How Do you play chord solos? It is something we hear people do all the time on our favorite records by Wes, Joe Pass or George Benson. But it does seem really complicated to do.
In this video, I am going to give you an example of an Easy Chord solo and then I am going to talk about how you can practice making your own solos. Another thing that you don’t want to miss is how working on this type of playing is something that can really boost your single-note solos.
- Easy Chord Solo on Lady Bird
- Exercises to Practice the chords in a melodic way
- Some ideas on how to come up with melodies with them
The Chord Solo Transcription
First let’s check out the chord solo:
An important part of any solo is to play strong melodic ideas. If you listen to or play the chord solo you can hear several strong concepts being used in it.
Exercises for Chord Solos and Melody
When you improvise with chords then you can’t think about the voicings you play. You need to practice playing melodies and have the voicings ready. The way you learn to play melodies is by practicing doing that, but also by working on harmonized scales.
If you want to play this :
When you make exercises like this then keep in mind that you should use the voicings that fit for you. There are a lot of options available. A few alternative solutions are shown below:
Harmonizing a scale with Fm7 and Bb7 chords
To give you some more insight into the process here are the harmonizations of the Eb major scale using the Fm7 and Bb7 chords.
The Fm7 is pretty similar to the Cmaj7 example:
Above the Fm13 is a little tricky, but in this case, it is possible to harmonize that with an Fm chord.
On the Bb7 I am harmonizing the chords with the melody notes on the B string.
I do this with 3 note voicings because that makes it easier to combine these with 4-note voicings and make melodies that move across two strings.
A few thoughts on Melodic Structure
The solo is played thinking mostly of the melody I play. That is the best way to approach this way of playing in my experience.
If you listen to the first two bars you can hear a motif that is repeated and developed in bars 3 and 4.
The original motif is repeated in bars 5 and 6 and given a conclusion in bars 6 and 7.
Notice how the melodies are simple and step-wise. They also rely much more on rhythm than complex interval movements etc. This is, of course, a practical thing, but also an important part of why you want to play melodies like this and what you want to aim for.
Listen to Wes Montgomery for this type of melodic approach. Both with chords and single-note lines.
Repetition is also an important way to generate melodies. The Abmaj7 melody below demonstrates that quite clearly.
Learn more about Block Chards and Solos
Take the solos up a level
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