How To Solo Over Chord Changes The Right Way

When you start soloing over chord changes in Jazz then the first concern is often what to play over each chord. Of course, that is important, but maybe the most difficult part is how to play it, so that is what I want to focus on in this video:

How to play from one chord to the next in any chord progression

A Method that helps you play better solos not just fragments

And this is really because I found that to be such a huge difference for my own playing and it is time and time again what makes my students play lines that really connect with the changes and makes their solos sound much stronger and more natural.

In this lesson, I am going to quickly go over a progression and some chords, then find some target notes and talk about how you put those two things together to start creating some solid logical solo lines.

Here’s a basic II V I in C major.

Let’s keep it really simple: I am going to focus on playing from Dm7 to G7, so the first part of a II V I progression.

The progression is in C, so we don’t really need more than the C major scale: C major. As I have talked about in some of my other videos it is really useful(or necessary) to know the arpeggios for each of the chords etc.

Understanding the chord movement and how to play it

If you play from Dm7 to G7 then the most important note to change is the C in Dm7 moving to B in G7.

The is something we can use as a target note. If you want to play a solo that sounds like a logical melody and really connects well with the changes then using the B as a target note is a great choice.

So the idea is that if we play the B on beat 1 of the G7 bar then you can hear the chord change in the line.

One of the most important things to be able to do in music in general and jazz especially is thinking ahead. If you know you want to play a B on G7 then you can improvise a melody on Dm7 that leads into the B.

You can hear how it works here:

Solo Over Chord Changes- How Tor Practice

If you want to use this then you need to practice making lines on Dm7 moving to B., Of course, you can change to other target notes, I picked B because that is a very clear note and easy to hear.

So if you practice making lines that work like this then you might get something like this:

I would suggest you sit down and just try to improvise or compose lines, so play out of time but still think 8th notes so that you are working on being able to play lines from Dm7 to G7. As you work on this you get used to this way of thinking and you can easily implement it on other chord progressions as well. B-Roll – improvising rubato

I am of course using this on a II V I, but you can probably see how this will work on any chord set. They don’t have to use the same scale or be in the same key. This works on any chord progression.

Choosing Target Notes to Improvise Towards

The easiest choice is to pick a note that was not there in the previous chord or scale, so here I use B. If it was an altered dominant I could have taken a b13 or a b9 as well since they are not strong notes on Dm7 (or Cmaj7 for that matter)

For the res,t the 3rd is usually very clear, and often the 5th is too. In the beginning, you want to pick clear notes so that when you play a solo line without comping you can still hear the harmony change. This is really useful for your ears and helps you play a lot stronger solos.

Example on Take The A-Train

Another example: Take The A-train. Going from Cmaj7 to D7(#11).

Example one: Target note F# moving from C to D7.

Another good option for a target note is the melody note G#.

If you want to explore some other approaches that will help you improvise better solos and use other concepts than what I have covered here then check out this lesson where I am talking about improvising over chord changes but also how you might approach it in different ways:

3 ways to improvise over chord changes

Explore Target notes on Rhythm Changes

One of the most important strategies for soloing and how to learn that working on Rhythm Changes:

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