Playing a chord solo seems if not impossible then very difficult but, actually, there are quite a few things you can do to make it a lot easier and still sound great. In this video, I am going to cover 5 hacks that will help you get started and add chord solos to your jazz guitar playing and once you get started it is going to be a lot easier to expand it.
The Chord Solo Licks That Scare You
Usually when we think about a chord solo then the phrases are like this:
And that is difficult and moving around the entire guitar with a ton of voicings for each chord.
But most of the time the phrases are not that complicated and you can really do a lot with some fairly simple things.
That is what I want to show you in this video!
#1 Keep it simple – Part 1
You can play great harmonized melodies with a lot less than this. First, let’s make it super simple and then I’ll expand it a little bit and then you can already do a lot.
Here are 3 voicings:
And just using these 3 chords and changing the melody you can make a lick like this:
Here I am just using the basic voicings from example 2 and then changing the melody and adding some rhythm.
Since we play fewer notes and simpler melodies with chord solos then rhythm becomes much more important, but that is great for developing the rhythm in your single-note solos as well, everybody wins.
Let’s take this up a level by playing fewer notes and then start to add some other cool tricks!
#2 Keep it simple – Part 2 – A little less simple
You have a few melody notes for each chord, but can also turn them into 3-note voicings that still work:
Film with arrows from one diagram to the next? Split-screen (film playing chords with lots of space
And then you have some more options for top note melodies and can play something like this:
Now you can start with a single position and improvise some chord solo lines, the next thing to do is to make it a bit more flashy and add some more movement.
#3 Arpeggio to Targets In Chord Solos
Playing arpeggios as block chords in a chord solo is tricky, you need a lot of voicings, and it is heavy to play.
Cut in: We also often like to play arpeggios fast which don’t help. (shot after #5)
(extra b-roll arpeggio playing is recorded) – The last two are good
But a clever way, that I stole from piano players, is that you can also choose to play the arpeggio and just harmonize the target note.
That sounds like this
Shot twice different zoom
Here I am playing a Dm7 arpeggio that takes me to the G7(#9) chord and I only harmonize the Bb. As you can hear this works really well.
#4 Super Easy Chromatic Chords That Sound Amazing!
If you want to play Jazz then you also want to use chromatic passing notes, and luckily there is an extremely easy way to use them in chord solos.
That sounds like this:
Here I am using chromatic passing notes on both Dm7 and G7alt. The way it works is really simple.
I have a chromatic note, a D#, before the E melody on Dm7, and I use the same voicing as I do on the E to harmonize the D# and the chord just slides into place.
On the G7alt the example is exactly the same, but here it is descending not ascending.
The next hack is a great way to harmonize more difficult melodies like arpeggios.
#5 Two-Note Block Chords for Arpeggios
As I already showed you earlier in the video, you can add arpeggios to a chord solo by harmonizing the target note of the phrase. There is another way to work with arpeggios that also works very well and is both easier to play and less heavy sounding, compared to harmonizing each note.
This is something you will hear Joe Pass do from time to time. Harmonizing an arpeggio with intervals, and usually 3rds because that sits very well in an arpeggio and makes it easier to play.
That sounds like this:
Here I am using an Fø arpeggio on the G7alt and putting a full chord under the high note the Eb. Of course, you can also choose to just use 3rds the entire way.
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