Tag Archives: chords

Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings part 3

In this 3rd lesson on Drop2 voicings I am going to go over altered dominants and show some more versions of how you add extensions to chords. I will of course also give some example of how you put it to use in cadences and on a standard.

The examples in this lesson are all in the key of G major (except the last example which is an excerpt from a standard in Gm). 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

Adding more extensions

The first we are going to go over is how to create an m7(9,11) voicing that we can use as for example a II chord in a cadence.

From the 2nd lesson: Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings – Part 2 we have a list that I now want to add a rule to:

  • 9th (or b9 or #9) can replace the root
  • 11, #11, 13th, b13th, b5 and #5 can replace the 5th
  • 6th can replace the 7th
  • 4th or 2nd can replace the 3rd

There is one more rule that we can use to make some more voicings, but I’ll save that for a later lesson, it is also making things a bit spacy and hard to play..

In example 1 I have first listed the basic Am7 voicings on the top four strings and then how I construct an Am7(9,11) by substituting the 5th(E) witht the 11th(D) and the root(A) with the 9th(B).

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

So now we have constructed a 7(9,11) chord, let’s have a look at altered dominants!

Altered dominants

There are of course many ways to construct or think about an altered dominant, since I started out with demonstrating 4 basic chord types (m7,dom7th,maj7th and m7b5) I want to show how you can use one of these as a voicing for altered dominants.

The reasoning is similar to a lot of other lessons.

If we have an Ab7(9) chord we would play that with the m7b5 voicing from the 3rd of the chord, so that would be Cm7b5.

As you may know the tritone substitue of Ab7 is D7, so the share the 3rd and 7th.

If I write out a Cm7b5 in a not entirely enharmonical correct way it looks like this:

Cm7b5 – C Eb F# Bb

Relative to D that would be a 7, b9, 3, b13 so it’s a very good candidate for a D7alt chord.

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

Example 2 is showing how D7alt and Ab7 are also very similar as voicings and how that is visible on the neck by only changing the root.

In example 3 I am first using Cm7b5 voicings as D7b9b13 and then showing how we can substitute the Eb with an F to create D7b13#9 chords.

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

The rule that you should remember (for now) is that you can play an altered dominant by using the m7b5 chord on the 7th of that dominant (so Cm7b5 for D7alt, Fm7b5 for G7alt etc…) When you start using it you will probably quickly start to just think of it as a altered dom7th chord, which is of course also the idea.

Maj7 #11 chords

To also have a bit of variation available on the tonic chord in the cadence I have  aplied the same rule to the Gmaj7(9) chords. As you may remember I used a Bm7 drop2 voicing to play these and in this voicing we can replace the 5th(D) with a #11(C#). This gives us a lydian sound on the tonic chord which is maybe not strictly in the key but it is a bit a nice and fairly common variation.

The voicings are shown in example 4, first the standard Gmaj7(9) and then the derived #11 voicings.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 3 - ex 4

The II Valt I cadences

With the 3 new voicing types we can make a new set of 4 cadences as shown in example 5.
Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 3 - ex 5

It might be wise to also practice these just resolving to the maj7(9) chords because the #11 doesn’t always fit the with what is going on in the song.

Autumn Leaves example

As I did in the previous 2 lessons I applied some of the voicings that I discussed on the first 16 bars of Autumn Leaves. This is shown in example 6:

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 3 - ex 6

I start out with a Cm7(11). In this vocing I chose not to add the 9th instead of the root. This is because it would be as the lowest note in the chord and in this place I don’t think that sounds too good. The F7alt is played using an Ebm7(b5) voicing this resolves to aBbmaj7th(9,#11) voicing constructed as in example 4. The Ebmaj7 is a straight Ebmaj7(9) (or what you might call a Gm7) voicing.

The Am7b5 is also just using that voicing. The D7 is played with a D7(#9,b13) voicing  out of the second half of example 3. The two bars of Gm are played with first a Gm6/9 voicing and then the same voicing but without the 9th.

The 2nd 8 bars start with a Cm7(9,11) voicing in the 8th fret. It then continues to an F7alt voicing and a Bbmaj7(9,#11) voicing. This cadence is a Bb version of the first bars of example 5. The Ebmaj7 is played with a Gm7 voicing, but I substituted the Bb with a C so that the sound is an Ebmaj7(13) sound.

This moves nicely up to an Am7b5(11). This voicing is with the 11th replaceing the 3rd, but in the context you still have the sound of the chord. The D7alt is again played with a D7(#)b13) voicing now in the 8th fret, and this resolves to a Gm6 and Gm6/9 voicings in the final bars.

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.

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

Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings part 3

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.

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:

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings part 2

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

Join 600+ Other Jazz Guitarists 🎸Join us in the Facebook Jazz Guitar Group Community: http://bit.ly/InsidersFBGroup

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

Pentatonics part 3 – Arpeggios and Melodic ideas

 

In this lesson I am going to take another approach to using pentatonic scales so that we can get some other sounds than what you might already use from it. I am going to do that by analyzing some of the different structures that are contained in it and later demonstrating how that can be used in a solo.

The Scale and some arpeggios

For the theory part of this lesson I’ll use the C minor pentatonic scale as shown here:

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 1

I assume that you are familiar with the notes in the scale : C Eb F G Bb

Let’s have a look at what triads we can pull out of the scale, if you try to build a major or minor triad from each of the notes in the scale you find that these 2 triads are the only possibilities:

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 2

Finding them is quite simple, For each note in the scale you look whether they have f.ex a minor 3rd, so that is only possible for C and G, and for G we can’t make a triad because we don’t have a fifth(D) in the scale.

In last weeks lesson I was talking about: Sus4 Triads as Upper Structures and you can in the same way as I described above find three of those in the scale: Csus4, Fsus4 and Bbsus4.

As I talked about in the lesson on the Sus4 triads they are connected to quartal harmony, and this lesson: Diatonic chords of the Pentatonic Scale Will show you how pentatonic chords and quartal harmony are very closely related.

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 3

So now we have 5 different triads that we can use to make lines with, and don’t remember that you can also use their inversions and use them as Open Triads in your lines so that is in fact a vast amount of structures to play with.

The lines

Our goal is of course to make pentatonic lines that sound less “standard pentatonic” so that we can combine the fact that we are using a scale we know very well with some structures in the scale that we might not very often use.

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 4

The first example is the 1st 4 bars of the song Night and Day. On the Abmaj7 I am using C minor pentatonic and playing a Csus4 triad followed by an Eb major triad. The scale choice for the G7al is Db maor or Bb minor pentatonic. On that I am first playing a Db major triad in a sequence followed by a Bb minor triad before it resolves to the fifth(G) of Cmaj7.

The second example is a II V I in G major. Here I am using Am pentatonic over the Am7 and Fm (or Ab major) pentatonic over the D7alt.

The first part of the line is just an Am triad melody until the 3 of the bar. It is followed by a Dsus4 root position triad. On the D7 it descends down an Ab major triad followed by an ascending Bbsus4 triad that resolves to the fifth(D) of Gmaj7

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 5

The last example is a II V I in D major. On the E minor I am (again) using the pentatonic scale of the root of the chord, and the A7alt is using a C minor (or Eb major)  pentatonic scale. The Em line is the combination of first a G major triad in a pattern and then a descending Asus4 triad. On the A7alt the line is constructed by first an Fsus4 arpeggio followed by a Csus4 arpeggio before it resolves to the 9(E) of Dmaj.

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 6

I hope you can use some of the ideas I covered in this lesson to make up new lines with pentatonic scales. This approach can also serve as a bridge towards using different arpeggios over chords in major or melodic minor situations, so in that way it might be a gateway to more jazz approaches when soloing.

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

Pentatonics part 3 – Arpeggios and Melodic ideas

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.

 

 

Across the Fretboard

This lesson will try to give you a strategy and a way to make exercises that should give you more freedom to move freely over the neck of the guitar when you improvise. How long the road to achieve that is depends on how far you are with knowing the notes of the neck, the scales or the chords.

What you need to know in advance

So since I can’t start completely from scratch and I chose to focus more on how you connect the positions and get more of an overview of what notes and arpeggios are found in each one of them there are a few things that you need to know first that I won’t spend too much time on.

The neck covered in major, harmonic minor and melodic minor: fingering positions. That can be caged or 3 notes per string or strict positions. This is a physical or visual way to approach the scales.

Know the notes of the scales and the diatonic chords: So you need to know each note in each fingering and you need to know that in all keys, you also need to know what chords there are on what degree of the scale. Here are a few ways to check and/or get this better:

Try to play the scale on each string. So you need to know for each string what are the notes of this scale on that string and you need to know what the notes are and where they are found on that string.

Across the Fretboard ex 1

Try to play diatonic arps in one position one for each string.

Across the Fretboard ex 2

Try to play triads on a set of strings. This exercise is letting you practice the notes at one of the frets and also what arpeggios are found in the scale for each one of these notes. It is also a welcome change from just playing all the diatonic arpeggios.

Another good exercise that helps getting an overview of the arpeggios and the notes in the scale and in the different positions is to play triads (or any other arpeggio type) on one set of strings up the neck.

Across the Fretboard ex 3

Make sure to do this exercise in a tempo where you can see each arpeggio in one of the scale fingerings you have so that you can add up the visual information of the triad and the scale. Seeing shapes within the scale positions is a very useful thing!

If you would like me to make more lessons on some of the above subjects you should let me know!

 Technical exercises

If you want to improvise then it can be very useful to practice open ended exercises, so exercises that use things you already know but you need to fit them in on the spot and make choices while playing.

Practicing scales and scale exercises from the lowest to the highest note of the instrument like this can be such an exercise if you try not to learn a certain pattern by heart.

Across the Fretboard ex 4

You’ll notice I don’t play ascending and descending the same. To me it is important to keep pushing yourself to find new ways to move in the scale, so I deliberately try to avoid this. At the same time you can probably also see that I am moving from one position to the next along the way using different bits of the position before moving on. That tends to be the most effecient way to play like this.

Here’s a how I’d suggest you approach this: Practice all keys, each key from the lowest to the highest note on the neck. For each key do another scale exercise, 3rds, diatonic triads 7th chords, shell voicings etc etc. Keep you brain and ear working while playing don’t just run up and down the scale. Make sure to change the other exercise (3rds, arps etc) for each scale so that you don’t just repeat the same exercise. The thing that you practice is to have the overview of the neck not only the arpeggios and the key.

Here’s an example of how you might play the Bb major scale in 3rds

Across the Fretboard ex 5

One way I often extend these exercises is to practice the scales or arps through a progression so a Coltrane cycle or a II Valt I progression. This will help you get even closer to the point where you improvise across the neck.

Improvising exercises

The main idea here is to take something you’re improvising on and force yourself to move around, essentially it can be anything, a chord, a turnaround or a whole  song.

In the beginning you might have to start out rubato or keeping it very simple, just to get used to it, but as you progress you should be able to play quite fluently in time while improvising and moving position in the phrases and in between while still sounding coherent.

Exercise 1: Try to move up and down the neck while improvising on a Bbmaj7 chord. You’ll probably find out if you have spots that you don’t know well enough and you are practicing trying to make melodies that are making sense and are in several positions.

Exercise 2: Try to move up and down the neck while improvising on a Gmaj7, E7alt Am7 D7alt turnaround. This is the same as exercise 1, only now you also have to know some melodic minor scales and another chord sound in the key (in this case the 2nd degree, Am7)

I have spend quite a lot of time on especially exercise 2 since it also is a good way to come up with  new melodies for me. Once I started working on it like this is was very fast getting a lot easier to play in most positions on any progression and still make sense.

You can download the examples here:

Across the Fretboard

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.

 

Chromatic Chords – part 1

Chromaticism has been an important part of the jazz language since the 40’s.  In this lesson I want to show how you can add chromatic chords to you comping or chords solos, so that you also have that aspect of the style in you vocabulary.

I already have made 3 lessons on adding chromatic notes to improvisations. These lessons are on my YouTube channel, and the article that accompanies them are published on the fundamental-changes.com website. Since a lot of jazz melodies have chromatic passing notes we need to have a way to deal with them when we are playing that kind of melodies in chord solos or while comping. On guitar this is surprisingly easy (for once..)

I have chosen to work only on dominant chords for this 1st lesson on chromatic chords. Mainly because it is an easy place to start and it is also a little easier to hear in the beginning. I also won’t go too much into the theory of what the chromatic chords are since it is not that important, and easy to use without knowing that.

Exercises

I don’t have an actual system for this approach, and have chosen to make an exercise based on two main positions on the neck. The principle is easy to grasp and will work on any sort of voicing even if we are looking at it in a guitaristic way.

The first example is a few examples of melodies that you can use with voicings based around a standard G7(13) voicing in the 3rd position.

Chromatic Chords - Part 1 - ex 1

As you can see I have chosen to harmonize the chromatic note with a chord voicing that is the same as the one it resolves to, so when the melody resolves down it is an Ab7 chord, and if it is aascending it is a F# voicing. Fairly simple and very easy to execute on guitar without having to think too much about it.

The second example is doing the same but around a G7(9) voicing at the 10th fret.

Chromatic Chords - Part 1 - ex 2

Since the chromatic passing notes are harmonized in a way where we have one chord that just shifts up or down a fret this concept is very nice to use for chord soloing.

Examples

So just to illustrate how this might work in a context I’ve made a few II V I lines. Another good place to practice with these chord runs would be a blues since it has a lot of dom7th chords.

Chromatic Chords - Part 1 - ex 3

Example 1 is first using a drop2 voicing for a Dm7(9), followed by a melody harmoniced with an F amjor triad (or you could view it as the top part of a Dm7 drop2 voicing. On the G7  I first use a chromatic run resolving the 13th(E) to the 5th(D) via the Eb. On the four I use a G7 altered drop2 voicning that then resolves to Cmaj7 that I play with a drop2 Eminor voicing.

The second line is using the higher position of the G7. On the Dm7 I made a short melody using basically the same chord voicing but then with different top notes. Another good way to get some practical and playable melodies for chord soloing. The chord I am using could be seen as the top part of a Drop3, an F major triad or a Drop2 Dm7 voicing. The rhythmical language of chord solos always reminded me of bigband lines, so if you want to work on chord solos and have some good ideas for rhythms to use then big band (Count Basie era) is a great place to listen for some. On the G7 I am infact using a part of the 2nd exercise, the only difference is that I have changed the rhythm a bit. The line then resolves to a Cmaj7 which is played with an Em triad.

Chromatic Chords - Part 1 - ex 4

As you can see it is important to start to see how all the voicings end up overlapping when you use them in lines and comping, even to the point where it can be hard to say what a certain voicng type is in the context.

The last example is again using a bigband like rhythms, especially because of the quarter note phrasing. The Dm7 voicings are first using the F major triad as in Line no 1 and then the one used in line no 2. In this example I chose to use a G7 altered chord instead, just to demonstrate that the same principle works just as well for altered dominants.  The melody is a chromatic movement from the #9 to the b9 and then back before it resolves to the same Cmaj7 voicing as in the previous example.

Chromatic Chords - Part 1 - ex 5

I hope you can use the exercises and the examples I gave here to make some harmonized lines with chromatic passing notes for yourself.

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

Chromatic Chords – Part 1

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

Minor Blues Comping

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

The Minor Blues Progression

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

Minor Blues Comping - ex 1

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

A few voicings for each chord

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

Minor Blues Comping - ex 2

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

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

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

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

Minor Blues etude

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

Minor Blues Comping - ex 3

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

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

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

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

Minor Blues Comping

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

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

 

Cdim Drop2 Voicings

Here’s an overview of the Cdim as drop 2 voicings on all sets of strings.

I have made 2 lessons on how to use them in a jazz context:

You can also download the chart as a pdf by entering your e-mail here:

If you have any questions feel free to get in touch with me!