Tag Archives: guitar jazz licks

This Will Make Your Jazz Licks 10x Better

You already know how to find the scales and arpeggios that go with the chords, and you can play something on each of the chords, but your solos still sounds very much like you are just playing something on each chord, and when you listen to great players like Wes then you hear a whole melody in the solo, not just something on Dm7 and something else on A7.

In this video, I am going to show you how to improve the skills that make it possible for you to play a solo that is a complete piece of music and not a bunch of random lines next to each other.

I a m going to go over 5 examples that will show you what to focus on start hearing and playing connected melodies in your solos. You can use them as blue prints for writing your own lines and try to add this to your solos.

In a way the concepts I am going over here could be described as a “holy trinity” of Beethoven, Muddy Waters and Kurt Rosenwinkel – just a strange side-note.

The material I am using here is pretty basic and you probably know it already.

It is a II V I in C major so we have an arpeggio from the root and one from the 3rd of each chord:

And around that we have a C major scale:

If you want to explore more on diatonic arpeggios then check out this lesson:

Beethoven inspired II V I lick

One way to connect a melody is to follow up a phrase with a developed repetition of that phrase. This is called motivic development and is a very powerful way to make melodies just ask Ludwig Beethoven

This is a really solid example of basic motif: the melody on the Dm7 and G7 are almost identical and just transposed, but that does make it easy to hear how the G7 melody is a logical follow up on the Dm7.

Muddy Waters playing Changes

Call-Response is associated with blues, but is really a part of all melodic traditions. In the example it becomes almost a question answer where the Dm7’s ascending melody is a question and the G7 is the descending answer.

It feels a little like the Dm7 is opening up something and the G7 melody is closing it again. The Cmaj7 line becomes more of a tag to finish it off.

Creatively Voice-leading Motifs

When you work with motifs then you can be very strict and mechanical, but in the end you should also want to be able to use it more freely and maybe a little less obvious.

This example is starting with a descending Fmaj7 arpeggio on the Dm7 and that is “voice-lead” to a descending G7 arpeggio.

It is not only for II V I licks

To keep everything compact in this lesson I am just using short II V progressions, and you should practice making melodies or licks with this types of melodic connections, but as you start getting it into your system then it really pays off to take this to entire songs and work on creating musical sentences over entire sections of a song. I think especially Wes is a great clear example of this, but if you listen closely you will hear it with pretty much everybody!

Stubborn Rosenwinkel Habits

One of the things that I learned from a Kurt Rosenwinkel masterclass was how he already in technical exercises worked on continuing a melodic direction through the changes.

This II V I lick is a simple example of that where the melody is ascending throught the II V to resolve on the Cmaj7.

Another thing that is worth noticing is that instead of playing only scales, arpeggio patterns then the G7 line is using something that works like a D pedal point in the line.

Reverse Rosenwinkel with a motif

And of course you can make a lick that is descending through the entire cadence. In this example it is combined with a motif using first a Dm triad and then a B dim triad.

Adding Alterations (Like Benson)

The previous examples where all very simple and I tried to keep everything diatonic to make it clear that it is about melody (and maybe also about rhythm?)
Of course you can also do this with altered dominants and this example is developed from an altered phrase that I transcribed from a George Benson solo.

The melody has a motivic development between the Fmaj7 and the Fø arpeggio, but also a connection between the Fø and the Em7 arpeggio on the Cmaj7.

New Concepts for your Solos!

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7 Great Jazz Licks And Why You Need To Know Basic Arpeggios

You need to know your basics and you need to know them extremely well. I am sure you have heard that before. Once in awhile it is very useful to go back to the basics and really improve the jazz licks that you can write with very simple and basic scale and arpeggios choices.

When you do that then you are working on being better at using rhythm, make stronger melodies and have better phrasing, and you always want to improve that.

In the end, it is more important to improve those skills instead of knowing a lot of scales and arpeggios.

The things you need for this video are basic material that you probably already know and practice: the scale, the arpeggios and also the diatonic arpeggios of that scale.

And what this lesson is going to show you is 7 great licks that are just using these basic arpeggios and give you some ideas so you can start making better licks like this yourself.

Scale and Arpeggios

The basic C major scale I am using here:

This is combined with the diatonic arpeggios that I also cover in this lesson: The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

And of course, you can also download Scale and Arpeggio diagrams in this section of my website: PDF Charts and Diagrams

Lick #1 Just Basic Arpeggios – But Great Rhythm

The first example is only using the basic arpeggios of each chord. The reason why this works so well is that the rhythm is more interesting and driving it forward.

Notice that moving to the G7 and the Cmaj7 the melody is changing to the next chord on the 4&. In that way it is anticipating the chord change, something that is an important part of Jazz.

It is also important to see how them melody really works towards the chord change and in that way adds direction to the line.

Lick #2 Forward Motion

The second lick is making use of forward motion, an aspect of especially bebop, that Jazz has in common with the music of Bach.

When you work on forward motion you should try to create melodies that move towards a target note in the next chord. You can explore this in more detail in this lesson: Target notes on a II V I or an extensive guide in this webstore lesson: Rhythm Changes – Target Note Strategies

In this example the target note is the 3rd on both the G7 and the Cmaj7

Lick #3 Quarter-note Rhythms

Rhythm is important, as you can tell from the first two examples, but Jazz is not only about 8th notes. It is as important to learn to play rhythms that use quarter-notes and in fact, they are great for more groove-oriented playing. You don’t want to only play long 8th note lines in your solos and you want to sit in the groove with the beat.

The example below demonstrates how you can incorporate some quarter-note rhythms in your lines, but again keeping it simple.

Lick #4 Rhythmical Tension

Rhythmical tension is not often a topic in Jazz guitar lessons, but any aspect of music can be considered as a tension/release tool.

In this example, you can hear how the melody is moving forward and using first the trill in the Dm7 bar and the off beats in G7 to create tension which is then released back on the beat on the Cmaj7.

This way of thinking about other aspects of music when improvising, so no only trying to create tension with harmony, scale or note choice, is very powerful and really underrated.

Lick #5 Changing Direction

The first examples were focused on rhythm and direction of the melody, and the goal was to drive the line forward.

If you only focus on that you will get very clear lines, but they also become a little predictable because you are playing from chord to chord and often emphasizing the heavy beats where the harmony changes.

In the example below, you can hear how the melody is changing direction and skipping around in the middle of the bar.

Especially the G7 arpeggio that is played with octave-displacement or pivotting.

If you want to see more examples of this then check out this lesson: Bebop Soloing – The Licks You Need To Check Out

Or this WebStore lesson: Bebop Embellishments on Take The A-train

Lick #6 Chromatic Enclosure

Another way to create tension without using fancy scales or structures is to use Chromatic melodies in the lines. The concept is to use a short melodic phrase with notes that don’t belong to the scale.

That melody sounds outside and is made so that it resolves to a target note back inside the sound of the chord or the key.

In the example below I am using chromatic passing notes on the chords as enclosures and passing notes (on the Dm7), and also to drive the change of chord from G7 to Cmaj7.

Lick #7 Everything All The Time

And of course, you can also put all of these things together (well most of them anyway). In this example, there are different rhythms, enclosures and melodic turns.

See if you can recognize the different blocks which will really help you understand how the line works and get more out of analyzing other solos by famous players like Charlie Parker or Wes Montgomery.

Of course, I also analyze it in the video.

Get started with the Music and build a foundation

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The Most Important Ways To Study Jazz Licks

What do you learn from Jazz Licks, and why should you practice them? That is what this video is about!

How do you study licks? What can you learn and How do you not waste time on them? These are important things to figure out, especially if you are teaching yourself.

Whenever you are studying and practicing something from a book or a video like mine, then the examples of how the topic is applied is most often in the form of Jazz Licks, short musical phrases that demonstrate how a scale, rhythm or arpeggio sounds when used in a solo. You even have books that are only licks and no other information.

Other useful videos on working with licks

Bebop Soloing – The Licks You Need To Check Out

How To Study Jazz Licks The Right Way

Are You Wasting Valuable Time Practicing Jazz Licks Like This?

Content of the video

0:00 Intro

1:10 Don’t Waste Your Time

2:00 How To Play That Lick In My Solos

2:52 Example 1

3:44 Variation on Example 1

4:47 Example 2

5:53 Variation on Example 2

6:03 How To Apply A Specific, Arpeggio, Scale, Rhythm on a Chord Progression

8:18 How To Phrase Melodies in Jazz.

9:47 How Jazz Melodies Sound and How to Play Them

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How to write Jazz Licks – What You Want to Know

One of the best ways to practice Jazz and to learn to play better solos is to work on writing jazz licks. When you are composing licks you are working on how you can use the material that you can practice and really figuring out how to get it to sound great in a solo.

This video takes you through working on this in steps or levels and talks about important techniques you can use to make what you write sound better.

In this video, I am going to break down 6 levels that you can work on writing licks and discuss:

  • How you get started writing jazz licks
  • What does it mean to have a lick that follows the changes
  • How do you incorporate Arpeggios and chromatic melodies
  • What makes it sound like Jazz
  • How to get more surprising melodies in there.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:18 Writing Licks and Solos as a way of practicing

0:33 Scary White Papers with empty lines

0:48 Level 1 – The Scale and Connecting to the changes

2:11 Why it is good to keep it simple

2:41 Bebop Scales – it is a bit too systematic

3:11 Level 2 – Arpeggios of the chords 

4:17 Level 3 – Arpeggios as Frames for lines

6:00 Level 4 – Arpeggios from the 3rd and Chromaticism 

6:20 Arpeggios from the 3rd 

8:19 Different way to use chromaticism 

9:11 Level 5 – Octave Displacement 

9:20 Rhythm and Joe Pass etudes

10:21 Explaining Octave Displacement on an Arpeggio 

12:15 Level 6 – Suspending Chord Tones

12:37 Chromatic enclosure as a suspension 

14:46 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Jazz Licks on a Maj7 chord – How To Sound Like Bebop

Learning the rules of a jazz language like Bebop can be a really useful way to study and internalize that sound. In this video, I am going to use some Jazz Licks to cover some of the techniques and how you use them on a Maj7 chord. The 5 examples will show you how you can use Chromaticism, Arpeggios, trills and octave displacement on a maj7th chord.

Jazz Lick #1 – Cowboy Bebop?

When playing bebop we often think about long rows of 8th notes. But it is important to break up that flow to keep it interesting. This example starts with an 8th note triplet which is a chromatic run. This is already adding a different feel fromt the beginning.

From there it continues with a C major triad. The Triad is a great arpeggio to use on a Cmaj7 chord. Charlie Parker plays major triads all the time. From the triad the melody skips up to the 6th(A) and via a chromatic passing note ends on the 3rd(E). Notice how the line is ending on the 2&. This keeps the energy higher than ending on a beat or even a strong beat.

Jazz Lick #2 – Bensons favorite Maj7 lick

This example is build around another 8th note triplet idea. This 8th note triplet is using a Cmaj7 arpeggio. Playing arpeggios as triplets is a very common device in bebop, it really helps target and emphasize the 7th of the arpeggio which is also the top-note. From the target note the line descends in half steps down to the 5th(G)

This example is a favourite of both George Benson and Charlie Parker.

From the G the line concludes with an approach to the 3rd and skipping up to the 6th.

Jazz Lick #3 – Barry’s Recipe

A very useful way to both construct your own lines and understand lines that you have transcribed is to see them as scale melodies with added detours. Barry Harris often constructs lines in his workshops in this way.

This line is essentially a scale melody in bar 1, but with an added chromatic approach between the C and the B.

The 2nd bar is using the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord, Em7, and adds an exciting skip from C to G, ending on 4&.

Jazz Lick #4 – Octave Displacement on a Maj7

Octave displacement is another way to break up the direction of a melody. The idea is to have a melody is moving in one direction and then move a part of the melody an octave up or down.

In this example I am using Octave Displacement to change a Cmaj7 arpeggio and in doing so create a more surprising melody in the first half of bar 1. This is also know as the Honeysuckle Rose lick, since it is in that melody.

The line continues with a descending 1st inversion Am7 arpeggio followed by a trill. Trills are another way to add embellishments to a line that breaks up the flow of 8th notes in a nice way.

In this case the trill is a part of a skip down to the lower G and from here the line concludes with an Em pentatonic melody.

Jazz Lick #5 – Putting it all together!

The final lick is making use of most of the devices discussed in the first 4 examples! Try to have a look and see if you can spot what is used where.

More Bebop lines and Bebop Embellishments?

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How To Study Jazz Licks The Right Way

When You are learning jazz, a huge part of learning vocabulary and melodic techniques is studying Jazz Licks. But you can study licks in useful and less useful ways. This video is going over a 3-step process of how you might study a jazz lick. The focus is on making it a flexible part of your vocabulary. Really a part of your playing.

Most jazz guitar lessons are using jazz licks as a way of demonstrating the topic. Learning licks is also an important part of how we study jazz vocabulary and assimilate jazz languages as bebop and blues. When you are studying it is very useful to also think about how to learn jazz guitar and make sure that you have an efficient way of studying.

In this video I am covering several Jazz Licks Guitar Approaches that you can use when you are studying new vocabulary to have a faster and more efficient way to get it into your system.

Content:

0:00 Intro – How it is difficult to use licks
0:54 The lick I am using in this video
1:32 #1 Make Sure You Can Play The Lick
1:57 Keeping the Context and Chords in mind
2:23 Connect it to you Vocabulary
2:43 #2 Move around the lick
3:14 What Defines the Phrase?
3:58 Move the Lick around the scale
4:36 Take It Through The Blues
6:52 It’s Not An Exact Science, Use Your Ears.
7:19 Voice-leading a Motif Through The Blues
8:42 The Thinking Behind This Process
9:57 #3 Developing and Making Variations
11:31 Rhythmical Variations
12:32 Like the Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

Learn the Progressions you play!

One thing that is very important when it comes to using licks on a song is to have songs that you know really well. If you want to work on really learning songs then check out this article:

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10 Awesome Ideas for Better Jazz Licks You Should Know

It’s not all scales and arpeggios when it comes to guitar jazz licks. This video is showing 10 ways to come up with new licks using different ideas that are not all based on the notes. This can really open up your vocabulary and make your solos more interesting and I talk about methods working with dynamics, melodic direction and rhythm.

Some of the examples are also borrowing techniques from artists like Jim Hall, Bill Evans and Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:49 Lick 1 – Shifting Patterns and Parts

1:43 Variation on Lick 1

2:05 Lick 2 – Melodic Direction and using the range of the instrument

3:06 Lick 3 – Accents, Dynamics and breathing life into your 8th note lines

4:13 Lick 4 – Extended arpeggios as a means to get a larger range

5:30 Lick 5 – Chromaticism and Bebop – Add the jazz flavour

6:36 Lick 6 – All the “other” arpeggios

8:13 Lick 7 – Across the bar line – Don’t be tied down by the bar lines!

9:19 Lick 8 – Space and Great Rhythms (Like Jim Hall)

11:04 Lick 9 – Blues in Funny Places (Courtsey of Joe Pass)

12:31 Lick 10 – Triplets and Modern Rhythmical Jazz Phrasing

14:20 Do you have a great idea? Share it in a comment!

14:43 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page