Great Dorian m7 licks – Secret ideas from Holdsworth, Metheny and more

There are some many things in a jazz line, arpeggios, quartal harmony, chromatic enclosures. Part of the challenge in using the stuff we practice is to make it into lines that work and combine it with what we already use. In this video I am going to demonstrate some of the things.

In this video I am going to go over some of my ideas for m7 lines. This will give you some insight in how I build lines and what I use. It also gives me the chance to show you some of the things that I use that I did not work on a in a systematical way like licks from Allan Holdsworth and Pat Metheny.

The Dorian m7 sound

I choose to make these lines on a m7 chord. Mostly because it is a sound that is very common in both jazz standards and modal jazz songs. It is also very likely that you have some sort of vocabulary on a m7 chord so you can easily put the ideas to use.

The Holdsworth stack of 4ths

This lick starts with a stack of 4ths that is laid out as 2 notes per string with a string skip. This way of playing a quartal arpeggio that isn’t 1 note per string is something I picked up from Allan Holdsworths solo in this video:  The Things You See It’s anyway a great solo!

For the rest the line consists of a variation of a melodic Cm cliche: 1 2 b3 5. In the line I play it descending and suspend the 1 with a chromatic leading note (B). The begining of the 2nd bar is a scale run which then is built around a Cm7 arpeggio that has some of the “gaps” filled up with scale notes.

The ending of the line is a built around a large interval skip of a b6.  Having larger intervals in you lines can often work as signals. It is an easy way to let the note stand out. Since it is at the ending I am skipping up to a chord tone (the 5th).

Using different diatonic arpeggios

It is absolutely essential that you are able to use more diatonic arpeggios than just the one from the root when you are improvising. In this example I am using two of the other arpeggios that work well over a m7 chord. These arpeggios are found on the 3rd and on the 5th of the chord.

The line starts with a Gm7 arpeggio where the 5th and 7th of Gm7 are use to encircle the 3rd(Eb). From Eb I then continue up the Ebmaj7 arpeggio which then lands on the 1 of bar 2 with the D.

From the D the line first is resolved to the C chromatically before it continues down the Cm7 arpeggio to the 5th. From the 5th I continue with a stack of 4ths from C before the line ends on a G.

Chromatic enclosures and Pat Metheny’s parallel 3rds

In the last example I am starting with a chromatic enclosure. When you play lines it is important to have the melody connect with the chord. You can do this by having strong chord tones on the important beats in the bar. In this case I have the 3rd of Cm on the 3 of bar 1. I am using the chromatic enclosure to suspend the 3rd by playing a chromatic movement that then resolves to Eb.

From the Eb I play an Ebmaj7 arpeggio in a sequence that let’s me end on the D on the 1 of the 2nd bar. In the 2nd bar I start with an idea that I learned from Pat Metheny which is shifting down 3rds chromatically. From the Ab I can resolve back to a G and then end the line with a melody that is coming out of an Gm pentatonic scale. I finally end the line with on the 11th(F)

Compose lines with the material.

For most of us tt is important that we keep discovering and exploring new things like new types or choices of arpggegios or scale sounds. Using composition is a great way to develop this. 

I hope you can use some of the ideas that I talk about in this lesson to come up with some new exciting lines and have fun integrating them into your own playing.

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My 3 favourite m7 ideas

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