulation of All The Things

4:32 Analysis of the Reharmonization

5:52 Leave the Cmaj7 alone (here’s why…)

6:45 Using this type of reharm in solos, Metheny does.

6:57 Reharm 2 – Moving a chord sound around

7:39 Breaking down Reharm2

9:56 It’s maj 3rds but not Coltrane

10:05 Reharm3: Coltrane Changes on All The Things You Are

10:19 Reharm: 4 – Logical bass movement

10:34 Making unconnected chords sound like a logical progression

11:07 Ascending bass lines

11:26 Analysis of Reharm 4 – bass

12:01 Adding chords to the bassline

13:19 The effect of this type of reharmonization

14:15 Why Amaj7 is a great sub for Cmaj7 with an E in the melody

14:49 Reharm 5 – SPACE-CAKE – Faster harmonic rhythm, more sentences in the progression.

15:41 More chords means shorter phrase length in the chord progression

16:03 Analysis of Reharm 5

16:58 Second phrase of Reharm 5

17:47 Some of the things to keep in mind when harmonizing with modal sounds like this

18:14 Tools for this type of reharmonization

18:41 Think in phrases with the chords

19:19 Reharmonizing the melody? How do you use reharmonization?

20:21 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

Rhythm Changes – How You Use Chord Substitution for New Lines

It can be difficult to have a large vocabulary of lines when improvising over fast moving chord progressions like Rhythm Changes. One way to access some more ideas is to solo over substitute changes and then get some more options by thinking the substituted chords on top of the normal turnaround.

In this video I will go over 5 variations and show how you can use those to generate new ideas for your solos.

The Basic Turnaround in Rhythm Changes

The basic turnaround in Rhythm Changes is usually a I VI II V. In the key of Bb major that would be something like this: Bbmaj7 G7 Cm7 F7

A line on this turnaround could be:

The line is using a Bb6 (or Gm7) arpeggio on the Bb chord and continues with a G7 arpeggio. The melodic idea is using that the Bb can be moved to B and for the rest stay the same. On the Cm7 it’s a descending scale run targetting the A on the F7. The F7 line is using the F7 arpeggio that resolves to D.

A few Dom7th Substitutions – Tritones and Diminished Chords

Two common devices are substitution are using tritone substitutes and diminished chords.

In this example a Bdim replaces the G7 which is the chord on the 3rd of a G7(b9). The F7 is repalced with a B7.

The line is first a descending Bbmaj7 arpeggio. On the Bdim it is an Abdim triad.The Cm7 the melody is a Cm cliche melody built around a Cm minor triad with an added 9. The final B7 line is a B major triad.

Tritone substitutes and altered dominants

On the Bbmaj7 it is also possible to use the arpeggio from the 3rd which is a Dm7 arpeggio. In this example the first part of the line is a descending Dm7 arpeggio. A tritone substitution  replaces the G7 with a Db7. The melody is a descending 1st inversion Db7 arpeggio. On the Cm7 the arpeggio used is a descending Ebmaj7 arpeggio. In this way the first part of this line is an ascending series of descending arpeggios. The F7alt line is a scale run in the F altered scale.

Reharmonizing beyond the original chords

Of course with a fast moving progression like the Rhythm changes it is possible to also use some chromatic passing chords. In this case the idea is to use a chromatic passing chord between the 1st and 3rd chord. It seems obvious that a Dbm7 would work well as a passing chord between Dm7 and Cm7. 

In the line I am connecting the chords across octaves to disguise the way that the arpeggios are actually moving down in half steps.

Making the tonic a secondary dominant

A great variation is to get a feel of suspension in the turnaround is to replace the tonic chord with a dom7th chord. This takes a way the feeling of starting home and replacing it with an altered dominant. The dominant is making sure that the line is moving. 

The melody here is first a stack of 4ths on the D7 altered. This is followed by a Bdim arpeggio on the G7. On the Cm7 the line is based around a Cm triad. It is in fact an inversion of the Cm line in the first example. The F7 line is a familiar F7alt/Gbm cliché

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Rhythm Changes – Substitution for New Lines

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.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.