Tag Archives: chord progression

Jazz Blues Chords – How To Make It Sound Like Jazz

If you are trying to learn to play Jazz Guitar and especially comping songs then you have probably already found out that it is not only about knowing the right chords, there is a lot more to it.
In this video, I am going to show you how I comp a slow medium jazz blues. I have transcribed a chorus and I will go over the chords but I will also show you how I play the chords and make the comp more interesting by using melodies, arpeggios and other tricks to color the chords. In fact, it may surprise you how rarely I “just” play a chord.

The Blues Transcription

Let’s first check out my comping with the transcription, then I will break down 5 of the techniques I use to make it sound more like a piece of music and more interesting.

The next thing to do is to have an overview of the voicings. If I play through the blues with just the chords because that is the backdrop for what I am doing.

Just the chords

After that, I am going to talk about how I am using melodies and fills, inner-voices and arpeggiation to make it come alive and I am going to give you some easier examples to work with.

As you can see most of the voicings are really simple and for the most part chords you probably know already.

If there is a chord that you don’t recognize then try to play or imagine playing the root under it.

bar 1 Bb789,13) magic chord

bar 6 Edim

bar 8 Dø G7  – It is a II V, and the movement is done by moving the 7th(C) of Dø down to the 3rd(B) on G7(b9)

Melody is more important than voice-leading

The first two bars are more about the melody I am playing than connecting the chords. I am using the chords to fill in around the melody.

The first chord is just a color, after that, you get this melody and on the long note in bar 2 I add the rest of the chord but I arpeggiate the chord to create a little extra movement.

The same type of thing is happening on the Eb7 moving to Edim. First the chord, then a melody that takes me to a G, and under that, I add the rest of the chord.

Playing Jazz Chords One Note at The Time

In the previous example, you could see how I arpeggiate the chords and in that way get more movement out of a single chord.
This is something that I use quite a lot. Two examples in this blues are bar3:

and bar 7

Both are using the same basic Bb7 voicing and the notes are spread out across the bar.

In bar 6 I do this as well, but here I am adding an extra note while arpeggiating and in that way starting to have two melodic layers, something that I use to create almost a counterpoint in another place.

Notice how I actually use voice leading to go from the Edim to the Bb7 even though it is hidden by the way I play Bb7

Electric Counterpoint (in a Jazz Blues)

In bar 8 we have this fragment:

Here I play a sustained F as the melody on Dø, and then add the rest of the notes and that turns into a second melody under the F that yields the G7(b9) voicing. This is an example of adding the chord tones in arpeggiating and that gradually takes on its own meaning as a melody and I treat it like that as well, not just as an arpeggio.

Grab what is easy to get by

Being efficient is important when you comp, also because you need to be ready to react to what is happening around you.

One of the ways I use block chords in comping is to just change the melody and keep the same chord which is what I am doing in bar 9 on the Cm7.

Improvising with the harmony

Since you are improvising when you comp then you can also change the chords a bit. The final turnaround has two examples of this. The 2nd chord is written out as a Db7, though you would expect a G7 there I play (and think) Db7

Whenever you have a dominant chord that resolves then you can choose to use the tritone substitute. That is what I am doing here. And added bonus is that the Db is the #9 of Bb which makes it sound like a harmonized blue note. That is also why I have that note at the top of the chord. In Music context is everything.

In the last bar, I am also changing the harmony, but I am doing so by delaying the F7. II V cadences are very flexible and you can often get away with leaving out one of the chords or as I do in this case, leave the F7 until beat 4 and then use it almost as a chromatic leading chord for the Bb7 in the next chorus. The quarter note triplet rhythm also adds extra energy by being a sort of tension against the groove.

Learn some amazing drop2 voicings

The majority of chords that I use in this video are drop-2 voicings, and a lot of the other ones can easily be seen as derived from drop2 by being drop2 without a root note for example. So studying drop2 voicings and being flexible with them is very useful if you want to be good at comping and free to choose what to play.

Drop2 Bundle – Build Your Voicing Vocabulary

 

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Maj7 Chords

How To Use Maj7 Chords As Amazing Substitutions

Maj7 chords have a great open yet resolved sound, but even if they sound very much at rest you can easily use them in some very interesting chord substitution concepts.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the great sounding chord progressions you can make using maj7 chords in chord substitution, and later in the video, I am going to show you how changing one note in the voicing gives you a lot more beautiful sounds.

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Content:

0:00 Intro – Maj7 Chords for reharmonization

0:39 Tonal and Chromatic

0:50 bVImaj7 – Borrowing from minor in major

1:41 Using it on a few Jazz Standards

2:47 bIImaj7 – The Neapolitan Subdominant

4:01 Finding a scale for the chord

4:28 How to use it on a few Songs

6:09 Chromatic maj7 chords #1

6:54 Chromatic approach #2 

7:28 Maj7(b5) Chords (and a little disclaimer)

8:58 Maj7(b5) as an Altered dominant

9:48 Maj7(b5) as a Backdoor dominant

10:28 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page

Minor II V I – Getting The Most Out Of The Basics

The Minor II V I is a very common progression in Jazz. But it is also a bit more complicated than the major counterpart. This is mainly because of the IIø chord and also because you need to change scales moving through the chords.

This video is going over 5 Minor II V I licks demonstrating some of the scales, arpeggios and melodic ideas you can use when improvising over a minor II V I. This can really help you expand your vocabulary on this chord progression, and there is a lot of great ideas in there that you need to know.

#1 A few basic scales and tricks

First, we should cover some basic material. The Dø is coming out of a C natural minor or Eb major scale. Here I am just playing the arpeggio in a pattern and adding a chromatic run to take me to the G7.

The G7 is the dominant of Cm, so I am using C harmonic minor over this chord., but I also add a Bb to the melody.

The G7 melody is build around one arpeggio: Fm7b5.

Fm7b5 related to a G root gives us a chord with a b9 and a b13. If you play the Fø chord with a G bass note you will probably also recognize that as a G7 voicing.

#2 Beyond the basic arpeggios of the chord

It is useful to have a few arpeggio choices for any chord you want to improvise over.

In this example I am using Abmaj7 over the Dø which is a great choice for this chord.

On the G7 I am using the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord: Bdim.

#3 Coltrane Patterns

Another useful resource is to use Coltrane Patterns.

In this example I am using first an Fm Coltrane Pattern on the Dø.

The G7 is combining the Bdim which I also used in the previous example with the augmented triad. In C harmonic minor the augmented triad is found on Eb, but that is, of course, enharmonic with a B augmented which makes a little more sense on a G7.

#4 Maj7th and DimMaj7th Ideas

This example is using two different Maj7th ideas.

First the Abmaj7 on the Dø, here combined with an Fm Coltrane pattern.

On the G7 the melody is build around an Abdim(maj7) arpeggi.o

#5 Maj7(b5) and m7(b5)

The b5 connection. A great voicing for a Dø(11) is in fact an Abmaj7(b5). This is also the arpeggio I am using in this example on the Dø.

On the G7 the first part is a basic G majro triad which (of course) also works great. From there it is again the Fø arpeggio that is now played descending and resolves to the 3rd of Cm6.

More Minor II V I options

A great song to really work on some Minor II V I ideas is Blue Bossa.

And of course also my first Blue Bossa Solo Lesson

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Can You Do This On The Chord Progressions You Know?

You practice improvising jazz solos over progressions and spend hours or days learning to solo over songs. One thing that we mostly leave almost random is when do we know it. How do you answer if you know a song or a chord progression? Having a way of judging how well you know a song is very important but also difficult to really describe.

In this video, I am going over 4 exercises that I use and that my students use to learn chord progressions. Two are technical and two are more about being musical and working on playing what you hear.

I find that learning Songs and Chord Progressions is extremely important for learning jazz or jazz guitar, so if you have any thoughts on when you know a progression or exercises that are useful then please leave a comment.

Content:

0:00 Intro – When Do You Know A Chord Progression?

0:37 4 Exercises – Two Technical, Two Musical – Know what there is and Play What You Hear

1:15 The Turnaround – Scales

1:52 #1 Only Using The Arpeggios

2:25 Basic Technical Exercise

2:45 Solo only using Basic Chord Tones and Arpeggios

3:27 #2 Never Ending Scale Exercise

4:24 The Scale version

4:51 Using Diatonic Arpeggios instead of the Scale

5:11 The Diatonic Triad version

5:52 #3 Rubato Solo from chord to chord

6:24 The Exercise and the Goal

7:01 Giving you time to listen to what you hear in your solo

7:36 #4 Motif Exercises

8:16 Learn from Wes Montgomery

8:42 It is a great measure of how free you are on a progression

9:04 Hearing motifs and then playing them.

9:27 What Exercises do you find very useful? Leave a comment!

9:46 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Improvise using Target Notes

One of the core ideas that I used when I learned how to improvise over chord changes was using target notes. This method took me from working on Rhythm Changes to Giant Steps. It is such a strong concept that it will help you deal with any progression.

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Voice Leading – Breaking a Few Rules

Voice leading is the method you use to create smooth transitions between chords. Often it is described with voice-leading rules that determine how we move specific notes in a chord move to specific note in the next jazz chord. In this video I will explain voice-leading quickly and then give some examples of how you can actually be very creative and create some interesting sounds and new chord voicings by using voice-leading.

The lesson also illustrates how you can create some great progressions by breaking some of the rules. There is no reason to be tied down and not be creative

Jazz Harmony quickly becomes a science and research, but it is better to be a little free and also just try out the opposite of what is expected once in a while. In the end it is not about music theory but about what sounds good. 

Basic Voice Leading 

The most basic voice-leading rules in jazz are probably the movement of the core chord tones. In general voice-leading is about taking the closest route to a note in the next chord.

Below in the example I have Shell voicings for a II V I in C major.

Notice how the 7th(C) of Dm moves to the 3rd(B) of G7 and stays there as the 7th of Cmaj7.

The same goes for the 3rd(F) of Dm, stays to become the 7th of G7 and then resolves to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7.

In this case the chords are moving in a smooth way from one to the next and in all changes one note stays while the other descends.

Opposite Voice-leading from II to V

In the example below I am voice-leading the 7th of Dm7 in the opposite direction, namely up to Db.

This means that the Dm7(11) chord is moving to a G7(b9b5) with no 3rd. The 5th of Dm7 naturally moves to the b9 (Ab) of G7. The G7 resolves to the C6/9 quartal voicing.

Against the rules on V I

In example 3 I have written out a II V I that resolves the 7th(F) of G upwards to a #11(F#) on Cmaj7.

The transition from Dm7 to G7 is pretty straight forward with G(11) moving to Ab(b9), E(3rd) and C(7th) lead to Eb(b13) and B(3rd). The F remains.

When the G7(b9b13) resolves to Cmaj7 it is moving the F up to F#, B stays and Eb resolves to the 3rd(E). The b9 is also surprisingly resolving up to an A that in this case is a 13th on the Cmaj7.

Suspensions and Surprises

An advantage of starting to explore thinking of the individual voices is that it can free up how we think of chords as vertical blocks that can’t be changed.

This example is showing how you can use voice-leading to create some interesting suspensions in your playing and blur the lines between the chords.

The basic II V in this example is pretty straight forward with a bit of contrary movement in the top-voices. The G7(b9b13) is resolved to Cmaj7(9) also in the way you would expect, but the b9 is left hanging. This creates a suspension of the b9 and gives us a #5 sound on the Cmaj7 that is then resolved down to the 5 on the 3rd beat. 

Not Getting Stuck in Drop2 

Often when you think in voice-leading it keeps you in one type of voicing, so “strict” voice-leading will take a triad to another triad or a drop2 voicing to a drop2 voicing. 

But once you start going in other directions you open for getting other results. In the example here below I am voice-leading the Drop2 Dm7(9) into a G7(b5b13) and then back to a Cmaj7.

Voice-Leading for new Voicings

Thinking in moving voices is also a great way to come up with completely new voicings. In the example below I am creating a G7(b9b5) voicing that I actually didn’t know before preparing this lesson. 

The voicing is a little tricky to play but really sounds great and resolves perfectly to the C6/9.

More Drop 2 voicings in Action!

Of course if you want to dig a little deeper into using Drop2 Chords in comping then check out this lesson on using Drop2 voicings and adding Chromatic Passing Chords:

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Download the PDF

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics 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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Favourite Chord in the key of C Major?

A chord that isn’t in the key isn’t always a modulation. There are many chords that you will come across in songs that music theory does not describe as a modulation.

In this video I talk a bit about some of those progressions of chords. Show an example of something that is a modulation and a few progressions that are not modulations but still contain chords that are not found in the scale.

The way I view music theory is that it is a description of the music that I play that helps me understand and hear what is going on. In most genres of music you will find a lot of chords that are maybe not diatonic to the scale but are still in the key. Examples of this are found as secondary dominants, modal interchange or borrowed chords from the parallel key.

Content of the video

0:00 Intro and a bit of heated discussion

1:09 Diatonic Chords

1:37 Modulation or not?

2:00 Progressions with non diatonic chord in the key

2:39 A progression that modulates

3:26 What can you come across? Secondary dominants

4:06 Modal Interchange/Borrowing from minor

4:25 Overview of the 21 chords in C minor.

4:55 Song examples with borrowed chords

5:25 My favorite chord and a little solo with it!

5:55 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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How To Analyze Chords and Progressions

We Analyze Chords and Chord Progressions because it is very important to understand how the music flows and also to figure out what to play and how to play when we solo over it.

In this video I am going to take a well know Jazz Standard There Will Never Be Another You and use a step-wise method to analyze the a song. Understand the chords and the progression, and find out what scales go with the chords. This will go a bit beyond just recognizing the II V I’s and also help you really understand a lot of progressions in jazz.

As a musician I find that knowing and using music theory like this is really helpful when studying pieces and sight-reading charts. For me it helps me hear the music on the page, the changes and the color of the melody. For that Harmonic analysis is a very useful skill.

Analyze Chords – Video Content:

0:00 Intro

0:36 What we use the Analysis for

1:06 Three Step Analysis using Roman Numeral

1:29 A few approaches to find the key -The Melody

2:00 The Chord as a way of finding the key

2:27 Diatonic chords in the scale

2:56 The Diatonic chords in the progression

3:54 Adding secondary Dominants and Cadences

6:34 The 3 remaining Chords

6:46 Minor Subdominant

8:47 The Tritone substitute

9:47 The #IV

11:40 Using the analysis to assign scales

13:30 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Jazz Turnaround – How To Get Started

The Jazz Turnaround or I VI7 II V is a very common and useful progression to learn after you have checked out some basic II V I lines. In this video I will go over some basic material to use on a Turnaround: Jazz Chords, Scales and Arpeggios and then demonstrate how to solo over the form with this.

The lesson includes some exercises as well to get you more familiar with the chord progression, arpeggios and scales and get it into your ears and fingers.

The Progression and some Basic Jazz Chords 

The turnaround I am going to focus on in this lesson is a Bb major I VI II V. I have chosen to use altered dominants for the VI and the V chords.

A good place to start when learning a chord progression is to play the chords. Here are the chords both as diagrams and as notation:

It is important to play the chords and get used to how they sound, and for any progression you want to solo on you also want to be able to play the chords.

These voicings are fairly basic versions with a root.

Scales and a position of the neck

When you are starting to work on a progression then you want to keep scales and arpeggios in one position. If you have to move around the neck to cover the chords while soloing then it is going to be very difficult to play any logical sounding melodies.

I am going to cover the turnaround using the 6th positions.

The Bbmaj7 and the Cm7 are covered by a basic Bb major scale:

The  G7 altered scale is the same as the Ab melodic minor scale. In this position that is this scale:

And finally the F altered or Gb melodic minor:

Arpeggios – Diatonic and altered dominant

The basic arpeggios for the Bbmaj7 and Cm7 are easy to come up with. The altered dominants are a bit more tricky. Here I am using m7b5 arpeggios from the 7th of the chord.

Decoding the Arpeggio choice for the Altered dominants

The altered dominants don’t have a straight diatonic arpeggio. In Ab melodic minor the diatonic chord on G is a half diminished chord. One way of dealing with that is to look at a G7alt chord voicings as shown below.

The top part of that chord is an Fm7(b5) chord and this means we can use that arpeggio as a good arpeggio for G7alt since it gives us a

F Ab B Eb = b7, b9, 3, b13

Exercises on the Progression

When you are learning a progression it is really useful to do some exercises that follow the changes and help you not only familiarize yourself with both the chords and the scales and arpeggios you need to improvise over it.

In the video I also demonstrate how to do similar exercises with the arpeggios and two examples of the never-ending scale exercise.

Improvising using Target Notes

One of the best ways to approach soloing over changing harmony and to have melody lines that flow naturally from one chord to the next is to use target notes.

Using target notes in your solos is to choose a note in advance and then try to play a melody towards that note. This way of constructing lines is very useful because if you have that in your system you will always play melodies that are moving towards something and not sound like you are trying out how notes sound or that melodies are moving at random. By choosing target notes that are related to the chords it is also a very powerful way to really spell out the chords.

The Target notes for this progression

The Target notes are chosen to be really clear so they are very indicative of the sound of the chord and not repeating notes from the last chord.

An example of a line using the target notes is shown below. Notice how I am using the target notes on the 1st beat of the chord and making a line that really points to that target notes.

Taking the Target note strategy further

If you want to check out some more material on Turnarounds and target notes then you can also check out this webstore lesson where I am using that approach on the Rhythm Changes.

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Jazz Turnaround How To Get Started

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The Missing Triad in your Jazz Blues Chords – Simple and Easy

Flexible voicings like triads are very practical to add to your jazz blues chords. We can do a lot with Triads and they are fairly easy to play and move around. This video is taking a look at how we construct 3 note voicings for a jazz blues and then adding a triad voicing that fills a gap on the fretboard.

From there I show how you can take that thorugh a chorus and develop it into another similar type of chord which also gives us a complete set of voicings on the blues.

3-Note Jazz Blues Chords

Most of us use triad chords coming out of the chords that we already use but without a root, so for F7 we end up with these two voicings: F7 + F9 as seen in example 1 here below:

They work really well, but there is a long gap from rootless F9 to F7.

Constructing another voicing to close the gap

If we look at the F7 chord then a basic F7 is an F root and an A diminished triad and we can use that triad as a voicing as well.

A C Eb and that sort of bridges the gap between the two.

If I use a bit of voice- leading I can comp through a blues using this type of voicing as shown in the example 2:

The F7 is here the A dim triad: A C Eb. On the Bb7 this is voicelead into Ab C D which works as a Bb7(9). Then back to F7 and going to a F7(b13) : A Db Eb.

In bar 5 the chord is again the Bb7(9): Ab C D. The B dim is easy to create changing the C in to a B, so Bdim: Ab B D.  This moves up chromatically to the F7: A C Eb. The D7(b9) is achieved by moving up the entire voicing so that the top note is an F#: C Eb F#. 

The Gm7 is the upper-structure: Bb major triad: Bb D F.  This is turned into a C7(9) by lowering the F: C7(9) Bb D E. The F7 is the original voicing and the last C7 is the C7(b9) version of the other voicings: Bb Db E. 

Another voicing to check out!

There is one more voicing that we can check out from the previous example.

The 2nd chord on Bb7 is this Bb7(9): Ab C D. If this is transposed to F7(9): Eb G A

This can be turned into a complete other chorus:

In example 3 I have a shift from the D7(b13) down to a Gm7 chord that is a 1st inversion Bb major triad. This is one way of doing this, but another way would be to really aim for getting smooth voice-leading:

This is a bigger stretch but also a very smooth moving chord progression.

Harmonizing the F7 scale based on the 3 voicings

A cornerstone in my vision on comping is that the top note melody has to make sense. To make this possible it is very important to also be able to play the entire scale with a chord sound.

This lesson started with two 3 note voicings that I then added a 3rd voicing to, and using these 3 chord voicings you can harmonize the F7 scale as shown here below:

3-note flexibility and voice-leading

The flexibility and the fact that you can easily be quite free when working with 3-note chords is probably a huge part of why I use these voicings so much. I hope you can use this material to get more out of your comping and make it easier to play some solid ideas in your comp and in your solos.

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Jazz Blues – The Forgotten Triad Chords – Great, Simple and Easy

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics 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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Modal Interchange – Chord Progressions with Beautiful IVm ideas

Modal Interchange is a great way to make your Chord Progressions more interesting and surprising. With Modal interchange chord progressions can borrow colors from the minor key that are surprising but still make sense to the ear and have a natural place in the harmony as you can see in the examples I reference from both Pop, Rock and Jazz like Radiohead and Deep Purple.

One especially interesting and beautiful version of this is using IVm or minor subdominant, which is the topic of this video. I will go over 5 types of minor subdominant or IVm chords and use examples from songs so you can hear how they sound and in that way get a better impression than just the theory.

Content of the video:

0:00 Intro

0:47 The basic IVm and that one important note

1:00 How a IVm chord works in a major key

1:37 #1 Basic IVm chord progressions as a transition and independent chord

2:14 IVm Example 1 – Radiohead

2:52 IVm Example 2 – Radiohead

3:09 IVm in Jazz, extensions and scales

4:28 #2 bVII – Backdoor dominant

5:55 bVII Example and Scale choice: There Will Never Be Another You

6:39 #3 IIø or IIm7b5 – How it works

7:25 IIø Example: I Love You

7:55 #4 bVImaj7

8:30 bVI Example in a cadence: Night and Day

9:07 bVI Example as an independent chord: Triste

9:43 #5 bIImaj7 – Neapolitan Subdominant

10:44 bII Example: You Stepped Out of A Dream

10:57 bII Example: Suspending the Tonic chord

11:40 bii Example: Deep Purple

12:29 Working with modal interchange and learning to use these chords

12:51 Do you have great clear examples of IVm chords? Leave a comment!

13:26 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!