Category Archives: Lesson

Allan Holdsworth Modal chords – You can add new textures to your comping

This Allan Holdsworth lesson will look at three chord voicings and show how you can take them through a scale and use them to make a great varied comp over a modal D dorian background. I will also talk about how you can use the different textures or sounds that the different chord voicings create to have more options available while comping.

Using all three chord voicing types

The main example here below is using all three types of chords that i will cover here. For each line in the example I have a different type of voicings moving from very spread to more and more closed chord voicings.

The open Looking Glass voicing

No Allan Holdsworth lesson would be complete with out this type of chord! The first type is a chord that i have talked about before in the Allan Holdsworth lessons. It is a structure that is very common to Holdsworths music and you can see it as being a quintal arpeggio with an added note or as derived from Drop2&4.

When creating the scale exercise here below I focus on using sounds that are either directly a Dm7,Dm13 or Dm6 or at least neuatral so a sort of Am or Em7 voicing. The  Am and Em chords will easily work as diatonic passing chords in the context and if sound more vague that directly like another chord. 

A Closed structure: m7(11,13)

With the 2nd type of chords we have a closed version of the above material. These voicings are for the biggest part completely like the ones above, except that these can actually be voice-lead through the scale and still work as a combination of neutral or Dm.

These can be a bit difficult to play so you have to be a bit careful and make sure you are warmed up before you start working on them.

The basic construction is a diatonic 7sus4 chords. 

The Holdsworth Chords version of block chords

In Jazz it is common to have passages of comping that are harmonized melodies. The previous voicings in this lesson are a bit tricky to move around too much. When Allan does this (using this type of voicing in 0274 off Sixteen Men Of Tain) he goes for another type of voicing. In other songs he also uses triads (who would have thought).

It is worth noticing that there are not many straight drop2 voicings, simply because this would not really fit with the sound and the harmony of his music.

In this example the voicing is a 2nd interval and a 7th interval from the lowest note. This structure is not very clear but does have a great sound with the combinations of intervals in there.

The exercise taking these through the scale is shown here below:

Creating different textures by using different voicing types.

As you can see these voicings work very well in a D dorian context and you can easily move them around and create some great sounds. Switching between different types of voicings is a great way to get more sounds to pull from when comping. This is really something important to check out since we often forget that and just connect the same types of chords all the time. In that respect there is something jazz guitarists can really learn from this Allan Holdsworth lesson.

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Learning Voicings From Holdsworth

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Three Ways to Add Arpeggios to Your Jazz Guitar Licks

We spend a lot of time practicing and learning Arpeggios, so it makes a lot of sense to have several ways to use them in our playing. In this lesson I will show you 3 ways you can add arpeggios to your lines so that they help you create more interesting licks and you get more out of the time you have spend practicing.

The examples in this lesson are all on a II V I in Eb major, so Fm7, Bb7 to Ebmaj7.

Emphasizing a Target note

Really bringing out interesting extensions and alterations is a great way to use arpeggios.

In the example below the target note G, the 9th, is given an extra emphasis because it is the top note in an arpeggio. The note is given even more energy by the fact that the arpeggio is played as an 8th note triplet. This heightens the velocity towards it and makes it sound more like a resolution. The fact that the G is on a heavy beat also helps give it more emphasis.

Learn from Charlie Parker and Wes Montgomery

Playing arpeggios and using the top note as a target is something that has been common in Jazz since Charlie Parker. Wes Montgomery also uses 5 or 6 note arpeggios to bring out specific targets in his solo. A recent video I did on his playing talked about his use of this to emphasize the 11th over a minor chord.

Moving this to the Eb major II V I then that would be:

In the example above the Ab major triad is used to target the Bb on beat 3. The arpeggio is really useful and the technique of summing up your lines in the important target notes can be useful to realize this and also for a lot of other things in the line.

Changing direction and adding large intervals

Playing lines that consist of melodies that only move in one direction can become boring and predictable for the listener. Arpeggios and especially arpeggio inversions can help doing this really well. If you look at the general movement from Fm7 to Bb it is a scale run from C to F and then moving from Eb to D on the Bb7.

The arpeggio is here used to introduce a skip from F down to Ab. From there it moves back up to then return to the D.

Change direction on Chord tones

The strong place to do this is to use it when you are on a chord tone. In the example above it was on the root (F). Below I am using the same technique but now the arpeggio is inserted on the 3rd(Ab). The arpeggio I use is a 1st inversion Abmaj7 arpeggio.

Coltrane and his descending Arpeggio Cascades

The previous technique used the arpeggio to introduce a large interval skip which is then resolved by the rest of the arpeggio. In the example below I am using a quote from John Coltrane’s Cousin Mary Solo, a song off “Giant Steps”

One way to summarize the Fm7 bar is to see it as a three note descending scale run: Bb, Ab, G with two arpeggios inserted after the last two notes. The arbeggios are an Fm 2nd inversion triad and an Abmaj7.

This melody is more radical but therefore also more dramatic and surprising. This probably has to do with the fact that the large interval skip is at the end of the arpeggio and not at the beginning. At the same time the dramatic cascade effect is a great way to shake things up a little.

For me personally this is a great example of how powerful Coltrane’s melodic concept was!

Use what you Practice and explore what is possible!

Exploring how to use the things we practice is almost as important as practicing them in the first place. Of course there are many ways we can do this, both by composing and experimenting but certainly also by transcribing and analyzing. 

This lesson demonstrates both transcribing and composing as examples, and for me those are the two main sources of inspiration and knowledge when it comes to applying what I practice.

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Three ways to Use Arpeggios in Scale Runs

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Passing Chords – The 3 Types You Need for Comping and Chord Solos

Passing chords are a great way to expand the sounds you have available in your comping and chord solos. As you will see in this lesson they are also making it easier to make you comping sound more melodic and musical. In this lesson I am going to discuss 3 types of passing chords and demonstrate how they can be used.

The Diatonic Passing chords

The easiest place to look for chords to use when harmonizing a melodic comping idea is of course to use the diatonic chords of the scale at that point in the song.

This is what I am doing in example 1 here below. The example is on a II V I in G major, which is the chord progression that I will use for all the examples.

In the example the diatonic passing chords are used on the Am7 chord. The first part of melody consists of the notes C, D and E. On the Am7 I am harmonizing the melody with the chords Am, Bm7 and Am7. Using the neigboring chord when harmonizing notes is a very common and very useful way to use diatonic passing chords. In this example the Bm7 chord is used to harmonize the D and it voice-leads nicely up to the following Am7(9) voicing that harmonizes the E.

Different versions of Passing chords solutions for an Am7 melody

Of course there are several ways you can take diatonic passing chords. Below you’ll see examples using only Am7 voicings, a Bm7 and a G6 diatonic passing chords.

Diminished Passing chords

This approach to using passing chords is to harmonize melody notes with a dominant diminished chords. On the II chord, Am7, the dominant is E7 and the associated is a G#dim.

This example is also using a G# diminished chord to harmonize some notes on the Am7 chord. The notes that belong to the dominant in the scale are the prime candidates for using the diminished chord. In the example below I am using it to harmonize the D and B notes.

Practicing the Diminished passing chords

One way to work on practicing the this way of alternating a II chord with a diminished chord is to do the exercises here below.

You may recognize this exercise as the Barry Harris 6th diminished scale, which is build on exactly this idea of alternating tonic with a dominant chord.

Chromatic Passing Chords

Chromatic passing chords is a great way to especially harmonize chromatic passing notes in the melody. This means that having this in your vocabulary is going to make it possible to add chromaticism to your comping melodies. 

The example below shows how you can use chromatic passing chords on both the Am7 and the D7 chords.

On the Am7 the B, Bb, A melody is harmonized with Am(9), Bbm7 Am7 and in the same way the D,Eb,E melody on the D7 is harmonized with D7,Db7 and D7.

Notice that the voicie-leading is also chromatic, so the way to use this is to look at the note that the chromatic note is resolving to. The chord that is used to harmonize the resolution will also work well to harmonize the chromatic note. On the D7 it is clear that the Db7 is just shifting up a half step to become the D7. 

Sometimes you can also reverse this so that the chord moves one way and the melody another which can be a great effect, but that is for another lesson. You can always leave a comment on the YouTube video if you would like a video on this,

Expand you the possibilities with chords

Passing chords is a very powerful tool in comping and chord solos and of course also in chord melody arrangements. Checking out these techniques are really something that is applicable in so many areas of playing and will pay off on a lot of levels besides the direct use.

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Using Passing chords in Comping

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Rhythm Changes – How You Use Chord Substitution for New Lines

It can be difficult to have a large vocabulary of lines when improvising over fast moving chord progressions like Rhythm Changes. One way to access some more ideas is to solo over substitute changes and then get some more options by thinking the substituted chords on top of the normal turnaround.

In this video I will go over 5 variations and show how you can use those to generate new ideas for your solos.

The Basic Turnaround in Rhythm Changes

The basic turnaround in Rhythm Changes is usually a I VI II V. In the key of Bb major that would be something like this: Bbmaj7 G7 Cm7 F7

A line on this turnaround could be:

The line is using a Bb6 (or Gm7) arpeggio on the Bb chord and continues with a G7 arpeggio. The melodic idea is using that the Bb can be moved to B and for the rest stay the same. On the Cm7 it’s a descending scale run targetting the A on the F7. The F7 line is using the F7 arpeggio that resolves to D.

A few Dom7th Substitutions – Tritones and Diminished Chords

Two common devices are substitution are using tritone substitutes and diminished chords.

In this example a Bdim replaces the G7 which is the chord on the 3rd of a G7(b9). The F7 is repalced with a B7.

The line is first a descending Bbmaj7 arpeggio. On the Bdim it is an Abdim triad.The Cm7 the melody is a Cm cliche melody built around a Cm minor triad with an added 9. The final B7 line is a B major triad.

Tritone substitutes and altered dominants

On the Bbmaj7 it is also possible to use the arpeggio from the 3rd which is a Dm7 arpeggio. In this example the first part of the line is a descending Dm7 arpeggio. A tritone substitution  replaces the G7 with a Db7. The melody is a descending 1st inversion Db7 arpeggio. On the Cm7 the arpeggio used is a descending Ebmaj7 arpeggio. In this way the first part of this line is an ascending series of descending arpeggios. The F7alt line is a scale run in the F altered scale.

Reharmonizing beyond the original chords

Of course with a fast moving progression like the Rhythm changes it is possible to also use some chromatic passing chords. In this case the idea is to use a chromatic passing chord between the 1st and 3rd chord. It seems obvious that a Dbm7 would work well as a passing chord between Dm7 and Cm7. 

In the line I am connecting the chords across octaves to disguise the way that the arpeggios are actually moving down in half steps.

Making the tonic a secondary dominant

A great variation is to get a feel of suspension in the turnaround is to replace the tonic chord with a dom7th chord. This takes a way the feeling of starting home and replacing it with an altered dominant. The dominant is making sure that the line is moving. 

The melody here is first a stack of 4ths on the D7 altered. This is followed by a Bdim arpeggio on the G7. On the Cm7 the line is based around a Cm triad. It is in fact an inversion of the Cm line in the first example. The F7 line is a familiar F7alt/Gbm cliché

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Rhythm Changes – Substitution for New Lines

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More Melodic Guitar Solos – Three Critical Techniques without Arpeggios and Scales

It is difficult to play truly melodic guitar solos in any genre. We spend a lot of our time talking about what to play over the chords in a solo, but not nearly as much on how to make melodies with the things that we play.  In this video I want to go over some melodic techniques that will help you make stronger more connected melodies when you are trying to come up with your own jazz licks.

Using Pedal Points

The first example of a composition technique is using pedal points. A pedal point is a way to easily add the feeling of two voices to a melody. The idea is to have a static note that is repeated in the melody to give the illusion of a static 2nd voice. 

In the example below I am using the pedal point concept on the Am7 chord. Notice how all the other notes are giving a color from how they relate to the pedal point. This way of making melodies is a really good way to break up the melodic movement if your solos tend to be lines that are arpeggios or scales in one direction all the time.

You can of course also apply this to a modal setting and then have an extended version of the Am7 lick like this:

In the example above I use first an E pedal and then a C pedal note. Most of the time it is easier to make strong lines if you choose a pedal point that is very closely related to the chord like these (3rd and 5th)

Using Voice-leading in Jazz-licks

When you move from one chord to the next then we often consider the voice-leading of the chord voicings. IN that case Voice-leading is how each note in the first chord moves to a note in the next chord.

You can use this technique in melodies as well. This is really a way of generating motifs, but since the method is so specific I thought I’d mention it separately.

In the example below I am applying this concept to the melody in the first bar, taking the exact same melody and then changing notes to generate first the D7 and then the Gmaj7. I keep the notes on the same string so that it should be clear where the different voices are moving to.

The idea is really simple. For each note on the Am7:

A B C D E F# G A we can move that to the closest note in the D7 altered scale, which would give us this row of notes:

Ab Bb C D Eb F F# Ab

Making a few artistic choices

When working with this it is sometimes better to still adjust the mechanical results to get a better sounding melody.

An example of this might look like this:

In the example above I am starting with the same Am7 lick. But this time I am moving it up instead of down with voice leading.

The E in the Am7 line should really move to an F on the D7 chord, but in this case it sounds a lot stronger to move it to an F# because that makes the line a D7(b5) which connects much better to the D7alt than a Dm7(b5) that it would be if I used an F.

The melody on the G is then generated by strictly voice-leading the D7 melody which makes a nice line but it is a bit difficult to play.

A different way of voice-leading the melody from D7 to Gmaj7 is shown here above. This variation of the Gmaj7 line is much easier to play but is also breaking the melodic movement up a bit. What you like is in the end a question of taste.

Motifs and Odd note groupings

A more free way of using motifs is to just take a small melodic fragment and then move it around. In these examples I will combine that approach with odd-note groupings. This makes it possible to get some lines that break up the rhythm in a great way.

This first example is using a 5 note motif: E C G E B on the Am7.

I repeat this motif but move it up to E so: G E B G D. Notice how I now have 5 beats of Am7 so I am pulling the Am7 across the bar line into the D7 bar. On the D7alt I repeat the motif but move it up to what you could consider an Fm7 arpeggio.

3 note groupings and moving the bar line forward

Another example of the same type of motif is shown below.

Here I am using triads as a 3 note grouping. The first two on Am7: C major and E minor.

This is followed by 2 triads on D7alt: Cdim, B major and then a short scale rund to resolve to the Gmaj7 on the 4&.

In the first example I played the Am7 for 5 beats and extended it into the D7 bar. In this example I am only playing 3 beats of Am7 before clearly moving into the D7alt.

Better Melodies and more melodic solos!

If you have transcribed solos I am sure that you have realized that it is not so that the great solos use a lot of exotic scales or sounds. Instead the melodies that are contained in a great solo are really strong. Even if they are only using the scales and arpeggios that we already know.

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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More Melodic Guitar Solos – Three Critical Techniques no Scales and Arpeggios

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5 Sus4 Triads and the Perfect Maj7 licks you can make with them

Sus4 triads are great for creating some beautiful super-imposed lines on maj7 chords, and the sus chords are often forgotten among the diatonic chords and triads. In this video I will go over 5 examples of sus4 triads and show you both how you can use play and practice them and also how an example of them over a Cmaj7 sounds. 

I have also included the chord voicings that you can create using these sus4 triads as upper-structures.

Finding Sus4 triads in a major scale

To find the triads you can build all sus4 triads in a C major scale:

C: C F G

D: D G A

E: E A B

F: F B C

G: G C D

A: A D E

B: B E F

Since the objective is to find triads that work well on a Cmaj7 then it does not make too much sense to include an F in the triad. This means that we have These sus4 triads left: D,E,G and A. I have one more sus4 chord that I often use, but I will explain that later in the article.

The Sus4 triad from the 3rd: Esus4

The best place to look for an upper-structure is the 3rd, somehow it is always like that. Probably because the 3rd is the most basic color of the chord. In this case the Esus4 triad gives use these notes against C:

Triad:         E      A     B

Tension:    3      6     7

Here the sus4 chord is much really conveying the basic color of the chord (with the 3rd and the 7th) and adding the sound of the 6th or 13th. In that respect this triad is maybe as much evidence that the melody of the sus4 triad is at least as important as the notes it contains.

You can play the triad in the position like this:

In the 2nd bar I have included the Esus4/C chord which is a Cmaj7(13) chord.

Using the Esus4 triad on Cmaj7

A lick with this triad is shown here below. The first bar of the lick is the basic Esus4 triad arpeggio.From there it continues with an Em7 arpeggio and finally resolves to the 7th(B) of Cmaj7.

The Prince chord re-interpreted: Gsus4/C

The Gsus4 triad is of course an inversion of the Csus2 (or the other way around) which is the first chord in Prince’s Purple Rain. As shown here below the triad only yields one extension(the 9th) and for the rest consists of basic chord tones, but again the strong melody of the sus4 triad is enough to make is a good arpeggio to use in a solo.

Triad:         G     C     D

Tension:    5      1     9

To place the arpeggio in the 8th position it is written it out here below and the chord you can create with it is added in the 2nd bar.

The Sus4 Melody

In this lick is using two inversion of the Gsus4 triad. The first one is really described just as well as a Csus2. The 2nd half of the bar is the beginning of a descending Gsus4 triad. The triads are played with pull offs and the repeated sequence really brings out the 4th interval and the sus4 sound.

Asus4: The C6/9 arpeggio

The way that diatonic chords are usually practiced and explored there is no real arpeggio for the 6/9 chords. The Sus4 triad on the 6th of the scale could easily fill this void:

Triad:         A     D     E

Tension:    6      9     3

The Asus4 triad is in fact just a rootless C6/9, so it works great for this.

The arpeggio and the voicing is written out below:

Sus4: The Signal melody and the repeating octave displacement

Suspended chords ask for resolution. In a melody this makes it great to catch attention and it gives it the sound of a signal or announcement. This lick really uses this melodic aspect. The opening of the lick is a basic A minor pentatonic run that then transitions into a 3 octave Asus4 triad arpeggio.

The arpeggio is played using the idea that if you play a sus4 triad on the E and A strings you can shift this fingering and repeat it up an octave on D and G strings and one more time another octave higher on the B and E strings.

Mostly colors: Dsus4

As with the Gsus4 triad the Dsus4 is not really conveying the sound of the Cmaj7 chord. But of course less clear structures can also be useful on a tonic major chord.

Triad:         D     G     A

Tension:    9      5     6

The arpeggio and the chord voicing is shown here below. Notice that like the Gsus4/C chord this voicing is not a complete chord since it does not contain a 3rd. It is how ever easy to add a 3rd on the A string in the 7th fret.

The Quartal harmony connection

The lick below is showing how Dsus4(D,G,A) inverted is in fact a 3-part quartal arpeggio (A,D,G). The first part of the lick is a repeated figure playing the Dsus4 triad as a quartal arpeggio. The 2nd part of the lick is resolving the melodic tension created by the ascending quartal arpeggio. This is done with a descending Em7 arpeggio.

B Sus4 triad: Getting a Lydian sound.

The one sus4 triad that is not diatonic to C major is the Bsus4. This triad is great to get a lydian sound and you might not realize that you have been using it all along for your Cmaj7(#11) chords.

Triad:         B     E     F#

Tension:    7      3     #11

The triad contains the basic part of the chord (3rd and 7th) and adds the #11 to convey the Lydian sound.

Play The Arpeggio in the 8th position like this:

Borrowing from Michael Brecker

The first part of the Bsus4 lick is using a quote that I took from a Michael Brecker solo. It’s a nice way to play the sus triad in groups of 4 and it is surprisingly easy to execute on guitar.

The 2nd part of the lick is using a more basic Em7 to get the Cmaj7 sound across.

The Chord Diagrams

This lesson includes 5 voicings using the sus4 triads. The voicings are shown below as chord diagrams as well if you prefer to read an visualize them in that way.

Using Super-imposed structures like the sus4 triad

In Jazz there is a long tradition of using upper-structures when improvising, and it is a very useful approach to building a vocabulary of lines when improvising. The use of the upper-structure and the ability to connect it with more simple material on the chord means that anything you study can be put to use in several places.

I hope you can use these 5 sus4 triads I went over here to expand you vocabulary and add some great melodic ideas to your solos! 

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5 Sus4 Triads and the Perfect Maj7 licks you can make with them

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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You Don’t Need That Many Chord Voicings, It’s How You Use Them

In this lesson I will take a look at 4 very common chord voicings and expand on them in several ways to demonstrate how flexible they are and how much you can get out of them!

Most Jazz guitarists are trying to constantly expand their chord vocabulary and learn new chord voicings. Of course it is important to have a lot of options, but it can be an even better idea to sit down and go over what you can actually do with what you already know. 

The basic chord voicings

In the lesson I will take 4 very common chord voicings that I expect you already know and then approach using them in a few different ways so that we can really open up what we get from them while relying on what we already know.

To keep it simple I have taken a turnaround in the key of C major and will use this progression throughout the lesson as a progression.

The 4 chord voicings in their basic form is shown here below both as tab and diagrams

Loose the root and gain another voice!

The first thing to do is of course to convert them into rootless voicings which should also give us some more options because we then can play something else with that finger.  This is shown below again both in tabs and diagrams.

Using the smaller rootless voicings for great melodies

Now that we have some  smaller more flexible voicings we can start making more varied melodies with the top notes of the chords.

The options we have available by just changing the top note to another note on the same string gives us these possibilities for top note melodies on the turnaround:

With these variations we can make the following comping example:

The Expanded set of top note choices

The next step could be to start using top notes not only on the same string (which is the B string in this example) but also on the next string.

If we extend the top notes by adding the ones on the high E string we have these options:

And this could be turned into this example:

Thinking in layers of harmony

With all these options it is possible to make a lot of different melodies, but everything is still played as a complete chord all the time. One way of breaking this up is to split the chord in a melody and a chord part. This is in many ways what we already did in the previous examples, but only in the way that we thought about the melody. 

Now we can also try to use that when playing the chords so that sometimes the chord is played alone, sometimes with the melody and other times just the melody.

An example might be like this: 

They are also arpeggios!

Taking the layer concept a bit further would be to start using the chords completelyas single notes and arpeggios. An example of this is shown here below:

Putting all the ideas together

The best way to finally use this is to take all the different approaches and mix them up and make use of all the things combined in your comping (or soloing) An example of this might be something like this:

I hope you can use some of these ideas to re-invent and expand what you can do with your chord voicings. I often find that it can be a great idea to take a step back and lock at what you can make of what you already know instead of starting to explore something completely new.

 

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You don’t need that many chord voicings, it’s how you use them

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What Jimi Hendrix can teach Jazz Guitarists

Jimi Hendrix is a one of the most influential guitarists in history. There is a lot to be gained from checking out guitarists outside the jazz guitar. In this video I will go over how you can apply some of the ideas that Hendrix uses in his playing when you are playing chords in jazz.

The examples in this lesson are all on the first 4 bars of the jazz standard “You Stepped ut of a dream”, which consists of two bars of Cmaj7 and two bars of Dbmaj7.

A Jazz comp example

The way we mostly comp in jazz is by using complete chords and then use different voicings to create movement in the top notes or in the inner voices of the chords.

This is shown in the example here below:

How Hendrix would play it

If we take the chords and try to imagine playing them in the style Hendrix might use on his ballads like Little Wing or Wind Cries Mary then that might yield something like this:

The important thing to notice here is that the chords are played in the begining of each chord to state the harmony.  The variations that are used are not complete chords but more double stops and partial chords. The sound of this approach is  a lot lighter than using only complete chords and that can be a nice variation to add in your comping vocabulary.

The way I am playing example 2 is of course also changing the  feel of the song, so we still need to find a way to apply this to a jazz standard without making it sound like a Jimi Hendrix cover.

The way the chord is split up in bass note and chords so that it spells out a back beat groove and this is probably the main reason it sounds so little like a jazz groove.

A more jazz example of this approach

Example 3 is taking some of the techniques used in example 2 and then adding more of a jazz feel to it. The idea is quite simple, the chord is still initially stated and then the rest of the time is used to add fills and partial chords. The fills do convey the sound of the chord, but does not yield a complete chord sound all the time.

In this example I am using the same ideas for fills but taking away the back beat feel so that the jazz feel isn’t lost. 

A closer look at the Techniques in the fills

The two main ingredients of the fills Hendrix uses are probably the chords themselves and then mixing this with pentatonic ideas.

A “jazz” version of this could be to use the chord and also use a pentatonic scale that fits the chord. In this example the chord is a maj7 chord so a suggestion for a pentatonic scale could be the E minor pentatonic scale as shown here below.

If we relate the Em pentatonic scale to C maj 7 we get:

E   G   A   B   D   E

3   5   6   7    9   3

One thing that wouldbe useful to explore is some of the intervals we have in the scale. The 3rd bar shows a simple set of intervals in the scale.

Practicing Fills from Chord shapes

On the Cmaj7 I am using some of the Em or G major pentatonic ideas that you would often associate with a G major chord. One good exercise to get used to some of the G major fills that are in the style of Hendrix is to go over the fills that I have written out in example 5. This is associtated and based on the E minor pentatonic scale and the G chord shown in the 3rd bar.

Another possibilty is to take the same exercise and use the fills associated with the C chord in the 8th fret. This is shown in example 6 here below:

Applying the Hendrix exercises to a Cmaj7 chord

As a short example of how I apply the G Hendrix fills to a Cmaj7 I have written out the chord and the fills here below. 

Using Fills in comping and soloing

With the long history of jazz guitar it has become a common thing that we add to the style by borrowing techniques and ideas from other styles. I personally find it great that we keep developing the style and that jazz in this way keeps changing and evolving.

Incorporating fills into your playing is a good way to add some color to your comping. You can of course also use these ideas in your solos as melodic material, something you will also hear Hendrix do in his solos.

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What Hendrix can teach Jazz Guitarists

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Odd Meter Soloing: Getting started with 5/4 – Jazz Blues in F

Odd Meter guitar solos can be very difficult to get into if you are not used to them. In this lesson I am going to go over how to hear or feel a 5/4 groove, play it through a blues and then expand this into a way of building a vocabulary that you can use for playing a solo in 5/4.

What we often forget is that we already have years of experience playing in 4/4 and that we rely on this whenever we play. It isn’t until we have to deal with a another meter that we start to notice how much we really use our basic feel of 4/4. So to learn to solo in 5/4 it is useful to first check out how to play a groove and understand how the meter sounds.

The 5/4 Meter and building a groove

The most common way of playing in 5/4 is to split the bar in 3 and 2, so the basic heavy beats of the bar are on beat 1 and beat 4 as shown in the example below.

The basic flow of the 5/4 groove is the pattern shown in the 2nd bar of the example.

It can be a good idea to just get familiar with these two patterns, playing them with a metronome and maybe counting along as I do in the video.

The next step is to start to turn these accents into a groove. 
A very basic 5/4 groove is shown in the 3rd bar here above and this is extended a bit to a solid F7 groove in the last bar.

Sub-division is King!

Feeling subdivision is at the root of all solid time feel and is the essential component to having good time. This is also true for an odd meter like 5/4. When I play in 5/4 I also rely on feeling the 8th note sub-division.

A great exercise to work with the subdivision is to play the 8th notes with a muted note and then accent the 5/4 Clave. This is shown below.  

The 5/4 Jazz Blues Groove

To get used to playing the groove it is a good idea to take the groove and play through a few songs. Any exercise is only really going to get in your system if you can apply it to a song, so this is a very important thing to always include in learning a new skill.

In the example below I have taken the groove through a 12 bar blues in F.

I don’t think I need to explain a lot about how it works, it is pretty straight forward. Maybe notice that if the bass note is on the 5th string I mostly alternate the bass on beats 1 and 4, but when the root is on the 6th string I just repeat that note.

Taking the groove to 5/4 solos on the blues

Once it becomes comfortable to play the groove through the form (and maybe a few other tunes as well?) then you can start working on soloing on the odd meter. The best way to do this is to build it up starting with the groove.

Since you can already play the groove you can probably feel the “clave” or accent-pattern associated with 5/4. So that the best way to start is probably with that pattern. 

First try to stick with the pattern and make your way through the blues form using simple melodies like the basic arpeggios. Gradually start to free up what you are doing melodically to incorporate other notes and connect the melody across bar lines.

With the first rhythm this might seem tedious and not really feel free or give you interesting lines, but keep in mind that the point is to have a strong foundation to build from.

Once you have taken this pattern through the form you can try the same with some of the other patterns I mention here below. You will probably find that you have a much easier time doing the next rhythms when you have worked thoroughly on the first one. That was at least my experience.

While playing the patterns you can also immediately start to try to vary them. The trick is to vary them but still use the basic version to keep track of where you are.

Making an Odd Meter less Odd.

A really good exercise if you can already play through a 5/4 in a basic way is to start to leave out parts and be more open in you phrasing. In that way you are really testing how well you have internalized this odd meter. 

I hope you can use the ideas in this lesson to get started working with odd meters and especially 5/4 time.

Good luck with it!

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Getting started with 5-4 – Blues in F

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The Reason Your Jazz Guitar Licks Suck and How you fix it!

Your jazz licks have all the right arpeggios and chord tones, target notes etc. And they still don’t sound like great bop lines! The Problem is probably with the jazz phrasing.  In this video I am going to give you a basic understanding of some of the jazz phrasing that can lift your solos to the next level.

I am also going to give you a way to write licks which you can phrase better and take a few bars from a George Benson solo to demonstrate how he gets it right!

The Good, The Bad and the Bebop!

In the example below I have written out two examples of jazz lines over a Turnaround in C major.

They both contain right notes and the melodies are moving from chord to chord in a logical way, but the second one sits better in the groove and is easier to phrase in a nice way.

The difference is where the target notes and the notes where the line changes direction are placed. In the first example this is all the time on the heavy beats (so beats 1 and 3). This is shown with the circle.

In the second line these notes are placed mostly on an off-beat and that makes it possible to give them an accent and add some more life to the line.

I guess the difference is that bebop lines need the syncopated lines that have high notes and turning points on off-beats because that makes it come alive and add some small dynamic surprises for the listener. 

Composing lines with better phrasing

It does sound a little strange I know, but actually we can work on making lines that are easier to phrase in a right way. 

The trick is to find a way to create lines where we have a high note on an off-beat.

If we take the two heavy beats in the bar, 1 and 3, then there are two types of off-beats we can have: The one before a heavy beat: 2& and 4& and the one after a heavy beat: 1& and 3&.

Before a heavy beat

In example 3 I am using the Dm7 G7 progression to demonstrate 4 different ways to have a high note (and therefore an accent) before beat 3.

After a heavy beat

The 3 different examples below show how you can add an accent on 1& by making that note a local high note.

It is worth noting that the descending line actually also makes the 1& a note you can accent, so that option is also often a good way to add an accent. You will also see this in the George Benson solo.

Examples of Jazz Licks with accents

To show you some examples of lines that have melodies that you can add accents to I have written to II V I lines in C major.

The first example starts with an accent on the 2&. This is achieved with an Fmaj7 arpeggio similar the 2nd bar in Example 3. The rest of the bar does not contain anything that gets an accent. 

In the G7 bar the first accent is on the 1& where the D is a high note. There is another accent on the 3& where the B can get an accent.

The 2nd example is using the same arpeggio on the Dm7 to get an accent on the 2&, but this time the arpeggio is played in an inversion to add a large 6th interval skip on the 1& 

The ascending arpeggios are also used to get accents on the 2& and 4& on the G7alt. Here it is first a G augmented triad and the 2nd one is an Fm7(b5) arpeggio.

Other ways to lget better at phrasing

Learning from composing and analyzing is only one way of the ways to internalize these things. Of course it will help you recognize and hear where accents are and understand the phrasing examples you hear on a conscious level.

Another way to work on this is to listen and imitate examples of good phrasing, this can be copying records or learning to play transcriptions.

Why George Benson has great phrasing

As an example of somebody with good phrasing here is 4 bars from a George Benson solo. These 4 bars are an excerpt from his (really fantastic!) solo on Billies Bounce. I transcribed it and will go over where the accents are.

The excerpt starts on the II V to Gm7, which in Billie’s bounce is Am7 D7(b9). The first part is a sweep of a triad which does not contain any accents, mostly because this technique does not really allow you to add an accent.

The line on the D7 moving to Gm7 does have an accent. The Sweep of the C major triad comes out on an F#. From here it skips up to a D and descends step-wise to Bb. This means that it is possible to add an accent on the 4&(C) which George does. 

On the Gm7 the A on the 2& get’s an accent., and for the rest there is no accents in the Gm7 line. Ont the C7 the G on the 1& is a high note which then gets an accent. It is followed by a dramatic skip (dramatic in a beautiful way…) and the line is ended with a bop cliche that ends on an D on the 3& that also naturally get’s an accent.

On the F7 D7 there are not notes on the off beat and therefore no accents. 

The Gm7 C7 line at the end of the chorus actually has accents on all off beats in the bar, which is of course possible, in this case it is also part of a blues phrase that somewhat asks for it.

How do you go about improving your phrasing?

When you are working on phrasing I would suggest that you combine all the approaches I discussed in this lesson. It is important to listen and analyze solos to get the sound of the phrasing into your ear. At the same time you can reinforce this process with composing and exploring what lines you can come up with that has notes that you can give an accent.

Finally it is also really good to have some solos that you really copy and play along with the record to really get into how the guitarist is phrasing.

Good luck with it!

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Take this approach further with more examples

If you want to explore the concepts discussed in this lesson further with some exercises and examles you can check out this lesson in my WebStore:

Jazz & Bebop Phrasing – C Blues

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The reason your jazz licks suck!

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.