Tag Archives: diatonic

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.


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.


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.



Open Triads in Solos

In this lesson I want to give you a few exercises and show how I use open voiced triads in my solos. The sound of open voiced triads is often associated with Eric Johnson and Steve Morse but is a fairly common device in Jazz and Rock. Hopefully this lesson will give you some insight and a way to incorporate it in your own playing.

The lesson is based around a basic  II V I in F major as shown here:

Open Triads in Solos - example 1

In some of the examples I decided to also use a dominant from the diminished scale, and not only the altered scale. Especially because triads are really great melodic material when using the diminished scale.

The Exercises

The first basic exercise is to practice playing the open voiced triad in inversions. Here’s the Bb Major and G minor triads.

Open Triads in Solos - example 2

Open Triads in Solos - example 3

As I mentioned in the video and also in the lesson: Open triads for jazz chords there are more ways to play the same triads and you might find that in some contexts it is easier to use something else than what I have put in these 2 exercises, but these are the ones I use for this exercise and sometimes I’ll use something else if that works better in other situations.

The next exercise is to play the triads through a major scale. In this case the F major scale. I most of the time practice arpeggios and other things in a scale or tonal context since that is where you have to put it to use.

This exercise is not that useful in a position so I wrote it out across the neck from low to high. This is also a very useful approach to practicing for building an overview of the neck and also to help you connecting the different positions.

Open Triads in Solos - example 4

You might want to try taking the other inversions through the scale as well.

The lines

Before I start going through the lines I just want to explain how I chose triads for each of the chords. The process is fairly simple as it is just picking triads out of the stacked thirds that make up the chords and add some extensions to get a few more triads.


I have chosen to show the C7alt using the same trick as in Diatonic Arpeggios – Superimposing arpeggios and altered chords, so the triads are chosen by looking at the tritone substitution of C7, Gb7. In the video I also briefly explain how I come by the triads in the diminished scale.

Open Triads in Solos - example 5

In this lesson I tried to write the lines a bit further so that it also shows some of the melodies I might use on the I chord.

Open Triads in Solos - example 6

The first line is build by using a Bb major open voiced triad that continues into a Gm arpeggio. For the dominant I string together an Eaugmented triad and an inversion of the Gb7 arpeggio. The line on the Fmaj7 is a stack of fourths from G and then an Asus4 triad. The Asus4 works well over Fmaj7 because it is 3(A), 13(D) and 7(E) of the chord.


Open Triads in Solos - example 7

In the 2nd example I start with a Dm7 arpeggio over the Gm7 chord which resolves to the 3rd of the Gm on the 3rd beat. On the C7 the first part is a Gb open voiced triad followed by a Dbminor triad. on the Fmaj7 I first play a Gsus4 arpeggio and then a pentatonic 3 note per string idea that in this case turns out to be an Aminor triad resolving to the 13 of F.

Open Triads in Solos - example 8

I chain the Gm7 and the Dm7 arpeggios over the Gm7 chord in example 3. The line over the C7 is an Bbdim open triad, followed by an Eb major triad. As you might see from the notes being played I am usin gthe diminished scale over the C7. On the Fmaj7 I play an D7sus4 arpeggio, but I guess you could argue that it is also an Am pentatonic line.

Open Triads in Solos - example 9

The coltrane minor pattern opens up the fourth example and it continues into an open voiced F major triad. The C7 line is again usin gthe diminished sound and is an E diminished arpeggio followed by an open A triad. The line resolves to the 7th of F and then the melody continues to the 9th(G) of F.

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

Open Triads in Solos

I hope that you liked the lesson, and can use some of this information to make your own lines with using open triad arpeggios

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.



Chords and Walking Bass – part 1

In this lesson I’ll demonstrate how I approach playing walking bass lines and chords at the same time. This is a a way of playing that I use really a lot in situations where there’s no bass player, so mostly duo settings with a guitar player, singer or horn player.

The chords that I am using in this lesson are the shell voicings that I covered in this lesson:  Jazz Chord Essentials – Shell Voicings


The way I play this type of accompaniment is to use my right hand fingers and use my thumb for the bass line and the rest for the chords. In that way you have a different sound for the two parts and you split the hand naturally in a way that you can play two independent parts.

For me it the important part is the bass line, so I give that priority over the chords probably because I am always using it to accompany others. When I play the bass line I try to give the 2 and the 4  a slight accent and for the rest just have a legato and not too hard attack. I never spend too much energy on sustaining the chords, to me they are added colors but are not necessary to keep the flow of the music going.

The first 3 examples are a very simple II V I in C major.

Chords and Walking Bass lines - part 1 - Ex 1

In this example I am just playing the chord on the first beat of each bar, so that the combination of the bass and the chord is as simple as possible. The way I construct the bassline of these examples is very simple: The Root has to be on the one and the other notes are arpeggio notes except on the 4 where it’s a leading note for the new root if you start with this rule set you can make fairly playable and functional walking bass lines.

It is important to remember that bass lines are in fact improvised quarter note lines outlining the harmony.

Examples 2 and 3 are exercises using the same harmony but putting the chord in another place in the bar so that the chord can have more of a function in the groove.


Chords and Walking Bass lines - part 1 - Ex 2

The final example is more of a demonstration of what I might play on a blues in F so for ideas you can analyze it and of course it is also a good etude to get the hang of the sound of this type of playing.

The process for me in learning how to play like this was to sit down and figure out a few songs and then find more solutions for the whole piece so that I could start mixing it up and vary each chorus. This is probably the same way you learned playing chords on a standard too. So the try to analyze the lines that I am playing and try to move to other parts of the neck to play the same thing using the principles I talked about here.

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

Chords and Walking Bass 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 Chord Survival Kit

In this lesson I want to give you a few exercises that should make it possible for you to go through a jazz standard without too much trouble. We often spend too much time working on details and forget to apply it to songs and hear how it works in contexts so this is a tutorial about how to play a standard and a few suggestions for songs to check out when you know the exercises.

Diatonic Chords

Not surprisingly when playing jazz standards it makes sense to start with some diatonic chords. I have made to exercises with the diatonic chords of Bb and F major. Having those in your fingers and knowing what chords they are is a good starting point and will make it possible for you to play through songs without the rest of this lesson. Since most people relate the chord to the root and most of the time this is place on the 5th and 6th string I have the Bb voicings with the root on the 5th string and the F major voicings with the root on the 6th string.Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 1

You might recognize the type of voicing I am using here as a Drop2 voicings

Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 2

If you are familiar with different kind of voicings you might recognize these voicings as Drop3 voicings.

The voicings that we now have both have the chord part on the B, G and D strings and the root on the 5th and 6th strings. This allows the voicings to have ok voiceleading most of the time without us having to worry too much about it since that requires more knowledge of the notes in the chord and how they move in harmony.

II V progressions

If you see a lead sheet for a jazz standard for the first time it is quite likely that you will be overwhelmed by the amount of chords that are in there. For that reason it is very practical if not essential to learn to view groups of chords as one thing rather than each chord by itself, since that makes it a lot easier to remember the song by heart, and in the end also analyze or understanding the song while playing it. That is the reason why I have made the next 4 exercises. One of the most common two chord progressions in jazz is a II V.

A II V is a minor 7th chord moving up a 4th or down a 5th to dominant 7th chord like this:

Dm7 G7

The reason why I am not including the I chord, ie II V I is that very often the II V is resolving differently so it is handy to just pair those two for now.

The II V voicings that I can build with the voicings in the first two exercises are pretty ok,  but by adding a bit of extensions I can make them easier to play and transition better from one to the other so here’s an exercise where I let the II V resolve to another II V etc.Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 3

And here is a similar version starting on the 5th string:Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 4

Minor II V cadences

Since we are already busy with recognizing II V cadences in major it seems logical to add the minor variation of this too. Same idea as the major counterpart. We add some extensions, and in this case alterations to the dominant to make it easier to play and make the II V move more smooth from II to V.Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 5

The m7b5 chord is probably one of the most hated voicings by beginning students and it is a bit difficult and takes some practice, but there is really no way around them..

Here’s the set with the root of the II chord on the 5th string:Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 6

 Diminished Chords

The only chord that we miss now is a diminished chord, since they are not present in the II V or in the diatonic chord sequence or in the II V’s


So now you have most basic chords covered and should be able to get through most standards without too much trouble.

The examples in the this lesson are also available as a downloadable PDF here: Jazz Chord Survival Kit

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

Melodic Minor – Lydian Dominants

In my last lesson on melodic minor I was only talking about how to use it on tonic chords which is a good starting point: Melodic minor.  In this lesson I wanted to give a few examples on how you use it in another context: Lydian Dominants. This lesson will also give a few examples of common progressions that are not standard II V I cadences in jazz, which is what most lessons use as a basis.

Dom7th chords that do not resolve to a I chord

If you play jazz tunes you will quickly come across chord progressions that has a dominant that does not resolve. In this lesson I am using the Bb7 as an example. As you might know Bb7 is the dominant of Eb so a Bb7 chord resolves to an Eb chord if it is part of a standard cadence, but in many cases you have other progressions where Bb7 goes to another chord. In a lot of those cases a good choice of scale would be the lydian dominant scale which is the 4th mode of melodic minor scale.  In this lesson I am making examples using the Bb7 as chord, and Bb is the 4th degree of F minor melodic so that is the scale that we will use in these differents contexts.

The Lydian dominant scale gives you a dominant with a 9,#11 and a 13, so in that respect it’s a fairly neutral sounding scale. Here’s a few voicings for a Bb7 like that and also a possible way to play the F minor melodic scale.

Melodic Minor - Lydian Dominants - ex 1


I’d suggest that you make sure to also learn the melodic minor scales in several positions and learn the diatonic chords and triads so that you have an overview of what harmonic options you have in the scale. Just to provide the over view here are the diatonic chords of Fm melodic:

FmMaj7, Gm7, AbMaj7, Bb7, C7, Dm7b5, Em7b5

Lydian Dominant as part of a IV minor progression

Bb7 can work well as a substitute for Fm in some contexts, as is not surprising since we are playing an Fm scale over it. The progression is essentially IV IVm I, but in this case it is harmonized as IV bVII7 I. This is a very common way to harmonize that kind of progression and I think I will leave more explanations on IV minor chords for another lesson, since it is a big subject with a lot of options that are nice for harmonizing songs but also to just throw in as reharmonizations during a solo.

Melodic Minor - Lydian Dominants - ex 2The line that I am playing over the Bb7 is based around a Bb7(b5) arpeggio which is not strictly a diatonic arpeggio in Fm melodic but it is a nice sound to use.

Tritone substitution

As I have mentioned before it is possible to substitue the dominant in a II V I with the chord found a tritone away, so in this case we are playing Bb7 instead of E7 in a cadence in A major. You might notice that E7 altered and Bb7 lydian dominant are from the same melodic minor scale, so in this by playing Bb7(#11) you are in fact also playing E altered.

Melodic Minor - Lydian Dominants - ex 3


The line that I played on the dominat is btw using a stack of fourths spelling out a Bb7(13) sound. Using stacked 4ths in lines often gives a good slightly modern sounding arpeggio.

You could chose to not play a #11 on the Bb and just use an Eb major scale in a tritone substitution, it will work too and it would sort of be one step further away from the key.

IV dominant Chord

Once in a while I’ve come across songs where this chord is used. I think I mentioned So Danco Samba and Tenderly in the video. It’s fairly straight forward to figure out that if you want the scale on the IV dom7th that is closest to the major scale of the song then you will end up with the lydian dominant scale (since the difference it that you flatten on note to make room for the b7 on the dominant, and end up with melodic minor with the root on the I)

Melodic Minor - Lydian Dominants - ex 4

In this line I am using the Ab augmented triad on the Bb7 resolving the 7th to the third of F. It is also an example on how to melodically connect the lines over two chrods by making a statement on the first and then playing a variation of it on the next.

bVI dominant (The #IV Double Diminished chord in 1st inversion)

This is a chord that you don’t come across that often, but it is quite prominant in the standard Out of Nowhere and in the Star Trek theme. I am not going to try to explain the whole double diminished story but could not resist the name (since it looks long dificult and impressive..) If you are already familiar with what a #IV diminished chord is you can see that this chord shares a lot of notes: in D #IV dim is G# dim which is Bb7 with a B instead of a Bb. I guess that is why I even remember the #IV name, it is a description that I hear in the sound of the chord.

Melodic Minor - Lydian Dominants - ex 5

In the line I am using a shell voicing on the Dmaj7 chord and I am using the FmMaj arpeggio on the Bb7 chord.

Dominant of the Dominant

This is one of the most common progressions in songs where the lydian dominant sound is used, so in that respect it is maybe a bit weird to put it at the end. In Dutch and Danish this chord has it own name because it is coming along so often, I could not find an English word for it.

In Jazz standards with a 32 bar AB form the dominant of the dominant is very often found in measures 13 and 14 before going on to a II V back to the tonic. This happens so often that if you play a song with this form you are surprised if that is not the case.

I actually don’t know why it has become so normal to play this as a lydian dominant, but I suspect that it has to do with the fact that you can get away with it and it gives you an easy way to vary your lines and voicings without clashing with the rest.

Since it is only changing one note from the original dominant scale (#4 in stead of 4) The thing to focus on is probably to make sure to play the #4 very clearly in the lin and maybe resolve it to the 5th of the pursuing II chord, as I do in the example.
Melodic Minor - Lydian Dominants - ex 6

Here’s a downloadble PDF version of the examples:  Melodic Minor – Lydian Dominants

As I mention in the video it you will probably have the most benefit of these progressions if you check out some of the songs that they are used in. The more songs you know the easier it is to hear and understand the chord progressions. Apart from that you can of course also just experiment with them and see what you end up with.

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.

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.