Tag Archives: composition

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.

 

 

 

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings

When you are improvising in 4/4 odd note groupings are a very useful way to vary the rhythmic flow of your improvised melodies, since they are a way of creating a tension by not following the underlying meter. In this lesson I am describing how you might emphasize this in exercises and demonstrate how I might use it in II V I lines.

Getting it into the routine

You probably spent some of your practice time on scale exercises to develop your technique and knowledge of the neck. You probably know most of these exercises, and only needs to think a bit about how you play them and how you hear them to get more out of them.

The first exercise is a standard A minor box 1 pentatonic played in groups of 3. If you practice this in 4/4 and really emphasize the first of each 3 note group you are working on hearing 3 note groups over a 4/4 meter. The clearer you can play the accent on the first note and still keep the original time the better.

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings ex 1

The same idea also applies to playing a major scale in triads. Since triad arpeggios contain 3 notes they make excellent 3 note groupings, as does shell voicings, stacks of 4ths, so those will also work well as prepatory exercises.

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings ex 2

Finding good examples of 5 note groupings are a little more difficult since we don’t use too many structures with 5 notes. Example 3 is a fairly famous pentatonic note grouping that is used a lot in Eric Johnson and Shawn Lane solos

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings ex 3

One very useful trick to make 5 note groupings is to take a 4 note grouping and then adding a rest at the end of it. In example 4 I’ve done this with an Am7 arpeggio, but it could be done with any arpeggio or 4 note group. When you practice this you are also hearing the Am7 arpeggio as a melody and how it sounds placed on every possible 8th note in the bar.

Moving a phrase to another beat or off beat is a great way to create or develop an idea in a solo and you should check that out and add it to you vocabulary. John Scofield often uses this in situations where he is playing over one chord.

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings ex 4

Lines with odd note groupings

The examples in this lesson are all 2 bars II V I resolving to the I in the 3rd bar. Since 2 bars are in total 16 8th notes, you can use this to fill in groupings 3 groups of 5 or 3 groups of 5 and make a melody with this. In most of these examples I am actually placing filling in the different groupings with arpeggios and moving from arpeggio to arpeggio in a logical way, like 3rds or step-wise voice leading.

In example one the 3 note group is a stack of 4th that moves up and finally down step wise before it resolves to the 5th(G) of C major.

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings ex 5

The 2nd line is using the tecnique I explained in example 4 to make 5 note groupings out of 7th chord arpeggios. On the Dm7 I am using an Fmaj7 and Am7 arpeggio and on the G7alt I use a Db7 arpeggio.

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings ex 6

The last example is again using 3 note groups this time Shell voicings. The first 3 are Dm7, Fmaj7 and Am7 shell voicings over the Dm7 and over the G7alt it is a Bbm7 and a Bmaj7 arpeggio from G the altered scale.

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings ex 7

As you might have gathered from the explanations the material part of this lesson is more a technique to compose lines and some exercises to hear what the groupings sound like over a 4/4 meter. I hope you can use this to make some new lines and have fun with playing with odd note groupings!

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

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings

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.

 

Get more out of the licks you already know

In this lesson I want to describe how you can make new lines or variations on the licks you already know by analyzing the licks and use the theory and technical exercises you already know to make variations on them.

Taste and Theory, Analysis and Association

Everybody has standard licks or lines that we play all the time. Stuff we’ve practiced and transcribed and that is already in our ears and fingers.

To make these variations we need to analyze the material that is used in the lines and then use that information to replace parts with other things that we already practiced. The analysis is of course not strictly systematical or following a set of rules but just as much based on association and taste so what you end up with is depending on that more than anything else. This means that it is handy to be able to associate for example as many arpeggios as possible with a certain chord, and to be able to see a phrase in several contexts. This should be clear from the examples.

I would suggest you check out these lessons for reference on how to practice some of the building blocks I mention in terms of stacks of 4ths, arpeggios and scales. This should make it easier to have a wide range of options for replacing parts of a line.

I will approach this from some examples that I analyze and then generate new lines from them.

Diatonic transposition

In my examples I have a one bar lick that I’d use on  Am7 in a G major context. The other bars are the variations I make by moving it around diatonically.

If I was to analyze the line I’d see it as the diatonic arpeggio from the 5th of the chord (so that would be Em7 in this case) and followed by an intervallic structure or a pentatonic fragment from the 3rd(C) of the chord.

As you might already know you can try diatonically transpose a line and if you choose to do so in 3rds you have a fairly big chance that you will end up with something that fits the same chord. In this case we could start by moving the same line to C, so we’ll start with the arpeggio on a C which gives us a Cmaj7 arpeggio (bars 2 and 3).

As for the second half of the line for me there are two obvious options. If you see it as amelody in G and transpose it like that you get the notes A, B, C and E (bar 2) or as part of a pentatonic scale you could get the notes A C D and E (bar 3). Notice how is makes a difference how we interpret the line (even if it is subtle in this example)

Get more out of the licks you already know - ex 1

In the rest of the examples I move the line around in the key of G and it yields lines that then works well with other chords like D7 or Gmaj7. In each case there are a few options in terms of how it sounds good to move the last part of the line.

Replacing building blocks

In the first example I only transposed the line, but since we identify the lines as conisisting of building blocks and that those are in a context we can also take the building block and replace it with something else that will fit in it’s place.

The main line for this is in bar 1. If I was to analyze it I’d say it is build by a stack of 4ths (A D G) from the root, then a 1st inversion triad from the 13 (F#, A and D) followed by a diatonic 3rd from the 3rd so: (C and E).

Let’s replace the first part. I chose to stay close to the original and wanted to use a structure that ends on a G so it moves smoothly to the next part of the line, but of course that is not something you have to do, and you could also take something that ends of for example an E to lead to the D major triad inversion.

bar 2 uses an Am shell voicing (Jazz Chord Essentials: Shell Voicings) instead of the stack of 4ths. Bar 3 uses an Open C major triad inversion, and bar 4 uses a Cmajor 7 voicings played as arpeggio.

In the last two examples I replace the D major triad with a stack of 4ths (bar 5) B minor triad (bar 6)

Get more out of the licks you already know - ex 2

As you can probably already see there are an almost endless amount of options available when working like this. In my examples I deliberately chose to stay a bit close to the original, but more variation is fairly esay to achieve using this method, and it is a good way to get good sounding lines that should be fairly easy to play. This is also a very good way to find a musical way to apply stuff that you have practice like a new sort of arpeggio, inversion or scale.

I hope you can use this approach to come up with some new stuff, and hopefully also use it when applying new ideas like arpeggio inversions in a musical way.

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

Get more out of the licks you already know

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.

 

 

Quartal Harmony in Solos

As I promised in earlier lessons, here is my take on putting the chords I talked about in the 3 part quartal harmony lesson and the one on diatonic chords of the pentatonic scale to use in improvisation.

In this lesson I want to demonstrate how I use it in solos by going through some technical exercises and some lines I wrote using quartal harmony.

I am going to demonstrate a few exercises and then give you a few examples and of lines and how I constructed them. In this lesson I am only going to be concerned with the 3 note variation of these chords, since that is the one that is the easiest to put to use.

All my lines and exercises are going to be related to a II Valt I in Bb so we need to check out the Bb major scale and the F7 altered / F# melodic minor scale before we start working on making lines.

Exercises

First let’s just talk a bit about what you might practice to prepare for making lines with stacks of 4ths arpeggios in them. Here are the chords for the Bb major scale on two sets of strings. I’d suggest you practice them both as chords and as arpeggios to get technically prepared for using them in improvisations.

Quartal Harmony in Solos ex 1

As you might already see we can’t really name the chords in the way we are used to with diatonic chords and triads. You chose them by looking at the notes they contain and how that relates to the chord you are playing them over. This can be a bit heavy if you are not used to think like that, but is actually a very useful skill for “the thinking improviser”. It will also help you to analyze transcriptions and identify what s being played.

In my examples I chose the arpeggios for the Cm7 chord on the criteria that I don’t want it to contain an A, because I want to save that note for the F7. That is a choice, and not even a route that I always take myself, but for now it makes the lines easier to hear.

Since we don’t often make solo lines by only moving up and down a string, but more often make use of positions, it can be very handy to also try to play some scale positions in diatonic stacks of 4ths like the one I have written out here below:

Quartal Harmony in Solos ex 2

Playing stacked 4ths requires a lot of string changing for the right hand which is a bit difficult and for the left hand you need to bar with different fingers to be able to play the them which can also be a bit demanding. Frank Gambale has a few good left hand exercises for this in one of his books. As for the right hand I generally alternate pick the arpeggios as you can see in the video, mostly because I like the sound of that sort of picking better than sweeps or economy when I play these arpeggios.

Here are the chords for the F altered/F# melodic minor scale.

Quartal Harmony in Solos ex 3

 

I’d suggest you also try to arpegiate these chords and play F# melodic minor in diatonic stacks of 4ths in the way that I did it with the Bb major scale.

II V I lines with stacked 4ths

Here’s the first example of a line on the II Valt I in Bb major:

Quartal Harmony in Solos ex 4

 

If I break down the construction of the line it is an EbMaj7 shell voicings followed by an stack of 4ths beginning on G. Then on the F7alt I am playing the Coltrane 4 note pattern, and following that up with a stack of 4ths on the A in F#melodic minor. I resolve the high Ab to the major 7 of Bb.

Quartal Harmony in Solos ex 5

 

The 2nd example is first chaining to stack of 4th arpeggios on the Cm7, one from F and one from D. Then I play a sort of cliché F#m melody which is followed by an F#mMaj7 arpeggio that resolves to F the 5th of Bb major.

Quartal Harmony in Solos ex 6

The 3rd example is beginning with an Ebmajor 7th arpeggio that is then followed by a stack of 4ths from c. On the F7 altered I have made a melody using two stacks a whole step apart: one from Eb and on from Db. This pair is a useful tool when making lines and when playing chords in my experience.

Quartal Harmony in Solos ex 7

I start with a Cm9 arpeggio which I then follow with a stack of fourths played descending from C to D. This arpeggio I then can shift up a half step to fit it on the F7 chrod and then I lead that into an Ebm7 shell voicing which with a few notes from the scale is resolved to the 9 of the Bb.

You can download the examples in pdf format here:

Quartal Harmony in Solos

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, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Melodic Minor – Altered Scale

So after many requests it is finally here: A lesson on the altered scale. The 7th mode of the melodic minor scale.

In this lesson I want to explain how I deal with the altered scale in the context of a cadence and how hearing the notes related to where they are going gives a better understanding of how the chord works.

Altered Dominants

What I mostly have heard about the altered scale is how people keep telling me it is difficult and probably the name makes it stand out. But in the end it is of course just a set of notes like any other scale and no more difficult than the rest of them. The only thing that is tricky is the function it has most of the time: To sound out of place. Altered Dominants are meant to be pulled out of the hat to sound out side for a bit and then resolve back to the surroundings at the end of the cadence. The altered chord is a dominant that acts up for a few beats and then settles down nicely to the I chord.

Try to play this:

Melodic Minor - Altered Scale - ex 1

The Eb on the G7 chord is in this case what gives the chord an altered sound, and we need to resolve it to an E or a D on the Cmajor7.

Resolving altered chords

This is in a way all that we need to work on: How to resolve the notes of the altered chord (or scale) to the tonic.

Just to have a reference I am demonstrating everything using this position of the  Ab melodic minor scale or in this case G altered.

 

Melodic Minor - Altered Scale - ex 2

 

The G altered scale contains the notes G Ab Bb B Db Eb F In example 3 I have taken each of these notes and let it resolve to a note on a C major chord, so Ab resolves to G, Eb to E or D etc etc. If you play it in a C major context you can probably hear it. Try playing example 1 to establish the C major context in your ear.

Melodic Minor - Altered Scale - ex 3

 

All these resolution should sound pretty logical to your ear, and my guess is that you’ve already heard every one of them a thousand times before in jazz standards, tv and movie music.

Having done example 3 we can make the simplest altered II V I licks known to man, which are in fact just adding a chord note from the Dm7 to the resolutions above, as I do in example 4:

Melodic Minor - Altered Scale - ex 4

 

Building Altered dominant lines

I think a lot in target notes when I practice improvising and composing. I have a lesson on target notes that demonstrates that, and how I build lines on a turnaround with some altered dominants.

To have some building blocks for your lines we need to solve the problem that the diatonic chord on the G is not a dominant so that is not going to work very well as a starting point.

I often use Fm7b5 and Bmaj7(b5) for G7 altered because the both contain the B and the F so the basic sound of the chord is there and the rest are good altered extensions on the chord:

Fm7b5 is F Ab B Eb which relative to G7 is b7 b9 3 and b13

Bmaj7b5 is B Eb F Bb which is 3 b13 b7 #9.

Here are those two arpeggios in the position we are using:Melodic Minor - Altered Scale - ex 5

 

The idea is that the we can make lines using 7th chord arps, triads and scale fragments like we do on any other chord, we just have to take care that we arrive well on the I chord.

Here are 3 II Valt I lines. In the video I talk a bit about how I constructed them.Melodic Minor - Altered Scale - ex 6

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

Melodic Minor – Altered Scale

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, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Dominant 7th Chord Scales – part 1

I’ve had a few questions about what options there were for scales and sounds on dominant 7th chords so I decided to make a lesson demonstrating a few of the common ones and talking a bit about what I think characterizes them and how I approach improvising with them.

I set out to just make a few short examples, but in the end I talk a bit about how I use the scales and about the lines so the video became a bit long. In the end I thought the information was useful so I left it in there.

As I mention in the video I often uses the chords when learning scales so if I want to learn to improvize with a certain scale at some point in a progression or song then I find a chord that really sounds like that scale and play that in the context of the song to hear how it sounds.

Mixolydian or F7 from Bbmajor

In this example I am “just” using the Bb Major scale. It seems logical as a starting point and as a reference. I did try to make a melody on the F7 that was at least not cliché. I do that by using Drop2 or Open voiced triads, something that might be a subject for a later lesson too as they are a very good way to incorporate larger intervals in lines without sounding too fragmented.

Dominant 7th Scales - Part 1 - ex 1

Mixolydian b9b13, F7 from Bb Harmonic Minor

In this example we borrowed the dominant of Bb minor in the cadence. It works well with a lot of different chord types to borrow an equivalent from the minor scale. Mixolydian b9b13 is also more or less the first choice for a scale on an F7 that resolves to a minor chord, so for that it is important to know it. I chose the F7(b9) chord as an example because it has a 5th and a b9 which in context gives paints the F7 from Bb harmonic minor sound (to me anyway).  Part of the line on the F7 is based on the A diminished arpeggio which is also diatonic to Bb Harm min. and is a good arpeggio to check out when using that scale.

Dominant 7th Scales - Part 1 - ex 2
The Altered Scale

Playing F# melodic minor is on an F7 chord is mostly described as the F7 altered scale. The melodic minor scale has a strong augmented sound in it and the scale also sounds a bit like the whole tone scale as I demonstrate in the video. Making lines on F7altered I find it a good starting point to use the fact that F# melodic minor also contains the B7 which is the tri-tone substitute of F7. As an example I use the  B7 and F#m triad arpeggios in the line. If it is difficult to hear the F7 altered then it can be good to really just play/think B7#11 and resolve that to Bbmaj7 to get used to the sound.
Dominant 7th Scales - Part 1 - ex 3

The Diminished scale

The diminished scale is another good scale to apply to dominants. It is to me charactereized by the fact that it has alterations on the 9(which to me sounds minor), but has a natural 13 (which sounds like major), which is why it has some things sounding like minor and some like major. This mix of minor and major extensions makes it a bit difficult to use in some situations.

One important aspect of the diminished scale is that it is symmetrical, so everything can be transposed in minor 3rds and still be in the same scale. This is handy in terms of guitar technique because it is easy to move a phrase like that on the guitar, but often the phrases you get when you make melodies like that are very predictable and (to me) not very beautiful.

The way I mostly approach making melodies with the dimninished scale is to mix up the triads that it contains, for the F7(13b9) chord there are 4 major triads contained in the scale: F Ab B and D, so I mix those up to make lines, of course there are many other ways to make lines, this just happens to be what I mostly do (right now anyway).
Dominant 7th Scales - Part 1 - ex 4

The Whole tone scale

The Whole tone scale was until now a bit of a special effects scale to me. But as has happened before, when I make a lesson on something I get to rediscover shings. In a way the Whole tone scale is the opposite of the diminished scale because it has a natural 9 and altered 5th or 13. Since it is a scale consisiting only of Whole steps there are not that many options for chords, everything is augmennted triads and dominants, so that is what you have to work with when making lines.

As I also mention in the video I sometimes use the wholetone scale as an effect in situations where the chord contains an augemented triad, in a way letting the triad decide what Whole tone scale to use even if that does not fit with the rest of the chord. As an example a AmMaj7 where the chord contains the Triad C E G# so you could play C D E F# G# Bb on it, a similar trick could Work on a D7(9#11)).

Here’s a downloadable pdf of the examples: Dominant 7th Scales – 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 Comping

Here’s a short lesson I made to give you the tools to play the chords for a Jazz Blues in Bb and a few directions on how to learn to approach playing chords in a jazz context.

The main difference between Jazz and most other styles of music is that almost everything that is being played both as accompaniment and as solo is for a very big part improvised and related to what is happening in the music at the time. This means that you have to approach playing chords the same way you would playing fills behind a soloist, so you need to be able to play the chord in several different ways to make up melodies and sounds that fits the music.

A 12 Bar Jazz Blues

First let’s have a look at the harmony of a Bb jazz blues, think of songs like Tenor Madness, Straight No Chaser and Trane’s Blues. As you can see in the example the 12 bar blues is very similar to what you are probably familiar with in a standard 12 Blues in Rock, Soul etc. Except for a few II V’s and possibly a dim chord it’s excatly the same. If you listen to Charlie Parker playing blues you can also clearly hear that it was a style that he knew very well, this was one of the things I liked about him when I first heard his playing.

Example 1 is written out with standard full chords so that if you play it you should be able to hear how the progression sounds.
Bb Blues comping - ex 1

Scales with chords

In this lesson I am only concerned with improvising with the top note melody, not so much the color of the chord or the rhythm. In order to be able to improvise a top note melody for each chord we need different versions of each chord each with another top note. In example 2 I have made some simple ways to do that with on or two versions of each chord. I tried to get 5 notes per chord and make it easy to play.

Bb Blues comping - ex 2

In order to practice playing the chords and making melodies that last across several chords I suggest you try to first compose and later improvise simple exercises like the one I’ve written out here.
Bb Blues comping - ex 3

Once you can do this on a blues you should probably try to do the same thing with a standard or something similar. From there it can be a good exercise to start to harmonize the melody of a standard, but that is for another lesson I guess.

Here’s a link to the pdf with the examples: Jazz 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

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.

Maj7b5 – chords and arpeggios

I wanted to try and do a lesson on a type of chord that serves very well as a sort of swiss-army knife chord that you can put to work in a lot of contexts. By now this way of voicing chords has been a part of jazz since the mid 60’s. Another reason why I put this in a lesson of its own is that it is not strictly diatonic, you can find it in Major, Melodic and Harmonic minorbut it won’t appear as a stack of diatonic thirds in the scale which has been my subject in some of my other lessons.

An important part of analyzing solos and harmonies is superimposing a set of notes over a root. It is very useful to be able to see how notes relate to the root and interpret that into what sort of chord they then end up being, which is what I will be doing in this lesson.

The Chord

So a Cmaj7b5: Cmaj7 is C E G B so Cmaj7b5 is C E Gb B, but in this lesson it’s a bit more practical to notate it C E F# B.

Here are a few voicings:

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 1

And here is (one of the many) ways to play it as an arpeggio:

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 2

This way of playing the arpeggio is handy because it is symmetrical in groups of 2 strings and it is also pretty compact, so no stretches. If you want to use this chord you will probably need to check it out in a few positions too.

Superimposing a Maj7b5 chord and voicing

So here are a few examples of how to use the chord in a progression and using the arpeggio in a line.

If you use the chord as an F#m7b5 it will give you the following sound: b5(C), b7(E), 1(F#) and 11(B)

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 3

Here is a the chord is working as an Am6/9 it will give you the following sound: b3(C), 5(E), 6(F#) and 9(B)

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 4

On a D7(9,13) it will give you the following sound: b7(C), 9(E), 3(F#) and 12(B)

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 5

If you use the chord as an Ab7alt it will give you the following sound: 3(C), b13(E), b7(F#) and #9(B)

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 6

Of course there are more possibilities to use the chord, it can also work as an 7sus4(b9) or phrygian chord, a Maj7b5 chord (not surprisingly). But I tried to choose the ones that I use the most myself.

You can download the sheet music as a PDF here:  Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord

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 Chord Essentials: Triads

In this lesson I’d like to demonstrate how you can play jazz harmony only using triad voicings. It’s a very practical and guitaristic approach but also one that I on guitar is often very practical and beautiful in a lot of musical settings.

Take a look at these chords: Cmaj7, Am7, Bm75 they are all a triad with an extra note, which is fairly easy to see in these voicings:

Jazz Chord Essentials - Triads - ex 1

So if we take the Cmaj7: We get these notes: C E G B so that’s a C and an E minor triad, and we can use it like that when we are comping or soloing.

So if you want to play the chord but not the root, you can use the triad from the 3rd. Using this concept we have these triads to play in C major:

  • Cmaj7: E minor triad
  • Dm7: F major triad
  • Em7: G major triad
  • Fmaj7: A minor triad
  • G7: Bdim triad
  • Am7: C major triad
  • Bm7b5: D minor triad.

So if you know how a chord is constructed it is easy to figure out what triad you can use to play that chord. There’s another concept that is closely related to this which is called upper-structure triads. The idea behind this is that you use a triad as the extension part of a chord to have a strong sounding voicing or melody, but that’s a little more complicated theoretically and for another lesson.

The advantage to this approach it is an easy way to play rootless chords and fever notes makes it more flexible for adding notes and making melodies within the chords.

Triad exercises

The basic exercise you need for this is to learn the triads in inversions on every set of three strings. When using them as chords I play them 90% of the time on the two top sets, but since triads are such a basic resource that you need for soloing as well as chords I’ve chosen to demonstrate all three types of triads that are found in the major scale on all string sets:

Jazz Chord Essentials - Triads - ex 2

Of course you can make a lot more exercises with the triads, playing them in scales and different voiceleading or melodic ideas but for now I just cover the basics. You should check it out in diatonic situations, and work it through songs since triads are one of the fundamental building blocks in most kinds of music.

George van Eps has written a lot of exercises with triads in his books everything with fingerings and in all keys, worthwhile checking out and practicing from.

Let’s continue by playing a few cadences in C, so Dm7, G7, Cmaj7: Jazz Chord Essentials - Triads - ex 3

 

A few useful ideas

To make this approach work we also need to have a way to deal with altered dominants. For that I use the approach that I also talked about in my lesson on diatonic arpeggios: Altered chords and superimposing Namely taking the upper part of the tritone substitute and used that on an altered dominant.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Triads - ex 4

Another way to say that is: Altered dominants: use the dim chord from the 7th degree: G7alt: F dim: F Ab B which is 7,b6,3rd

You can use some of the same substitution rules as I explained in on of the drop2 lessons, so
13 instead of 5 (example: G7/Bdim), b5 instead of 5 and to make a sus4 chord you can suspend the 3rd with the 4th.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Triads - ex 5

 

For minor chords: 11th instead of 5th or #11 instead of 5 on major 7th chords (you could also see that as a sus4 triad in inversion being used over a C bass note, but since I did not talk about sus4 triads and inversions I won’t go furter into that. The last example is how to replace the 7th with the 6th.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Triads - ex 6

 

 Putting it to use

Just so you get an idea about how I incorporate it, here’s an example over a trusted old I IV II V with altered dominants: Dm7 G7alt Cmaj7 A7alt

You might notice that I am trying to play with the different voices within the chords because the triad approach lends itself to this very well.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Triads - ex 7

Here’s the recording of my playing this from the video:

Here’s a downloadable version of the examples: Jazz Chord Essentials – Triads

 

Here’s another video where I play an improvised arrangement of “Body and Soul” using this approach (for the most part anyway..)

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.