Jazz Turnaround – How To Get Started

The Jazz Turnaround or I VI7 II V is a very common and useful progression to learn after you have checked out some basic II V I lines. In this video I will go over some basic material to use on a Turnaround: Jazz Chords, Scales and Arpeggios and then demonstrate how to solo over the form with this.

The lesson includes some exercises as well to get you more familiar with the chord progression, arpeggios and scales and get it into your ears and fingers.

The Progression and some Basic Jazz Chords 

The turnaround I am going to focus on in this lesson is a Bb major I VI II V. I have chosen to use altered dominants for the VI and the V chords.

A good place to start when learning a chord progression is to play the chords. Here are the chords both as diagrams and as notation:

It is important to play the chords and get used to how they sound, and for any progression you want to solo on you also want to be able to play the chords.

These voicings are fairly basic versions with a root.

Scales and a position of the neck

When you are starting to work on a progression then you want to keep scales and arpeggios in one position. If you have to move around the neck to cover the chords while soloing then it is going to be very difficult to play any logical sounding melodies.

I am going to cover the turnaround using the 6th positions.

The Bbmaj7 and the Cm7 are covered by a basic Bb major scale:

The  G7 altered scale is the same as the Ab melodic minor scale. In this position that is this scale:

And finally the F altered or Gb melodic minor:

Arpeggios – Diatonic and altered dominant

The basic arpeggios for the Bbmaj7 and Cm7 are easy to come up with. The altered dominants are a bit more tricky. Here I am using m7b5 arpeggios from the 7th of the chord.

Decoding the Arpeggio choice for the Altered dominants

The altered dominants don’t have a straight diatonic arpeggio. In Ab melodic minor the diatonic chord on G is a half diminished chord. One way of dealing with that is to look at a G7alt chord voicings as shown below.

The top part of that chord is an Fm7(b5) chord and this means we can use that arpeggio as a good arpeggio for G7alt since it gives us a

F Ab B Eb = b7, b9, 3, b13

Exercises on the Progression

When you are learning a progression it is really useful to do some exercises that follow the changes and help you not only familiarize yourself with both the chords and the scales and arpeggios you need to improvise over it.

In the video I also demonstrate how to do similar exercises with the arpeggios and two examples of the never-ending scale exercise.

Improvising using Target Notes

One of the best ways to approach soloing over changing harmony and to have melody lines that flow naturally from one chord to the next is to use target notes.

Using target notes in your solos is to choose a note in advance and then try to play a melody towards that note. This way of constructing lines is very useful because if you have that in your system you will always play melodies that are moving towards something and not sound like you are trying out how notes sound or that melodies are moving at random. By choosing target notes that are related to the chords it is also a very powerful way to really spell out the chords.

The Target notes for this progression

The Target notes are chosen to be really clear so they are very indicative of the sound of the chord and not repeating notes from the last chord.

An example of a line using the target notes is shown below. Notice how I am using the target notes on the 1st beat of the chord and making a line that really points to that target notes.

Taking the Target note strategy further

If you want to check out some more material on Turnarounds and target notes then you can also check out this webstore lesson where I am using that approach on the Rhythm Changes.

Rhythm Changes – Target Note Strategies

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Jazz Turnaround How To Get Started

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