Sometimes I like to challenge myself to find new things to play in solos, and one way I do that is to limit myself to a single thing and then really explore that, and that is what I am going to do in this video with a basic Cmaj7 arpeggio and all the Bebop Tricks I can think of, or at least most of them.
#1 Parker and the Blues Mystery
Of course, you want to explore the beautiful vocabulary of the great players, and then use that to make your own licks.
This is classic Bebop: maj7 arpeggio followed by a descending chromatic run. This is all over Parker and Benson solos.
This specific example is really just a variation of a Parker line that he plays on Au Privave:
Charlie Parker and the Maj7 arpeggios on a Blues
An interesting side-note here is that Parker is old-school: he plays Fmaj7 on an F blues, especially in bar 6. There are quite a few examples of this and that is a great sound to explore! Of course, this is coming from Blues first being just triads F, Bb and C, then probably 6th chords before we started using dominant chords, and I think this is a great reminder of you should not always reduce songs to chord symbols, because we lose something in the process. I am curious what you think?
As I said, Charlie Parker does this very often and another great variation is this example from his solo on Now’s The Time. (Example)
But you don’t want to only play ascending melodies with arpeggios, so before we make it really complicated then let’s try a descending version:
#2 Descending Is Great As Well
With this example, I really love how you can really bring out the chromatic leading notes by sliding into the resolution. Here it sounds great and also helps you get away with a fairly harsh leading note on beat one, and as you can hear the descending 8th note triplet sounds great as well.
To me, whether something is Bebop is probably more about how the melody flows than what notes are being played, I will give you a more detailed example of that later in the video.
#3 Making Scale Runs Sound Amazing
When you are creating lines with a certain type of arpeggio like this Cmaj7 then it is also a test of what you can do with all the other things you know.
In this example, the line is really just the arpeggio and a scale run, but I am adding in a few chord tones to break up the scale run that otherwise would be:
Example scale run #1
And then I am adding Cmaj7 chord tones on off-beats to make the line pop and make more interesting like this:
Example scale run #2
So here you have a high G on the 4& and a low G on the 1&.
#4 This Is Also In There
Combining Arpeggios is a great way to make interesting melodies, a bonus with the Cmaj7 is that you can also just take the upper part which is an Em triad like I do here triads are after all incredibly strong melodies. Another great option is to add more complicated and interesting chromatic enclosures as you will see in the next example.
#5 First A Beautiful Chromatic Phrase
Here I have a chromatic enclosure that is targeting the B, and follow this with the descending arpeggio creating a great line. You could also see the entire descending melody as an Am9 arpeggio. But you don’t need to only add the chromatic phrases before or after the arpeggio, they fit in the middle as well.
When Is It Bebop?
I keep talking about Bebop , but when is something bebop? To me, the type of melody in the examples are Bebop oriented, which I think mostly means that the melody has direction and follows the harmony. In Bebop you are finding creative ways to spell out the changes and create beautiful flowing melodies, but you can easily play licks with the same material that are not like this at all but still sound great:
In this lick, the Am7 line only uses Cmaj7 arpeggio notes, but it does not really sound like a Bebop melody, mostly because it is skipping around more wildly, and the melodies don’t have as much forward motion.
#6 Chromatic Detour
This line is really just a Cmaj7 arpeggio where I add two chromatic phrases..
You start with the Cmaj7 then on the 3rd(E) you add an enclosure which is scale note above, F, chromatic below: D#
The next step is to add a walk-up to the 7th using A and A# as an approach.
Having several descending melodies next to each other can create a great rhythmical cascading effect, like the next lick which is Wes Inspired.
#7 A Great rhythm from Wes, Pat Martino or Parker?
This combination adds a descending line that I have found in both Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino solos, and actually, I have the impression that it is really a Parker lick, but I can’t remember where I heard it. You can let me know in the comments if you know.
This rhythm is an example of playing groups of 3 8th notes, which is both an important sound in Jazz and a great way to change things up. Of course, the Cmaj7 doesn’t have to be the one-chord in the progression, it can also be an upper-structure like it is in the next example.
#8 It Does Not Have To Be A Cmaj7 Chord
Here I am using the Cmaj7 for an Am7 chord in a II V in G.
One of the things I really like about this lick is that I am using the arpeggios to harmonize a really simple melody, so in a way, it is just this melody
That is harmonized with descending arpeggios creating Cmaj7, Am7, and then a C Diminished triad.
#9 Creating Patterns and Pedal Notes
A great way to not only have lines moving from target note to target note is to add some pedal point melodies as I do in this example where the E in the Cmaj7 arpeggio becomes a pedal point with the G B and A melody above.
Another way to make the lines more interesting is to use phrasing and, to me, a Master of that was Wes, so the next example is using some of his techniques.
#10 Wes Uses Technique To Get Phrasing
In this example, there is a bit more space, and the line is using chromatic passing notes that slide into the resolution. This is a technique that I really picked up on from Wes, and it is one of the best ways to just add a subtle change in the sound of your lines, while also making it more surprising. You hear George Benson use this very often as well.
This example is adding leading notes to the B and the E.
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