Category Archives: Lesson

Rootless Jazz Chords – This Is What You Want To Know

If you are getting into some of the rich sounding Jazz chords on the guitar and want to use that in your playing then one thing that can really add a lot more life and color to your chord playing is to start using rootless Jazz chords.

Playing Rootless Jazz chords in your chord melody, comping and chord soloing will give you 10x as many options and also really start to free you from thinking static grips and more work with playing progressions that flow into one another.

And it is pretty simple to get into…

Basic Example with Chords Already You Know

You probably already know these chords:

Making these chord voicings that you already know into rootless voicings is really simple:

Now you are probably asking what is the big deal? They are a little bit easier to play but for the rest it doesn’t really matter.

Advantages to Rootless Voicings

There are two advantages to using rootless voicings:

1 If you are in a band then you want to stay out of the way of the bass player, and constantly having the root in that register is often clashing with the bass player which is not so nice for you or the bass player.

2 You have a lot more freedom to improvise with the notes when you don’t have to play the root. I am going to give you a lot of examples of this in the video, but if we take the example from above then you could start working on changing the top note of the chords and get some really great sounding chord movements That’s what I am going to cover next.

Making Easy variations to the chords

In this example I am using other melody notes from the scale that are easy to add to the chord. The examples are all practical and pretty easy to play

But there is one note that is added in there which is the b9 which acts as a chromatic leading note in the G7 to the 5th of Cmaj7. This is another way to understand alterations on dominants.

And you can go a lot further than this by adding notes on the top string as well, which is now a lot easier:

And with this you can also start to make movement inside the chord and make the different voices move independently. That’s the next thing to explore

Voices not chord grips

Let’s try this with another set of chords that you probably already know:

This can be turned into this set of rootless voicings:

And a basic variation of this could be something like this:

Notice how I am again using a b13 as a chromatic leading note to go from E down to D on the Cmaj7.

Another thing to notice is that I am only playing the chord once and then moving the melody on top while the other notes are sustaining, this gives it more of a polyphonic or even orchestral sound.

And you can expand on this quite easily adding more movement in the voices, especially G7:

Chromatic inner-voices

The next thing to start experimenting with is adding chromatic movement in some of the lower voices not just moving the melody.

Here I am adding the melody C A# to lead to the B on G7 and a great chromatic movement from B to Bb to A moving the maj7th to the maj6th

Get a solid foundation in Rootless Jazz chords

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Tritone Substitution Is a Really Great Hack

Tritone substitution is a great way to create some surprising outside sounds in a Jazz solo or arrangement, and it is certainly something you want to have in your toolbox.

In this video, I am going to go over what it is and talk about it using a little music theory but also using a visual approach that works really well for guitar, and I will also talk about how tritone substitution will open up another related sound in Jazz: The Altered dominant and especially how to play solos over it, something that can be very difficult to learn, but which tritone substitution gives you tons of ideas for.

What is Tritone Substitution?

You can use tritone substitution to make your chord progressions or solos more interesting by changing the chords and getting some colorful notes in there.

This is something we do with dominant chords, but it can be extended to entire II Vs

If you look at a G7 shell voicing like this and a Db7 Shell voicing then you can see that only the root note is different, that is because they share 3rd and 7th:

G7: 3rd and 7th B and F

and for

Db7 the 7th and the 3rd are B and F.

Since they are similar you can exchange them in a simple progression like this:

Like this they sound pretty similar, but if you add extensions to the chords then you can hear the difference: EX3

Here the Db7 sounds more surprising and you can hear it pull towards the Cmaj7 in the II V I cadence.

Break in with turnaround? Before we start looking at soloing over the chord..

What Scale and Arpeggios Can You Use?

Since the Db7 is a dominant that does not resolve then you can use the lydian dominant scale for it Ex 4

Something that is very useful to notice with this is that Db Lydian b7 is in fact the same set of notes as Ab melodic minor, and therefore also the same as G altered, which is going to be very useful later.

Try Arpeggios from the 4 basic chord tones

If you want to make some solo lines over the Db7 when we use it as a tritone sub then a good place to look first is the diatonic arpeggios from the chord tones.

This doesn’t always work for all of them, but with this chord they are actually all really useful

From the root

From the 3rd

From the 5th

From the 7th

Now we can continue and use this material to make it a lot easier to learn how to play altered dominants.

That really looks like another chord?

If you look at Example 9 then you can see that the chord voicings for Db7 are the same as what you use for a G altered voicing. In many ways you could describe a G altered as a Db7(#11) with a G bass note.

No Dominant Arpeggio?!

The thing that is often difficult about the altered scale is that we have the scale:

G Ab Bb B Db Eb F G and all the

diatonic arpeggios: Gø AbMaj7 Bbm7 Bmaj7(#5) Db7 Eb7 Fø Gø.

But we don’t have a G7 arpeggio and Gø doesn’t really work, so it is difficult to come up with lines in the way that we usually do, and lines are just running up and down the scale which sounds pretty boring.

But since the Db7 really works the same then you can just start using the Db7 arpeggios that I just covered, then you have 4 arpeggios

Turning it into G altered lines

Applying this to a G altered is pretty simple. Here is an example using the Fø and Db7 arpeggios on a G7alt:

The AbmMaj7 works great as well:

And of course you can apply the Bmaj7(#5) like this.

How Do You Practice This

You can of course work on this in II V I cadences or turnarounds, but it also makes sense to try to add it to songs. A great place to work on this is to take the G7 in the bridge of Stella. That is of course not really an altered dominant but is a great place where you have a little more room to play and you can experiment with thinking Db7.

Put this into music!

If you want to use this then it is a good idea to also to have some repertoire, so songs you can actually using it on.

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How To Make Jazz Blues Licks – The Best Ingredients

You know what a blues lick is and you are making your own jazz licks. But, there is also this great mix of the two: Jazz Blues, with bluesy licks for Jazz songs or sophisticated licks for a Blues solo. That is what this Jazz Blues Lesson is going to show you.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the things that you can add to your playing to get a great mix of these two sounds.

So I am going to cover some really effective phrasing and Melody tricks that are actually really easy to use and you probably already know but just never thought about, and this can really add a completely new dimension to your playing. When it comes to blues but also when it comes to playing on Jazz Standards where this also sound great.

Really this is about getting the notes and the melodies to sound bluesy.

Two Scales and a Chord

In this video, I am going to use a Bb7 chord and these two scales to mix Jazz and Blues

The Mighty (but short) Grace notes

A great phrasing technique for getting a blues sound in Jazz is using grace notes. In Jazz, that is the way we simulate string bends. When Jazz was invented then the guitars had thick strings, and little sustain especially because of the amps. There fore actually bending strings was not that effective and pretty hard.

An example of a lick with this could be this:

When you use grace notes as a a way of getting Jazz blues phrasing then usually the emphasis is on the chord tones, so an exercise like this one can be useful:

Another more blues sounding phrase with sliding grace notes could be something like this:

Blues Scale and Jazz Arpeggios

The grace notes work with any material you use, but you can also work with mixing the two different scale sounds. The example below starts with a “Jazz” approach using a Dø arpeggio, and then transitions into using the blues scale to end the phrase.

This example starts with the blues-scale and ends with arpeggio notes:


Good triplet rhythm & simple blues scale chord tone ending with a nice interval skip at the end and that is the next thing to talk about.

Bluesy Intervals!

Both regular Blues and Jazz Blues vocabulary are based on using shorter phrases and both have a similar way of using larger intervals in the lines.

The example here below is similar to the way you will find Wes Montgomery or Kenny Burrell might use larger intervals.

In this case the 3rd and the 7th of the chord.

ne of my biggest influences when it comes to blues was Stevie Ray Vaughan and I was always fascinated with how he used large intervals in his playing so well. In fact Wes Montgomery does as well.

Double stops –

The next concept is also one of my favorites from SRV but I am going to apply it more in a Jazz way similar to what Wes and Kenny Burrell do.

Pedal points like you hear in the example above are often chord tones, but Wes also used other notes in his solos (like No blues)

Another example of how you can use an interval as an easy chord to use for chord soloing. This is an example of a lot of double stops and also how you can use some chromaticism with them.

Really Digging into Jazz Blues

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Jazz Phrasing Techniques – How To Get A Better Jazz Flow

Jazz is a musical language, we talk about learning vocabulary and learning phrasing all the time. But I do see a lot of students only
practicing what notes to play and really missing out on how to learn to phrase so it sounds like jazz.

So let’s say that you can make a line like this one:

It sounds good, but it sounds a lot better if you play it like this:

That’s what I want to talk about in this lesson!

Listen for the phrasing and the techniques used

First I am going to give you some examples of the different techniques you can use and then I am going to go over how you can start using it in your own playing for arpeggios, jazz blues and making scale runs much more interesting.

In a way this is a video on legato technique, but it is really more about how you use it make better lines.

How does it make it sound better?

In the example below I am using a slide to move from the chromatic leading note to the root. This brings out the more interesting chromatic note that “doesn’t fit” and it makes the resolution more subtle.

At the end of the 1st bar you can see a 3 note grouping starting on G. The pull-off gives the G an accent which sits well in the groove. The next phrase is the same phrase that is move down a half step and executed in the same way. This shifts the 3-note group but also ties together the line across the two chords.

The trill on beat 3 of the 2nd bar is also a way to add movement in the 8th note line.

More rhythm, more phrasing!

The example here below uses some of the same techniques but is a lot less dense.

The G# leading note is sliding up to the A, again using the concept of bringing out the “interesting” chromatic note and not the resolution. This is also what happens at the end of the line going to G.

The pull-off in the triplet is here more functioning as a way to make the melody more playable.

How do you get this into your own playing

For you to start working with this type of phrasing and techniques you should start looking at the lines you make and spot how you can add to the phrasing.

Example 4a here below is a really basic Gm7:

This can be embellished with a leading note as shown in 4b which makes it sound a lot better:

Adding Dynamics to spice it up

Legato is a great way to add some dynamics and make a lick less monotonous.

Try playing this line:

Instead of playing this by picking each note and make it pretty even you can add a lot of life to it and get it to sound a lot better:

A key ingredient of Jazz Blues

Using grace notes and slides are really what makes Blues work in Jazz lines. Try to listen to these two ways of playing the same melody, first with and then with out the embellishing phrasing:

And without:

Leading notes to arpeggios

A great and easy way to add some interesting phrasing is to use leading notes. This works especially well with arpeggios as shown in the example below, where I am adding an F# in front of the Gm7 arpeggio.

Keep it practical

If you want to practice this then you could explore exercises like this one. Notice how I am using slides in some places and hammer-ons in others. It really just depends on what is easier to use in each case.

Making your scale runs more fun to play

Scale runs can quickly become boring. In this section you have two licks with scale runs and I will shouw you how to make add some more movement with simple embellishments.

Example 7 has a scale run in the 1st half of the bar. This is turned into a triplet rhythm with a slide and hammer on/pull-off. What really helps here is also that the direction now changes within the run so it is less predictable.

Example 8a and 8b use a similar approach for the first part of the bar. Here the scale run also introduces a larger interval from D up to the G on beat 3.

Build your own phrasing!

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How To Make Jazz Licks From Easy Chord Shapes

When you use the chord shapes you play to make solo lines you can access a lot of very useful material. The Link also helps your solos in other ways because it makes it easier to use the chords to tie together several phrases.

In this lesson, I am going to go over this approach with some easy chord shapes and show you how you can apply this to a song and also how you can put it to use on complicated progressions like Giant Steps.

Setting up this Jazz Solo Lesson

To show you how easy this is I am going to take the first 8 bars of Take The A-train, make some easy voicings and use them to make some lines. (here we go)

Finding Voicings for a Solo

A simple way to play the chords of Take The A-train with basic jazz chords could be:

To make them more useful for solos then it makes sense to take away the root and turn them into more compact 3-note voicings:

Examples making lines on a Cmaj7

Now you have some chord voicings and you can start working on turning them into solo lines. The concept is really simple, the melody is using the notes of the chord and adding notes around it from the scale.

These two examples are just basic ways to turn the rootless Cmaj7 voicing into a line by using the voicing and some of the notes around the voicing.

Another example could be this one:

Notice how the lines are different from what you normally will end up with if you use scales and arpeggios.

Playing a Solo based on the Chords

Turning this into a complete solo is really just following the same principle

First, let’s have a look at how the lick is constructed and then I can show you how that works in connecting the lines.

Voice-leading Jazz Licks

The big advantage is that now you have a melody based around the 3-note chord and for the next chord you can use the same lick and just move it to that voicing. In that way you are voice-leading the entire thing. This is exactly what I do in example 3 on the Cmaj7-D7 chords.

Voicings as more interesting melodies

If you use this technique on a II V I with common voicings like the ones shown below, then you can get some really great fresh sounding melodies.

The melody is really just arpeggiating the Dm7 shape, but because the voicing has the 9th(E) in there then we get a nice maj7 interval in the melody.

If you think about this then it is as much a question of learning songs to improvise on and then use the chords as a way of getting some solo material as well

A Practical approach to turnarounds

A basic way to play a turnaround in C could be using the chords shown below.

This is easily turned into a lick, just playing the chord shapes and adding an occasional extra note here and there:

A Solid Strategy for Giant Steps

This is also a refreshing way to approach Giant Steps where you can get some new melodies using shapes that you already have in your fingers.

Using these shapes to play a lick could give you something like this:

With Giant Steps I think it really works well to also add melodies that are not only 8th notes, something that we play too often on changes like that.

Learning Songs to Solo on

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Passing Chords And How To Sound Amazing With Them

Passing chords are a great Jazz trick to add some surprising but also beautiful sounds to chords. In this video I will show you 4 types of passing chords and examples of how they sound and how to use them. You can use the examples to get them into your own playing and add amazing new colors to how you play chords.

I am going to go over examples using, diatonic, chromatic, diminished and dominant passing chords and show you how you can make some beautiful embellishments of a simple II V I turnaround in C.

I am going to cover the 4 types of passing chords by giving you some examples of how they sound. For this lesson I am not going to discuss the music theory involved with the chords. I think it is more important that you have some options and that you explore what they sound like.

Ironically the last one is the easiest to play, the one that adds the most color and movement and it would be the hardest to explain.

Basic Progression

I am using a simple turnaround to show you where you can add extra chords, and the basic progression is this one:

The first version is using complete chords with the bass note, but the 2nd one is using drop2 voicings which are a little more flexible. Most of the chords I am using in the lesson will be drop2 chords.

Diatonic Passing Chords

The first type of Passing chord is a diatonic passing chord. You mainly use diatonic passing chords in a step-wise manner where you are walking from one chord in the scale to the next.

The first example shows a descending approach from Fmaj7 to Dm7.

This 2nd Diatonic example is using a single Em7 as a passing chords going up to Em7 and then back down to Dm7(9)

Diminished Passing Chords

The Diminished chord is often a bit mysterious but it is a great very flexible chord to add to a progression. In this example I am using different types of diminished chords, but mainly there is a C#dim pulling us to Dm7 and a Gdim resolving to the G7.

For more information on the theory behind the diminished chords and the different functions they can have you can check out this article: Secret to play over Diminished Chords

This example is using a diminished chord as a type of suspension of the Cmaj7.

Dominant Passing Chords

The way a passing chord works is by having a natural resolution to the chord it is targeting. Using the dominant of that chord is of course a great approach.

Below you can see how the A7 on beat 4 works as a passing chord towards the Dm7.

This is repeated in the next bar with the A7(b13) resolving to the Dm7(9)

Side note: Em7 voicing for Cmaj7

I very often get asked why I write Cmaj7 and then the chord voicing looks like an Em7 (for example beat one of example 6)

The explanation is fairly simple. If you look at bar 1 below then it is clear that it is an Em7 chord.

Em7 is E G B D, but if the bass plays a C then the notes sound like a Cmaj7(9): E(3rd of C), G(5th), B(7th), D(9th)

Another way to look at it is shown in bars 2 and 3 below.

You probably know the Cmaj7(9) in bar2. The rootless version of that is, of course, still a Cmaj7(9), and you could add a high G to that which would give you the voicing in bar 1.

Chromatic Passing Chords

A huge part of the sound of a Jazz solo is the use of chromatic passing notes and enclosures. The chromatic passing chords is a way to harmonize this type of melody, maybe even the harmonic counterpart to this.

The first example has a C#m7 to pull toward the Dm7. You should notice that to get this to work you have to think in melodies, and the top-note melody should be pretty strong. Here is D, D# to E.

the 2nd bar has an Ab7 approaching the G7 with a similar descending melody.

You can also use the chromatic passing chords as suspensions similar to how I used the diminished chord in example 5.

Here there are also chromatic approach chords for the Dm7 and Cmaj7.

Take your comping skills up a level

This collection of lessons will teach you a lot of material with passing chords, top-note melodies and riff comping. Focus is on using this on songs so that you can get it into your own playing.

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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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Amazing Little Solo Exercise That You Don’t Want To Miss

Working with limitations can be a really good way to help you explore and dig deep into how you solo over a chord progression.
This exercise that I am going to show you works great as a few different levels of practicing and will help you develop:

  • Fretboard overview
  • Making it impossible to rely on habits
  • Creativity with Rhythm and Melody

I am going to apply this to the song Ladybird in the video, but I actually also used to practice this with a single pentatonic scale, and you can also change the way you approach it so that it fits you.

Start with a song you know, but you can also use it to open up songs you are studying and really work on connecting the harmony and moving freely through the chords.

A Pretty Simple The Exercise

I am going to stick to one position and use 3 strings to really explore:

  • How the changes connect
  • What Melodies I can make
  • How to make music with a limited amount of notes

It is a limitation but it is also in a way really making it a lot easier because I don’t have to think about a million possibilities and scale…

Ladybird and Some arpeggios

If you look at the Chord Progressions of Ladybird you can see that essentially it is in C major:

The Basic Scale position and reduction

Since the song is in C major then the basic scale position could be:

And I am going to reduce that to these 3 strings:

The Arpeggios and REALLY knowing the Harmony

The first part of the exercise is to take this small area of the neck and find all the arpeggios. This is because I want to improvise in this area just using the arpeggios, which is a great way to REALLY solidify your fretboard knowledge and know the harmony of the song.

The way I found these arpeggios is using my fretboard knowledge, so the way that I see the notes on the neck and how I organize using the Arpeggio fingerings that I am familiar with. It is very important that you use your own version of this, you could play through mine and see what you think, but it is more important that you use your own choices, that is the information you want to get better at using and my arpeggio fingerings may not help you with that.

Cmaj7

Fm7

Bb7

Cmaj7

Bbm7

Eb7

Abmaj7

Am7

D7

Dm7

G7

Cmaj7

Eb7

Abmaj7

Db7

If you want to download a PDF of my Arpeggios then there is a from further down in the article.

Getting Started

The first exercise is to use the arpeggios above and then solo on the song.

If this is completely new to you then it can be good to run through the song in rubato and get used to making melodies within these limitations.

I play two different solos with this in the video, one with and one without a backing track.

What You Want To Improve

What you want to focus on when playing like this:

  • Freedom when improvising, try new things
  • Using your overview of the fretboard
  • Find NEW melodies

The Next Step – Adding the context

The next thing you can start working with is to take the overview you have of the arpeggios and the harmony and then add in the rest of the material you usually use, so scale, chromaticism etc.

I have a solo demonstrating that in the video as well. Again you want to focus on how free you are and finding new things to play. Really digging in and getting everything out of the few notes you have available.

Putting this to use on other Jazz Standards

It is important to work through the harmony of standards and really get the scales and arpeggios under control just like you need to know the melody and the chords by heart.

This collection of lessons will help you build that foundation for 5 songs:

Getting more arpeggios and scale positions

If you want to expand your knowledge of arpeggios and scales you can also check out the PDF chart section of my website:

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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.

How To Learn Drop 2 Jazz Chords The Right Way

Drop 2 voicings are often made into this mysterious thing that is hard to practice and learn. Something that you have to spend months practicing to get into your playing and be able to use.

That is of course not true and in this video, I am going to show you some of the simple things you can practice, how to remember the chords and how you start using it in your playing.

It is about staying practical!

3 Types of Drop2 voicings

For this lesson I am using the song, Solar known as a Miles Davis Tune but it is actually written by Chuck Wayne.

First I am going to go over some voicings that we need to play the song. It really is just 2 sets of 4 voicings on the top strings and then a dim chord.

Then I am going to use those voicings to play through Solar and embellish the basic comping and show you how you can add to it yourself.

I will talk about why we use some voicings and explain it from a music theory point of view, but also a more visual description that really helps understanding and remembering the voicings.

Basic Set of Drop 2 Voicings

The m6 is a very useful voicing for three types of chords:

First we need a m6 voicing, that will also work as a m7b5 and a dom7 chord:

The m7 chord can be used for m7 but also maj7 chords:

The Voicings would be these:

Putting it to use on a Song

This first example of how to use the drop 2 voicings is using one voicing per chord. Everything is kept simple and I am using the same voicing sets for the II V I’s in F and Eb major.

The II V I in Db is a little different because I want to move closer to where I will play the Dø.

This is about reusing as much as possible and playing music with only a few voicings. That way we have something to build from.

Progessions as building blocks, not chords

It is extremely important to start thinking in progressions more than single chords. If you do that then you can sum up a song in a few blocks where it might be twice or three times as many chords.

That is also what is clear in how I think in II V I progressions and treat them as one thing, more than separate chords.

Adding Melody – Making Music

The next step is to use the same chord voicings but now I am also using different top-note melodies to have some melody and variation in the comping.

From Chords to Musical Statements

The important part of adding more melodies and thinking more like a melody is that it is easier to comp in a way that responds and supports whoever you are playing chords for. Developing this skill is so essential, and it is important to remember that comping should be a piece of music, not just some chords on a groove.

Expanding What You can Play

Now that there are some melodic options and you probably have one voicing in your system then you can start adding voicings by using the surrounding inversions. An example of how that might work is shown below:

Putting Drop2 chords to use

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Jazz Chord Magic On Take The A Train – This Is How To Use Triads

Triads and triad based chords are fantastic jazz voicings! In this lesson, I am going to show you how you can get started with some triad voicings from what you already know and then go over 5 levels of how you can play some great sounding comping ideas using these voicings.

This is something I use all the time myself, and if you check out the Chord solos of Joe Pass he is also using this all the time.

Take The A-Train – Basic set of chords

Let’s start with taking the A-part on Take The A-train and play that with a set of chords that you already know:

Triad-based voicings

If we play these without the root then you have these voicings:

Converting the Jazz voicings and doing great things

I am going to show you two important things about these voicings:

#1 There are more melody options. You can change the top note and give us some options:

#2 All the voicings are triads

Cmaj7 without C is E G B = Em

D7 without D is F# A C = F#dim

Dm7 without D is F A C = F major

G7(b9) without G is (in this voicing) F Ab B = F dim

A7(b9) without A is Gdim = G Bb C#

Top-Note Melodies and Some Jazz Rhythm

First, you should look at the chords and find another melody note for each one. (this is powerful because you can make start making riffs and making things sound a lot more interesting.

Using Inversions of the triads

Since all the voicings are triads then you can also use the inversions of these triads. If you use the inversions as well then you have some options similar to this:

Chromatic melodies & Inner-voice movement

Of course, it is possible to use movement in the other voices, not only the melody. In fact, that is what I am doing on the D7 above.

The example below takes that a bit further.

I am also using some chromatic movement in the melodies most clearly in the top note melodies on the D7 and G7 chords, and in the inner voice melody on the Cmaj7.

Altering the voicings for more modern jazz sounds

And beyond changing the top note you can also experiment with changing notes inside the chord and in that way create some new voicings.

In the example below on the D7, you will see one such voicing. The first voicing on G7 is a similar construction.

How to make music when comping

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This Will Make Your Jazz Licks 10x Better

You already know how to find the scales and arpeggios that go with the chords, and you can play something on each of the chords, but your solos still sounds very much like you are just playing something on each chord, and when you listen to great players like Wes then you hear a whole melody in the solo, not just something on Dm7 and something else on A7.

In this video, I am going to show you how to improve the skills that make it possible for you to play a solo that is a complete piece of music and not a bunch of random lines next to each other.

I a m going to go over 5 examples that will show you what to focus on start hearing and playing connected melodies in your solos. You can use them as blue prints for writing your own lines and try to add this to your solos.

In a way the concepts I am going over here could be described as a “holy trinity” of Beethoven, Muddy Waters and Kurt Rosenwinkel – just a strange side-note.

The material I am using here is pretty basic and you probably know it already.

It is a II V I in C major so we have an arpeggio from the root and one from the 3rd of each chord:

And around that we have a C major scale:

If you want to explore more on diatonic arpeggios then check out this lesson:

Beethoven inspired II V I lick

One way to connect a melody is to follow up a phrase with a developed repetition of that phrase. This is called motivic development and is a very powerful way to make melodies just ask Ludwig Beethoven

This is a really solid example of basic motif: the melody on the Dm7 and G7 are almost identical and just transposed, but that does make it easy to hear how the G7 melody is a logical follow up on the Dm7.

Muddy Waters playing Changes

Call-Response is associated with blues, but is really a part of all melodic traditions. In the example it becomes almost a question answer where the Dm7’s ascending melody is a question and the G7 is the descending answer.

It feels a little like the Dm7 is opening up something and the G7 melody is closing it again. The Cmaj7 line becomes more of a tag to finish it off.

Creatively Voice-leading Motifs

When you work with motifs then you can be very strict and mechanical, but in the end you should also want to be able to use it more freely and maybe a little less obvious.

This example is starting with a descending Fmaj7 arpeggio on the Dm7 and that is “voice-lead” to a descending G7 arpeggio.

It is not only for II V I licks

To keep everything compact in this lesson I am just using short II V progressions, and you should practice making melodies or licks with this types of melodic connections, but as you start getting it into your system then it really pays off to take this to entire songs and work on creating musical sentences over entire sections of a song. I think especially Wes is a great clear example of this, but if you listen closely you will hear it with pretty much everybody!

Stubborn Rosenwinkel Habits

One of the things that I learned from a Kurt Rosenwinkel masterclass was how he already in technical exercises worked on continuing a melodic direction through the changes.

This II V I lick is a simple example of that where the melody is ascending throught the II V to resolve on the Cmaj7.

Another thing that is worth noticing is that instead of playing only scales, arpeggio patterns then the G7 line is using something that works like a D pedal point in the line.

Reverse Rosenwinkel with a motif

And of course you can make a lick that is descending through the entire cadence. In this example it is combined with a motif using first a Dm triad and then a B dim triad.

Adding Alterations (Like Benson)

The previous examples where all very simple and I tried to keep everything diatonic to make it clear that it is about melody (and maybe also about rhythm?)
Of course you can also do this with altered dominants and this example is developed from an altered phrase that I transcribed from a George Benson solo.

The melody has a motivic development between the Fmaj7 and the Fø arpeggio, but also a connection between the Fø and the Em7 arpeggio on the Cmaj7.

New Concepts for your Solos!

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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.