Tag Archives: chord

Bebop Jazz Guitar Licks – Classic Bebop Sound Decoded

Checking out bebop jazz guitar licks is a huge part of learning a style of music like Bebop. This also means out how to incorporate what makes them Bebop Guitar them into your playing. This would be true both for phrasing and specific arpeggios, chromatic enclosures that are being used in Bebop.

In this video I will go over 3 good examples of Bebop Jazz Licks, and then I will analyze them and talk about how they are constructed and what the building blocks of this type of jazz lick is.

The Bebop Dominant

Since the bebop style is very focused on dom7th chords I have made examples of V I progression in the key of G major. It is of course also possible to use these on a II V I in G major.

In general the people who play bebop and teach it (like Barry Harris) will focus more on the dominant than the II chord in a cadence.

Bebop Jazz Guitar Lick #1

One of the really common Bebop phrasing ideas is to use 16th note scale runs in the middle of an 8th note line to create some variation. The first example here below has this in the middle of bar 1.  The easiest way and to play this and get it to sound good in terms of phrasing is to use pull offs towards the target note.

Another very common device is using chromatic enclosures which what you see in the 2nd half of bar 1. The enclosure is used to target and emphasize the 3rd of D7 on the 1 of the 2nd bar.

The first half of the 2nd bar is in fact just a D7 arpeggio, but the line is constructed by playing a descending D7 arpeggio and then displacing the last three notes an octave. This yields a very beautiful and melodic 6th interval between the F# and the D.

At the end of the line I included a D augmented triad that nicely resolves to the 9th(A) of Gmaj7.

To practice playing the 16th note trills with legato you can take this exercise through a position of 3 notes per string major scale. I have only written out the first 3 string sets.

Bebop Jazz Guitar Lick #2

This example contains two ideas that you will find in a lot of bebop lines. The first is playing a 7th arpeggio with a triplet, which is how the line starts. In the line I am playing a descending Em7 arpeggio. 

From here the line skips back to A for a descending scale run. 

In the 2nd bar you’ll first hear a 16th note triplet trill between root and b9. This is again executed with legato. From here the line continues down the arpeggio. Inserts a leading note a half step below the 3rd of D7 and uses another octave displacement before resolving to the 3rd(B) of G

The triplet idea can be practiced in position as shown in the exercise here below. It’s an extremely good alternate picking exercise if you use that technique and will also work really well with sweeping (as I demonstrate in the video)

To work on the trill (and work on your legato technique) you can do this exercise which is taking the trill idea from the line above through a G major scale position.

Bebop Jazz Guitar Lick #3

The ascending 7th chord arpeggio with an added leading note is a very typical for bebop licks. In this example I am using that on an F#m7(b5). F#m7(b5) is the arpeggio from the 3rd of D7 and a great arpeggio to use over a D7.

 From the high E I add a chromatic leading note and make a short chromatic run before going to C on the 1 of bar 2.

The 2nd bar is first a descending Cmaj7 arpeggio that then continues to the b9(Eb) on beat 3. From here the line uses octave displacement and continues with a line to resolve to the 3rd of G, and tagging it with a G. Another trademark bebop move.

To practice the arpeggios you can of course take them through the scale. There are several ways to do this, one of them is shown here below.

Making new licks with the building blocks

The main point of this lesson is of course that you can start making your own lines that sound more like bebop. To demonstrate how you might do that I have included two bebop licks that are constructed from the ideas that I used in the first three licks.

Derived Bebop Lick #1

In this first line I start with the opening idea from Lick no 3, but now I am using it on a D7 arpeggio.  This is followed by a 16th note scale run fill as in the first example.

In bar 2 I continue with a descending scale run. This leads into the 3rd of D7 where I use the same octave displacement idea that I used in Lick no 2, only now played an octave higher.

In this way we end up with the lick shown here below:

Derived Bebop Lick #2

In the last lick I am starting with the 16th note trill idea from Lick no 1. This is followed by a scale run that leads into two arpeggios chained together, an Am7 and a F#m7(b5). The line ends with the “bebop” ending that resolves to a D and then drops down to the 9th(A)

I hope you can use these exercises and building blocks and the process to start incorporating some more bebop into your lines. Bebop is a very rich melodic language with a great amount of things you can use even in more modern bop based jazz guitar solos.

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Bebop Jazz Guitar Licks – Dominant Ideas and Analysis

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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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Vlog: Analyzing a Standard – Stella By Starlight – Functional Harmony in Jazz

Understanding the chords

Since I was not around last week I didn’t have time to make a Q&A video. Instead here’s a little video about analyzing the standard Stella By Starlight.

I guess Stella by Starlight is in many ways one of the most mysterious chord progressions among the jazz standards. At the same time it is so beautiful that everybody just keeps at it until they can play it 🙂 I know I did it like that at least.

One of the first jazz solos I could play was Ulf Wakenius solo over this on a NHØP album that I since lost.

 

Check out my Solo guitar rendition of Stella by Starlight:

 

10 arpeggios over a Dom7th chord

When you improvise over a chord arpegggios are one of the  buiding blocks you use to make the lines. One good source of material is to start looking for different types of arpeggios that you can find in the scale that is used over the chord. The more arpeggios you know the more options you have to make melodies over that chord.

In this lesson I will take a plain old C7 as you find it in the F major scale and go over 10 different arpeggios and try to give you some ideas for making lines with them. I will also talk a bit about how you find arpeggios that fit a chord.

How to find good arpeggios for a chord

When you need to find arpeggios for in a situation like this the best place to start is probably to look at the different types of arpeggios you know from the notes of the basic chord. Since this lesson is about a C7 that means checking out the arpeggios found on the  C, E, G and Bb. The reason for this is that the arpeggio will then in some way be related to the chord and therefore make sense as a strong melody.

The examples

All the examples in the lesson are on a C7 dominant chord. For each example I present a simple version of the arpeggio and then a one bar phrase that shows how you might use it. You could use the examples over both the V I cadence that I use here or over a static C7 vamp.

1. C7 Arpeggio

Obviously the best place to start in terms of arpeggios is the arpeggio of the chord itself. The only thing you might want to take away from this (since I am sure you could have figured this out as well) is that you can also make melodies by playing a sequence, inversions or other patterns.

10 arpeggios over a dom7th chord - ex 1

2. Em7b5 arpeggio

The next place you want to try is also fairly well know: Use the diatonic arpeggio found on the 3rd of the chord. Since this arpeggio will share most of the notes with the chord. In my opinion this is one of the arpeggios that you need to have in your vocabulary for any chord.

The line is using the arpeggio and following it up with a bebop cliché chromatic phrase on a C7.

10 arpeggios over a dom7th chord - ex 2

3. C triad

Since a C7 also contains a C major triad, this is a good arpeggio as well. You can use it for lines that are more bluesy or basic in terms of harmonic content. A varied solo will not only be up in the extensions all the time, it is just as important to connect with the basic chord sound.

10 arpeggios over a dom7th chord - ex 3

4. Edim triad

Of course the triad found on the 3rd of the chord is a good subset of the basic arpeggio, and since triads are anyway some of the strongest melodies you have at your disposal.

You can check out more ideas for using triads in this lesson: How to use triads in solos Where I also go over some more ideas on using inversions etc.

10 arpeggios over a dom7th chord - ex 4

5. Bb Maj7b5 arpeggio

The BbMaj7b5 arpeggio is not really a diatonic chord in the F major scale since it isn’t a stack of thirds in the scale (Bbmaj7 is). There are a few good arpeggios that you can find looking in the non diatonic arpeggios like the sus4(7) chords and it can be a worthwhile place to look for new sounds.

I did a lesson on Maj7b5 which covers some of the many places you can use this:  Maj7b5 Chords and Arpeggios – a powerful tool for superimposition

10 arpeggios over a dom7th chord - ex 5

6. Em7b5 Shell Voicing

Another great place to start looking for new melodies is to use different types of voicings (that you anyway use while comping) and turn them into arpeggios so that you have a new melody with the same notes and with some larger intervals (most voicings we play are not 3rds based but are drop voicings where the notes are spread out over a larger range). The Em7b5 voicing (which doesn’t contain a 5 since it is a shell voicing) is again using the thinking that we can use an arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord to stay close to the sound of the chord.

I did a lesson on using shell voicings here:  Shell Voicings as Arpeggios

10 arpeggios over a dom7th chord - ex 6

7. Stack of 4ths from Bb

Quartal harmony is one of the first places you want to look if you want to use arpeggios that don’t sound thirds based since it is completely based on another interval: 4ths. In this example I took the top part of a C7(13) drop3 voicing which happens to be a stack of diatonic 4ths from Bb. Since it contains both 3rd and 7th it will work very well as an arpeggio and the combination with the 13 highlights that extension.

If you want to check out more stuff on using quartal harmony in lines: Quartal Harmony in Solo lines

10 arpeggios over a dom7th chord - ex 7

8. Em7b5 Drop2 Voicing

Another place that you can start looking if you want to use arpeggios with a larger range is to start using drop2 voicings as arpeggios. The Drop2 voicing in example 8 is an Em7b5 which will work really well in terms of the notes and as you can tell in the line also works well as a melody. The difficult part of using Drop2 voicings is probably that the way we use them as chords make them 4 note arpeggios with one note per string, but with a bit of practice and some Steve Morse etudes it is do-able in my experience.

You can check out my lesson on using drop2 voicings as arpeggios here: Drop2 Voicings as Arpeggios

10 arpeggios over a dom7th chord - ex 8

9. Stack of 4ths from E

To really spell out some extensions you can also choose a stack of 4ths like the one I am using in example 9. You could look at this arpeggio as a stack of 4ths from the 3rd(E) of C or as a 2nd inversion of an Asus4 triad. The arpeggio contains the 3rd,13th and 9th of the C7 chord so it will work well in spelling out the upper structure of the chord.

10 arpeggios over a dom7th chord - ex 9

10. Stack of 5ths from G

Since we can make melodies with the stacked 4ths in the scale we can of course also start to stack 5ths since these are the same note groups as the stacked 4ths. You could view them as sus4 derived I guess.

The arpeggio I am using in example 10 is a stack of 5ths from the G which gives us the 5th(G), 9th(D) and 13th(A) over the C7.

10 arpeggios over a dom7th chord - ex 10

I hope you can use this list as a source of inspiration to find some new things to mess around with when working on lines. The way to go about this is probably to work on them one at a time and see what you can make out of it before trying to insert that into your playing.

As you can also tell from the description of each example there are a lot more possibilites than just the 10 I went over here and you can easily start looking at other variations of the arppegio choices and in that way find your own favourites and maybe your own sound?

If you want to download a PDF of the examples I went over here for later study you can do so here:  10 arpeggios over a dom7th chord

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 thme fit what you want to hear.

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First II V I chord voicing sets

You don’t really have to learn a thousand chords to play through some of the simpler standards. In this lesson I want to show how you can get through a few with just two sets of II V I chord voicings for a major II V I cadence.

The Chord voicings

The II V I is the most common cadence in Jazz, you’ll find it and variations of it all over the place. This makes is a good place to start if you want to learn and apply some voicings. The idea being that you can cover a lot of ground if you know how to play a II V I cadence.

The two II V I chord voicing sets that I suggest you check out to begin with would be these two cadences, shown in example 1 in the key of C major.

First II V I voicings ex 1

In example 1 I have notated not only the type of chord (maj7,m7 and dom7th) but also the extensions I use. I won’t do that later since it is in jazz open to interpretation how you choose to use the extensions for color.

If you want to check out how to learn a larger set of basic voicings you can check out my lesson: How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar Which cover all basic chord groups in a few versions and gives you all the tools you need to play pretty much any standard or jazz song.

Some technical exercises

To get started it is a good idea to get the voicings into your fingers and check them out in a few keys. One way of doing this is shoen in example 3 and 4 where I play the cadences down in whole steps across the neck.

First II V I voicings ex 2

First II V I voicings ex 3

Remember to not only learn to play the exercises but to also keep track of exactly what chord you’re playing and what key it’s in. Later when you start using the songs you need to be able to find the chords you need and they are not always in a II V I

Playing standards

The two most important things that we miss now is a minor cadence and a dim chord, but if the song does not contain that then you can probably play it with the 6 voicings I went over here.

To demonstrate that here are the voicings you’d need to play the Ellington/Strayhorn tune: Take the A-train:

First II V I voicings ex 4

 

When you try to play songs like this one you might have to ignore an extension or two, The 2nd chord in Take the A train is often written as a D7(#11), b5 or similar. For now the best way you can deal with it is to try with what you have and see if you can make it work. A similar solutuib is when you see a C6, you can get away with playing a Cmaj7.

Here are the voicings needed to play through the changes to Sonny Rollins Pent Up House.

First II V I voicings ex 5

You’ll notice that the song consists of a II V I progression and two II V’s.

As I mention in the video the changes played during the melody of this song a bit more complext than what is used in the solo.

Taking you comping further on Autumn Leaves

Expand your Chord Vocabulary with this lesson on the famous standard Autumn Leaves:

Autumn Leaves Comping – Lesson

If you want to download a PDF of the examples I went over here you can do so here:

First II V I voicings

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 thme fit what you want to hear.

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Endless new ways to play the same II V I voicings

I made this lesson to bring an aspect of playing chords to your attention that there is a big chance you don’t think too much about, and which can give you a huge number of new ways to play progressions with the voicings you already know.

The progression and the voicings

What I will try to demonstrate here is how many different ways you can play the same set of voicings by arpegiating the voicings and not just playing them all together as a block.

In the lesson I will use this II V I and only these voicings:

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 1

As you might notice they are all Drop2 voicings. A subject I’ve already covered in previous lessons. You can check out the series here:  Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings – Part 1

If you are used to drop2 voicings you will probably agree that my choice is fairly straight forward.

Arpeggiate you voicings!

So usually we are trying to create melodies and use certain types of voicings to extend the range of sounds we have available while comping, but as I mentioned we can do really a lot by just arpegiating the voicings we already use.

 

Here are 5 examples to illustrate how easily you can vary the sound of one set of voicings.

The first example is quite simple, for each chord I play the voicing spread in two string sets so that you emphasize the sound of two of the contained intervals. On the Fm7 and Ebmaj7 chord that gives us a diatonic 7th and a diatonic 6th. On the Bb7 there are two 7th intervals.

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 2

Another way to split the voicing is to have an inner and an outer interval set, which with the drop2 voicings gives us an inner 3rd and an outer 10th or 11th.

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 3

So after a few systematical approaches we can also try to make more of a melodic statement by freeing up how each voicing is arpeggiated. In example four I am using the outer voices on the Fm7 and making a short melody with the inner 3rd. On the Bb7alt the chord is arpeggiated in a spread out pattern that almost suspends the sound of it. On the Ebmaj7 voicing I am splitting in strings sets in the same way as in Variation 1

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 4

The Fm7 line in variation 4 is first introducing the whole chord and then a melody with the inner voices. On the Bb7 the first part is the 2nd and 4th voice followed by an arpeggiation of the Dmaj7 shell voicing that is the top of the Bb7alt chord. The Ebmaj7 is played by first the lower 3 strings and then as an added melody later the top note.

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 5

The final example is using a more traditional way of arpeggiating a chord on the guitar, followed by 2 string sets, which is another way to draw out more sounds within the voicing. Something that is often used in Brazilian guitar music. On the Bb7 the entire chord is first played before a string skipping arpeggio pattern is played. The line resolves to Ebmaj7 with a pattern that is first the Bb melody note and then the rest of the chord.

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 6

As you can see there are a lot of possiblities to play even a simple three chord progression. If you are used to arpeggiating chords in different ways then you probably do not need to work on anything in a systematical way, but you can better just try to apply it while playing with others or when practicing a tune.

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

Endless ways to play the same II V I voicings

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.

 

Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop2 voicings – Part 2

In this lesson I want to continue with exploring the Drop2 voicings that I introduced in the 1st part: Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings – Part 1. Mainly I want to talk about how you make voicings with extensions and what sort of voicings you end up with.

Adding extensions to chords

Let’s look at how we can add more colors to the voicings we already have and a few tricks that will help you use and expand what you already know.

So far we’ve been concerned with the basic chords so Am7 was simply root, third, fifth and seventh, but as I explained in the first lesson you can use Am9 or Am11 instead of Am7. Instead of making 5 or more note voicings we can use these rules to exapand the sounds:

  • 9th (or b9 or #9) can replace the root
  • 13th, b13th, b5, #5 can replace the 5th
  • 6th can replace the 7th
  • 4th or 2nd can replace the 3rd

This means that if we want to make an Am9 voicing you take the Am7 voicing and change A to B. You might notice that this means that you’ll be playing the notes B C E G which is a Cmaj7, so you can use Maj7 voicings to play minor 9 voicings. If you use the same approach to D7, you have D F# A C and that becomes E F# A C which is F#m7(b5). On Gmaj7 you have G B D F# and get  A B D F# which is Bm7.

These are vocings you already know, but you still need to get used to thinking of them as another type of chord. While playing you don’t have time to think of a voicing as a Bm7 inversion when the chord is a Gmaj7.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 1

To get used to how the chords sound with 9s I have made II V I cadences in all positions:

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 2

You’ll notice that I prefer just using the “category” Chord symbols Am7 even though I am playing the 9th. Think of it as part of the process of not having a one to one combination from chord symbol to voicing, something you probably already had to abandon with several ways to play a C or a G chord.

In example 3 I employ some more of the rules I listed above to make some more common voicings.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 3

One of the ways I’d suggest you work on this is that you experiment with the voicings in a context, so that you can hear what they sound like. Learning inversions up and down the neck out of context is probably not very useful, and often you will not be practicing associating the voicing with the chord you need to use it for.

Example 4 is demonstrating a few variations of how a Gmaj7 chord can be played using Maj7, 9ths and 6th chords.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 4

To give an example of how this works on a song I made a demonstration of it on the first 16 bars of Autumn Leaves. You could go check out how it compares with the exercise in the first lesson.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 5

In the etude you’ll notice that I used mostly 9 chords through out. I did not add a 9 to the Am7b5 because I think the natural 9  does not fit the context here (it is of course possible, but I’d consider it a departure from the song). On the D7 I added a b9 since that is the most natural sound for a dominant resolving to a minor chord. I chose to use Gm6 and Gm6/9 on the tonic minor chords because I think that is a beautiful sound and it is often done in jazz.

I hope you can use the exercises to expand your Drop2 voicing repertoire and come up with some nice new chord voicings for the music you play.

In the 3rd lesson on Drop2 voicings I will talk more about alterations and give some examples of some more modern or advanced sounding harmonic choices.

Check out how I use Drop2 voicings in this 3 chorus transcription/lesson:

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Get the PDF!

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Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings part 2

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Drop 2 voicings – Part 1 – Jazz Chord Essentials

In this lesson on Drop2 chords I want to demonstrate a set of voicings that are fairly easy to play on the guitar and very useful for playing chords with extensions. I also want to talk a bit about how you approach playing chords in terms of interpretation of chord extensions, substitutes, connecting or voice-leading the chords. Hopefully it can help you learn and construct some new chords, and I hope it also helps you find new ways to play songs you already know and expand your ability to play chords freely.

What is a drop2 voicing

You might have heard the term Drop2 voicings before, and it is more or less considered basic voicing knowledge for mainstream jazz guitar. Lot’s of Wes Montgomery solos use drop2 voicings and it is also a huge part of bebop piano and bigband arranging.

To explain why drop2 voicings are very handy on guitar try to play the first half of example 1.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 1 - ex 1

You should quickly notice that these basic inversions of an Am7 chord are very difficult to play and almost impossible to change a note in. Mainly because they are very stretchy to play.

The term Drop2 comes from taking the 2nd higest note in each one and drop it down an octave. This makes it possible to get the notes together in one position and yields the 4 voicings in the 2nd bar of example 1. As you can tell these voicings are much easier to play and much more flexible so that we can change notes in them (that will prove essential in later lessons..)

Basic Exercises

I chose to keep it simple and only work with the top set of strings. In the long run it can be very useful to also check out the middle set of strings and possibly the lowest set. A complete overview of the drop2 voicings can be found here: Scale charts and chord voicings

If you have checked out my lesson:  Jazz Chord Survival Kit  You know that in a major scale we have four basic types of 7th chords: m7, dom7, maj7 and m7b5. Here are the voicings for those 4 types of chords on the top string set:

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 1 - ex 2

To get used to the sound of these chords and to get the voicings in to your fingers you should of course practice example 2 in all keys, but it can also be very useful to check out all cadences like I’ve written out in example 3:

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 1 - ex 3

This way of grouping the chords together in the order you are very likely to use them is of course also very handy. And important part of the cadences is also that I chose vocings that have correct voiceleading which in this case means that you just stay in the neighbourhood whenever changing to the next chord. You could consider doing the minor cadences too.

Another very useful exercise is to take the different drop2 inversions through a major scale as I have done in example 4. I only did two of the inversions, maybe try to figure out the last 2 by yourself. It should help getting to know major scales on the strings besides training the voicings themselves.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 1 - ex 4

Putting it to use

As soon as you have a basic understanding and ability to play these voicings it is just as important to start working towards using them in real music. Below I’ve written out how I play the first 16 bars of Autumn Leaves with drop2 voicings. You should try to do this with a few songs as well. Autumn Leaves, Fly Me To The Moon and All The Things You Are could be good tunes to try because they cover a lot of chords from the same key(and some in more keys as well..)

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 1 - ex 5

You could with this exercise of course try starting with each of the Cm7 voicings and then work out how to play the whole song, it will present you with choices because the guitar (like all instruments) have certain limitations for how low or high you want to go and then you should just try to find a practical and musical solution, that is how it works in a playing situation so that is what you should practice too.

In the next part of the drop2 lessons I’ll start working on how to add extensions and alterations to the voicings. I’ll also give some more practical advice on how to use the voicings.

I hope you can use the exercises to get started working on Drop2 voicings and that you can get it into you playing.

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

Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings part 1

Check out how I use Drop2 voicings in this 3 chorus transcription/lesson:

Drop2 voicings on There will never be another you

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.

 

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines – Part 1

In this lesson I’ll discuss a few strategies for adding chords to your solo lines and give you some exercises and ideas to help you practice and figuring out how and when to add chords to your solo lines.

I’ve never really had any lessons on this and have sort of worked it out along the way while improvising so I had to look analyze this and try to remember how I worked on it to try to make some exercises and guidelines for learning this.

Why do we add chords to solos.

  1. To clarify the harmonic sound of a melody note by adding the sound of the chord it’s played over. It gives us the ability to play harmonically vague because we can make the notes sound like the extension of the chord.
  2. Add an extra layer that fills up spaces, so you can use the chords to clarify the harmony between the lines and also convey the groove that is being played under the solo.
  3. Give certain notes an accent within a melody by making them the top note of a chord.

How to practice

In this lesson I’ll be using an Am7 in the key of G major, what is also called A dorian and give you some exercises and ideas to help you practice adding chords and figuring out how and when to add chords to your solo lines.

When I was listening to how I place the chords I realized that for me the chords are mostly  at the end of lines because if they are at the beginning you probably have to mute them right away. If they are at the end of a line they can help reinforce the last note (and maybe the previous melody)

If you get used to knowing where the line you’re playing ends (the target note) then you’ll have an easier time being ready to put a chord under it. I already made a lesson on target notes that you can check out to get better at this.

THe first exercise is a demonstration of how you can put Am7 chords under the notes in A dorian around the 5th position. When you try to play like this you are probably better of not restricting yourself too rigidly to positions. I’ve started with the E on the D string, if you try to harmonize lower notes than that it might get too muddy.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 1

As you can see I us fewer notes the lower the melody this is also to get clear voicings since it can be difficult to get clarity with dense low voicings. The higher the melody is the more notes you can fit under it, but you should of course keep the voicings so easy to play that you can easily add them to the solo, so big stretches and huge voicings are often not too practical.

Another observation I made about my own playing is that I very often add the chord after the line has ended. This is probably for two reasons, it takes away the risk of the melody disappearing in the chord because the top note does not get enough emphasis. The other reason is that if you add the chord afterwards it gives a little more of the feeling that the chords are independent of the melody and therefore more polyhponic.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 2

When you start practicing you should probably just start in rubato and try to add a chord in the way it is done in example 2 at the end of the phrase. Then once that is starting to work try to play lines in a slow tempo and try to always add a chord at the end of the line.

Make sure to record yourself and check that the melody is clear when you start playing chords. The point is to use chords to empasize the solo line, not the other way around (in this lesson anyway…)

Solo Lines with chords

The first example is a fairly straight forward Am7 line. First an Am7 shell voicing as arpeggio and then an Em pentatonic descending scale fragment ending on the 13(F#) that is then harmonized as an Am7(13) chord. Here the chord on the last note makes the somewhat unclear extension clear as n Am7(13) chord and not a D7 or Gmaj7 resolution.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 3

In the 2nd example the chords are used more as accents, so they are there not only there to support the harmonic picture but also to add weight to some of the notes in the melody. The first movement is a scale run from D, via E to B where the first and the last note of the run is harmonized with an Am7(11) and Am9 respectibely. After that the line is resolved with another Am9 chord on the and of 4. This way of harmonizing the low 9 on an Am chord is something I find my self doing quite often.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 4

For the 3rd example I wanted to demonstrate a bit more of how you might add chords in a way that really emphasizes the 2 layes present in the solo. The first bar is quite straight forward. The A is harmonized with an Am triad and followed by a scale run down to the E which is harmonized as a major 3rd interval. In the 2nd bar I am using a part of the 2nd exercise to add chords right after the melody notes and then finally resolve to an Am7(11) chord on the and of 4.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 5

I hope that you can use the exercises and examples I made here to get started with using Adding chords to your solos. As always you will probably learn more from making you own lines than just copying mine, and you probably need to make your own versions of the voicing exercises too so that they fit the type of chords that you are used to working with.

Download a pdf of the examples for later study here:

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines – Part 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.

 

Turnarounds part 1 – I VI II V

In this lesson I want to talk about the I VI II V turnaround and what you can play over it and how you can practice it. The lesson will give you some exercises and suggestions to make strong melodiclines using diatonic arpeggios and target notes.

The Turnaround

Turnarounds are progressions that are used a lot in standards like Rhythm Changes and Ain’t Misbehavin, The Touch of Your Lips and so on. For that reason alone it’s well worth checking out.

I am going to start a series of lessons on different variations of turnarounds which should include a good portion of most sorts of jazz harmony. It should take us from standard turnarounds and gradually closer to John Coltranes Giant Steps cycle, which can be seen as derived from turnarounds too.

Because turnarounds are so common they are also a good place to start when practicing playing over faster moving changes. By faster moving changes I mean 2 chords per bar which is something that already in medium tempos can be hard to navigate in a musical way, and play something that makes sense melodically. If you have 2 chords per bar and improvise in 8th notes then you have to make a melody with 4 notes from one chord and 4 from the next, this can be quite tricky at times.

In this lesson I am going to work on a turnaround in Bb major. Which is this chord progression:

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 1

I am in this lesson using Harmonic minor on the dominant 7th chords. This is something you can also check out in this lesson:  Harmonic Minor Dominant Lines

So in this lesson we have these scales:

For the Bbmaj7 and Cm7 chords:

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 2

Since G7(b9) is a dominant resolving to Cm7 it is best to consider it an auxiliary dominant and use C harmonic minor:

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 3

 

And for the variation I chose to do consider the F7(b9) a chord that is borrowed from Bb minor and use Bb harmonic minor over that too.Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 4

Raw materials for lines

The main part of the lines I make on a progression like this are made up of the arpeggios of the chord and the arpeggios found on the 3rd of the chord, so for BbMaj, I have that arpeggio and the arpeggio from D which is a Dm7 arpeggio. I use other things too but these two are probably the most important to know, and the you can of course use them in inversions and as shell voicings and triads too, as you’ll notice in my examples.

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 6

So now we have two arpeggios and a scale for each chord in the turnaround and can begin to start practicing lines on it.

Practicing and composing lines on the I VI II V

When you first try to make lines on the progression you probably need to be concerned with two things: Have clear target notes so that when you play that note on the 1 or the 3 you can hear the chord change clearly, and you need to approach it in a way where you practice playing towards the target note. Playing towards the target note is going to make the flow of your lines much moe logical and will help you make stronger lines whenever you improvise.

To give you some examples of how I might compose lines on this turnaround I wrote this small exercise:

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 7

You’ll notice that I am trying to just use basic ideas and movements and keep it quite simple, mostly because it is better to stick to the basics when starting to work on a progression like this. We can always add the fireworks later.

The first bar is using first the Bb triad and then the B dim arpeggio over the Bbmaj7 and G7(b9). In the second bar the lines is first a bit of the Cm7 arpeggio and then chromatically leading up to the 3rd(A) of F7. In bar 3 the Bbmaj line is a descending “Coltrane pattern” or Bb major pentatonic scale, depending on what you prefer calling that. On the G7 the line is again the B dim, but this time ascending. The Cm7 is a scale fragment from the C minor pentatonic scale followed by an inversion of a F7(#5) arpeggio.

The 5th and 6th bar are not using the same target note strategy to make the melody, but instead using arpeggios and voice leading to creat a coherent line. The first part on the BbMaj7 chord is a Dm7 arpeggio which is then altered to a Bdim inversion over the G7 by introducing an Ab and a B. Over the Cm7 the whole thing shifts up to an Eb Maj7 arpeggio which continues up to a C dim triad over the F7. Over the final turnaround the Bbmaj7 line is again a Dm7 arpeggio but this time in a pattern. The line on the G7 is a descending scale fragment from the C harmonic minor scale. The line continues through a descending Ebmaj7 arpeggio in inversion which then is encircling the A of an A dim inversion over the F7. This arpeggio resolves to a D.

I hope you can use the material and the strategies to become more at home over changes like this turnaround. I will make a few different lessons on different sorts of turnarounds which should help categorizing the progression and splitting songs up in bigger parts so that they are both easier to play and easier to remember.

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

Turnarounds part 1 – I VI II V

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 Chord Solo

This weeks lesson is a short etude, a chord solo on an F blues. You should be able to use it as inspiration and resource to make your own chord solos but if it was played less dense it will also work well for comping.

Chord solos is a great thing to add to your repertoire to have a different approach to improvising on a song. They are of course also part of the standard vocabulary for guitar since Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass.

Here’s a transcription of what I played:

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 1

Some exercises and how to make your own

Since this is a blues in F there are a few exercises that you should make for yourself to have voicings to make the lines with. This follows the concept I talked about in the lesson on Soloing with Chords Part 1 So for each chord we are trying to harmonize the scale using only that chord, and if necessary something that is close to it (that would be harmonizing the 4th over a dominant in this lesson)

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 2

As you can see I am mostly using 3 and 4 note voicings and that I am trying to keep it easy to play. Iit can be very useful to make different versions of this exercise, for example it might work well to figure it out for the scale on the high E and for the scale on the B string. It is not so important that you play it fast, it is more important that you figure it out and use voicings that you can easily play and that connect well.

Example 3 is the same exercise for Bb7.

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 3

As you see I that whenever I have to harmonize the 4th over a dominant I am changing the chord to a sus4 chord.

For the II chord in the final cadence you could make an exercise like this:

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 4

The Valt chord in the final cadence could be coming out of this exercise.

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 5

The fact that we use melodic minor gives us a #11 instead of an 11 in the scale so we don’t need to make a sus4 chord.

As you can see in the exercises I mostly use a mix of Drops2 3 part quartal harmony and Triad based voicings in the solo and these exercises, since I find that those fit the style where I use chord soloing the best, and they are fairly easy to play.

The Solo

A good way to work under stand the solo is to play it through leaving out the chords, so in fact just play trhe melody. It is easy to get lost in voicings when working on this and it is in the end about the melody and the rhythm in the solo.

The first 2 bars are a motif that I first play on F7 and then sort of repeat in Fminor on the Bb7, a melodic trick that I use quite a lot. You’ll find it in the Ornette Coleman blues Turnaround too btw.

Bars 3 and 4 are first a melody with a chromatic passing note followed by  a similar idea using the F7alt sound. You can check out how to practice Chromatic Passing chords in this lesson: Chromatic Chords – part 1

In bars 5 and 6 I am really using this altering notes in the melody to make a motif and develop it again. Since the chords are Bb7 and Bdim I have a melody consisting of C descending scalewise to F on the Bb7. The only thing I need to change to fit the dim chord is to play a B instead of a C as a first note. To me this approach to melody is very strong and creats a bigger context than just some notes on the chord.

Bar 6 is a fairly common C minor pattern harmonized with F7 chords using the scale in example 2. On the Am7b5 D7 cadence the melody is trying to stay within the 5th position so that it is easy to play.

The line on the II chord is Gm(9) followed by a scale run. In the run I uses a C major triad as a diatonic passing chord which is a sound I think works well on that chord.  The C7alt line is fairly straight ahead, for the Bb I am not playing a chord but just the note. Sometimes that works better for a line and will get the melody to stand out better where harmonizing everything would sound heavy.

The final turnaround is a fairly straight forward, on the D7b9 I am using F# dim voicings and the melody over the Gm7 is harmonized with a single chord under it, in a way similar to how Red Garland would sometimes play block chords.

Hopefully you can put these exercises and examples to work in making and playing your own chord solos.

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

Jazz Blues Chord Solo

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.