Tag Archives: Autumn Leaves Guitar

How To Make A Set Of Solid Jazz Chords on Autumn Leaves

You need to play the chords and you also need to improvise and play some great Riffs when you are comping. This video builds a set of Autumn Leaves Chords that connects different Jazz Chords to give you something you can use to improvise with.

A lot of the time when you practice you think you need to learn completely new things, but often it is much more efficient to make new connections and find better ways to use what you already know. And become much more flexible if you can mix the different things you know like drop2 and shell-voicings for example. So That is also the way I am going to build the material in this lesson.

https://youtu.be/WpX7rSn4h24

I am using Autumn Leaves as an example because that is a very common standard and covers a lot of ground with chords, so it is a perfect example for teaching jazz chords in a guitar lesson.

Autumn Leaves Chords – Basic Shell-Voicings

Let’s start with a set of basic Shell-voicings for the first 8 bars of Autumn Leaves. If you want more information on Shell-voicings then check out this very old lesson (in fact my first YouTube Lesson) The basic construction of a Shell-voicing is either 1 7 3 (as on Cm7) or 1 3 7 (as on F7).

The first place to go is to take the shells and leave out the root, so the lowest note:

Rootless Shell-voicings or Guide-Tone Chords

In this lesson, you don’t need to use the root, and you also want to be more flexible to add more things on top of the voicings so let’s take away the bass note:

Adding notes to create 3-note chords

Now we have two-note voicings that are easy to add extra material to. The first step is to add the notes on the next string, so the B string.

That is shown here below:

Keep in mind that I am trying to be practical and I am only adding notes that I think are useful and easy to play. You should do the same and it may differ from what I do. Keep it practical!

A Comping Example using the 2 and 3-note jazz chords

An example of what you now can do already with this simple set of voicings is shown below:

From Triads to Drop 2 Voicings

Notice that the 3-note voicings are often Triads and you can add the notes on the high E string as well and that will mostly give us Drop 2 voicings (Check out the explanation of Drop voicings here)

Adding the extra notes gives you these voicings:

Combining all the voicings

Putting this to use on the song would give you an example like this:

Combining and Embellishing Chords on a Blues

If you want to check out a more in-depth application of this on a 12-bar Blues in Bb then have a look at this WebStore lesson:

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Autumn Leaves – When You Only Use Pentatonic Scales

The Pentatonic Scale is one of the first things we learn on the guitar, and it makes a lot of sense to use this when working on how to play  an Autumn Leaves Guitar solo.

The way I am demonstrating the pentatonic scale on Autumn Leaves in this lesson is as a 5 note scale that we can use to get the sound of the chord across. Most of the choices are using the standard minor pentatonic scale and I am also using a m6 pentatonic scale.

Finding Pentatonic scales for each of the chords

I am going to use the first 8 bars of Autumn Leaves since that covers all the chords in the song except 2 and it has the main cadences in the key so a cadence to a major tonic and one to a minor tonic.

The Progression is:

Cm7 F7 Bbmaj7 Ebmaj7

Aø D7 Gm6

For the Cm7 I am using the Cm pentatonic scale:

The F7 is played as an F7alt chord. F7 alt is the same as a B7(#11), so a Lydian dominant, and we can use a B major or Abm pentatonic scale:

For the Bbmaj7: Bbmaj7 consists of the notes Bb D F A and what you see here is that the upper part (D F A) is a D minor triad. For this chord I use Dm pentatonic. 

Over a maj7 chord using the minor pentatonic scale from the 3rd is a good rule to remember!

And that rule gives us Gm pentatonic on the Ebmaj7 chord

The Minor II V I – m6 Pentatonics

A m6 pentatonic is a minor pentatonic scale where the b7 is replaced with a 6th. So for Cm pentatonic we have: C Eb F G Bb and the Cm6 pentatonic will be C Eb F G A.

For Aø: A C Eb G it is worth noticing that this is an inversion of a Cm6 chord: C Eb G A. That means that the Cm6 pentatonic sale is a great option for this chord.

As a result the rule is: ø chord -> m6 pentatonic from the 3rd of the chord 

Over the altered dominant we can use the m6 pentatonic associated with the Melodic minor scale that is also the altered scale. 

In this case D7alt that is Eb melodic minor and the Ebm is a perfect scale choice:

Eb Gb Ab Bb C spelling out b9,3,b5,b13 and b7.

And of course the tonic minor chord Gm6 is easily taken care of with a G m6 pentatonic scale

Practicing Pentatonic Scale Patterns

One of the ways we use pentatonic scales is by exploring scale patterns. A pentatonic scale doesn’t work like a “normal” scale and the patterns. Therefore patterns can produce interesting groups of notes and interval structures. 

In many ways this is what probably makes it such a common device in modern jazz. It is a source of new interesting melodies to work with.

On guitar you should try to work on some common patterns. In the three examples I am also using that it is easy to play pentatonic scales as 2 notes per string patterns.

Pentatonic Pattern 1 – Diatonic “3rds”

This pattern goes through a pattern in the pentatonic scale that is equal to playing a major scale in 3rds. The scale is played descending and the direction of the “3rds” are changing so first up the down etc.

Pentatonic Pattern 2 – Switching direction

This pattern is again using the 2 notes per string aspect. Here it is used with the scale played ascending but the order of the notes per string switches creating some nice 4th intervals through the scale.

Pentatonic Pattern 3 – A sus4 triad

One of the structures in a Cm pentatonic scale is an Fsus4: F Bb C.

In the example below this structure is moved through string sets in the scale, generating some sus4 triads but also a Cm and an Eb major triad.

Solo using only Pentatonic Scales

The solo hereunder is using the Pentatonic scales I went over on an A part of Autumn Leaves.

Autumn Leaves Lessons

I have a few WebStore Lessons based on Autumn Leaves. Here’s one on soloing over the form and demonstrating a few approaches to creating lines:

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Jim Hall on Autumn Leaves – Can it get any better?

To me Jim Hall is like the reluctant super hero of Jazz Guitar. In this video I am going to show you some of the ideas he uses on the song Autumn Leaves, both in terms of changing the chords, using poly rhythms and melodies. In my opinion this solo is an understated gold mine of musical ideas.

The devices that Jim Hall are things that you can incorporate into your playing and use to re-interpret the harmony of songs while you are playing them or add more rhythmical variation to your solos. In that way this solo is a really clear take on how you can do a lot with a very simple and famous jazz standard.

Autumn Leaves Reharmonization

There are a few things that Jim Hall and Ron Carter do with the Harmony of the song that really deserves a mention. After that I will break down a few phrases and go over the rhythm and harmony used for them.

The chord progression for Autumn Leaves is this:

The chords are interpreted quite freely through out, but a great reharmonization is used in the 1st solo chorus where the Gm6 is exchanged for a Db7(#11) both at the end of the 1st and the 2nd half of the song.

When you have the root in the melody on a chord you can always do this substitution, and here it works really well at the end of the form since the first chord of the song is a Cm7 so it works as a tritone dom7th.

Another thing that Jim Hall does very often is to substitute the Aø for Eb7#11 this happens mostly in these two places but he also does it in the other minor II V’s. (add transcriptions and audio?)

Example 1 – Tonic Minor and dotted 3 note groupings

The first phrase here is a clear example of how Jim Hall uses melodic minor on tonic chords. Something that I get

The line is a simple melodic minor scale sequence, but the first note is the major 6th. The other thing that really makes this line jump out is the rhythm. A quarter note followed by two 16th notes.

The last bar transitions into a G7 with the B note being emphasized and the line goes on to the next part of the form using a Bdim arpeggio.

This sequence is a great way to get into this type of phrasing and you can experiment with adding it to your own playing making some lines with it, It is also the same rhythm Kurt Rosenwinkel uses a lot with triads

An example of a II V I phrase that uses this could be this:

Example 2 – Triplet motif

Jim Hall works through motifs in many places in the solo. The previous example was also using a scale sequence as a motif.
This example uses triplets and quickly develops a 3 note motif across 4 bars.

The motif is quite simple but it is still impressive that he manages to move it around like this over the form. Th triplet rhythm here is almost a 4 note grouping but not really. Probably because the focus on the melody more than the rhythm.

Example 3 – Reharmonizing in the solo

This phrase is using the same rhythm as in example one, and what Jim Hall is playing can be interpreted as two different sounds.

The phrase is shifting the same melodic motif down in half steps. The motif itself can either be whole tone or melodic minor. It is found in both. The pattern is the same throught the phrase. He plays the phrase 3 times for the Eb7, twice for D and three times for Db7 adding a small tag to end it.

The first part spells out an Eb7(#11) sound, the second a D7(#11) and the 3rd a G7alt or Db7(#11).

 
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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Autumn Leaves – Soloing with arpeggios

Autumn Leaves is a great chord progression to start improvising following the harmony. It’s a well known tune and it still covers a lot of important cadences in a key. In this lesson I will go over a set of Jazz Guiat arpeggios in one position, some exercises, target notes and strategies for making solos where you can hear the harmony in the improvisation.

About Autumn Leaves

In this lesson I have chosen to work on Autumn Leaves in the key of G minor. You will find a few versions in the key of E minor since it is printed in that key in the old Realbook, but the most common key is G minor.

The two main cadences in the song are II V I cadences, one to the major tonic (Bb) and one to the minor tonic (Gm). In this way you cover two of the most important harmonic movements in this key.

Learning the song

Besides knowing the arpeggios and the chords by heart you need to know the melody of the song you want to improvise on. In the end the melody is more important because the harmony may vary from version to version but the melody will stay the same. In this lesson (and for copyright reasons) I can’t go over the melody, but if you want some hints on how to do this you could check out this Q&A video where I talk about that: Q&A #3

The form of Autumn leaves is a bit uncommon for jazz since it is AAB where the B is 16 bars and the 8 bars. A good place to start is to just play the chords of the song. In example 1 I have written out chord voicings for the song. In the example I am using the material that I went over in the How to Play Jazz Chords lesson.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-1-1
autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-1-2

Since a lot of the examples I am using are over the whole form I am playing them a bit fast in the video. You can always go back and check or even play them at a slower speed if you have a place that is hard to follow. I ended up doing it like this because the video otherwise would be much too long.

The Arppegios

I have written out the arpeggios in the 6th position of the neck. If you think in Bb major this is a very common Bb major scale position so you probably know it already.

Example 2 has the arppegios of the different chords written out. If you count the chords you’ll see that we have 10 different chords. Since the goal of this lesson is to improvise fluently with well connected melodies using the arpeggios, I have written out all the arpeggios around the 6th position. Shifting up and down the neck is going to make it much more difficult to play logical melodies and almost impossible to do some of the exercises.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-2

Practising the arpeggios

First you should probably try to become familiar with the arpeggios in example 2 and then as fast as possible try to start using them on the song. Students often forget how important it is to practice using what you’ve learnt.

Besides just practising each arpeggio it is a very good idea to work on playing the arpeggios in different patterns. Playing them in groups of 3 or 4 notes, skipping notes etc are good ways to get more flexible with the arpeggio. You need the flexibility when you start improvising, and keep in mind that it is about flexibility and overview not about speed when working on this, so there’s no real need to play it fast.

The first exercise is to just play through the song with the arpeggios from example 2 in a one octave version. This will not only help practising the arpeggios but also build your sense of the form of the song and help you hear the chords moving and when they change. I tried to take the highest octave available of each arpeggios because that is probably the register you’ll need the most when you solo so you might as well start by working on a good overview of that.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-3-1
autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-3-2

Connecting the arpeggios

The next exercise is a very good way to gain a strong overview of the arpeggios and chords. It is also helping you to develop your ability to think ahead. The idea is to start playing the arpeggios over the progression and then when ever the chord changes to continue the movement with the note that is the closest in the next arpeggio. It’s quite tricky to get started with but very rewarding when you start getting the freedom while improvising.

When you start this then you probably don’t need to work on the whole form in the beginning. In example 4 I have written out the example I play in the video in rubato. In the video you can hear me pointing out whenever I change.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-4

In the video I also demonstrate this on the first 8 bars and start in a different octave. As I talk about in the video it is about the proces not about the notes in this case so you should vary where you start in the arppegio to keep challenging yourself and your knowledge of the arpeggios in this position.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-5

Putting it all together in improvising

As I demonstrate in the video the thinking behind making harmony clear in a solo line is to target certain notes of the strong beats (in this case the 1). The idea is that a strong and logical sounding line will be a line that has the direction towards a clear target note. I also discuss this way of making melodies in another lesson that you can check: Target Notes You will notice in the solo I improvise in the video that I am not too concerned with target notes unless the chord is changing.

The first target notes I’d suggest you use is in the song is the 3rd of each chord. There are two advantages to this. It very clearly targets the color of the chord and it also connects what you play with the melody since a lot of the sustained notes in the melody are in fact the 3rd of the chord.

In example 6 I have written out the 3rds of each chord played over the root of the chord.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-6

Making lines with the arpeggios

Now that we have arpeggios and target notes for each of the chords we can start to work on coming up with lines over the song.

The way you start working on this is probably to practice rubato to make a line from one chord to the next. In example 7 I have shown a simple Cm7 melody that leads from Cm7 to F7.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-7

In the video I also take the next step from working in rubato and demonstrate 8 bars in time as written out in example 8.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-8

I hope you can use the arpeggios and techniques I went over here to get started playing strong clear lines over Autumn Leaves.

If you want to learn to play a Chord Melody of Autumn Leaves then have a look at this lesson

Autumn Leaves In-depth Solo lesson

If you want to take this a step further then you can check out the WebStore lesson with a 50 minute video lesson I made on a 4 chorus solo. It goes over some basic ideas as shown hear and continues to more complicated concepts like reharmonization and different scale choices.

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