Category Archives: Lesson

Allan Holdsworth – What he plays in a solo

This Allan Holdsworth Solo Lesson takes a look at the scales and arpeggios he is using in a few phrases from the Sixteen Men Of Tain solo. I love Holdsworths playing and it is really interesting to try to figure out what is going on because his melodic language is pretty much unique. 

The video breaks down 4 phrases and talks about how they are constructed using different scales sounds such as Lydian Augmented and 2 different Messiaen Modes.

Of course this is an interpretation and an analysis based on what I know about him and what I think he is playing, but if you don’t agree then feel free to leave a comment!

The entire solo is transcribed here on the #11 channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJacBhd3-Kc (They are worth checking out if you are into jazz!)

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How To Make Mixolydian Mode Licks – 5 New Useful Ideas

The dominant chord is a very common chord both in jazz chord progressions and in more modal settings as the Mixolydian Mode. It is important to have a vocabulary of ideas for improvising over it.

In this lesson I am going to focus on a G7 chord and give you 5 examples of licks over that chord. Each introducing a scale or arpeggio idea that you can use in your own licks.

The Mixolydian Mode

In most cases that you improvise over a dominant chord it is found in a chord progression and not really in a setting where it is modal. But outside jazz having static dominant chords is a lot more common. Thinking more about Funk, Rock and Fusion genres.

#1 Dominant Arpeggio Sequences

The first phrase is starting with a leading note to the 3rd(B) of G7. From there it starts a skipping pattern using the G7 arpeggio ending up on the 9th(A). The second bar is first a scale run with an added chromatic passing note and then finishing the line with a skip between the 3rd and the 5th.

Using Arpeggio sequences is a great way to come up with new material. The skipping pattern that I am using in this example you can practice on a G7 like this. Of course you can experiment with this sequence on all your arpeggios.

#2 Dm Pentatonic Scale 

Using Pentatonic scales is a very common device in modern jazz and fusion. In this lick I am using the Dm pentatonic scale over the G7 chord. The scale we use on G7 is G mixolydian or C major:

G A B C D E F

and Dm pentatonic is a part of that G A B C  D E

Which is Dm pentatonic: D F G A C

The lick is playing descending 4 note melodies first from the E string then B and then G. The final part of the lick is a chromatic phrase connecting the 3rd and the 5th. The lick ends by skipping up to the root and then down to the b7.

The Dm pentatonic scale position I am using in this example is shown here below. 

#3 Em Blues Scale

A closely related option is the Em Blues Scale. The Em pentatonic scale or G major pentatonic scale is of course a good fit for a G major chord, even though you don’t have the b7 in there.

The Blues scale adds an extra chromatic note as well, namely the A# (or Bb)

The line starts with a chromatic enclosure of the 3rd G. From there the melody is really just simple melodies within the blues scale. Again using the A# as a chromatic passing note.

You can use this position to practice the Em blues scale which is also the position I used in the lick above.

#4 Quartal Arpeggios

One of my favourite things to use when improvising is the quartal arpeggios. Having a structure that is not based on stacks of 3rds is a refreshing melodic idea to throw in there.

The beginning of the lick is an Fmaj7 arpeggio. The maj7 arpeggio from the b7 of the chord is another great choice when improvising. From there the line continues with an Am pentatonic scale run before going into a few quartal arpeggios

The quartal arpeggios I use here are actually coming out of an Em pentatonic scale. If you play a pentatonic scale in “diatonic chords” then you end up with a lot of quartal arpeggios.

The lick ends with an Em pentatonic melody.

The easiest way to start practicing quartal arpeggios is probably to start playing them on a string set through a scale. It does pay off to do this for all string sets of course, but below I have written out the C major or G mixolydian scale on the middle string set which is the most common range for the quartal arpeggios.

#5 Spread Triads – Large Intervals

One of the greatest way to add some large intervals to your playing is to use Spread Triads or Open-voiced triads. These are becoming more and more common in modern jazz, but you can also hear people like Eric Johnson and Steve Morse use them in their playing.

In the example below I am combing spread triads with quartal arpeggios and also a normal G major triad.

The first part of the line is using a “mirror” effect on the guitar neck. The beginning is a quartal arpeggio from F and this arpeggio mirrors into a G major triad (you can see clearly it in the video).

From there the lick continues into a G root position spread triad that takes us from G all the way up to B an octave higher. This ascending movement is resolved melodically by a descending scale run and the line ends on the 13th of the chord via a Dm triad.

If you want to practice the Spread Triads then a good place to start is to learn the inversions. I have a few videos on this that you can check out. A basic version

Check out more on Dom7th Chords

If you want to Check out more options for Dominant Chords and getting some ideas on how this works in the setting of a 12 bar blues then have a look at this WebStore Lesson with some exercises and a solo transcription on an F blues:

F Jazz Blues Arpeggio Workout

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Lage Lund – Favourite Voicing and Solid licks!

In this Lage Lund Lesson I am taking a look at three licks from a live solo with the OWL Trio. The three examples are demonstrating things that Lage does very well in his playing. Making strong melodies with basic arpeggios. A great chord voicing and also an example of a more modern sounding Lage Lund Lick.

I also discuss some of the many ways the chord voicing can be put to use and that you can actually use it to play the entire song Green Dolphin Street.

Satin Doll – Easy Jazz Chords (and a little beyond)

The Ellington/Strayhorn tune Satin Doll is a standard that you need to have in your repertoire. It is also a great standard if you want to work on some easy jazz chords and playing II V progressions, since the progression is mostly made up of one bar II Vs.

In this lesson I am going to go over two sets of easy jazz chords that you can use to comp Satin Doll, namely two versions of shell-voicings. They work really well for Freddie Green rhythm guitar, but are also a great place to start and something that you can build a lot on. This is what I demonstrate with an example at the end of the video adding a lot more color and melodic material to the way I comp it.

The Song and the Form

When learning a song like Satin Doll it is extremely useful to also take the form into consideration. In this case Satin Doll is a 32 bar AABA form.

If you realize that it is an AABA then you also realize that you only need to know the A and the B parts by heart to know the entire progression.

A II V is one unit

Another thing that is very practical is to think of the II V progressions as one thing. Most of the progressions in Satin Doll are one bar II V progressions and by thinking of those as one progression you make it a lot easier to both play and remember.

Shell Voicings for Satin Doll

A Shell voicing is a chord voicing containing the root, 3rd and 7th of the chord.

In Jazz harmony this is enough to spell out the color and the function of the chord most of the time and is a great way to play the basic progression.

Shell voicings are also very useful as a starting point where you can add more melodic material on top in terms of other chord tones or extensions.

In example 1 I have written out the first A part played with shell voicings around fret 10:

First A – Shell Voicings

Notice that there are two different sets of II V voicings used: One with the m7 root on the 6th string and the other with the m7 root on the 5th string.

The Bridge in the same position

Now that we have an A-part covered then the next thing to sort out is the bridge:

The 2nd set of voicings

A good way to expand the options is to take a look at what the A-part might be with the other II V set. 

This is shown in example 3:

For practical reasons I have the same chords in use in the turnaround. After all music is not an exact science…

Adding Variation and Melody chords

The next step is to start expanding the voicings. The way I am going to do that is by taking a shell-voicing and add extensions on top of it.

For the Dm7 and G7 voicings in the 10th fret this would be:

For the other II V set we have these options

Putting the variations to use

To get used to improvising with this material it can be a good idea to first just improvise some melodies using a single II V as I do in the video.

After this you can also start making exercises such as this:

Here I am playing the chords on 1 and 3 and then adding an extra melody note in between. The goal is to add a strong melody on top of the chords.

Shell-voicings for Chord Melody

If you want to use this material in chord melody arrangements then you can check out this WebStore lesson on Chord Melody arranging:

Chord Melody Survival Kit

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How To Use The Augmented Triad In A Jazz Blues Solo

The augmented triad is a great and very distinct sound to add to your playing. In this video I am going show you a solo on a 12 bar blues where I am using this triad on most of the chords. I am going to analyze it and talk about where I am using it and what kind of sound the augmented triad adds to the chords.

Having many sounds and ideas is really important to create solos that don’t always sound the same and using the augmented triad is a great way to do that. You will find that a lot of players like Kurt Rosenwinkel and Sonny Rollins often use this triad in their playing.

The Augmented Triad

The augmented triad is a major triad with a raised 5th, so if you look at a Bb augemented triad:

Bb major: Bb D F,

Bb augmented: Bb D F#

Augmented triad symmetry

The triad is a stack of major thirds: Bb-D and D-F#. F#-Bb would be another major third. This is really useful because symmetrical arpeggios can easily be transposed and will be have the same fingering along the neck.

If you want to practice the Bb augmented triads then these two positions will already get you pretty far.

Augmented Triads in the Diatonic Triads

Since the main example in this lesson is a blues chorus in the key of Bb, then it probably makes the most sense to use Bb lydian b7 or F melodic minor as an example of a scale that contains an augmented triad.

Here is an overview of the diatonic triads in F melodic minor:

Fm,Gm,Abaug,Bb,C,Ddim,Edim

7 ways to use an Augmented Triad – The Bb Blues Example

The example below is a one chorus blues solo where I use the augmented triad in different ways through out the chorus.

The first two bars are just there to state the changes and the blues. playing clear lines.

The line in bars 3-4 starts with a triad pair with an augmented triad. The sound is a Bb7(#11) or Bb lydian b7. The triad pair I am using is Abaug and Bb triads. The triad pairs with the augmented triads are really colorful and a great sound on a dom7th chord.

In bar 4 I am changing the chord to an altered dominant. This means using B melodic minor, which contains the D augmented triad. Here it is used in the 1st inversion.

The next example of an augmented triad is in bar 6 on the Ab7 chord. Here the scale sound is Eb minor melodic and the triad used is a Gb augmented triad. 

The G7alt pointing towards the Cm7 in bar 9 also makes use of an augmented triad. Here it is a B augmented triad out of the G altered or Ab melodic minor.

A little Dorian Hack

Even though the Cm7 in the II V I in Bb does not really have a scale with an augmented triad you can still use one in the way that I am doing here. The idea is to use the G augmented triad as a sort of leading note structure, almost like a G7. 

The F7alt has an A augmented triad, diatonic to F altered or Gb melodic minor. Here I am playing it from the F.

Whole-tone scale

The final turnaround is here a bar of Bb7 followed by a bar of F7. The F7 is in this case an F7 from the whole tone scale. The entire lick in bar 12 is based on moving  triads up in whole steps. The triads are displaced a bit to make them sound a little more interesting.

If you want more ideas for soloing on a Bb jazz blues then check out this lesson:

Bb Jazz Blues Lesson 1

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How to Use augmented triads in a jazz blues solo

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3 Charlie Parker II V I Licks How To Play Them On Guitar

If you want to learn how to play jazz then it is probably a good idea to check out how Jazz Giants play like some Charlie Parker II V I licks!

Learning Bebop and Charlie Parker

A thing I never get tired of checking out is Charlie Parker and Bebop in general. I guess I still find it fascinating how the lines are so good and the material they are created with is really quite basic.

In this video I am going to go over 3 II V I licks. I will focus on how Charlie Parker is great at having surprising turns and leaps in his lines so they don’t sound like running up and down scales and he also still manages to get them to sound like real melodies instead of abstract interval exercises. He also often gets away with melodies that move across the bar line.

Hope you like it!

Learning from a Master improviser

These licks are clear examples of Parkers musical or melodic language and are really a great place to get some more ideas on how to come up with great lines. I especially find the way he uses displacement of different parts of the lines to open up the sound of his solo fascinating.

 

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This Is How You Should Practice Every Scale Exercise

Most great Guitar Players mix a lot of different techniques when they are playing, and if that is the end goal then the scale exercises you do should also contain that element!

In this lesson I am going to go over some ways to take simple exercises and use them to combine legato, alternate picking and sweeping or economy picking.

Technique and Scale Exercises are for sound

For me it is in the end much more about having techniques so that I can play the music that I want to play and get it to sound right and having a flexible technique in terms of legato and picking is very useful for this.

Technique is there to help me play the Music that I want to play with The Phrasing and Sound I want to hear!

The exercises in this video is My take on how this works it is important to remember that the best solution is for you to 

Find YOUR way of combining different techniques
incorporate it into your practice routine and playing

Basic Scale Exercise and a few options

Example 1 is a C major scale in the 8th position played with a 3NPS fingering.

In the video I play it with alternate picking:

You can do this mixing with legato as well. Let’s do that like this: Down Up Hammer-on:

and of course you can also do Down Hammer-on UP:

 Technique priorities – what to choose

The way I think about this is no that it has to sound the same, different techniques sound slightly different and when I play I am going to use the technique that is playable or easy AND that sounds the best.

The goal is to use the different sounds and dynamics of the technique in our phrasing

So it doesn’t have to sound the same!

Actually you make choices on this already with the exercises.

Here’s the scale in 3rds with alternate picking:

And you can try to add as much legato as possible by doing this:

But somehow it’s nice to have one more picked note to get it to sound a little more natural:


With all of these exercises I am choosing the approach and techniques that I like and that fits to me, but of course this is different from person to person so you might find that other combinations work better for you. The important thing is to make sure you can play it in time and that you get the phrasing or sound that you like.

Adding Economy picking to the mix

Of course you can also work with sweeping or economy picking, When playing arpeggios this becomes very practical. For example with diatonic triads.

And we can combine all of it in an exercise like this with triads up one down the next 

It is up to your imagination and you get to challenge yourself and develop your ability to mix

 

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This Is How You Should Practice Every Scale Exercise – PDF

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Jim Hall on Autumn Leaves – Can it get any better?

To me Jim Hall is like the reluctant super hero of Jazz Guitar. In this video I am going to show you some of the ideas he uses on the song Autumn Leaves, both in terms of changing the chords, using poly rhythms and melodies. In my opinion this solo is an understated gold mine of musical ideas.

The devices that Jim Hall are things that you can incorporate into your playing and use to re-interpret the harmony of songs while you are playing them or add more rhythmical variation to your solos. In that way this solo is a really clear take on how you can do a lot with a very simple and famous jazz standard.

Autumn Leaves Reharmonization

There are a few things that Jim Hall and Ron Carter do with the Harmony of the song that really deserves a mention. After that I will break down a few phrases and go over the rhythm and harmony used for them.

The chord progression for Autumn Leaves is this:

The chords are interpreted quite freely through out, but a great reharmonization is used in the 1st solo chorus where the Gm6 is exchanged for a Db7(#11) both at the end of the 1st and the 2nd half of the song.

When you have the root in the melody on a chord you can always do this substitution, and here it works really well at the end of the form since the first chord of the song is a Cm7 so it works as a tritone dom7th.

Another thing that Jim Hall does very often is to substitute the Aø for Eb7#11 this happens mostly in these two places but he also does it in the other minor II V’s. (add transcriptions and audio?)

Example 1 – Tonic Minor and dotted 3 note groupings

The first phrase here is a clear example of how Jim Hall uses melodic minor on tonic chords. Something that I get

The line is a simple melodic minor scale sequence, but the first note is the major 6th. The other thing that really makes this line jump out is the rhythm. A quarter note followed by two 16th notes.

The last bar transitions into a G7 with the B note being emphasized and the line goes on to the next part of the form using a Bdim arpeggio.

This sequence is a great way to get into this type of phrasing and you can experiment with adding it to your own playing making some lines with it, It is also the same rhythm Kurt Rosenwinkel uses a lot with triads

An example of a II V I phrase that uses this could be this:

Example 2 – Triplet motif

Jim Hall works through motifs in many places in the solo. The previous example was also using a scale sequence as a motif.
This example uses triplets and quickly develops a 3 note motif across 4 bars.

The motif is quite simple but it is still impressive that he manages to move it around like this over the form. Th triplet rhythm here is almost a 4 note grouping but not really. Probably because the focus on the melody more than the rhythm.

Example 3 – Reharmonizing in the solo

This phrase is using the same rhythm as in example one, and what Jim Hall is playing can be interpreted as two different sounds.

The phrase is shifting the same melodic motif down in half steps. The motif itself can either be whole tone or melodic minor. It is found in both. The pattern is the same throught the phrase. He plays the phrase 3 times for the Eb7, twice for D and three times for Db7 adding a small tag to end it.

The first part spells out an Eb7(#11) sound, the second a D7(#11) and the 3rd a G7alt or Db7(#11).

 
If you want to play better solos you need to be better at coming up with strong and more interesting melodies. I hope you can use some of these techniques to achieve that.

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How To Play A Harmonized Bass Line On A Blues

A Harmonized Bass Line is a great way to create a groove moving comp that clearly reflects the harmony and has a lot of movement. In this video I am going to show you how I play a harmonized bass line on a Bb Blues, and also go over the shell voicings and spread triads that you need to create your own.

Playing Harmonized bass lines is often associated with Jim Hall, especially from his comping of Bill Evans, and it is a great way of comping to have in your vocabulary. It works especially well if you are comping in a duo setting since it is really full and also lays down a solid groove.

Building a chord vocabulary

Before I start breaking down the harmonized bassline example I think it makes sense to just do a few exercises to build a chord vocabulart.

When you play harmonized bass lines then most of the time it is going to be with 3 note voicings and most of those are either Shell voicings or open voiced triads.

Shell voicings with the chord on the D and G strings are found in two variations. One with the root on the 6th string and one with the root on the 5th string.

Since this is a Bb blues I have chosen to use the scale that goes with a Bb7, namely Eb major for these exercises.

This first example is with the root on the 6th string

And the same exercise with the root on the 5th string.

Spread Triads

Another common voicing is the open-voiced or spread triad. This way of playing triads adds larger intervals to the structure. In this case it makes them sit well in the voice-leading when they are mixed with shell-voicings.

Harmonized Bass Line on a Blues

In this part of the lesson I will analyze the Harmonized bass line example.

The first bar is a very simple and common way to walk up on a dominant. The first chord is a Bb7 shell-voicing which is followed by a series of 1st inversion spread triads. This takes us up to the IV chord Eb7.

The second bar is another standard solution. I play Eb7 on beats 1 and 3 and a leading chord for Eb7 on beat 2, in this case a D7. On beat 4 I have a B7 as a leading chord to the Bb7 in the next bar. This happens again in bar 5, 6 and 10.

Having a leading chord on beat 4 is very common and nice way to create a natural flow.

Bar 3 is a bassline that is in fact harmonizing the Bb major triad and adding a leading chord on beat 4. This also happens in bar 7.

Bar 4 is also a very common solution to a quic II V progression. The basic chords, Fm7 and Bb7 are found on beats 1 and 3. On beat 2 I use a B7 to lead to Bb7 and beat 4 is an E7 to lead to Eb7. This same solution is used in bar 8 and bar 12. The progression in bar 11 is not a II V but the approach with leading chords is the same.

The Cm7 bar is using a diatonic walk up, so the Cm7 is part of a II V I in Bb major and the bass line walks up the scale with Cm7, Dm7 and Ebmaj7 shell voicings. The E7 on beat 4 is there as a leading chord for F7.

How to get Harmonized Bass lines into your playing

Working with this approach you should check out some of the ways I move between chords. Maybe make some variations on the Bb blues and then try to construct your own harmonized bass lines on a song or standard that you already know well.

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Harmonized Bass Line on a Blues

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This Is Not Bebop, But It Is A Great Coltrane Solo

It is not surprising that a Coltrane solo isn’t bebop, but it is interesting to figure out why that is the case. Understanding what types of licks or melodies are typical for a style of music is a really good description of what is going on.

The solo that I am talking about in this video is John Coltrane’s solo on the F blues – Take the Coltrane off the Coltrane/Ellington album from 1963.

In the video I am presenting an analysis of the solo with a focus on the melodies, there placement and function in the form and not only the notes that are being used. I find that it takes a more detailed view to understand a solo than just what scales are being used.

Let me know what you think?

A few thoughts on this Coltrane solo Analysis

As always music is not an exact science so this solo has a lot of traits that are really not bebop sounding but it still contains examples of normal bop lines and chromatic passing notes etc. So clearly Coltrane is rooted in that tradition even if he is moving away from it.

I am going to talk about this using three examples from the solo but it can be a good idea to check out the whole solo. There are a lot of transcriptions online so you can easily find that and listen to the solo.

Some of the things that are different are about the choice of sounds, but in my opinion it is more about how the sounds are used and the melodies than what scale. I am curious what you think?

Melodies without direction and not playing blues

What is interesting about this first part of the solo: He doesn’t play the 3rd of the chord at all for the first 8 bars, that is very different from bebop where everything is tied much more closely to the chord. Here the melodic statement is very strong and fairly long but it is intentionally vague. If you play the melody it could fit on a Cm blues just as easily as a F blues which is not really going to be the case for a Parker or Stitt solo. There is a Wes solo that does this as well and Wes would often sit heavily on the “II” sound on a V chord.

The 2nd 4 bars is a development of the first 4 but then moving with the chords, still not playing the 3rd of the chords.

So this is really about what note he isn’t playing and it becomes even more clear when we don’t have the piano comping.

Unresolving Tensions and Angular melodies

This example illustrates how the approach is much more modal. Coltrane is very often playing melodies that fit the chord but are not really functional and moving forward towards the next chord.

This is clear in the first bars where there is first an angular statement just using an F7 arpeggio. In fact using the 2nd inversion F major triad which Coltrane seems obsessed with in this solo.

A great example of how the emphasis is on sound rather than function is the Altered dominant in bars 3 and 4 of this example. Here there is a clear altered or tritone sound and the b5 is really at the center of the line, but the line is not resolved. It stops before changing and the statement on the Bb7 is unrelated to the altered line.

The last part of this example is demonstrating how the chords are interpreted. The statement on the Bb7 is turned into a motief that is moved down in half steps to give us an Am7 Abm7 Gm7 progression.

Another thing that shows how this is less functional is that the final II V is replaced with C7 Bb7 in the song taking away the main cadence of the Jazz Blues.

Super-imposed Pentatonic Scales

Coltrane doesn’t really use normal blues phrasing a lot in this solo and here he does use Fm pentatonic in a way that is really typical for everybody who came after him. I think it is important to notice that using Fm pentatonic on a Blues in F is something that is quite rare with the bop guys. Pentatonic scales are not really a part of bebop in the way they are used as a sound here.
The blues phrases of Joe Pass and Charlie Parker are quite different and much more a mix of major and minor.

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Why Coltrane is not bebop

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