Tag Archives: allan holdsworth lesson

Allan Holdsworth – This Is How He Uses Arpeggios In A Solo

This Allan Holdsworth lesson takes a look at his solo on The Things You See and especially some of the arpeggio based ideas he uses.

To me, Allan Holdsworths playing is not really based on the use of arpeggios. His lines are more scale based and uses interval structures that don’t always make sense as complete arpeggios. At the same time he does have some ways that he uses arpeggios in his playing that is hugely interesting and for me has been very useful to check out. Among other things his use of Quartal Arpeggio and the way he plays them in this video is very interesting.

Other Lessons on Allan Holdsworth

If you want to check out some of the other lesson I have done on Allan Holdsworth you can do so here:

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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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Allan Holdsworth Chords – Voicings and Inversions

Allan Holdsworth is famous for his very beautiful but also quite difficult and advanced jazz chords. In this video I am going to start with some voicings that I checked out from Holdsworth and apply them to a II V I. I then go over how to invert them and demonstrate how you can generate more great chord voicings from this material.

Taking a voicing and inverting it is probably the most efficient way to find more chords and it is also a great exercise to check or improve your knowledge of the fretboard.

The II V I example

The main example is a II V I using some of the voicings that I picked up from Allan Holdsworth.

The focus of this lesson is on the larger voicings with 4 notes spread out over 2 octaves. The starting point is shown here below with two chords per bar.

When I made this I was just planning to make a few examples of how to apply voicings like this to a II V I. When I made this example I realized that the Cmaj7 chords were inversions of each other and that made me take this approach to the lesson.

This type of chord voicing is to me is most useful for sustained voicings. The point of playing a structure like this is to really show case the way the combination of notes sound. That means that when I use these voicings I am not trying to convey a groove or work with them. 

You could in that respect argue that Holdsworth doesn’t really have a voicing vocabulary that allows him to comp in that way, which he also never really did.

How to make inversions – Inversions for the Cmaj7 voicing

Strictly speaking this is a C6/9 voicing since the notes are G,A,D & E., but since maj6/9 and maj7 chords are pretty much interchangeable I have notated it as a maj7. I guess the thinking is that it is just a tonic chord in a major scale.

When inverting voicings the idea is that you have to order the notes in pitch within an octave and use that as a reference to find the inversions.

For the Cmaj7 this is shown here below. 

The original voicing is (from low to high) G,D,A,E. If we order those in pitch we get: G A D E (as shown in the 2nd bar)

This yields a way of moving to other inversions.

 The original voicing is G,D,A,E. If we move that down an inversion (using the same strings and the row of notes) we get E,A,G,D and in that way the rest of the inversions are created.

Inversions for Dm7

The Dm7 voicing is a Dm7(9,11) and the notes are F,C,G and E. 

Notice how stacks of 5ths seems to reappear in these voicings.

If we order the notes in pitch it gives us the row: E,F,G,C

With this row we have can produce the 3 other inversions of this chord. In the 2nd voicing I move one of the voicings from the 4th to the 3rd string to make it easier to play.

The Altered dominant inversions

The Altered dominant chord in this lesson is a G7(b5b13) voicing, as shown here below.

When we order the notes in a pitch row we get: Eb,F,B and Db.

Again this is used to create the other inversions by moving up and down in the tone row on each string.

Using the inversions

The goal with making the inversions is of course also to put the voicings together in new examples of II V I voicing sets.

In the examples below combines three different inversions in a II V I.

The first one is using a descending top note melody from G to E. It is often easier to move from chord to chord while descending since the voice-leading is naturally moving down. 

The 2nd example is going against this and has a top note melody that moves up.

One of the things that is an advantage with these voicings is that the way the notes are spread around the octaves makes them less obvious for voice leading. 

This makes it easier to make other choices as shown here below:

Inversions of everything

The idea of making inversions of chord voicings is useful on several levels for your jazz guitar skills.

  1. It is very useful to be aware of exactly what notes you are playing in a chord voicing. 
  2. The process is a great way to solve problems with fingerings for chords
  3. You stay training your knowledge of the fretboard
  4. You get some new voicings that might be extremely useful

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Allan Holdsworth Voicings on a II V I

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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Allan Holdsworth Chords on a Jazz Standard – Advanced Modern Chord Voicings

Allan Holdsworth is of course famous for his fantastic chord voicings and use of extended chords. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to take a standard and try to play through it with the type of chords that Holdsworth might use, so I took the song Days Of Wine And Roses and went through that applying chords and voicings with that in mind.

Holdsworth and Standard Jazz Harmony

The music of Allan Holdsworth is of course not based on the same type of harmony that you find in a jazz standard, and in his chord vocabulary there are many different types of voicings. The ones I chose to focus on in this video are the more open chords that are spread out over several octaves. Since the music that Holdsworth plays is also a different harmonic language my chord choices are a bit different. This is mostly because I would have to completely reharmonize the piece to get closer to those chord sounds, and for now I feel that it would missing the point. I really want to try to bridge the gap between this type of  voicings and more standard jazz chord progressions for this lesson. Maybe in another lesson I can also adapt the chord sounds a bit.

A lot of these are Drop2&4 voicings or derived from that, though not all of them. If you want to check out more on drop2&4 voicings to make it easier to play and understand what I am doing here you can do so here:

Drop 2&4 chords

Using the funny inverions and Drop2&4 voicings

The chord voicing is actually an inversion of a very common Fmaj7(9) voicing with the notes A G F and E spread out over two octaves. The original is a very common “bossa nova” chord: F A E G.

The 2nd chord: Eb7 is constructed by voice leading the first voicing, so A moves to G, F to Eb, G to A and E to Db. This gives us an Eb7(b5) voicing which is in fact also an inversion of an Drop3 Eb7(b5).

The Am7(b5) voicing has some added “Holdsworth color” because I opted for a Am7(9b5) which I here play with an Ebmaj7(#5) Drop2&4 voicing. 

The D7alt is voiced with a drop2&4 D7(b9b13) chord, which you could also look at as being an Ebm6 chord.

Mixing drop3 and drop 2 and 4

Both Drop2&4 and drop3 voicings share that they contain larger intervals, and this means that you can often easily get away with mixing them.

This happens on the Gm7 below where the first chord is a Bbmaj7 drop2&4 voicing that then is followed with a drop3 Bbmaj7 voicing. The drop3 is played a bit odd because I skip a string in the middle, but like this the sound between the two fits better. I didn’t actually notice that it was a drop3 in the beginning.

The Bbm7-Eb7 is a straight ahead way to voice IVm II V in F: Dbmaj7 and Eb7(b5) both drop2 and 4.

The chord voicings that I am using on the Am7 is a stack of 4ths over a low E. The voicing is less common because it has the 3rd and 7th high in the chord and the 5th and 11th lower.

The Dm7 chord is coming out of voice leading the Am7 to F, so it has a Dm7(9) sound.

On the Gm7 C7 I start with the Drop3 Gm7(9) and move from there to a C7(13) drop2&4.

Spread Triads with added notes

To me the emphasis, when using these voicings is on the sound of the chord more than the functional character of the progression. This is evident both in the voice leading and also in the way I play the chords as mostly sustained surfaces of sound.

That actually makes it a bit difficult to really get it to work on the kind of progression shown here below. The First two bars are repeating material that I already covered.  The only thing worth noticing is of course that the Eb7(b5) from bar2 can also work as an A7(b5).

On the Gm7 I use a Bbmaj7 spread or open-voiced triad and then over that triad I add an 11th( a C). This voicing has a 5ht interval as the highest interval and I move this interval up a 1/2 step to the C7alt (which is then a C7(b5b9).

Parallel fifths!

The parallel fifths that are moving already on the Gm7, C7alt are resolved as a G and D on the Fmaj7. This is coming from voice-leading the C7alt.

The Eb7(b5) is a standard drop2&4. The Am7(b9) is also a drop2&4 this time I am using a CmMaj7 chord voicing to add the 9th to the sound. THe D7(b13) is another drop 2 and 4 voicing.

Re-using voicings on other chord types

The first two voicings on Gm7 are the same as in the first half. On the Bbm7 I am using the same voicing as I started with on the Fmaj7 in bar 1. Now I am playing it from F and it contains F,Db,Eb and C which is a Bbm(9,11) sound. In the context the Ab is not really missed. 

The Eb7 is coming out of voice leading the Bbm chord and contains G(3rd),Db(b7),A(#11) and C(13th).

A few different ways to derive new voicings

The Am7 voicing here below is using the same structure as we saw on the Gm7 before the half of the song: An Open triad with an added 11th. The Dm7 is a Drop2 and 4 Fmaj7 voicing where the A is substituted with a G so that we have a Dm7(9,11).  I really like this voicing with it’s stack of 5ths and the added 9 on top.

On the Bm7(b5) I am using a straight Bm7(b5) drop2&4 voicing. 

The Bb7 is played with an FmMaj7 voicing, this one derived from teh Fmaj7(9) voicing I used in the beginning but now with an Ab instead of an A. 

The last 4 bars start with an Am7 voicing that are coming out of voice leading the Bb7. I chose to add a 9 even if that is not really in the key of F.

The Dm7 and Gm7 are both drop2&4 voicings that I talked about earlier.

The C7alt voicing is another drop2&4, but this time with a C7(#9b5) which has a major 6th as the highes interval (Gb toEb).

The turnaround is reharmonized a bit so instead of going to F I resolve first to a Dbmaj7 using the drop3 voicing I also used on Gm7 and a Gbmaj7 that is voiced with the chord I also started with. This also makes it easy to loop the whole progression.

How to use this lesson

I hope you can use this etude to learn some new chords and hopefully you can also get some ideas for new voicings and also a bit of insight in how you comp with these larger interval structures in the style of Allan Holdsworth.

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If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

 

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Allan Holdsworth Voicings on Days of Wine

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.