Tag Archives: chord progression

Best Exercise for Difficult Chord Progressions – Never ending Scale Exercise

We want to be free when we improvise over difficult chord progressions. This Flexible Scale exercise is a great way to start working on having an overview of the fretboard and the scales you need for difficult chord progresssions like Giant Steps, Moments Notice and Very Early.

The exercise helps you learn to think ahead, know where you are in the bar and play towards target notes. The goal is that your melodic idea is stronger than the movement of the chord progression.

List of content:

0:00 Intro — The Exercise for difficult progressions 

0:39 The Chord Progression for this lesson and where this works well 

1:05 The Turnaround: Cmaj7 A7alt Dm7 G7alt 

1:21 The Goals of doing this exercise 


1:42 The Scale exercise 

2:05 Demonstration: 1 chord per bar — scales in position 

2:20 Keep it open: Positions and different starting notes 

2:49 Demonstration: 1 chord per bar starting on the 5th — scales in position 

3:10 Positions vs Entire fretboard 

3:20 Demonstration: 1 chord per bar — Scales Entire Fretboard 

3:34 Don’t play too fast — stay ahead of what you are playing. 


3:55 The next level: Structures like arpeggios and triads through the scale 

4:21 Why it is still just a scale exercise and not a solo 

5:01 Demonstration: Diatonic Arpeggios in position 

5:29 Also on the entire fretboad 

5:38 Demonstration: Diatonic Spread Triads — Entire Fretboard 

5:57 The weird Loop in this example 

6:28 Why this turnaround is a good place to start 

6:44 Increase the tempo of the harmony: Two chords per bar 

6:59 Demonstration: 2 chords per bar — scales in position 

7:18 Avoiding the loop 


8:27 Exercises should be close to the songs/music we work on 

8:57 Do you have great exercises like this geared towards playing over a progression 

9:23 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

Jazz Blues Analysis – The Variations you need to know

The 12 bar Blues is probably the most common song structure or chord progression in music! In this video I am going to analyze some of the common variations of the Jazz Blues and cover what you need to know to make have a strong chord progression adn chord substitution vocabulary for playing over a jazz blues.

I am going to talk about how the jazz blues can contain IVm progressions, #IV dim chords and also some other parallel II V options.

Hope you like it!

0:00 Intro – Jazz Blues – the most common progression in Western Music

0:34 Example: The Basic Jazz Blues form

0:57 The Main Structure and parts of the form

1:35 Analysis of the harmony

2:20 A bit of history of the Blues Harmony since Charlie Parker

3:50 The options for altered dominants and Tritone II V’s in various places

4:07 Examples of possible cadence to IV

5:25 It’s all about the subdominant!

5:40 #IV dim chord

5:50 Example: Blues with a #IV dim chord in bar 6

6:18 Scale choices for the #IV in the blues

7:07 Blues themes with #IV in the progression

7:20 #IV bonus: The Blue note!

9:02 The IVm chord

9:34 Scale options for IVm or bVII 10:24 IV in Blues themes

11:21 Cadence to II chord

11:56 the chromatic II V chain

12:22 example with the Chromatic II V’s

12:45 How to deal with the parallel motion in a solo

14:21 Tritone sub for the II chord

15:00 Do you know any great Blues Progression harmonizations?

17:00 Like the video? Then check out my Patreon page!

Minor II V I options – Melodic Minor, Phrygian Chords and Tritone Substitutions

The minor II V I can be a difficult chord progression to play on and have a varied vocabulary on. In this video I am going to go over how you can approach it in several different ways with Phrygian Chords, Melodic minor and Tritone Substitutions.

In the video I will demonstrate the different Minor II V I approaches and talk about how to use them both in terms of comping, voicing choices et and also soloing and arpeggios.

I also talk a bit about what will fit with the melody of a piece.


Content of the video:


0:14 Minor II V I The Progression in this video


0:42 Basic II V I – Demonstration

1:03 Scales, Voicings, extensions

2:31 Arpeggios for a m7b5 chord


4:33 Locrian natural 2/ Locrian #2 – Demonstration

4:54 Melodic minor for m7b5

5:15 Chord voicings for m9(b5)

5:54 How does it fit the melody?

6:48 Arpeggios from Melodic minor


7:50 Tritone sub – Demonstration

8:12 Using a Tritone sub dom7th instead of the IIm7b5

8:26 The progression with these chords

8:56 When does it fit the melody?

9:41 Voicing Options and considerations

9:57 The bonus Blue note!


11:51 Phrygian Chord – Demonstration

12:10 What is a Phrygian Chord

13:19 Comping a Phrygian sound

14:06 Soloing on a Phrygian Chord

14:36 How you can use them and where


14:55 Tritone II V – Demonstration

15:17 Tritone substitution of the entire cadence

16:23 Strategies for soloing over a tritone sub


17:27 Borrowing II from Major – Demonstration

17:49 How it works – modal interchange

18:13 Using the brighter sounding II chord

19:34 Voicing considerations

19:56 Soloing over the borrowed II chord

20:43 Do you have a great reharmonization or scale choice for a minor II V I?


21:26 Like the videos? Support me on Patreon!

5 Types of Chord Progressions You Need To Recognize and Be Able To Play – Harmonic Analysis

Analyzing Chord progressions is something we all do as Jazz Guitar players. We need to understand Jazz Harmony in order to play good solos and to improve our Jazz Comping.

Here’s what most people seem to get wrong: Understanding the chords in the context of the song and not just looking at what type of chord it is.

The way we apply Music Theory to our harmonic analysis of a song decides how well we understand the chord progression and helps us play better solos.

In this video I will go over 5 types of progressions that if you can use to better understand the functional harmony that you find in a jazz standard.


0:02 What we use Music Theory for in jazz

0:23 The II V I problem

1:21 What I want from Music Theory

2:08 Examples of why you want to think beyond “it’s a II V I”

2:13 The III VI7 II V I

2:34 Cmaj7 and Em7 both Tonic

3:26 Why Modes fail in Jazz: Phrygian

3:46 IV IVm I and IV bVII I

4:25 Why group in functions?

4:53 V I and II V I progressions

5:36 “Turnaround” the II V I

6:19 Secondary Dom7th and Cadences

8:15 IVm progressions

9:01 Common IVm chords

9:28 The two uses of IVm chords

10:56 The #IV Progressions – The basics

11:31 How #IV progressions are treated in Jazz

11:58 The #IV resolving to a Tonic

13:29 The #IV resolving to IV or IVm

14:47 No Modulations?

15:09 Modulations!

16:03 Examples of songs that modulate

17:10 The point of this way of thinking

Modern Approaches to a Jazz Blues – Rethinking the Chord Progression

Reharmonizing and interpreting chord progressions like a 12 bar jazz blues is a very important part of improvising in jazz. In this video I will take a Bb Jazz Blues and go over a few fairly simple ways to get other sounds on the first 4 bars. It should open some new ideas and widen your knowledge of jazz harmony and jazz theory.

I discuss how I come up with the ideas and how I both improvise and comp with the “new” sound. Often making the chord progression more modal gives you a lot of interesting choices in terms of reharmonization and scale choices.

List of contents

0:32 Overview of what is covered in the video
0:44 Comping and Soloing with alternative changes and sounds

1:10 Standard Blues Changes solo for Reference
1:48 Making the Blues modal

2:12 Lydian b7 as a “different sound”
2:45 Lydian b7 Guitar Solo example
3:36 Structures used for Lydian b7
3:50 Triad Pairs: Bb + C
4:03 Ab Augmented and Bb
5:02 Gm and Ab Augmented
5:08 Bb7(b5) Arpeggio
5:21 FmMaj7 Arpeggio

5:41 Bb Phrygian Guitar Solo
6:32 Bb Phrygian as a Sound on a Bb Blues
6:43 Bmaj7(b5) chord as a Bb7sus4(b9) chord
7:09 Fm7b5 voicing
7:14 Db7 voicings
7:49 Coloring Blues Phrases with Phrygian chords
8:28 Using the Bmaj7(b5) arpeggio

8:43 Whole step dom7th Guitar Solo
9:31 The thinking behind the reharmonization
9:58 Playing Coltrane Changes on a Bb Blues
10:15 Explaining how the chords work
11:05 Comping Description
11:46 Soloing Description, target notes
12:20 Reharmonization in solos and interaction

12:54 Modal Altered Scale Guitar Solo
13:43 The Altered dom7th and extending it to 4 bars
14:26 Voicings (E7/Bb7alt)
14:53 Soloing: Important clear target notes
15:28 The Mysterious Triad
15:56 Dmaj7(#5) arpeggio

16:47 Taking these examples further.
17:12 Using the chord voicings to learn to solo
17:30 Thoughts on soloing with superimposed changes
17:48 Other Reharmonizations and modal sounds
18:10 How to come up with reharmonizations

19:04 Outro

25 Reharmonizations of a Turnaround – Discover New Modern Jazz Chord Progressions

A great way to write better chord progressions is to check out reharmonization techniques and chord substitution. You can build your jazz theory or jazz harmony vocabulary like your solo vocabulary.

In this video I am going to take a I VI II V and go over 30 different ways of playing this progression. Some of the very common ones and also a lot that are more advanced or modern. Hopefully you can use the chord progressions to get some new ideas and techniques for reharmonization or for your own compositions!

0:00 Writing better chord progressions
1:24 The basic turnaround and some variations
4:22 The I I7 IV V
5:34 The Radiohead turnaround
6:09 #IVdim in the standard turnaround
7:12 The Ladybird Turnaround
8:43 Getting less functional and more substitutions
9:55 Reinterpreting other chords in the progression
11:04 The “Inner Urge” idea
11:49 Major 3rd tonalities
12:23 #IV instead of the V
14:42 Same interval in the root movement
16:31 More Poppy sound without dom7th chords
16:45 Same melody note
17:42 IVm type chords instead of V
19:09 Upper-structure resolving passing chords
19:54 How to use the vamps and the exercises

Reharmonization – Making Songs Fresh & Personal by Reharmonizing

Reharmonization is a great tool to add some interesting sounds or surprises to you Jazz Standards or Covers. This video will take the jazz standard Body and Soul, analyze the harmony of the A part and go over some of the more subtle but effective things you can do with reharmonizing the chords.

The video covers different reharmonization techniques and offers some options for an arrangement of this jazz ballad.



Vlog: 30+ Chords in C major?

How many chords are there in the key of C major?

If you are writing a chord progression or making reharmonization then you want to check out what options you have available in jazz harmony. This video is going through 60 chords and talk about how they are related to C major key and show jazz chord progressions that contain them.

I am also referencing chord progressions of jazz standards very often.

The chords that we find in a chord progression in almost any genre will more often than not contain chords that are not diatonic to the scale of the key. So the amount of chords in a key is bigger than the diatonic chords found in the scale, but how big?

Turns out that is a very tricky question!

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround

The I VI II V is one of the most common progessions in jazz. In this lesson I am going to go over 10 variations of it and discuss how some of the different substitutions work and how you put them together.

The Turnaround

As I mention in my first lesson on turnarounds and the one on Rhythm changes a I VI II V is in fact an embellished version of a I V progression. It’s very good to keep this in mind, not only for high tempo solos but also just to understand what the basic structure and the point of the turnaround is.

All the examples in this lesson are made on a turnaround in C major.

The basic I VI II V is shown in example 1:

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 1

The first chord that we use a substitution for is the Am7. Since Am7 to Dm7 is a sort of dominant root movement we can change the Am7 into an A7.  The A7 to Dm7 is then an auxiliary dominant resolving to a minor chord so the  scale that works for that is D minor harmonic. The modal name for that type of dominant sound is A7(b9,b13).

A few variations on the VI chord

This is shown in example 2:

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 2

Since we need to move from C to Dm7 we can also choose to substitue the Am7 with a dim passing chord. In this case it will be a C#dim that will function the same as the A7 in example 2, and you should use the same scale to play over it or add extensions to it. The reason for using the C# dim is to get a nice chromatic stepwise bass line.

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 3

Changing the tonic chord

Now that we have a few options for the VI we can start using a substitute for the I chord. The most common version of this is to use the III chord instead of the I chord. For soloing there is very little difference between the two, but in a progression the III chord is not nearl as much of a resting point as the I chord. Furthermore it moves to the VI resolving a 5th down so it adds more forward motion in the bass as well.

You’ll notice that the III does not have a natural 9th in the chord. This is because that is a note that is not in the scale so it will sound a little out of place. In some situations it is ok to use it and in others it may clash with the melody or the soloist.

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 4

Altered dominants

To make the pull back to the I chord at the end of the progression we can alter the V. There are two options for this, you can borrow the dominant from C harmonic minor which gives us a G7(b9,b13) or simply use the altered scale (Ab melodic minor).

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 5

The Em7 is pulling the progression forward where the I is making it rest, making the Em7 a dominant chord is away to make that pull stronger. A dominant is always more unstable sounding and especially since it is not in the key it will give us the feeling that we want to move forward.

You should notice that you need an E7alt or E7(b9,b13) to not clash with the melody that you’d expect on a turnaround in C.

In example 6 I am using the E7, and I also changed the Dm7 to a D7 to get a complete chain of dominants that is pulling to the tonic.
Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 6

Tritone substitution

Since we can use an E7alt we can also use the tritone substitution of that chord. This gives us a bass note that is not even in the key which makes it even more unstable than the E7 and gives it much more forward direction. This is a personal favourite of mine, it isn’t used that often as a turnaround in an AABA form, but it does happen quite often in places where there is an extension at some point.

Bb7 is a tritone substitution so we would consider it a lydian dominant

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 7

Now we have a few variations of dominant chains. First we can add a tritone substitution for the G7: Db7.

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 8

And if we don’t use the Bb7 but use the E7 and a tritone substitue for A7: Eb7. Then we get this chromatically descending line in example 9

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 9

Ladybird Turnaround and the gateway to Giant Steps

The final example is a little left by itself. You can look at this turnaround as a gateway to Giant Steps. In the lady bird turnaround usually you use the I chord, and the tritone subs for A7 and G7. The Dm7 is replaced with an Abmaj7, and the way this works is that we let the Eb7 resolve as a normal dominant to Abmaj7 instead of as a tritone resolving to Dm7. Abmaj7 is related to C major as a bVI borrowed from C minor. You’ll find that in some standards as well.

To shortly connect this to Giant steps you should notice that we are in C and that we modulate down to Ab. If you continue that cycle you get a Giant Steps progression in the key of C:

Cmaj7 Eb7 Abmaj7 B7 Emaj7 G7 Cmaj7

I don’t know if this is where Coltrane got the idea, but it is certainly a possibility.

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround - ex 10

That was 10 variations of the turnaround. As you can see you can easily make more different variation, but they will start to resemble each other a bit more.

I think it is important to be able to recognise that something is just a turnaround and to know the different versions so that you can easily sum up pieces that are mostly turnarounds and that you already reading the piece have a sense of how it works.

If you want to see some examples of lines on these turnarounds then leave a comment on YouTube or social media and let me know!

You can also check out my WebStore lesson on comping on How High The moon:

Comping Etude – How High The Moon

If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf here:

Jazz Chords 10 variations of a I VI II V turnaround

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave 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 want to hear.

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