Category Archives: Blog

Blog Posts by Jens

3 Ways To Play More Interesting Rhythms In Your Solos

Learning to play solos where the rhythm really sounds like Jazz is difficult and it is probably the most important part of Jazz. Jazz Rhythm is a language that you need to develop.

What you want to focus on is practicing things that help you hear phrases that have those rhythms in them. They have to be in your ear and in your system if you want them to come out into your playing.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Jazz Rhythm – Hearing Phrases with great rhythms

0:30 #1 Themes and Melodies

0:45 Internalizing melodies = internalizing rhythms

1:34 Using Theme Rhythms in Solos – Tenor Madness

2:04 The other elusive skill for Jazz Playing

2:18 Rhythmical Target Notes

2:33 The Different Kinds of Target Notes

2:53 Example: 4& as Rhythmical Target on a Turnaround

3:40 #3 Rhythmical Displacement

4:13 Example Motif from Bernie’s Tune

5:20 More than just the notes

5:40 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

How To Sound Like Jazz – It Is All Phrasing

You want to learn Jazz, and everybody is saying: Learn Bebop scales and altered chords, upper-structure triad pairs. All these fancy things, and you can do great things with that, but in the end, it is not that which makes it sound like jazz. It is the phrasing, it is how you play it.

In this video, I am going to go over some examples of fairly simple things that do sound like Jazz and talk about how you start sounding like that what to work and what to practice.

Jazz Phrasing – What To Listen For

To give you an idea about what I mean here are a few very simple II V I licks in C major, just using the notes of the scale, no chromaticism or alterations everything is just in C.

Then I am going to analyze that and give you two great ways to work on improving your phrasing.

What is important is to start hearing about a line like this is that the notes are note played with the same volume or intensity. Jazz lines are not just a row of notes that are either on or off like this PLAY same note equal dynamic

If I played the line like without accents and dynamics it would sound boring and not like Jazz at all.

So I add some accents to the line. In this line, I have accents on the 1, 2& and on the 2& in bar 2. This is shown below:

The first note naturally gets an accent, but within the line then the interesting accents that make it sound like Jazz are on a note that is off the beat and higher than the following note.

Notice how I am using legato to give one-note and accent and make the following softer, this is a very common way to use legato for phrasing.

Accent on a note that is off the beat and higher than the following note.

Here we have accents on 1&, 3& and 2& in bar 2 as shown here below:

Again I am just using the scale and the diatonic arpeggios, so it is clearly more about how you play the lines and how the melodies are constructed than what notes you are playing.

The Dorian #4 Bebop scale will not automatically make you sound like Bebop.

How To Learn Jazz Phrasing

Now you have an idea about what is happening and how to get what you play to sound better.

But if you really want to sound better then you need to get this way of playing into your system so that it becomes automatic, something that is a little more difficult.

There are two exercises that you can work on that will really help this the first one is a great way to learn some repertoire as well. I also have a WebStore lesson dedicated to this that you can check out here: Jazz-Blues – 4 Easy Jazz Phrasing Etudes

One way to really dig into phrasing is to learn bebop themes and really try to analyze them and figure out how to phrase them. This way of working is a bit technical or theoretical and you need to work on it for some time and with a few tunes to get it to work in your playing., but it can be a great way to start hearing better phrasing and you can also reference different recordings of the bebop theme to get a sense of how people phrase the lines.

An analysis of Charlie Parkers Au Privave is shown here below with possible accent notes circled:

Of course, playing along with a recording and really nailing the phrasing is also a great exercise.

It could open up a completely new way to hear the melodies.

Transcribing

The other way to work on this is by learning solos by ear. For me, this was the most important takeaway from transcribing and still is. If you learn a solo and can play along with the recording then you really start hearing the phrasing and it is going to be a lot easier to get that sound out into your playing.

Learning solos by ear can seem really difficult compared to the previous exercise, but the advantage over working from a piece of written out music is that you have to listen a lot to a recording, really try to hear how it sounds and then reproduce that so the process is much closer to how you hopefully will end up using the phrasing and therefore it is much more effective as a way of learning.

Even if this was the only thing you would learn from learning a solo by ear and playing it with the recording, then phrasing is so important that it is more than enough reason to start doing this. I think that is obvious from the first part of this video.

What solos have you checked out by ear, do you have recommendations for good easy solos to learn? Maybe especially because of the phrasing. Leave a comment on this video!

A really important part of improving your phrasing is to hear what you sound like and see how it matches what you want to sound like. The only real way to do this is to record yourself. This is a great tool for learning and especially self-teaching. If you want some solid tips and advice on how to work with this then check out this video on that topic.

I have other videos on phrasing and how to interpret jazz lines like these. I find myself much more hearing drums when I am hearing how a line is supposed to sound.

Practicing Jazz Phrasing with Easy Etudes

Other Lessons on Phrasing

Jazz Phrasing – This is what you want to know

Bebop Soloing – The Licks You Need To Check Out

Jazz & Bebop Phrasing – C Blues

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Get the PDF!

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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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5 Scale Exercises That Are Great In Solos

Practicing scale exercises is something that we do to gain flexibility and an overview of the guitar. But another thing you should also consider is that the things you practice in a Jazz scale exercise should also not be too far from what you actually need when you solo.
Setting your scale practice up so that it is helping you develop vocabulary is very useful and very efficient.

In this video, I will show you 5 exercises that are scale exercises but that you can also use as great building blocks for jazz licks. When you check out these concepts you should also start to be able to make your own scale exercises that help you play better solos using the things you want to play in your solos.

Other videos on Scale Exercises and using them

How to practice your scales and why – Positions

The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

Content:

0:00 Intro – Exercises for Flexibility, Technique and…

0:30 Scale Exercises that are building blocks for Jazz Solos

0:51 The Scale and How I Play it

1:15 #1 The Bebop Arpeggio

2:04 Lick using Exercise #1

2:33 #2 Triads with Enclosures

3:31 Lick using Exercise #2

4:09 #3 Chaining Arpeggios Like Kurt Rosenwinkel

4:49 Along the Neck

5:25 Lick using Exercise #3

6:13 #4 Barry Harris’ Chromatic Rule

6:59 The Rules

7:29 Lick using Exercise #4

8:09 #5 Parker and Benson’s Arpeggio with Chromatic Tail

9:14 Lick using Exercise #5

10:05 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page

Chord Fills and a Great Pentatonic Trick on the Guitar

If you want to really open up the way you play chords and be a lot more free with how you comp or make fills in a chord melody arrangement, then you have to start working on different ways to make harmonized melodies that you can fit into a chord progression.

In this lesson, I am going to show you how I make chord runs or chord fills like I was using in the intro and break down a few examples.

One thing that is really useful for this is a way to use the pentatonic scale as chords and in that way make some really great sounding fills.

Let’s first take a look at a few examples and then talk about developing the pentatonic ideas later in the lesson.

3 Chord Runs Mixing Scales and Chord Voicings

The above example has a different run for each chord. Let’s have a look at how they are constructed.

Mixing Am pentatonic and Dm7

The Dm7 run below is the most complicated of the 3. Here I am harmonizing a melody that is from the Am pentatonic scale. The Am pentatonic scale is a “neutral” sound over a Dm7. All notes sound good but the scale lacks a little color because there is no F.

In the run, I start with a Dm triad and I also end with a Dm7(9) or Fmaj voicing. These two ensure that the sound of the chord is clear. In between, I am using C major and Am voicings. They sound neutral but are not too clear.

Harmonized G altered scale

The G altered run is mixing voicings and the scale. You can see how the 3 voicings shown in diagrams below work as a way of harmonizing the melody on each string. The red note marks where the melody is moving to in the line.

The entire voicing in the scale is shown in the lowest diagram, with the voicing in Blue.

Em pentatonic scale as a Jazz Chords for Cmaj7

In the example above I am generating voicings by stacking notes in the Em pentatonic scale. Since the entire Em pentatonic scale works as a Cmaj7 sound then this produces some great sounding voicings and I can move around and have a scale to play melodies with,

In this case, it is an ascending melody harmonizing every other note.

Two-layer Chord Runs

This example is using quarter note triplets to create a floating effect over the meter. It is also separating the melody from the chords to give the run a call response or solo-comp character.

On the Dm7 the technique used is similar to what I did on Cmaj7 in the previous example. The only difference is that here the chord is split into two so that the highest note in the chord is played separately.

Dm Pentatonic Run

Turning this into an exercise down the neck would give you this run:

The Cmaj7 bar is using the exact same thing but with an Em pentatonic scale instead of a Dm pentatonic.

G7 altered Exercise

You can also turn the G7 altered lick into a longer exercise moving in the scale. SInce the G altered scale is a 7 note scale I had to adapt the melody a little to get it to work.

A way to practice for more flexibility

The exercise below is using the Em pentatonic scale. This is really just a way to practice playing several pentatonic voicings but builds your ability to make melodies and create variations.

Using Pentatonic Positions

The pentatonic chords that I have used until now were all along the neck. This is a great way to work with voicings, but the open sound of the chords you get makes it possible to also do this in position.

These 3 exercises help you explore that:

Pentatonics and Arpeggios on a Jazz Standard

If you want to explore how you can get some great solo lines mixing pentatonics and arpeggios on Lady Bird then check out this lesson, or get it at a reduced price as a part of the Easy Standards Bundle:

Get a free E-book

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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.

The 10 Types Of Difficult Chords In A Jazz Standard

If you are learning a Jazz Standard then the analysis is a great tool. It is very useful to know how the chords work and how they sound in the key of the song. But in a Jazz Standards Analysis, you are likely to come across chords that are not just a part of a II V I and more difficult to understand.

This video is on 10 types of chords that are like that and how you learn to recognize and deal with them. It should help you take your harmonic analysis up a level and help make it easy to learn jazz standards quickly.

My video on why you want to learn and use Functional Harmony
https://jenslarsen.nl/why-you-want-to-think-in-functional-harmony/

My video on why you don’t want to use modes:
https://jenslarsen.nl/learn-the-modes-is-horrible-advice-this-is-a-better-skill/

More information on Diminished Chords:

Secret to play over Diminished Chords

Content of the video

0:00 Intro

0:22 The chords that are not a II V I 

0:50 Secondary Dominants – Identifying and Playing

1:48 Function of a Secondary Dominants

2:13 #1 V of V

2:22 Example in C Major

2:58 Where they are in the form (ABAC + AABA forms)

4:05 Examples to hear V of V as Lydian and as “normal” dominant

4:22 #2 Secondary Dom7th that resolves to a major chord

4:45 Secondary II V Cadence

5:18 A Chord in the song vs A chord in a solo

5:52 #3 Secondary Dom7th that resolves to a minor chord

6:36 #4 Tritone Substitutions

7:18 Lydian Dominant on Tritone subs

7:34 Example in a Jazz Standard

7:45 #5 Secondary Diminished Chords

7:57 Example in a Standard + Reharmonization

8:45 Scale Choices for secondary diminished chords

8:57 #6 IVm chords

9:25 Basic IVm in C major

9:48 Example in a Standard

10:05 #7 Backdoor Dominants

10:18 It is a minor subdominant!

10:50  Scale choice and example in a song

11:11 #8 bIImaj7 and bVImaj7

11:23 bII – Neapolitan Subdominant

11:53 Standard Example You Stepped out of the dream and Suspension use

12:25 bVImaj7 

12:53 #9 #IVdim

13:05 Rhythm Changes example and voice-leading

13:30 Scale Choice for #IV dim

13:44 #10 bIIIdim

14:00 Typical Progression and Scale choice

14:40 #11 Reharmonized #IV dim chords

15:07 How it works

15:20 In a song: I remember you

15:40 Stella By Starlight

16:14 Understanding Jazz Harmony in Jazz Standards

16:35 Like the video? Check Out my Patreon Page

I Fall In Love Too Easily – Heeres Custom Guitars “Blue”

I was lucky enough that Richard Heeres asked me to try his new Semi-hollow model: “Blue”.

You can check out the specs of it on Heeres Custom Guitars Website here: Heeres “Blue”

Beautiful guitar that sounds and plays amazing, but you can check it out in the video.

If you want the PDF of my playing then have a look below:

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I will also send you a free PDF with 15 II Valt I licks if you are a new subscriber

Richard Heeres introducing Blue

Check out more chord melody arrangements

Here’s the Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZa0CVLZ7kE&list=PLWYuNvZPqqcHEF3obcIJ-GaYghGgma9Rv&index=3

Drop 2 Magic On Satin Doll – This Is How To Use Jazz Chords

Drop 2 voicings are really useful for a lot of things in Jazz. They are essential for most jazz comping, Wes Montgomery or George Benson chords solos and other kinds of block harmony.

In this video, I am going to go over how you take a basic set of drop2 chords on the song Satin Doll and then expand them adding chromatic chords, making riffs and melodies. It will also show you how to really comp a song using melodic concepts like call response and motivic development that really are what separates you from just playing the harmony and sounding like a musical statement.

I am going to take the first 8 bars of Satin Doll and then in 5 levels add different things to the comping working on voicings, melodies, and rhythm.

Level 1 – Basic Chords

The first example is using one voicing for each chord. Keeping it simple

When you less complicated chords you can focus on great rhythms and that is also important.

Level 2 – Top-note melodies

Even though we are playing chords we still have to make musical statements. A big part of that is playing strong top-note melodies. The next step is really going to open up the possibilities for the melodies you can create.

Satin Doll and chord progression really lend itself to motivic development. There are a lot of repeating progressions like between bars 1-2 or between bars 1-2 and 3-4. This makes it easy to repeat and develop motifs.

Level 3 – Mixing voicing types

I have a lot of videos where I talk about how important it is to not get stuck in only using one chord type. You want to try to combine as many things as you can.

This example is it mixing the drop2 with 3-note voicings. The 3-note voicings are really just the drop2 but then leaving out the top string, which gives us a lot more options for melodies.

As you can see in the example below:

The II V I example mixing the different voicings is this:

Level 4 – Chromatic Passing notes

The top-note melodies we play are Jazz, so you can add a little chromaticism in there on top of the chords.

Level 5 – Chromatic Chords

With chromatic melodies, you can also harmonize them and get some great sounding chromatic passing chords.

Drop 2 Boost for your comping and chord solos

Get more examples of how to use and embellish Drop2 chords

Get a free E-book

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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.

How to write Jazz Licks – What You Want to Know

One of the best ways to practice Jazz and to learn to play better solos is to work on writing jazz licks. When you are composing licks you are working on how you can use the material that you can practice and really figuring out how to get it to sound great in a solo.

This video takes you through working on this in steps or levels and talks about important techniques you can use to make what you write sound better.

In this video, I am going to break down 6 levels that you can work on writing licks and discuss:

  • How you get started writing jazz licks
  • What does it mean to have a lick that follows the changes
  • How do you incorporate Arpeggios and chromatic melodies
  • What makes it sound like Jazz
  • How to get more surprising melodies in there.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:18 Writing Licks and Solos as a way of practicing

0:33 Scary White Papers with empty lines

0:48 Level 1 – The Scale and Connecting to the changes

2:11 Why it is good to keep it simple

2:41 Bebop Scales – it is a bit too systematic

3:11 Level 2 – Arpeggios of the chords 

4:17 Level 3 – Arpeggios as Frames for lines

6:00 Level 4 – Arpeggios from the 3rd and Chromaticism 

6:20 Arpeggios from the 3rd 

8:19 Different way to use chromaticism 

9:11 Level 5 – Octave Displacement 

9:20 Rhythm and Joe Pass etudes

10:21 Explaining Octave Displacement on an Arpeggio 

12:15 Level 6 – Suspending Chord Tones

12:37 Chromatic enclosure as a suspension 

14:46 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Bebop Soloing – The Licks You Need To Check Out

Bebop is a beautiful but difficult musical language to learn.

Bebop is a beautiful but difficult musical language to learn.

Sometimes it works better to hear how the phrases sound and try to play them. This way you get a feel for how you should phrase them, and add to your bebop soloing techniques.

This started as a lesson on how arpeggios are used in bebop but then I got really into the licks and liked them so much that I ended up just making a lot of really solid traditional bebop lines.

You should check out the licks but also try to isolate small phrases and make your own licks with them. That is how it really becomes a part of your vocabulary.

1 Inserting 2nd voice and using trills

In the example below I am using two voices in the Dm7 line. The 1st voice is on beats 1 and 3 and in between are the counter-point melodies. This way of adding extra melodies is a great way to add surprising skips and have short changes of direction in the lines

2 Using a chromatic enclosure to resolve

Chromatic enclosures are a great way to create suspensions and movement in a line. In this line, the Dm7 line is first suspending the F with a 4-note enclosure. I am also using chromaticism to move from the G7 to Cmaj7.

3 Adding Arpeggios in Scale-runs

Inserting arpeggios in scale melodies is a good way to change things up. This is what is happening with the Am triad on the Dm7 chord.

The G7 line is using a G augmented mixing it up with an Abm triad.

4 Arpeggio Patterns to get large intervals

Using Arpeggios played in inversions and patterns is a great way to have melodies that are closely related to the harmony and add larger, more surprising, intervals.

On the Dm7 I am using a 1531 pattern of the F major triad. The triad of the 3rd. The G7 line has a Bdim arpeggio, again the arpeggio from the 3rd.

5 Voice-leading ideas as great bebop lines.

Many great bop lines are made from voice-leading concepts. This example is turning a Dm7 – DmMaj7, Dm7 Dm6 into a great super-imposed bop line.

Notice how the Dm to DmMaj7 uses basic arpeggios and introduces a large range.

6 2-note enclosure and motivic chromaticism

The line on the Dm7 is starting with a 2-note enclosure. The G7 line is using the G augmented triad and adding octave-displacement.

The last half of the G7 bar is a chromatic phrase that is moved and repeated on the Cmaj7 to develop the melody.

7 Moving phrases on the G7 chord

Another way to move phrases is illustrated on the G7 line in this example. The motif uses a maj7th interval that really makes it stand out.

8 Chromaticism and Maj7 inversions

Chromaticism as a means to suspend the sound of the chord is a good way to keep the line moving forward and also a way to add an outside phrase to a line.

The line below opens with a double-chromatic enclosure resolving back into the chord on beat 3.

9 Extended arpeggios in Bebop Soloing

Using 9th arpeggios is also a good option for bebop lines. The line here below is using a DM9 arpeggio and playing the last part of it as an 8th-note triplet.

The G7 line is using a Bdim arpeggio and breaking up the 8ht note flow with a trill.

10 Triplet and embellishing dim arpeggios

The Dm7 line is using the Fmaj7 arpeggio, again the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord. This time it is played as an 8th note triplet.

The entire line on the G7 is based around a pattern of a B (or Abdim) that is embellished with passing notes and played in an inversion.

Level up your Jazz Phrasing

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!

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.

II V I – When you want to sound different (in 8 ways)

The II V I is the most important and common chord progressions in Jazz.

But sometimes it is also nice to have some other ways of approaching this progression so that it sounds a little less predictable maybe even less like a II V I.

In this video, I am going over 8 ways to change the chords to get some new sounds, and I am only messing with the II and the I chord because I have a ton of other videos with different V chord options.

Of course, you can also take these examples and use them on a static chord if that fits the music you play better and you want to change it up a little.

Check out other videos on Reharmonization

Why Reharmonization Is For You And How To Get Started

Reharmonization – Are you getting it wrong?

Content:

0:00 Intro – Changing up the II V I sounds

0:20 8 Ways to change the sound of a 2 5 1

0:44 Example 1 – IImMAj7

0:59 What The Chords Sound Like and why that is important for solos….

2:29 Example 2 – IIø(9)

3:19 More Different Rhythms

3:36 Triplets Groupings

3:53 Example 3 – IIsus4(b9) – The Prhygian Chord

4:58 The Elephant In The Room

6:11 Example 4 – IIalt

7:04 8th note triplet groupings on altered dominants

7:45 Example 5 – Imaj7(#11)

8:47 Example 6 – Imaj7(#5)

9:29 Sneaking in Melodic Minor sounds

10:04 Triplet rhythms for medium swing – Hancock, Rosenwinkel, Mehldau

10:29 Example 7 – Imaj7(#9,#11)

11:43 Example 8 – Imaj7(#9,#5)

11:58 The Augmented Scale – That I never practiced

13:33 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 Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.