Category Archives: Blog

Blog Posts by Jens

3 Mistakes Wasting Your Guitar Practice Time – Road to Effective Study

It is difficult to find a guitar practice routine that is efficient and it is important to think about whether your practice time is spend in the most effective way.

In this video I go over 3 problems that are very common in a guitar practice schedule and I talk about how you evaluate and how to practice guitar effectively. Each segment is turned into a question that you can ask yourself to evaluate your practice and I include a real example of a topic you might work on and demonstrate and discuss how you can approach this.

The examples include a George Benson Phrase and an Imaginary Michael Brecker Lick.

List of content:

0:27 Intro – and the three questions to test your own practice

0:57 Do you know what you want to Learn

1:32 The Advantages of being Specific

2:04 The George Benson Licks

3:53 Practicing using a George Benson Lick

4:09 Are you Practicing What want to Learn?

5:24 Practicing Comping as if you are in a band

6:12 Comping All The Things You Are with Metronome on 2&4

6:45 The Voicings, voice-leading and Extensions are not enough!

7:32 How Do You Work Towards Your Goals.

7:56 The Dreyfus model (or my take on that on Guitar..)

8:21 Learning to use Arppegios in my Dreyfus Model stages

8:51 The (Huge) Benefits of this way of looking at your own learning process

9:03 The Imaginary Michael Brecker Pentatonic Idea in my Dreyfus model

10:25 I DON’T BELIEVE IN MAGIC (here’s why..)

10:55 Practicing the Imaginary Michael Brecker Pentatonic Idea

11:11 It takes Practice to be good at practicing!

11:45 Do you have advice or suggestions?

12:43 Want to help me? Check out my Patreon Page.

3 types of Rhythm Changes licks you NEED to know – Bebop Guitar Lesson

Rhythm Changes and The Blues are probably the two most important chord progressions that you need to master if you want to play jazz guitar and especially bebop.

This lesson is going to go over 3 different approaches to play over the rhythm changes. Each one demostrated with a 4 bar lick and some exercises.

Rhythm changes in Bebop

Since Bebop the chord progression from I got Rhythm has been used countless times for great bebop themes such as Anthropology, Oleo, Dexterity, Moose the Mooche etc. In fact about 30 percent of all Charlie Parker compositions are on Rhythm Changes

Most of the time when you are soloing over a rhythm changes form you find yourself improvising over this turnaround in the key of Bb major.

Of course there are many variations available on this turnaround, but the essence of it will probably always be this progression.

Using several approaches to a solo

In most good solos you will find that during the solo different things are being emphasized, so the approach in the solo changes. In fact I think that most (good) solos on Rhythm Changes will probably contain parts that use each of the ideas that I go over in this lesson.

Room for rhythm – The Simplified Chord Progression

The first concept is to reduce the amount of chords that are played in the solo. This means that instead of playing all 4 chords of the turnaround in example 1 above. The focus is now on the two main chords in that progression: Bb and F7, the tonic and the dominant.

Both of these chords are diatonic to the Bb major scale as shown in example 3.

One good exercise to get used to hearing these two chords and the scale over the changes is to do the Barry Harris scale exercise shown here below:

Another very important exercise is to play the chords in time over the progression as shown in example 6:

The example line that I played using this approach is shown here:

The first line on the Bbmaj7 is a line consisiting only of Bb maj7 arpeggio notes. On the F7 the line is first a descending scale run from Eb to Bb and then a small melody with the notes of an A dim triad.

The 2nd Bbmaj bar is using a Bb6 or Bb major pentatonic melody that with a string skip moves to an Eb major triad over the F7. The line concludes with inserting a chromatic passing note between D and C.

Advantages to this type of thinking

For this type of  playing you get a lot more freedom to think about the rhythm since you don’t have to catch as many changes. In fact this approach is also very close to what you will hear in older swing recordings on Rhythm Changes.

Nailing all the changes

This way of playing over the chords actually makes the progression as difficult to play as Giant Steps from a technical perspective.

Very often if you analyze Charlie Parker solos on rhythm changes you will hear him play simpler phrases in the first two bars and really spell out the changes in the next two bars.

Finding the scales

In order to play over the chords we can use the Bb major scale on the Bbmaj7 and the Cm7 chord.

On the G7 the scale that is most appropriate is a C minor harmonic or G mixolydianb9,b13

We can do the same thing with the F7 as shown in example 9:

Setting the target notes and connecting the dots

The concept behind the lines in this example is to use target notes, and then make lines that move towards that line. Something I have also worked on i other lessons.

An example of a set of target notes that you can fill in with short melodies.

The line example that I am playing is using this technique to connect the lines. To build a vocabulary for this type of playing you need to work on having simple 4 note phrases that you can use to aim for the target notes in the next chord. 

You can always use the Blues

Of course since the Rhythm Changes is such an important part of jazz it also is connected to the Blues, and using blues phrases on a rhythm changes progression is very common.

The approach that I am using in the line below is mixing some blues phrases with more some F7 phrases. The blues phrases are using  a more mixolydian sound than an actual minor pentatonic sound. You can use the Bbm pentatonic as well of course, but the more major sounding blues phrases are a little more common, which is of course also the case for jazz in general.

The phrase on the first Bb chord is a D dim arpeggio. the line on the Cm7 F7 bar could be seen as an actual F7 line or a Bb major line. 

The 2nd Bb bar has a clear Bb7 line with a leading note to the 3rd which also really evokes the blues sound.

The last bar has a Cm7 line to take us back to the chords before the progression would go to the 4th degree.


As I already mentioned it is important to realize that you should vary your approach during the solo. This is by the way true for all solos. I hope you can use the examples as inspiration to widen your vocabulary and the array of sounds you have available over a Rhythm Changes progression.

Take your Rhythm Changes skills to the next level

Rhythm Changes – Target Note Strategies


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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

3 types of Rhythm Changes licks you NEED to know

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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 Types of Chord Progressions You Need To Recognize and Be Able To Play – Harmonic Analysis

Analyzing Chord progressions is something we all do as Jazz Guitar players. We need to understand Jazz Harmony in order to play good solos and to improve our Jazz Comping.

Here’s what most people seem to get wrong: Understanding the chords in the context of the song and not just looking at what type of chord it is.

The way we apply Music Theory to our harmonic analysis of a song decides how well we understand the chord progression and helps us play better solos.

In this video I will go over 5 types of progressions that if you can use to better understand the functional harmony that you find in a jazz standard.


0:02 What we use Music Theory for in jazz

0:23 The II V I problem

1:21 What I want from Music Theory

2:08 Examples of why you want to think beyond “it’s a II V I”

2:13 The III VI7 II V I

2:34 Cmaj7 and Em7 both Tonic

3:26 Why Modes fail in Jazz: Phrygian

3:46 IV IVm I and IV bVII I

4:25 Why group in functions?

4:53 V I and II V I progressions

5:36 “Turnaround” the II V I

6:19 Secondary Dom7th and Cadences

8:15 IVm progressions

9:01 Common IVm chords

9:28 The two uses of IVm chords

10:56 The #IV Progressions – The basics

11:31 How #IV progressions are treated in Jazz

11:58 The #IV resolving to a Tonic

13:29 The #IV resolving to IV or IVm

14:47 No Modulations?

15:09 Modulations!

16:03 Examples of songs that modulate

17:10 The point of this way of thinking

Modern 3 note voicings and voice leading – How to find new voicings

In this video I am going to explore the type of modern jazz chords that you can hear players like Lage Lund, Gilad Hekselman and Nelson Veras use. These compact 3 note voicings are very practical but also very beautiful. 

This lesson will give you some insight in this type of voicings and also a look at how I work with new types of jazz chords and use one voicing to find more options and get the most out of and example.

High register incomplete 3 note voicings

To demonstrate the type of voicings I will first go over a few examples of cadences to demonstrate the sound of these chord types.

In the first example here below you see a Dm7 voicing that consists of the notes E, F and G. Since these are hard to play next to each other the E is placed an octave higher.  As you can see there is no 7th(C) in the chord, so even though it is used as a Dm7 it is not a complete 7th chord.

The G7 chord is  a G7b5. This chord is complete with F,B and a Db. The Cmaj7 is an Esus4 triad so in fact it is an C6/9.

The 2nd example is using a complete Dm7 voicing. The chord consists of E, F and C (low to high) so it is a DM7 with and added 9.

The G7 is a G7b13 which low to high is Eb, F and B. 

On the Cmaj7 the voicing is again a C6: E, G and A. As you can see from this and the previous example I will use the Cmaj7 term quite loosely to mean anything that is a C tonic chord in a C major cadence, whether it is a C6 or a Cmaj7.

Finding other Diatonic voicings

In the next part of the lesson I will focuse on the first Dm voicing in example 1.

All voicings are of course diatonic to some scale, and since we are using it on a Dm7 in a cadence in the key of C major then the C major scale seems a good place to start.

Here in eample 3 and 4 I have written out the voicing taken through the C major scale on first the top and then the middle string set:

Extracting some more Dm7 chord options

The voicings that are the most obvious choices for a Dm7 are the ones that have an F in them.

SInce there are three notes in each chord we have three options. For the two that I didn’t already have an example. The first one is shown below in example 5 and the other one you can see in example 10 a bit further in the lesson.

Other ways of making variations of these voicings

Probably the biggest advantage to three note voicings is that they only have 3 notes and therefor are flexible and it is quite possible to add inner-voice movement and change other notes in the chords.

Two examples of this is shown here below in examples 6 and 7.


Other scales: Using the voicing in Melodic minor.

Another option is to look for other scales where you can find the voicing. For this lesson I will use the G altered scale/ Ab melodic minor scale as an example. In general it can be a good idea to also think about pentatonic, harmonic minor, diminised and other options that might be possible.

Below in example 8 I have written out two examples of where the voicing could be placed in Ab melodic minor.

Examples of using these two G7alt voicings are shown in the examples 9 and 10 here below.

In the context of a cadence we can be quite liberal with what is in the chord in terms of having a complete harmonic sound with 3rd and 7th, Because the chord for the rest will contain alterations that are not found int the scale then it is easier to get away with in complete versions. The 2nd G7(b9#9) is a good example of this.

Diatonic voicings in Ab melodic minor

Similar to what I did with the Dm7 voicing we can also explore the options that are found by moving the chord through Ab melodic minor. This is shown in the example here below:


As I mentioned in the previous paragraph here will be a lot of voicings that will work as G7alt voicings in the context of a cadence because the voicings for the biggest part consist of altereations. 

Of the examples that work I have made cadences for three of them: 


I hope you can find some useful voicings and that you get some ideas on how to generate more material with the voicings you already know from this lesson. The idea of using a scale as a back drop for generating more voicings that we can then try to put to use is always a great way to explore the chords and since we are using the rest of the information that is surrounding the chord (ie. the scale) it will mostly give you some useful jazz chord ideas.


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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Modern 3 note voicings and voice leading

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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.

II V What?! – How not to resolve a II V I (on purpose) – Modern Jazz Guitar Lesson

Probably you know a lot of choices dominant scales in a II V I, but no matter what you do it will always be the same old II V I chord progression that sounds predictable.
In this video I will go over how you can break up that pattern by suspending the resolution of the I chord. Our ear really expects the dominant to resolve so going somewhere else is one of the most powerful reharmonization techniques.
The video covers how you can get started playing outside by insering IV minor, diminished chords or altered dominant ideas on places where your ear expects resolution not tension. I demonstrate how I use chord substitution in this context with both comping and soloing. The video also discusses how and where you can use this in a reharmonization of a jazz standard. Some of the songs I mention are Stella By Starlight, I Love You and Fly Me To The Moon.


List of contents

0:42 What is a Cadence
1:12 How can we use that to surprise the listener
1:46 #IV diminished Solo
2:03 #IV dim What it does and how it works
3:30 Using this in arranging or comping
3:58 Song example: I Love You
4:34 Song example: Stella By Starlight
5:04 Using Dim suspension when comping
5:36 Song example: Misty
6:30 IV minor Solo
6:48 How IV minor works in a solo context
8:04 Other Iv minor sounds than Melodic minor
8:58 Songs with a IV minor suspension in the melody
9:53 When can you use this suspension on the melody
11:07 Maj7#5 solo
11:24 Maj#5 as a suspension – Using chords to practice
12:59 solo ideas
13:15 In Comping or Reharmonizations
14:06 Song example: Stella By Starlight
14:48 Altered Dominant suspension
15:06 What Altered Dom7th suspension is
16:30 Where this often works the best – Relating it to the form
18:00 VImaj7 solo
18:18 How it works and how I use it.
20:55 Resolve the Maj7 sound and playing difficult modern changes
22:03 Using it to reharmonize standards
23:04 Using Common Progressions in Funny places
23:50 This ReHarmonization series and reinterpreting chords
24:53 Don’t think in scales think in chords and sounds
25:26 Using Standards as reharmonization exercises

Walking Bass and Chords on a Bb Blues – Jazz Guitar Lesson

Walking Bass and Chords is one of the greatest ways to comp if you are the only one playing behind a soloist like a horn or a singer. In this lesson I am going to go over a Walking bass comp on a  12 bar Bb Jazz Blues and how you play it on guitar. The video is based on a recording I made and transcribed.
Some of the things I discuss are on making walking bass lines on guitar, how to play them and how to add chords to your bassline. I also discuss shell voicings and drop3 voicings as being very useful for this type of guitar comping

Watch the video here: CLICK

The Blues and the Bassline

The Blues is probably the most important progression in Jazz, as well as in a lot of other genres.

In the example that I play in the video I am using a few more advanced embellishments with adding extra notes in the bass line and harmonizing extra notes. 

Here is the example:

The analysis of the Bass line and chord voicings

The first bar is a prime example of a simple very usable bassline on the Bb7. On the one of the bar the Root is in the bass and a Bb7(13) voicing is added. The bass line melody for the rest of the bar is a Bb triad. On beat 4 I have an E as a leading note for Eb. 

To break up the quarter note bassline I add a D under the Eb that I then use a hammer on to lead into the bar. This adds a bit of variation and makes the line a bit more exciting both melodicaly and rhythmically.

On the Eb7 the chord is on the 1 and. The function of having a short stap on a chord like that is more to add to the groove than to make the harmony clear. You cna hear this if you compare to bar 1. The bass line is again all chord tones with an A leading note on beat 4 to take us back to Bb7.

The A is harmonized with an A7 that acts as a leading chord to the Bb7 on the one of the following bar. The A7 is a shell voicing. 

Reusing the bassline and adding a tritone sub.

On the Bb7 the chord is the same shell-voicing as the A7. The bass line is identical to bar 1 using the triad and the E leading note. Here the E can be used to lead into an Fm7.

The final bar of the first line is an Fm7 E7. Here the bass line is very simple. For both chords it is 1 then 5. The chords are here played as sustained chords. This helps making the sound of the extra chords clear. 

The Eb7, Diminished chord and the minor II V

Bar 5 is the beginning of a new 4 bar period. The chord is placed on the one to make the change to the subdominant clear. The bass line is the same as in bar 2, except on beat 4 where I have an Eb to lead in to the Edim that follows.

On the next bar the Edim is E, Eb Db A. Here E and Db are chord tones. The Eb serves as a diatonic leading note and the A is a chromatic approach note to Bb.

Bb7 and the II V to C minor

Bar 6 takes the progression back to Bb. The bassline is again a Bb major triad and the final leading note Eb is there to take us to the II V to Cm in the next bar.

The Dø G7 have a Drop2 voicing for the Dø and a Drop3 G7(b13) for the G7. The bass line is using the b5 of D to lead down to the root og G. On the G7 there is a Db to lead down to the C in bar 9.

F7 altered and some more leading chords

The II V back to Bb is moving between two positions. The line starts on the low C where the Cm9 voicing is. It then walks up the scale with a leading note to the F7. On the F7 the bass line is 1 b7 5 b5. I add a chord on the 1 and. It is an F7(#9). The b5(B) is harmonized with a B7 shell voicing to resolve back to Bb7.

The final turnaround is Bb7 G7alt Cm7 F7 alt. The Bb7 is harmonized with a Bb7 shell voicing and the bass line continues up to an F to lead up to G. The G7 has aG7(#9) voicing and the next bass note is a Db to lead down to C in Cm7.

Ont eh Cm7 the same idea is used. Bassline is 1 b5 and there is a chord on the 1 and. On the F7 the bass line is 1 then 5. The chord that is added is an F7(#9).

Practice the chord voicings

To practice the voicings you can use this exercise shown in example 2. As you can see most of the chords are really quite common drop3 and shell or shell based voicing that we play all the time.

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Walking Bass and Chords – Bb Blues

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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.

How to Come up with New solo ideas – Rethink the stuff you already know

It can be difficult to come up with new ideas for your solos, but this video talks about how you can use all of the diatonic triads, arpeggios, pentatonic scales etc and find the right ones to the chord you are playing over. Not only playing just with the arpeggio, but also how to mix it with the other material.

The video has a lot of examples and explanations and also a lot of philosphy on playing over changes, superimposing arpeggios and other things like developing a personal sound and taste.


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0:49 The Maj7 and the F Major Scale

1:10 What I will check out

1:48 The Fmaj7 chord and diatonic arpeggios

2.55 Solo using Fmaj7 arpeggio

3:12 How you solo with an arpeggio when learning new ideas

3:53 Arpeggio from the 3rd

4:18 Solo using Am7 Arpeggio 

4:43 Why we don’t really want the Bb in there and C7 doesn’t work

5:46 A 3rd below: Dm7

5:56 Solo using Dm7 Arpeggio

6:31 Arpeggios against another root note and the having an overview of the scale

8:20 Solo using F major triad 9:29 Am triad solo

9:51 Thoughts on making melodies with Am triad vs Fmaj7

11:01 Solo using C major triad 11:23 C major triad and not having the 3rd in the arpeggio.

12:14 Solo using D minor triad

12:32 Finding associations with the different arpeggios and the sound they make

13:48 Quartal Harmony

15:19 Solo using Quartal Arp from G

15:34 DIfferent fingerings and mixing it with other things

16:27 Solo using Quartal Arp from A

16:53 Connecting to the chord, using chord tones

17:28 Solo using Quartal Arp from D

17:46 Emphasizing the intervals in the arpeggio

18:32 Solo using Quartal Arp from E

18:53 Different patterns of the Arpeggio

19:37Other options like spread voicing, drop2 and inversions..

20:14 Pentatonics

20:27 Solo using Dm Pentatonic

20:47 Choosing pentatonic scales for a chord

21:48 Solo using Am Pentatonic

22:13 The “other”Pentatonic scales lesson series

22:48 Shell Voicings – Finding Useable

24:10 Solo using Fmaj7 Shell Voicing

24:51 Solo using Am7 Shell Voicing

25:05 Ways to practice shell voicings in postition and along the neck

26:26 Solo using Dm7 Shell Voicing

27:38 Solo using Em7b5 Shell Voicing

27:55 Compensating for the lack of chord tones in the arpeggio

28:44 What am I trying to do when practicing with these arpeggios

29:26 Sus4 triads and Mark Turner

30:03 Finding useable Sus4 triads

30:38 Difference between Sus4 and Quartal Harmony?

32:02 Solo using Gsus4 triads

32:33 Solo using Asus4 triads 32.49 The sound of the sus4 triad

33:35 Solo using Csus4 triads

33:51 Using the resolution of the sus chord in the melody as well.

34:42 Solo using Dsus4 triads

35:05 Sus4 triads as voicings.

35:33 Using this approach to develop and understand your own taste

37:38 Outro


The Triad we never talk about – but we play it all the time!

Triads are very important to jazz guitar and jazz in general! We use triads for chords and in solo lines all the time, basic arpeggios, upper-structures, triad pairs are all standard terms in jazz. That is what this lesson is about. The main categories of triads are major, minor, diminished, augmented and sus4 triads. But there is one more triad that we use very often but don’t really talk about.

Identifying the triad new type

Let’s first talk about where we come across the triad. To illustrate this, I have written out two examples of cadences. Both are very common and I am sure you have played them or something very similar at some point.

In the first cadence, the triad is used for the Cm6 chord. The voicing is A Eb G and we could describe this as an Eb major triad with a b5.

The second cadence has a B major b5 triad on the G7alt: B Eb F (which could also be written B D# F).

In Dutch this is called “hard verminderd” but there is, as far as I know, no name for them in English or Danish.

As you can see we use it all the time so it is a bit strange that it doesn’t have a name or category of it’s own.

Using the Major b5 Triad for chords.

In order to use the triad it is useful to learn some inversion of it on the neck.

To give you a good start for this I have written out C major b5 on the E,B,G and B,G D string sets.

As you can tell in the video I use the b5 triad as the following chords:

Am6, D7(9), Ab7alt, B7sus4(b9), F#m7b5.

Using the major b5 triad in an Am6 context

To put the C major b5 triad to use as an Am6 here’s a standard A minor cadence:

The voicings are all root-less. Here we have a Dm triad as a voicing of Bø, a D diminished triad for E(b9) and the C major b5 triad for Am6.

The Dom7th(9) Voicing.

This example is illustrating how you can take a C major triad and use that for Am7, then C major b5 for D7(9) and then that resolves nicely to a Gmaj7 chord. Here voiced with a Bm triad.

Altered dom7ths

Since we have a D7(9) voicing we can of course also consider that a voicing for the tritone substitute Ab7. In that case we have an Ab7 altered with a b13. In this example I am using that voicing in a II V I in Db major.

Using the Major b5 triad in solos.

Of course, there are also some great applications when it comes to using this triad in a solo.
Again, it is probably best to start with learning to play the arpeggio. There are many ways you can do this. Here I have chosen to focus on two. The firs example is using the nature of the guitar where we can play the triad on a set of two string and then repeat the pattern up the string stets. This is the first example written out in example 7
The 2nd example is using a more strict position, so now the focus is on keeping it in the 8th position.

When making your own triad fingerings you should probably use whatever system you are already used to and alter the major triad with a b5 to come up with new fingerings. That way you can rely more on what you already know.

The Altered Scale and Major b5 triads

In this example, the II line consists of a Bb major triad and a scale run. The C7 altered line is first the C major b5 arpeggio and then a scale run in the C altered scale that is resolved to the 3rd(A) of Fmaj7.

In the C altered scale we have 3 major b5 triads as shown In example 9: E, Gb and C major b5 triads.

This is shown in ex 9

The Diminished scale and it’s major b5 triads

Here the Major b5 triad is used as it is found in a Diminished scale.

The Diminished scale that we associate with C7 is: C Db Eb E Gb G A Bb C.

The Major b5 triads that we can make there are on C, Eb, Gb and A

In the example I again use a Bb major triad and a small scale fragment on the Gm7 chord.

The C7 line is created combining a C and an A major b5 triad and then the last two notes lets it resolve to the Fmaj7 chord

The Tonic minor arpeggio

Since the C major b5 is a great voicing for an Am6 then we can of course also use it as an arpeggio in a line.

In the exampl, here above, I am playing a fairly basic II V I in A minor that I resolve to a small melodic idea using a C major b5 before finally ending on the 9th of the Am chord.

As I mentioned in the C7 altered line the melodic minor scale has a major b5 triad in 3 places. For A melodic minor that gives us G#, C and D. Theses are shown in Ex 13

The trick to get this into your playing is probably to rely on that you already use it in a lot of contexts and therefore you are used to them and can use the ideas I went over here to just broaden the amount of places that you can put it to use. This goes for both using as a chord voicing and as an arpeggio.

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

The Triad we never talk about – but we play it all the time!

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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 Approaches to a Jazz Blues – Rethinking the Chord Progression

Reharmonizing and interpreting chord progressions like a 12 bar jazz blues is a very important part of improvising in jazz. In this video I will take a Bb Jazz Blues and go over a few fairly simple ways to get other sounds on the first 4 bars. It should open some new ideas and widen your knowledge of jazz harmony and jazz theory.

I discuss how I come up with the ideas and how I both improvise and comp with the “new” sound. Often making the chord progression more modal gives you a lot of interesting choices in terms of reharmonization and scale choices.

List of contents

0:32 Overview of what is covered in the video
0:44 Comping and Soloing with alternative changes and sounds

1:10 Standard Blues Changes solo for Reference
1:48 Making the Blues modal

2:12 Lydian b7 as a “different sound”
2:45 Lydian b7 Guitar Solo example
3:36 Structures used for Lydian b7
3:50 Triad Pairs: Bb + C
4:03 Ab Augmented and Bb
5:02 Gm and Ab Augmented
5:08 Bb7(b5) Arpeggio
5:21 FmMaj7 Arpeggio

5:41 Bb Phrygian Guitar Solo
6:32 Bb Phrygian as a Sound on a Bb Blues
6:43 Bmaj7(b5) chord as a Bb7sus4(b9) chord
7:09 Fm7b5 voicing
7:14 Db7 voicings
7:49 Coloring Blues Phrases with Phrygian chords
8:28 Using the Bmaj7(b5) arpeggio

8:43 Whole step dom7th Guitar Solo
9:31 The thinking behind the reharmonization
9:58 Playing Coltrane Changes on a Bb Blues
10:15 Explaining how the chords work
11:05 Comping Description
11:46 Soloing Description, target notes
12:20 Reharmonization in solos and interaction

12:54 Modal Altered Scale Guitar Solo
13:43 The Altered dom7th and extending it to 4 bars
14:26 Voicings (E7/Bb7alt)
14:53 Soloing: Important clear target notes
15:28 The Mysterious Triad
15:56 Dmaj7(#5) arpeggio

16:47 Taking these examples further.
17:12 Using the chord voicings to learn to solo
17:30 Thoughts on soloing with superimposed changes
17:48 Other Reharmonizations and modal sounds
18:10 How to come up with reharmonizations

19:04 Outro

Pentatonic Scale for Altered Chords – Modern Melodic Minor Secrets

The Pentatonic scale is one of the first things we learn. And since it is something we are very familiar with and we can use this to change it a bit and use it for other chord sounds like Altered Dominants or other melodic minor sounds. In this lesson I am going to show you a simple way to make a great pentatonic scale for altered chords and demonstrate how to learn and how to use it.

Creating the Pentatonic scale

I came up with this scale by playing a C minor pentatonic scale and then changing the C to a B. This is shown in example 1, first the C minor and then the B Lydian Augmented pentatonic scale.

As you can see in this example we can easily use that we already know 5 positions of pentatonic scales and that it is easy to “alter” the root so that we make them into or new pentatonic scale.

The Melodic Minor Connection

It is important to also notice that this scale, or 5 note set of notes. Is also a subset of the Ab melodic minor scale:

Melodic minor:       Ab Bb B Db Eb F G Ab Ab Bb

Altered pentatonic:          B        Eb F G            Bb B

This tells us that it is a part of the Ab melodic minor/ G Altered scale and we can also see that it is a good fit for the G7 with an F and a B in there.

Learning The Altered Dom7th Pentatonic Scale

Since the scale is layed out in 2 notes per string patterns across the neck, just like our normal pentatonic scales we can use some of the same exercises to get used to playing the scale

Here are a few excerpts:

The pentatonic scale in groups of 3 notes

The scale in groups of 4 notes:

Finding the chords in the scale

It is important to also have some of the structures under control in the scale. The place you probably want to start is to create some diatonic chords. In Example 5 I have stacked diatonic “3rds” which as you may know yields a lot of quartal harmony.

This exercise is shown here below:

The chords that we get from this are:

  • G7alt Quartal Voicing
  • Eb augmented triad
  • F Quartal Voicing
  • G7 Shell voicing
  • Eb Maj triad (2nd inv)

All of them are quite useful as upper-structures on a G7 altered.

Using the scale as a melody

To demonstrate the way this pentatonic scale works in the context of a II V I I have made three examples.

The first example starts with a pattern of an Fmaj7 (the arpeggio from the 3rd of Dm7). The arepggio is played in a 1 5 3 7 pattern. The line continues with a descending scale run.

On the G7alt the line is simply an ascending run up the scale that is then finally resolved to the 9th(D).

The fact that the pentatonic scale is a bit unusual in the construction makes it possible to get away with using it as a melody in the most basic form as a sort of enriched arpeggio.  

Putting some diatonic chords to use

The 2nd example starts with a Dm7 descending arpeggio. From here it continues with a short scale run. 

On the G7alt the melody is first the G7(#9) quartal voicing and then a Eb augmented triad in inversion.

The line resolves to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7.

The upper-structure triad

This example makes use of the Eb major triad as an upper structure on the G7alt.

The opening on the Dm7 line is constructed first from an F major triad followed by an Am pentatonic scale fragment. On the G7alt the line is an embellishment of an Eb root position triad followed by a small scale run that resolves to the 3rd of Cmaj7.

Working with these altered or modified pentatonic scales

When you work on using this pentatonic scale it is useful to try to tap into some of all the things you already have in your system with normal pentatonics. There is a lot of tips and ideas already explored on guitar in several styles using pentatonic scales after all. 

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Drop2 – Inner-voice movement and Melody – Minor II V I

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