Tag Archives: Blues

F Jazz Blues Soloing

It’s always tricky to move from playing pentatonic over the whole blues form to really get into the chords and play something that follows the harmony. In this lesson I’ll present a set of arpeggios, some exercises, target notes and strategies for making solos where you can hear the harmony in the improvisation.

The approach in this lesson is very similar to the approach I presented in the lesson on soloing over a Bb blues: The idea is to present the arpeggios for all the chords in one position so that it is easy to practice them on the progression and later also a lot easier to connect them when moving from one arpeggio to the next.

F Jazz Blues

Let’s first look at the 12 Bar Blues progression that I am using in this lesson_

F Jazz Blues Soloing - ex 1

You might notice that I’ve simplified the progression a bit so that it never contains a II V in one bar. In those places I chose to just play the dominant since that is the main harmonic function in those situations. If you are not familiar with the Jazz Blues you should spend some time trying to play this progresssion to get it into your ears.

Now we have the harmony we can look at the arpeggios for each of the 6 different chords:

F Jazz Blues Soloing - ex 2

As you can see I am not starting each arpeggio on the root, but instead focusing on covering the same part of the neck. This is very important because when we start making melodies then we it has to be easy to make a natural melody from one chord to the next without skipping around on the neck or have to jump to a different string.

To make it easier to practice the arpeggios on the progression I only includede one bar of 8th notes for each chord. In this way it is very easy to copy/paste the arpeggios on the progression and start playing the arpeggios in the context where we need to use them.

Arpeggio exercises

Besides just practicing each arpeggio it is a very good idea to work on playing the arpeggios in different patterns. I show a few in the video, but 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 flexibilty when you start improvising, and keep in mind that it is about flexibility and overview not about speed when working on this.

The first exercise is to just play through the Blues with the arpeggios from exercise 2:

F Jazz Blues Soloing - ex 3

The next thing that I’d suggest that you start working on is connecting the arpeggios. Practicing the arpeggios in this way over the progression is a way to get closer to how you improvise, something that you should also strive after when making exercises.

The idea is to start playing the arpeggios over the blues 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.

F Jazz Blues Soloing - ex 4

With an exercise like this you get a completely new exercise if you start on a different note, and if you keep on going it should keep mutating into new exercises, also a very healthy way to keep your ears and mind busy while practicing something as simple as arpeggios.

Target notes

As I demonstrate in the video the thinking behing 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

In the video I demonstrate how I use this principle while practicing rubato on the F7 Bb7 change targeting the Ab(7th) on the Bb7. I also do a short solo on the whole blues. The target notes I chose for the chords are in most cases 3rds and 7ths since they are determining the sound of the chord. I am sure you have heard about this before.

Here is an overview of the target notes:

F Jazz Blues Soloing - ex 5

The only place where I deviate from the 3rds and 7ths targets is the B dim chord which is identical with the   Bb7 chord except for the root, so the root is a useful target note in that case (that does not happen too often).

As always you can download the examples I used as a pdf here:

F Jazz Blues Soloing

If you want to check out an example solo that I wrote with three choruses on an F blues only using the arpeggio notes I have one available for sale in my store:

I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. 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.

Motif Exercises – F Jazz Blues

Creating melodies that connect and make sense across several chords and scales is a skill that you need to master if you want to be able to make solos that keep the listeners attention and is experineced as musical. In this lesson I am going to have a look at an important tool in achieving this skill: Motifs.

Once you can make your way throught the changes of a tune you are probably going to have to start working making the solo more of a coherent whole, which is a big part of what the listener will experience as a musical solo. Motifs and making variations on motifs is a fundamental tool that keeps the listeners attention by playing something that is recognize and at the same time by making variations is developed and sound surprising. If you want to hear examples of how this is used try to lesson to Beethoven’s 5th symphony, Gary Moore’s Still Got The Blues or practically any Keith Jarret solo.

I’ve chosen to use an F blues as a progression for this lesson because it’s a very common progression where you can harmonically do quite a lot to demonstrate what is needed and how it works.

Moving Motifs in a progression

There are a few ways we can work a motif over a progression. One way to do so is to transpose it so if a motiv start on the 5th of the first chord we’ll transpose it so that it is the 5th of the next chord where we play it. The melodies that we get when doing this are following the harmony in parallel and sometimes it works, but often it does not sound too great.

Another more useful way to move motifs is to keep them as close to the original and only change the notes that need to change to fit the next place in the harmony. This approach will in general sound a little less like an exercise in harmony and create a more varied melody.

The first skill we need to work on is probably to over see the notes of a melodic fragment and then to be able to alter notes to fit on other chords. In example 1 I have done this with a simple F major line. The example is quite simple and sounds a bit exercise like, but is still a good demonstration of how you could move this motif around an F Blues.

Motif Exercises - F Jazz Blues ex 1

As you can see the first 4 bars keeps the motif: First F major, then F minor over the Bb7, back to major and then an F#m as an F7 altered. In the second line it is againg the Fm version over the Bb7 which then gets an added blue note over the Bdim. After that it returns to F7, and becomes an F# dim like line over the D7(b9). On the Gm7 it is in fact the original motif transposed a whole step, and the C7alt is an F# major line. Then back to F and the final C7 line is a variation from the diminished scale.

There are not really any rules, you need to practice doing this so that it fits the chords, so sometimes that means moving the whole motif, sometimes you only change a single note. It is also a matter of taste as to how much it has to sound like the chord or just be a melodic statement of course. In Example 1 I think I managed to really spell out the harmony though.

Developing the motif

Once you can move a motif like this through the changes you probably need to work on ways to vary it so that you can get to the point where you actually create music without sounding like an exercise. There are numerous ways of molding a melodic statement, and maybe later I am going to go into a few more ways in detail. In this lesson I am going to give 3 fairly simple ways to work with it and a few more in the final example.

When you’re working on this it is probably useful to stick with the same chord in the beginning. In Example 2 I have taken the F statement from example 1 and then make variations by changing the 2nd note of the melody. When played one after the other it becomes clear how this will work as a way of creating melodies with this method:

Motif Exercises - F Jazz Blues ex 2

Another way is to change the order of the notes. In example 3 I am changing the ending of the line a few times. The fact that I change the ending works well because now when you listen you first hear a part of the statement that you already know, and then it ends in a new way everytime.
Motif Exercises - F Jazz Blues ex 3

The 3rd way to make variation is to change the rhythm of the original melody. Again a very powerful tool that is a very good way to get surprising melodies out of a single statement. In example 4 I am not really changing the rhythm, only putting the melody on another part of the bar. There are of course a lot of other ways to change the rhythm. There are a few in the last example.

Motif Exercises - F Jazz Blues ex 4

Putting it all together

Now that we talked a bit about how we can move a motif through changes and a few ways to vary the melodies you should be able to make solos not too far from example 5.

Motif Exercises - F Jazz Blues ex 5

The first bar is the original statement from the Example 1 again. In Bar 2 it is moved to the Fm version that fits the Bb7 very well. It is also moved to another part of the bar. The third time is back in F major with another ending. The F7alt motif has a doubled note which also yields a new rhythm. On the Bb7 I added an F as an upbeat and the Bdim version has two notes doubled. The F7 is back to the original and the D7 is again the original altered to fit a G harmonic minor scale (which is what is being used over that D7). On The Gm7 I am doubling the entire motif and playing it twice (crossing the barline into the C7) This moves the placement of the F# line that is used over the C7alt. In the last two I return to the original and use the C7(13b9) version as I do in example 1 (this is afterall a composed example).

I hope you can use the examples and guidelines that I presented here to start using motifs in your own solo and that it will help you get closer to really create new music and not just play what you already know in your solos.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here for later study:

Motif Exercises – F Jazz Blues

If you want to check out an example solo that I wrote with three choruses on an F blues only using the arpeggio notes I have one available for sale in my store: F Jazz Blues Etude 1 – Basic Arpeggios

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Minor Blues Comping

In this lesson I will go through what a minor blues is in Jazz and show some chords so that you can play through it and improvise while doing so. It is also a demonstration of how to apply the material from my lessons on Quartal harmony and Triads

The Minor Blues Progression

All the examples I am working on in this lesson are based on a minor blues in the key of C. You can see the basic progression in example 1 here:

Minor Blues Comping - ex 1

You’ll probably notice that it is very similar to the major blues progression, but that there are a few differences:  There is no IV chord in bar 2, and the ending cadence is not a IIm7b5 V (Dm7b5 G7)but uses a tritone dominant of the V (Ab7 G7). The reason for the dominant might very well be that that chord includes the blue note in the key of C (F#) and it is also a fairly normal progression in minor. In general there are fewer cadences and the structure is a little more basic. I don’t actually know why, but I think it has to do with the fact that the minor blues became popular in a period of jazz where modal playing was being explored more than playing over functional harmony and therefore players preferred to have one chord for longer periods. Of course that is just a theory..

A few voicings for each chord

In example two I run demonstrate a few voicings for each chord that are placed on the neck so that it should be fairly easy tro make melodies with them.

Minor Blues Comping - ex 2

On the Cm7 chord. I chose to use a Cm7 Dorian sound, since the modal aspect of the minor blues lends itself very well to that. You can of course also approach it from a melodic minor angel, but that will be for another lesson. The voicings I chose over the Cm7 are all quartal harmony or derived from that. If you want to check more on that you can look at this lesson: Jazz Chord Essentials: 3 part Quartal Harmony

The C7alt voicings are from the Db melodic minor scale. You might notice that I am using Stacks of 4ths, triads and drop2 voicings on it. In the end you want to mix up all the different kind of voicings that you study, this is a good example of it.

I use triads and drop2 voicings to play the Fm7. This is mostly because I want to stay in the same register and place on the neck so that it is easier to make a logical connection between the chords on the C and on the F, and the quartal voicings for F are easier to play somewhere else.

Both the Ab7(#11) and G7alt are constructed from a shell voicing with different notes above it. The Ab7 chord is a lydian dominant which you can read more about here: Lydian dominants. Basically the Ab7 is the tritone substitute of D7, and the scale that you use to take extensions from is Eb melodic minor. The G7alt is in the same way constructed by adding notes from the G altered scale (which is the same notes as Ab melodic minor)  this gives you G7 with extensions like b5, b13 and b9.

Minor Blues etude

In this last example I am playing an etude that I wrote as an example of how I might comp through a chorus on a C minor blues.

Minor Blues Comping - ex 3

The first 3 bars are essential small rhythmical motives with stacks of fourths, here the focus is more on creating rhythmical movement than melodical movement.  That’s why the chords are repeated and often not sustained. On the first Cm7 chord I added the root, something that works well as a sort of resolution, playing a heavy root or even power chord on the one of a four bar period. McCoy Tyner did this very often and is something that I associate with the style of that period.

On the C7alt I play a stack of 4ths followed by a Bbdim triad which resolves to the Fm9 which is anticipated on the 4& in bar 4. I play an Fm11 and an Fm9 to get back to the Cm7 stack of 4ths in bar 7. The movement in bar 7-9 is an example of more emphazis on the melody than on the rhythm since the chords are being played sustained, on the beat and with a clear direction towards the Ab7(b5) on the 1 of bar 9. Then in bar 9-10 the rhythm becomes more important and the chords shorter  moving from Ab7 to G7. The last two chords are both sustained and I include the root to get the McCoy effect that I mentioned earlier.

I hope you can use the material I presented here to make up your own comping patterns and hopefully some perspective on how to use some of the material I have gone over in previous lessons.

You can as always download the pdf of the examples here:

Minor Blues Comping

If you want to check out an example for comping on an F blues I wrote a lesson with two choruses using different types of voicings. It is available for sale in my store: F Blues Comping Etude #1

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Jazz Blues Soloing

In this lesson I will try to go through how you make lines on a Bb jazz blues using the arpeggios of the chord. First I’ll go through the arpeggios and give some suggestions on how to practice them, and then discuss how you make lines with them.

I got a request for this lesson after having done this lesson on developing your comping ideas: Jazz Blues Comping.  The idea is to give a set of materials that is easy to learn and still give you the ability to play the blues so that you can really hear the changes, which is a necessary skill if you want to be able to play jazz as a style.

Let’s first have a look at the chord progression:

Jazz Blues Soloing - example 1I guess I better point out that I’ve simplified the chords a bit, so that there are one bar II V’s, mainly because you don’t always have to play both chords when you are soloing and it makes it a bit easier in terms of how much time you have to spell out each chord.

The arpeggios

I’ve chosen to show the arpeggios from the 5th to the first string because that makes them 1 bar long and therefore easier to play over the chord progression. If you wish to expand them to the full position then that should not be too difficult. I chose this position because it is close to a place where you can play the chords and associating the chords and the arpeggios with each other is a very good idea.

Jazz Blues Soloing - example 2As I mention in the video it is very useful to practice the arpeggios not onyl up and down but also in sequences of 3 or skipping one note or what ever you can think of. The more you can do the more freedom you’ll have when you start improvising.

Learning the arpeggios on the progression

When you study a progression that you are not yet familiar with it can be a great exercise to play the arpeggios of the chords in a few ways. The first exercise is to just play all the arpeggios ascending on the progression like this:

Jazz Blues Soloing - example 3Another exercise that is very useful in terms of getting an overview of the arpeggios and practicing to connect them already is to play one arpeggio and when the chord changes then start the next arpeggio on the closest note. I’ve also made a lesson on doing this with scales: Practicing Scales through changes.   As I do in this example.

Jazz Blues Soloing - example 4This exercise is quite demanding, but at the same time will really get you good at connecting lines across different chords, which is very useful for staying melodic.

Target notes

As I demonstrate in the video the thinking behing 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.

In the video I demonstrate how I use this principle while practicing rubato and on the whole blues. The target notes I chose for the chords are in most cases 3rds and 7ths since they are determining the sound of the chord. I am sure you have heard about this before.

Here is an overview of the target notes:

Jazz Blues Soloing - example 5The only place where I deviate from the 3rds and 7ths targets is the E diminished chord which is identical with the   Eb7 chord except for the root, so the root is a useful target note in that case (which is not often the case).

A transcription of the solo I play in the video around 8:40 is available as a download for 1 euro here: Jazz Blues Soloing – Solo example at 8:42

I hope you can use the arpeggios and these ideas to get a firmer grip on jazz blues improvising. The material is fundamental, but so worthwhile that is is something that I find myself returning to again and again without exhausting the possibilities. The approach is also really good for other progressions.

As always you can download the examples as a pdf here:

Jazz Blues Soloing

You can also check out my Bb blues solo lesson with a 4 chorus transcription + lesson:

Bb Jazz Blues Lesson 1

If you want to check out an example solo that I wrote with three choruses on an F blues only using the arpeggio notes I have one available for sale in my store: F Jazz Blues Etude 1 – Basic Arpeggios

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

 

 

Jazz Blues Comping

Here’s a short lesson I made to give you the tools to play the chords for a Jazz Blues in Bb and a few directions on how to learn to approach playing chords in a jazz context.

The main difference between Jazz and most other styles of music is that almost everything that is being played both as accompaniment and as solo is for a very big part improvised and related to what is happening in the music at the time. This means that you have to approach playing chords the same way you would playing fills behind a soloist, so you need to be able to play the chord in several different ways to make up melodies and sounds that fits the music.

A 12 Bar Jazz Blues

First let’s have a look at the harmony of a Bb jazz blues, think of songs like Tenor Madness, Straight No Chaser and Trane’s Blues. As you can see in the example the 12 bar blues is very similar to what you are probably familiar with in a standard 12 Blues in Rock, Soul etc. Except for a few II V’s and possibly a dim chord it’s excatly the same. If you listen to Charlie Parker playing blues you can also clearly hear that it was a style that he knew very well, this was one of the things I liked about him when I first heard his playing.

Bb Blues comping - ex 1

Example 1 is written out with standard full chords so that if you play it you should be able to hear how the progression sounds.

 

Scales with chords

In this lesson I am only concerned with improvising with the top note melody, not so much the color of the chord or the rhythm. In order to be able to improvise a top note melody for each chord we need different versions of each chord each with another top note. In example 2 I have made some simple ways to do that with on or two versions of each chord. I tried to get 5 notes per chord and make it easy to play.

Bb Blues comping - ex 2
Bb Blues comping - ex 3

In order to practice playing the chords and making melodies that last across several chords I suggest you try to first compose and later improvise simple exercises like the one I’ve written out here.

Once you can do this on a blues you should probably try to do the same thing with a standard or something similar. From there it can be a good exercise to start to harmonize the melody of a standard, but that is for another lesson I guess.

Here’s a link to the pdf with the examples: Jazz Blues Comping

If you want to check out an example for comping on an F blues I wrote a lesson with two choruses using different types of voicings. It is available for sale in my store: F Blues Comping Etude #1

I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.