Category Archives: Lesson

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.

Conclusions

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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3 types of Rhythm Changes licks you NEED to know

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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:

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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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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.

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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
 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6U_b6KmJHI&t=25s&list=PLWYuNvZPqqcGbyQmZ9N-TYsjd5pCfzYjI&index=1

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

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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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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.

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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

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.

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Drop2 – Tactics to Create Cutting-Edge Jazz Guitar Harmony

Drop2 voicings is probably one of the most important chord types that we use in jazz guitar. This video is going to demonstrate how you can embellish the melody you play with inner-voice movement and sometimes an extra layer of harmony. 

Exploring ideas like this are great for really understanding how the harmony moves and how each voice is moving. This will give you a great overview of the notes in the chord and also a lot of useful insight in what is possible with a chord voicing.

The Cadence

For this video I will demonstrate the ideas on a II V I in A minor. The basic A minor cadence would be:

Bm7(b5) E7(b9) Am6

Since we use melodic minor on tonic minor chords the A minor chord is an Am6.

The II and V chords are coming out of A harmonic minor.

The basic Drop2 voicings

To begin with it is probably useful to just go over the basic cadences on the top string set. This is shown in all inversions here below:

I have kept the voicings very basic but did opt for using a dim chord for the E7 to have the b9 in the chord.

Adding Extensions and alterations

One possible next step could be to add some more extensions to the chords. This can be done following the ideas that I went over in this lesson: https://jenslarsen.nl/jazz-chord-essentials-drop2-voicings-part-2/

To quickly demonstrate this you can look at the example below:

Here  the Bm7(b5) has an 11 which replaces the 3rd and the E7b9 has an b13 that replaces the 5th. The Am6 has an added 9 where the 9th(B) is replacing the root.

Inner-voices in a Minor Cadence

The first example has a half note top melody moving from A to C and finally B on the Am6(9).

The second highest voice is moving from D up to F on the E7(b9) and on the E7 it makes a small melodic movement with F, G and D. The is voice then resolves to E on the Am6.

On the Am6 the lowest voice travels from 6(F#) chromatically up to the Maj7(G#).

Melodic movement in more parts of the harmony.

In this second example the top note melody is moving on the Bm7(b5) and then the 2nd voice takes over on the E7. The E7 voicing on beat 3 has a #9 and also a #11 suspending the 3rd. The inner voice moves from A# to C and on the C the top note melody takes over and moves from F to G to resolve to the 5th(E) on Am.

On the Am the first voicing is an Am6(Maj7) and there is an inner voice melody travelling from G# to B on the final chord.

Counter Harmony – Counterpoint 2.0

The beginning of the 3rd example has the top note melody moving, similar to what was happening in the 2nd example. 

On the E7 the melody is a high C and under this I move all three voices adding a different layer of harmony. The first voicing is an E7(#9b13) and the idea is to move the #9 down to the b9 via the 9th. The way I do this is by adding B7 on the F# so that there’s a quick B7 passing chord under the sustained C note melody.

From there the E7 is resolved via a dim chord voicing to an Am6. On the Am6 the 2nd voice is moving from the 6th(F#) via the root to the Maj7(G#).

 

A practical way to learn this

The examples that I went over in this lesson are of course quite dense with innner-voice movement. I made them like this to demonstrate what is possible and to give you some ideas to make your own chord progressions.

When you want to work on this you should probably try either take one of the ideas I use (so one of the chords in the example) and then insert that into your playing. This will make it easier to work on getting used to thinking like this.

 

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

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.

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Things You Never Use in Your Solos – Mixolydian

We are always looking for new ideas and things to use in our solos so that we can keep improving and stay inspired. In this lesson I am going to go over three examples of some less common ideas that you can add into you vocabulary when using Mixolydian, so if you are playing over a dominant chord. I chose to keep it in a more modal context than in a cadence since these ideas are very useful and easy to study on a static or modal background.

For each of the licks I have also added some exercises to get familiar with the new structure and talk a little about how to use them in jazz licks.

Scale, Chord, Mode and all that

The examples in this lesson are all on a D7 chord, so I am using D mixolydian which is of course the same as G major, since D7 is the dominant of G. Below in example 1 a position of the G major or D mixolyidan scale is shown.

Quintal Harmony – The sound of the Police.

The first structure you can experiment with is the quintal arpeggio. As you hear me play in the video this arpeggio is associated with the sound of Andy Sumners from the Police. That said, if you ask a jazz piano player he might talk about how Kenny Barron is using it a lot and Hendrix was fond of it as well, so it is certainly not unique to the Police.

A good way to check this arpeggio out is to consider it a diatonic arpeggio and play it through the scale, In example 2 I have done this on the A, D & G string set.

One note per string exercises like this are always great for your right hand if you alternate pick.

Another very useful exercise is to take the quintal arpeggio and play it through a position of the scale. Probably this is more for overview and to connect it with the scale than for speed.

A Jazz Guitar Lick with Quintal Arpeggios

On the D7 chord there are of course several different options for a quintal arpeggios. In this example I am using the one from the 5th: A E B, which related to a D root: 5th, 9th and 13th.

The lick starts with the quintal arpeggio and from there continues with a descending scale run down to the 1 of the 2nd bar. In the 2nd bar the melody is first a quartal arpeggio from C: C F# B which is also what you might know as a D7(13) without the root. The Last part of the lick is a scale run in a 3 note per string B minor (or D major) pentatonic scale.

The Forgotten Triad Pairs

Usually when you see people work with Triad Pairs in improvisation they stick with the two major triads next to each other and work with that sound. So in a C major context that would be F and G major triads.  In fact you can choose any set of two triads next to each other and use that as a triad pair and often you can find a set that works better with the chord you are using it on than the two major triads.

In this example I am making a triad pair by removing the one note that you can’t really emphasize on a D7: G. If we take that note a way we are left with 6 notes in the scale and those 6 notes form the Am and Bm triads.

There are several ways to work on these triad pairs. Here is first the Am and Bm triads in the position. I play them in inversions alternating the Am and Bm triads.

Here is a similar exercise but on the A,D and G string set.

Triad Pair melodies: Beautiful intervals

The lick using the triad pairs is almost exclusively using the triad pairs. The first part is chaining together Am root position and a Bm 2nd inversion. From there it continues with a 315 pattern of the Am and the same for the Bm triad. The ending is a smale melody fragment constructed from an Am triad.

The exotic Sus4 options

In my recent lesson on Melodic Minor I also talk about the diatonic sus4 triads (check it out: HERE).

The Sus4 triads are a great sound, they are of course also related to quintal and quartal harmony since: Asus4 is A D E,  E A D is a quartal arpeggio and D A E is a quintal arpeggio.

The first sus4 arpeggio that I am using is an F#dim(sus4). F#dim is F# A C, and F#dim(sus4) is F# B C.  This is in fact spelling out the core of the D7 Mixolydian with C and F# and adding a 13th with the B.

You may recognize the arpeggio as the opening statement in the Joe Henderson piece Inner Urge.

The arpeggio is shown in the position here below:

The other arpeggio I use is an Asus4 arpeggio. This is shown in position here below in example 9:

The sus4 triads are a great way to add extensions and also get some larger intervals in the lick because they by design already contain a 4th and a 5th interval.

Mixolydian Sus4 triads in Action!

The Line starts with a simple statement of the basic chord: D and F#. This is used as a motif and played in reverse a step lower: E C. The last half of the first bar is an Em pentatonic fragment. In the 2nd bar the melody is the F#dim(sus4) arpeggio in 2 octaves. 

Putting all of this to use!

Of course the point of these exercises and the licks are to demonstrate what is possible with these structures. For all of the ideas there are many more options available if you try to find other sus4 triads or triad pairs. 

The material in this lesson doesn’t become really useful until you work a bit with it and start making your own lines, so don’t forget to incorporate it in your own playing!

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Thing You Never Use in Your Solos – Mixolydian

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.

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Secret to play over Diminished Chords

Everybody find Diminished chords troublesome to play over, but actually it is not as difficult as you think. In this video I will go over how I improvise over a diminished chord and give you the tools and knowledge to add it to your guitar solos.

Three main types of Dim Chords

A diminished chord is a collection of notes that always want to resolve. They are never used as a tonic chord, but always as a means of tension towards or suspension of another chord. The first thing to notice is that diminished chords have different ways to resolve, in fact there are three main types of dim chords resolutions you will come across. These are shown in example 1 here below:

Dominant Diminished Chords

The first diminished chord is a G#dim resolving to an Am7. This Dim chord functions as a dominant and could easily be replaced with an E7.

I assume you know how to play a dominant resolving to a minor chord like E7(b9) to Am, so I won’t spend a lot of time on this type in this lesson.

Sub-Dominant Diminished Chords

The other two are #IV diminished chords. These are not dominants but are sub dominants and resolve in a different way. The easiest way to think of them is as #IV dim, but you are also (or most even) likely to come accross them in inversions (as you will see in the examples)

The two most common progressions where you will come across these are the #VI-I. In this case the Fdim to Fmaj7, where Fdim is an inversion of Bdim, which is #IV in F major.

The last part of example 1 is a #IV dim chord (Ab dim or Bdim/Ab in this case) resolving to a subdominant chord: Gm7. This is a very common dim chord to encounter in turnarounds and is also found in a lot of standards like The Song is You or Embraceable You.

So we have three types of progressions where one is easy to play because we can treat it as a V I progression.

How to not use the diminished scale

The scale that you need to use in a context not the diminished scale. Primarily because the diminished scale is a symetrical and synthetic construction and not really what fits any type of tonal song. Most jazz standard progressions, where we find the diminished chords, are tonal.

The best way to approach this is probably to take a look at the scale that is the key. In this case that is F major as shown in example 2. If we alter this scale to contain a Dim chord then we get either an A harmonic minor scale or you could also choose a C harmonic major scale.

In most cases the A harmonic minor scale is more familiar so for now we can just stick with that. The C harmonic major option only differs one note and the difference is not that big.

The Secret Trick to Dim Chords

The secret trick in this case is to use the target notes that we associate with the V I resolutions, so in this case we coud resolve the dim chord to an A or a C over the Fmaj7 or Gm7. In Example 3 I have written out some simple exercises so you can hear how it sounds.

It’s all about target notes

So instead of making lines that resolve to the basic chord tones of the chord you can make lines as if you are resolving a dom7th chord and get used to how they sound over the chord you want to resolve to.

Idim – Imaj7

This type of progression is fairly common in songs like “I Remember You” or “You Do Something To Me”

Using the target notes of A and C in this situation is not so difficult since the A and C are both chord tones on an Fmaj7: F A C E.

Below are to examples of simple lines resoving to first the C and then the A.

The material I am using on the Bdim is really spelling out an E7(b9). E7(b9) is of course also what you are left with if you take an A harmonic minor scale and leave out A and C. 

The bIII dim resolving to IIm7.

This is usually the dim chord situation that is causing the most problems. It is also the example where you end up playing towards extensions over the II chord that you are maybe not as used to resolving to or hearing.

The first thing you want to be used to is the sound of the dim chord resolving to Gm7 as I wrote out in example 3.

For the bIII dim chord I have a few different examples. The first two are in the context of a III bIII II V I progression. 

1st Turnaround example

The Am7 line is a basic Am triad which is followed by a dim arpeggio from B to Ab. The Ab is then resolved to A on the Gm7. The A is then used as a top note in an Bbmaj7 arpeggio.

2nd Turnaround example

The 2nd turnaround example is using the C over the Gm7 chord.

The line starts with a scale run from A to C on the Am7. The Abdim line is a descending arpeggio run from the 3rd(B). On the Gm7 the line first resolves to C, which is the target note, and from there continues with a Bb major triad played in a 153 pattern.

Longer bIIIdim lines

To help you get used to the sound I have also included two examples where you can hear the resolution and I am adding the chord under the target note so that you can easily hear how it resolves.

The first example is using a dim arpeggio pattern followed by an E7 arpeggio that resolves to 9th(A) over Gm7.

The second example uses a similar arpeggio pattern that is followed by an E7(b9) fragment. This resolves to the 11th(C) on the Gm7 where I again have added the chord under the target note.

How to work on this material

The important thing is that you train yourself to hear how these target notes work and sound over the chords and in that way get the lines that you already have in your system as dominant lines to work in this other context.

Adding the chords under the target notes or just sitting down to voicelead chords towards with the target notes in the melody can be very useful besides all the exercises I covered in this lesson!

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Secret to play over diminished chords

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.

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Things you NEED to know in Melodic minor

Melodic minor is a key sound when it comes to modern and traditional jazz guitar. In this lesson I will map out some of the basic and more advanced arpeggios and triads contained in the scale. These structures are also the material I use for the 3 melodic minor jazz licks included in the video. 

The Scale

The melodic minor scale is constructed as a minor scale with a major 6th and 7th.

This gives us the construction in the key of A:

1 2 b3 4 5 6   7   8

A B C D E F# G# A

A position of this scale can be seen in the example below:

Of course if you really want to dig into the scale you probalby wnat to check it out in all positions on the neck.

Basic Arpeggio Content

Diatonic Triads

The first structure you want to check out is probably the diatonic triads. Triads are constructed in the scale by stacking thirds. The beginring of this exercise is shown in example 2 below:

It is important to realize that along the way you will be better off also knowing what each diatonic triad is and what notes it contains. This will help finding places you can use it and relate it to other chords where it may be a good upper-structure.

To shortly list the diatonic triads:

I – Am

II – Bm

III – C augmented

IV – D

V – E

VI – F#dim

VII – G#dim

Diatonic 7th chords

The next logical step is to check out the  7th chords. These are really just the triads with one extra note and also essential structures for understanding the harmony related to the scale in the from that it is used in a jazz context.

An excerpt of this exercise is shown in the example below:


Here’s a list of the chords:

I – AmMaj7

II – Bm7

III – CMaj7#5

IV – D7

V – E7

VI – F#m7(b5)

VII – G#m7(b5)

Advanced arpeggio structures

Quartal Harmony and Arpeggios

Besides the 3rds based structures that are covered here above it is also possible to start looking into some of the other possibilities contained in the scale.

A very important structure in modern jazz since John Coltrane is the Quartal Arpeggio. In the example below I have written out the quartal arpeggios played along the neck on the middle string set. This way of playing the is quite easy and a good way to connect the different positions.

A more difficult but equally important exercise is to work this out in the scale position. This is shown in the exercise below.

Diatonic Sus4 triads

The sus4 triads are closel related to the quartal arpeggios , just like the quintal arpeggios. In fact stacks of fourths can be seen as an inversion of a sus4 triad.

The diatonic sus4 triads of Amelodic minor are shown below. First as a melodic exercise along the neck and then as chords.

The sus4 triads in A melodic minor are:

Asus4

Bsus4

C(#5)sus#4

Dsus#4

Esus4

F#dim(sus4)

G#dim(susb4)

Some of these triads may have peculiar names, but as you shall see in the melodic minor licks they do have some interesting sounds that we can use.

Diatonic Spread Triads

Spread or open-voiced triads are extremely useful for adding larger intervals into your lines. One reason is that it can be difficult to have larger intervals and still make coherent melodies, and using a structure as strong as a triad really helps with this.

In this segment I have written out the spread-triads along the neck in all three inversions. I find this a good practical way to work on them. You should also consider how great they are as alternate picking exercises, since they contain a lot of string skips and are useful fro string skipping and precision with alternate picking.

Spread triads in position

As I have mentioned with the other exercises it also often very useful to check them out in a scale position. This will help you have a better overview of both the scale in general and the position that you play it in.

Below is the root position spread triads in the position that I am using for this lesson. Consider these exercises more something you do for knowing the notes of the triads and where these notes are found in this position. It probably is not very practical as any type of speed or dexterity exercise.

Melodic Minor Guitar Licks

The last part of the lesson is 3 examples of melodic minor licks using the different structures and devices I have presented in this lesson as exercises.

Diatonic Sus4 triads and Diatonic 7th arpeggios 

The first example starts with two sus4 triads: Esus4 and Dsus#4. It then continues with an AmMaj7 arpeggio and ends on the major 6th(F#).

Spread triads and triad pairs

The second example is using an open-voiced or spread triad. In this case a first inversion A minor triad. The part that follows is making use of a D and E majr triad pair which takes it up to an high E where it via a small scale run resolves to the 9th(B) of Am.

Quartal Arpeggios and Open-voiced Triads

The final example is using some stacks of 4ths. As I mention in the video, the construction of the melodic minor scale yields a few peculiar quartal arpeggios. In this line the first example is two quartal arpeggios, though the first one is actually also a G#7 shell voicing. The G#7 shell is followed by a quartal arpeggio from E. Then follows a small scale run build around an Am triad and the final part of the line is an E major root position spread triad. The line ends on the major 6th: F#.

Scale practice thoughts

Keep in mind that it is much more useful for you to keep working on knowing your scales better and trying to use the things you practice in them than trying to be able to play these exercises fast. After all we practice exercises to become better at making music and if we don’t practice making music with the material from the exercises it is going to become either empty knowledge or things that we never really learned, 

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Things you Need to know in Melodic minor

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.

6 Triads for a Cmaj7 Chord (well 10 actually..)

Using triads to play jazz chords is a great way to get the sound of the chord and have a flexible three note voicing that you can change the extensions and melody on. This video is going over 6 triads that I use for my Cmaj7 voicings and will also demonstrate how you can use them in a II V I cadence in C major. At the end of the video I go over 4 more triads that are a bit tricky to use but also yield more interesting sounds!

Finding the triads

The most important note in a Cmaj7 voicing is probably the major 3rd: E.

If we want to find the triads that can be used it is probably a good idea to just look at what options are available with the diatonic triads that contain an E.

As you can see here below I have written out the triads where E is the 3rd, the root and the 5th. Which gives us C, Em and Am triads. But we can also use the sus4 triads. The second half of the example below are the sus4 triads where E is the root, 5th and 4th.

The Bsus4 is not really diatonic to C major, but is a great sound to use for a Cmaj7(#11) or Lydian sound.

The Tonic triads

The C major triad is of course a good candidate to convey a Cmaj7 sound. The example below shows how that might be used:

The C major is of course lacking a bit of color, but it can still be used. I chose to use it with the E in the melody because if it has  the root in the melody it immediately sounds like the ending of the song.

Em triads – Triad from the 3rd of the chord

A lot of very common Cmaj7 voicings are in fact just Em triads with a C bass note (as I demonstrate in the video) This of course means that yet again the structure from the 3rd of the chord is incredibly useful as a voicing for the chord.

The Am triad – C6 chords

When using the Am triad we don’t actually get a Cmaj7 sound but instead a C6 sound. As you probably already know, the two are interchangeable so this is also a useful triad to have in your vocabulary

Esus4 The super triad

A very rich Tonic sound is the Cmaj7(13) and this is what you get if you use an Esus4 triad to spell out the Cmaj7 as shown here below:

Asus4 The 6/9 upper structure

Using an Asus4 as a Cmaj7 voicing gives you an C6 chord with an added 9. This sound is very common in Bossa Nova and other Brazilian styles but is in general of course also a beautiful sound on a tonic chord and a great alternative to the more common Cmaj7 sounds.

Lydian with a Bsus4

The last sus4 triad is the Bsus4 which is in fact diatonic to G major not C major. Bsus4/C gives us a maj7, 3rd and b5 (or #11) which is a lydian sound.

Combining the triad sounds

Now that we have 6 different ways to play the Cmaj7 chord we can combine them to get a varying set of colors on the tonic chord.

This is shown in the example below where I am first resolving to Asus4 then Am and further on to Esus4. This small move on Cmaj could also be a riff for a song with a period of static Cmaj7.

The second example is starting with a very basic II V voicing set. From there it resolves to C using Asus4, then an inversion of Asus4 that moves up to a Bsus4 and on to Esus4 before it resolves to a Gsus4.

The Gsus4 is a great choice for a Cmaj7 but it is a little more context sensitive as it does not contain an E.

The secret triads

There are four more triads that I often use for voicing a Cmaj7, but these last ones are a litte more difficult to work with because they are more incomplete or very specific in the sound that they convey.

The four triads are shown here below:

The first three are difficult because they don’t contain an E, and the last one is tricky because it has the #5 of C in the voicing.

The beautiful incomplete voicing – Gsus4

In the example here below I am using the Gsus4 triad. The Gsus4 mostly works as a C voicing because the fact that is missing the E is somehow compensated by the C in the voicing.

G/C Upper-structure triads

This voicing is fairly open sounding and not too specific as a Cmaj7 sound. This comes from it only containing the upper part of the chord. One way that it still sounds great as a Cmaj7 voicing is to have it preceded by a G7alt, because the strong pull from the G7 will then automatically make it sound like a resolution.

The Lydian Upper-structure

Another example of only using an upper structure is the D major triad. This triad spells out the 9th, #11 and 13th over the chord. Since we are missing both 3rd and 7th it is not really giving us the sound of the chord, at the same time the Lydian sound is so  heavily represented that it is still fairly clear what is going on.

The Augemented Maj7 – E/C

In this last example the chord sound is actually altered, but since it is by now a very common sound I chose to include it anyway. The E major triad is in fact a Cmaj7#5 without a C, so it is in that respect a very clear sound. That said you should probably be a bit careful with what is going on in the music before you start using this sound.

How to use these 10 triads

This exercise is mostly and overview of what triads you have available as voicings but it should give you some idea on what you can try to use. 

You probably want to spend some time with each one that you want to get into your vocabulary and work on them one at a time to get used to how they work in different contexts.

This can ofcourse also be applied to solos, so maybe that is something to do a video on at some point.

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

6 Triad Voicings for Cmaj7

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.