Category Archives: Blog

Blog Posts by Jens

Jazz Chords – Here Is Why You Want To Make Inversions

We mostly think about jazz chord inversions when it comes to types of chords like Drop2 and triads, but there is a lot more to discover when it comes to using inversion to create beautiful jazz chords.

In this lesson, I am going to start with a Dm7(9) voicing that you are probably already familiar with and then use that and a little voice-leading to create some great voicings and make inversions of entire chord progressions.

Later in the lesson, I will also show you a few great “guitaristic” tricks that are easy to play but sound incredible.

A great Dm7(9) voicing

You probably know this great Dm7(9) voicing and maybe you also use the rootless version.

But from this rootless 3-note chord you can make beautiful voicings like this with inversions:

Putting inversions to use on a progression, not just a chord

If I took the first one and played a II V I in C then that could be this: II V I in C

Since it is only 3 notes you can easily look at how the voices move: F, F, E,   E, Eb, D and C, B, B
Working through a few progressions like this is incredible for your fretboard knowledge and understanding of chords and voice-leading, even if you don’t use these voicings that in itself is a great exercise.

If you do this in the other postions you get this:

Inversions of Shell-voicings

If you try the same with a Shell-voicing like for example Cmaj7. Below is first the shell-voicing and then the two inversions.

Creating and inverting a II V I for the shell-voicing

Now we can construct a II V I with the shell-voicing and make inversions of these chord sets.

First the basic II V I:

And the inversions we can create from this set of chords:

A great trick with Shell-Voicings

A great way to create some moving voices when you use shell voicings is to move the outer voices in opposite directions.

In this case, that means moving the C, on the D string, up to a D and the B, on the B string, down to an A.

This is a pretty easy thing to play that also sounds great. The basic idea is shown below:

This works great with a lot of voicings. You could use that like this:

Or make a simpler variation like this one:


Another thing that these voicings can do really well is inner-voice movement that could be something like this.


And it also works in this place:

In the last one, it would be the melody which also sounds really good.

If you want to check out some more ideas then check out this video and learn some beautiful chord voicings and inner-voice ideas with 15 rootless II V I voicings.

How to use Great Flexible 3-note Jazz Voicings

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

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.

5 Quick Tips When You Are Stuck In A Jazz Solo

We all get stuck in solos, even though you know the song, the chord or the scale. You still don’t know what to play. This video will give you some jazz guitar tips that you can use to get past this.

The 5 tricks are about looking at things differently or taking a step back and finding more options, but working on them will make you a better jazz improviser and improve how you make music.

More tips on improving your Jazz Guitar Solos

The Scale is NOT That Important – This is!

More Melodic Guitar Solos – Three Critical Techniques without Arpeggios and Scales

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:42  You Know The Song, but still..

1:51 #1 Play The Melody  

2:59 #2 Play The Chord

3:43 #3 What Do You Hear? Nothing? Then Play That! (Jim Hall!!)

4:54 #4 What Did You Play Right Before

5:34 How This Sounds on A Song

7:36 #5 Check Available Triads, Arpeggios, Pentatonics

7:52 Share your list

8:12 A Part of My List

9:10 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page

Get a free E-book

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

https://jenslarsen.nl/sign-up-for-my-newsletter/

Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

Join 1500+ Other Jazz Guitarists 🎸Join us in the Facebook Jazz Guitar Group Community: http://bit.ly/InsidersFBGroup

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, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

How To Make Jazz Licks More Exciting

The main vocabulary in Jazz is 8th note lines and is what makes up in most bebop inspired jazz licks. It can be a little tricky to sound good with solos like that because even if you play the right notes, use the arpeggios and follow the changes the line can sound boring and square.

In this video, I am going to give you a way to change things up and show you how to create more exciting jazz licks that take you to the next level as an improviser. Starting from a Charlie Parker lick and then developing the concept.

It’s really about how you think about it when you try to come up with new lines, and something you can easily add to your playing.

Start with a Boring Jazz Lick

Just to have something to compare to. Here is a really boring jazz line:

Everything is on the beat and heavy, and it is moving in a very predictable way.

How Charlie Parker uses Rhythms

What I am going to talk about in this video is about using groups of notes in your solo lines. Charlie Parker does this all the time.

The two things that make the Parker line stand out are the triplet Gm7 arpeggio and the chromatic phrases that follow.

In this video I am going to focus on the last part of this: Having odd-note groupings in your jazz licks.

I talk about the triplet arpeggios in this lesson: The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

Using 8th note groupings in Jazz Licks

The interesting rhythm is that the meter is 4/4 but the melody is shifting on top because it is groups of 3 8th notes.

Split the bar in 3’s and 2’s

How do you work with this. Let’s take a bar of 8th notes and then we can group them together in groups of 3 and 2 notes.

The obvious one is 3 3 2

If you try to use that in a line then you come up with a phrase like this:

It doesn’t really matter how you make the melodies, but it is easier to get it to work with descending melodies as I do in example 3.

Making Melodies with odd note groupings

A good fit for a 3 note grouping is a triad.

If I use the triad from the 3rd and the root on the Gm7 I can make something like this:

Conclusion – It is really just about making melodies that we naturally want to not emphasize the heavy beats,1 and 3, all the time.

3-2-3 Grouping

Of course, you don’t have to use 3,3,2 you can also use 3,2,3:

Taking it further: Across the barline

You can also make ideas that move over several bars, so for example move groups of 3 notes over two bars

We have 16 8th notes, so that is 5 3 note groupings and then we can resolve on the last 8th.

A Great Melodic idea: Repetition

And you don’t have to change the grouping, it also works really well with repeating the pattern on each chord, in fact, that can work as a very clear way to play a different kind of line if the rest of your solo is more forward-moving bop lines.

And finally: 5-note groupings

Now that you are working with phrases over two bars you can also start to use groupings with more notes like 5 note groupings.

Here’s an example of that:

Taking These Concepts to a Jazz Standard

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

https://jenslarsen.nl/sign-up-for-my-newsletter/

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

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.

Avoid Long Practice Plans – This is what you should focus on

You can make a lot of mistakes and waste a lot of time by having inefficient and unrealistic practice plans tie you down. At the same time, a Great Guitar Practice Plan can help you progress and make a huge difference for your motivation.

This video deals with that and helps you make better choices.

Goals and Guitar Practice Plans

If you are learning guitar or learning jazz then a part of what you are doing is setting goals for yourself and trying to reach those goals. That is a natural way of learning, but when you make a practice plan there are some things to be aware of. A Guitar Practice Plan should help you stay motivated and actually reach those goals. It really pays off to be aware of what goals you set for yourself. Especially if you are teaching yourself and don’t have a teacher to guide you.

And that is what I want to talk about in this video: How to set some good goals and work towards them, the 3 things you need to consider when you plan what to work on.

Learn more on Self-teaching

Check out THIS PLAYLIST to see some of my videos on topics related to teaching yourself to play Jazz and Jazz Guitar,

Content:

0:00 Intro – Setting Goals for yourself and learning

0:48 What is a realistic goal and is it realistic

2:02 #1 Long term goals have to have smaller goals along the way

2:35 The Step-wise Plan for Learning to improvise with chord tones

3:25 Be Specific

3:40 #2 Knowing where you are to know wha the next step is

3:55 Am pentatonic! On to Giant Steps!

4:53 Difficult Topics to improve on your own

5:11 #3 The Importance of flexibility

5:39 Stay Flexible don’t force it

5:48 The All scales example

6:36 Making Music Is The Goal

7:24 How do you work on setting goals for yourself?

7:47 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon page

Get a free E-book

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

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.

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!

Get a free E-book

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:

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.

Do You Need To Have Your Own Style?

What are the advantages of having your own style and do you need it to play better music? Or is it maybe not something you should spend time on at all? How to learn jazz guitar and think about developing a personal style.

This is going to be a little philosophical and it is a video that is coming out of a long conversation with a student, and also from similar discussions through the years.

Content:

0:00 Intro (a ballad of mine 🙂 )

0:56 What is having a style? 

1:17 The Styles of Scofield, Wes, and Frisell

2:18 Why do you need to have a style?

3:01 What You Control

3:28 What You Don’t Control

4:29 Your Taste is a Musical Filter

5:16 Why I didn’t like Oscar Peterson

5:49 When is Your style getting in the way

6:28 What A Student should never say!

7:02 History, but don’t only look back

7:50 Do You Need To Have Your Own Style?

8:44 Don’t close the door on other styles

9:21 Give yourself room to grow!

9:47 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

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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.

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

The Magic Chord – 10 ways to Use this Amazing Jazz Chord

The Magic Chord is a great name for this Maj7(b5) voicing. This is because it can work for a lot of different jazz chords sounds and sounds really great as a lot of useful chords. The Magic Chord can be seen as an advanced chord concept, but really is a very practical way of playing a lot of chords.

In this video, I am going over 10 examples of how you can use this voicing as dominants, tonic minor, half-diminished, Phrygian chords and altered dominants. It really hits some great extensions and chord sounds in harmony from both Major and Melodic minor scales.

Content:

0:00 The Magic Chord (just ask Herbie Hancock)

0:43 II V I in C major

1:17 II V I in D minor

1:52 Phrygian Chord to Tonic – C Major

2:26 II V I in D major

2:58 IIø Valt I in A major

3:31 II bVII I in C major

4:02 II Valt I in Bb major

4:37 II bII I in C major

5:09 II V I in Eb major

5:42 II bVII I in G Major

6:15 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Did You Do This With Your Favourite Jazz Lick?

You probably have licks that you play all the time, I think most of us have and of course that is a part of having a style (Pat Metheny or Pat Martino Lick?) But not to get stuck with the same phrases too much it is very important to make variations and open up those phrases.

In this video, I am going over 4 ways you can make new licks from the ones you already know. Something that will also help you get better at writing your own licks and come up with great phrases.

The Lick!

So to have something to talk about we need something to work with. Let’s use this II V I lick

This is, of course, a little long and most of the time I work with ideas that are a lot shorter, but it is a good example to demonstrate some techniques that will give you a lot more vocabulary.

#1 Transpose it to Another Chord

This is always useful to do, if you have an idea that works well on one chord then it probably works well on other chords too.

The first part of this line is really close to a maj7 chord and we can use that directly on Cmaj7 and make a similar type of melody from the rest.

Usually, I wouldn’t move the last part, but here it fits so nicely and it is good to mess around with that as an exercise for your melodic and theoretical skills as well.

You can turn it into a Dm7 phrase as well. Notice that I am not strict about preserving the last part. It is more important to make something that sounds good and is playable.

#2 Invert The Melodies

The goal here is to make a new melody by changing the direction of some of it, so if it is an ascending scale or arpeggio run then you can make it a descending version instead.

The first part is difficult to move around and get to sound good, but the arpeggio works really well. In fact, you can do that and play the rest an octave lower.

#3 Octave Displacement

Another way to turn things around is to use Octave Displacement. The idea with octave displacement is to keep the direction of the melody but move it an octave.

You can see in the example below how that works:

And it can be used on the example as shown in example 7:

Using this on the Dm7 part of the line would give you something like this. Turning around the Fmaj7 is very close to what you hear George Benson and Grant Green. Here is a Grant Green example:

You can do the same with the dominant part of the lick and get something like this:

#4 Diatonic Transposition

Another thing that can work really well is to move a part of the line a diatonic 3rd up or down. In this case that happens to work completely if you do so, but that is actually a coincidence.

If you want more ideas for licks you can start working on and get some ideas for more licks then check out this playlist with videos that are on licks with a certain type of chord or arpeggio.

Putting Licks to use in music

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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.

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.

Guitar Practice – How To Be Your Own Teacher

Even if you have lessons you know that most of the time you need to teach yourself and make sure you are improving while you practice guitar. You need to make sure that are getting something out of how you practice and spend your time.

In this video, I am going to talk about how you can easily add something to your practice sessions that will help you evaluate your playing and give you an idea about whether you are progressing. I will also go over 3 things to keep in mind to get the most out of this way of working.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUFfHa09LM0

Content:

0:00 Intro – How Lessons really work

0:36 How To Teach Yourself

0:53 The Only Approach to Know how you sound

1:22 Why Should You Record Yourself

2:00 The main reason this works better

2:48 How To Record Yourself

3:36 Using Video – A Phone and A Coffee Mug

4:05 More Metronome than Backing track?

4:52 I HATE listening to my own playing. (The Confidence problem)

5:16 Just Get Started! – Notice Negative and Positive Things

5:52 Strategies for using recordings

6:39 The Gap Between how it feels and how it actually sounds

7:14 3 things You Need to Do

7:31 #1 – Distraction

8:14 #2 – How Do You Want it to sound

9:12 #3 – Measure over a longer period

10:01 How Do You Use Recordings of your playing in your practice?

10:13 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page.

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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.

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

10 Great Chromatic Ideas in Jazz Licks (Easy to Weird)

One of the things that really got me into Jazz was the sound of the chromatic jazz licks. This is such a huge part of the Jazz sound, especially from Bebop and beyond.

In this video, I am going to show you 10 examples of some great sounding Jazz licks with lots of chromaticism used in different ways: Passing notes, Enclosures, Shifting Patterns, Chromatic interval melodies, and more Atonal or completely far-out ideas.

The examples are borrowing from people like Charlie Parker, Doug Raney, Pat Metheny, and Herbie Hancock.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Jazz and Chromatic melodies go together!

0:28 Simple II V I – From Passing Notes to Chromatic or Atonal Ideas

0:50 Example 1 – Passing Notes

1:05 Example 1 Analysis

1:12 Example 2 – Basic Enclosures and Octave Displacement

1:27 Example 2 Analysis

1:35 Example 3 – 4-Note Enclosures and Bebop Chord Tone Enclosure

1:50 Example 3 Analysis

2:00 Example 4 – Arpeggio Leading notes and Shifting 3rd intervals

2:14 Example 4 Analysis

2:24 Example 5 – Borrowing from Melodic Minor and Longer Runs

2:38 Example 5 Analysis

2:47 Example 6 – Dissonant Enclosure and Chromatic Turns

3:01 Example 6 Analysis

3:10 Example 7 – Side-Slip reharmonization

3:26 Example 7 Analysis

3:35 Example 8 – Shifting 3-note phrase

3:49 Example 8 Analysis

3:58 Example 9 – Chromatic 3rd melody

4:14 Example 9 Analysis

4:22 Example 10 – Chromatic or Atonal 4th melody

4:38 Example 10 Analysis

4:46 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

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Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

Join 1500+ Other Jazz Guitarists 🎸Join us in the Facebook Jazz Guitar Group Community: http://bit.ly/InsidersFBGroup

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, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.