Tag Archives: guitar jazz

The Real Magic of Jazz Chords – Easy & Amazing

What is really great about Jazz chords or comping in Jazz is that you are allowed to improvise with the chords and choose what sounds you play, especially in terms of extensions but it can go a lot further as you will see in this jazz chords guitar lesson.

In this video, I am going to show you some really simple but also really great ways to add some chromatic notes and even entire chords to your playing. This works great if you are playing Jazz of course but it is also really useful in other genres that use extended chords.

In chord progressions and static chords

I am going to go over some different examples of how to mess around with a chord. I am going to show you how it works on a single chord but also how you can use it on a chord progression.

The first few are examples only moving one note in the chord and then it is going to get a little more extensive and you will learn how to start to add chromatic chords as well.

When it says Cmaj7 in the chart you can play a Cmaj7, but you can also play a C6. The difference between these two is a B and A :

We can play what we want as long as it sounds like the right chord in the context and as long as it does not clash with the melody or the soloist. For the different chords in this video, I will give you some examples of extensions you can use.

Why I Don’t Add Extensions to Chord Symbols

This way of improvising with the chords is also why I often don’t write extensions on the chords of a song: We are allowed to chose. (b-roll? comping You Stepped out of a dream with chord symbols)

You can also move from one to the other, and you can even add a chromatic leading note in between like this:

If you use this on a II V I then it becomes:

It does not have to be in the top note melody, it sounds great in the middle of the chord too:

The 9th – Another great extension

Another extension you can add to a Maj7 chord is the 9th. That can move down to the root:

The example is also moving the b13 to the b5 on the altered dominant. Whenever I chose a note to move to in the scale that works with the chord.

In example 5 I am moving the 7th and the 9th, but one of them alone

Stealing from Stairway to Heaven

So now we start moving several notes and before I go into chromatic chords, let’s have a look at how you can also move them in opposite directions (ala Stairway to Heaven)

Here are two ways of doing that on a Dm7. On a Dm7 you can use other extensions from the scale, the 9th and the 11th are pretty safe most of the time if Dm7 is the II or the VI chord in the scale.

Notice that the chord in between is actually an Fm7, but that is actually a coincidence which is why I did not write the chord symbol.

Chromatic Passing Chords on a G7

Now let’s add some chromatic chords. For a G7 you can play the G7 but also choose to add either a 9th or a 13th.

A 3-note version of adding some chromatic chords as leading chords could be something like this:

The idea is really just to move the chord a fret up or down when it resolves as you can see I do both in the first bar going down and the second moving up.
This is pretty easy to play on guitar so you should really explore that for more chords than just the dominants.

Another way to use this is to let the melody move one way and the chord another. This is what I am doing in this example:

Here the melody is the same in bars 1 +2 and bars 3 + 4.

The first example is using an Ab7 to harmonize the Ab in the melody, and the 2nd example is using a Gb7. The difference is that in the second example the melody is moving down while the chord is moving up (Gb7 up to G7).

If you want to explore more sounds and chords that you can use when you comp then check out this video where I am covering different inversions of chords you probably already know plus some great voice-leading tricks you can add to your playing.

Add some Chromatic chords to your comping

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The Magic Chord – 10 ways to Use this Amazing Jazz Chord

The Magic Chord is a great name for this Maj7(b5) voicing. This is because it can work for a lot of different jazz chords sounds and sounds really great as a lot of useful chords. The Magic Chord can be seen as an advanced chord concept, but really is a very practical way of playing a lot of chords.

In this video, I am going over 10 examples of how you can use this voicing as dominants, tonic minor, half-diminished, Phrygian chords and altered dominants. It really hits some great extensions and chord sounds in harmony from both Major and Melodic minor scales.

Content:

0:00 The Magic Chord (just ask Herbie Hancock)

0:43 II V I in C major

1:17 II V I in D minor

1:52 Phrygian Chord to Tonic – C Major

2:26 II V I in D major

2:58 IIø Valt I in A major

3:31 II bVII I in C major

4:02 II Valt I in Bb major

4:37 II bII I in C major

5:09 II V I in Eb major

5:42 II bVII I in G Major

6:15 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page!

How To Learn Jazz Guitar – Suggestions To Begin Studying

This is a question I get very often. And that is in no way strange. Starting to learn Jazz guitar is the beginning of a long journey with a lot of interesting stops along the way.

In this video and post, I will try to give you some places where you can look for the things you feel you need to check out and of course also what you think is interesting.

Learning Jazz, or any other style of music is not a set path the fits everybody. We all take different routes and need to work on different things longer or shorter. That is also the reason that there is no set way to go through this and why I am calling it suggestions. You need to figure out for yourself where to go next. If I have a student learning Jazz it is common that I take a few lessons to figure out what to work on and how to work on it, so expect that when you start working as well.

That said, I will try to make this a little less complicated and stop the information overload a little because I don’t think that is really necessary.

To keep it a bit short I am going to focus on three main topics:

  • Technique and Scales
  • Chords
  • Improvisation and Songs

Technique and Scales

Keep it simple. Start with the Major scale. Don’t overdo technique practice.

Start with one position and one key. You can add positions and keys along the way, with basic exercises.

Start with these exercises:

  1. The Scale
  2. The Scale in 3rds
  3. The Diatonic 7th chords (Maybe Triads first, but many don’t have to)

For more information on what to do work on and how to use it:

The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz – Basic Scale exercise and Scale in Diatonic 7th arpeggios

Practice Major Scales like this and You will get more out of it! – More thoughts on scale practice.

How to practice your scales and why – Positions – A bit of a deeper look into options with scale practice and suggestions for exercises

Jazz Chords – A solid set and learn some songs

It is practical to learn some jazz chords so that you can play chords on songs. As jazz guitarists, we spend more time comping than soloing. It is also a huge help to be able to hear the harmony that you are soloing over.

I have a study guide for Jazz Chords where the first two or three lessons will give you more than enough. How to Learn to Play Jazz Chords – Study Guide

Especially I would start with a set of diatonic chords for the major scale which is exercise one or two of this lesson: How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar

From that material you can gradually expand chord vocabulary, learn songs and progress into rootless voicings and more complex comping and harmonization ideas.

Improvisation and Songs

This is the most important part of how to learn jazz guitar because this is where we talk about playing music. So it is about using the material that is practiced in the scales.

If you want to play jazz you need to spend time playing the songs and improvising and you should start doing this from the very beginning. Even if you can’t really play solos that sounds like jazz, just by trying you are building repertoire and skills to use later.

A few things about improvising over changes:

How To Solo Over Chord Changes The Right Way

A practical example of improvising with arpeggios:

How to start soloing over a II V I with arpeggios

For more examples of songs, easy chord melody arrangements and similar then you should browse through this playlist of easy YouTube lessons:
How To Begin Jazz Guitar – Easy lessons to gain an overview

If you start making your own Jazz Licks and develop your improvisation by working on coming up with your own lines then maybe check out this lesson:

How to write Jazz Licks – What You Want to Know

Jazz Standards to start with and how to learn them

When it comes to which songs to start with then I would suggest you start with one of these 10 songs:

The First 10 Jazz Standards You Need To Know

And some of the exercises and things to focus on when learning them are covered here:

Learning Jazz Standards – Important Exercises

Next level for Jazz Guitar

Maybe you already feel comfortable with the things I covered here, and you are looking for more challenges and explore the music further. Of course, you can browse the YouTube channel and my Website.

Another option is to join the 3000+ members of the Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook group and ask there, get inspired by the posts and comments of others:

Jazz Guitar Insiders

Or join me on Patreon where you can support and help shape the content on the channel in the future. Patreon is really what has made all these lessons and the channel possible.
Check it out here: Jens Larsen YouTube Lessons on Patreon

Rootless Jazz Chords – 15 Beautiful Examples You Need To Know

If you want to play really interesting comping then you need to work with rootless jazz guitar chords so that you have the freedom to play more interesting and interactive things behind a soloist.

A good starting point to explore some useful II V I voicings. Focus on connecting the chords with some great melodies, rhythms, and inner-voice movement.

Traditional and more modern sounds working with some reharmonizations of the II V I as well.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:23 Why You Use Rootless voicings

00:45 The Basic Position and II V I chord set

—- 3-note chords —-

0:54 #1 – A Strong Top-not melody is essential. You can always move from 7 to 6 on the I chord.

1:25 #2 – Let the Melody carry and drive the progression

1:53 #3 – You can have chromatic passing notes in the inner-voices as well. 6 to 5 on the I chord is another cool inner-voice

2:27 #4 – Incomplete altered dominant chords often work well (because the altered notes are clear enough)

2:58 #5 – busy chromatic melody  (but it is possible)

—- 4-note chords —-

3:27 #6 – You can also repeat a melody note

3:53 #7 – Make more layers by splitting the chord

4:20 #8 – A little more rhythm and a So-What voicing for the II Chord

4:49 #9 – Rich sounding 13b9 and Maj7(13) chords!

5:16 #10 – A little more rhythm and counter-movement on the II chord

—- Changing the Chord Sounds —-

5:45 #11 – Line cliche with Dm, DmMaj7, Dm7

6:17 #12 – C# dim chord to lead to G7

6:46 #13 – Ab7 to lead to G

7:15 #14 – Building the chord with the melody

7:42 #15 – Quartal Voicins and Clusters

8:09 Check out the 15 minor II V I video!

8:16 Like the Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

Check out how to use Rootless chords on Autumn Leaves

15 Minor II V I – Beautiful Jazz Chords You Need To Know

Having good Jazz Chords for a minor II V I can be difficult. This progression is much more complicated than it’s Major counterpart. At the same time, it is a really beautiful progression. Especially because of the rich tonic minor chords and altered dominants.

15 Jazz Chord Sets

In this video, I am going to go over 15 sets of jazz chords for a minor II V I in D minor. They will give you some solid ideas with extensions, the melodies and also some inner-voice movement.

What makes this progression difficult is probably in part the IIø chord that is a little hard to get used to and also the mix of harmonic minor and melodic minor used on the V and the I chord. Very rich colors but also a bit hard to handle.

I am of course very curious about what you think about the video format, so if you have ideas for other topics that would work in a video like this then let me know!

Content:

0:00 Intro -15 Minor II V I chord sets

0:30 Do you have suggestions for another topic?

0:42 #1 – Upper-structures for Eø

1:01 #2 – Cluster-like Altered Dominant and Rich Tonic Minor 

1:31 #3 – Inner-voice movement in Melodic Minor

1:56 #4 – Expanding Melody

2:20 #5 – ø11 Cluster-like voicings – maj6 and maj7 on a I chord

2:44 #6 – Melodic Skips in the Top-note melody

3:08 #7 – Maj7(b5) voicings and Altered Voicings for the Tonic Chord

3:32 #8 – The Minor 3rd Trick and the Maj7(#5) voicing

3:54 #9 – Diminished Voicings for Dominants

4:18 #10 – Melodic Pedal Point

4:42 #11 – Arpeggiating is a forgotten art!

5:06 #12 – Counter-movement in the lower voices

5:31 #13 – b5 Upper-structure triad on the V

5:56 #14 – Tune Up in Minor

6:21 #15 – Tritone voicings and a great way to resolve them

6:45 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

More lessons like this

If you want to check out similar lessons then maybe one of these are useful:

25 Jazz Guitar Exercises – How To Improve Skills In A Musical Way

10 Arpeggios over a Maj7 chord

10 arpeggios over a m7 chord

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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Do this Every Time you Learn a New Jazz Chord

You need to check out a lot of different jazz chords and voicings when you want to learn Jazz, and you need them for comping and for chord melody arrangements.

In this lesson, I am going to show you some techniques that can really help you get more out of your voicings so that you don’t have to spend too much time practicing chords and help you use one voicing that you already know to create a ton of other chords that you then don’t need to practice as much.

A little music theory can really save you a lot of time!

I am going to do this in 3 parts – first look at finding similar voicings, then change the voicing and finally what other chords we can use this voicing for.

This is all about using what you practice as much as possible and getting the most out of what you have learned.

Part 1 – Connect the voicing to all the other things you know.

Let’s keep it a little practical. Let’s say you have learned a shiny new voicing like this Drop2 voicing for a C7(9).

It’s a drop2 voicing, but if we forget that and just look at it and associate it with other types of voicings then something great happens:

Below, you can see that it is coming from this voicing (bar2) and that it is also related to this voicing (bar3)

The reason that I am saying this is that it is important to tie see how the chord has different components from other voicings that we know.

That makes it easier to use it with other chords and for examplie having C-D top note melody.

Another thing that is good to notice is that it is related to this Drop3, this triad or this shell voicing.

We are just taking a look at how it works and finding things we can do with it.

Right now we can make a melody like this with what we just discovered:

or a comping riff like this:

Part 2 – Change The Voicing – Make a New Jazz Chord

This is really an important way to look at how to come up with more sounds and really explore what we can do with a chord.

To keep it a bit practical I am not going to change the 3rd and 7th of the chord because then we have a completely different type of chord and open up for a lot more information, that is possible and you should experiment with it, but my video would get too long.

If we explore changing the 2nd highest note, the G, then we have these chords:

So, of course, you need to understand where you want to use the chords to figure out what fits. A blues in C with C7(9,b13) chords may not be the sound you want (or are hired to play)

We can do the same with the top note:

And I am not going to go over the different combinations of this, but that can be fun to explore as well!

Part 3 – Using this voicing for other Jazz chords

Now we have connected the chord to a ton of other voicings and made a lot of variations on it.

If you look at the notes that are in the C7(9) voicing we have Bb,E, G and D.

If you order these in different ways we have:

E G Bb D which is Em7(b5) or You can look at it as G Bb D E which is a Gm6

So this means that the original voicing could be used like this:

These are two of the obvious choices, but you could also go through this in a systematic way and just check out what these notes are against any root.

They could work as a Bb6(#11) or F#7alt. Thinking of notes against a root is something that is also very useful for soloing!

If you use the chord as an F#7alt then you have this: Example 8

Connect the chords don’t just remember separate things

This way of thinking about voicings where you are looking at it not only within a system but also really connecting to other types of chords and voicings is a very good practice for developing and making your vocabulary more useable. If you want to see another video where I talk about this then check out this video where I am going over a 3 level process of creating and using jazz chords.

Jazz Chords – The 3 Levels You Need To Know

And you could also consider checking out the Jazz Chord Study Guide

Apply it to a Bb Jazz Blues

Take things even further by using some of the same principles on a Jazz Blues:

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Jazz Chords – The 3 Levels You Need To Know

In this video I am to cover some different types of Jazz Chords and talk about the order you should learn them. I’ll show you the basic idea with the chords and how you can use this order to gradually build a chord vocabulary that you can also make music with.

I don’t focus on the types of voicings, like drop2 drop3, etc. because they are just names, it is more important to chords you can play music with.

Level 1 – A Set For Playing Music and Songs

To play songs and easily find the chords we need one set with the root on the 5th and one set with the root on the 6th string. This is shown in the example here below:

If you are used to finding chords in other genres this is probably how you think about it.
These chords are basic chord sounds, not too many extensions. 

  • They are Easy to play.
  • Similar to the bar chords you already know
  • Include the root – full picture of the harmony
  • A Complete set of chords

Why start with these:

  • You can play the song alone and hear the harmony. 
  • Works well in a duo
  • Easy to add extensions and develop
  • Easy to turn into very flexible rootless voicings

Level 2 – Rootless voicings for Bands and Flexibility

Now you can play the chords and to get some more options then the best place to go is to just take the chords from Level 1 and then remove the lowest note: The Root.
The essential exercise is this:

We can now start making the chords more flexible and add melody by changing the top note and even adding an extra higher note as shown below in example 3 for a C7.

Why:

  • Works better in a band
  • Is much more flexible
  • You can play melodic ideas with the chords

Level 3 – Inversions and more melodic options

Now we can start working on inversions, and a good place to start is to take these voicings that we come across while adding notes to the 3-note chords.

The idea of a chord inversion is really just to find the same notes in another order on the neck. The chords we have are called drop2 voicings, and I go over how to make the inversions in the Drop2 lessons in this guide: How To Learn Jazz Chords

If I take the four basic chords and play those inversions then I have this:

How To Learn Using These Chords

Whenever you practice something like this it is very important that you also practice using it in songs. Learning a lot of stuff that you don’t use in music is usually a waste of time and you just forget it again.

Check out some more in ideas with Drop 2 voicings

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Fill in your e-mail and you will recieve a link to the PDF with the examples:

Jazz Rhythm – The Most Important Aspect of Jazz

Learning jazz is often mostly about playing 8th note lines, but if you listen to amazing musicians like Charlie Parker then you can hear that he doesn’t only play dense 8th note lines. He also plays very interesting rhythms. So we need to learn to hear rhythms like that.

In this video, I am going to go over an exercise that you can apply to the songs that you play and help develop your ability to play much more interesting solos with more inspired rhythmical ideas.

Developing Rhythmical ideas

The exercise I am using in this lesson is reducing the amount of notes that you use and in that open up to give more attention to the rhythm.

To have a progression to work on I am using the A-part of Take the A-train which is fairly simple. You can, of course, choose any song you like, but make sure that you choose one with not too many chords. Try to also pick one that you know very well.

The chords of the A-train A-part is shown here below:

The Three Notes

Let’s first find three notes for the chords. I am treating the II V as one chord.

If you can see figure out where I got the three notes from then leave a comment on this post 🙂

Rhythm #1

The first rhythm is shown here below. The note on the 4th beat helps it drive it forward. The 2& also helps a lot with adding some “jazz feel” to the rhythm.

First play the rhythm with just one note to get it into your system.

Applying Rhythm #1 to The Chord Progression

A way to improvise through the progression with the 3 notes could look or sound like this. When you work with the rhythm try to keep improvising until it becomes really easy to improvise. That way you have really internalized the rhythm and it is more likely to show up in your playing.

Rhythm #2

This rhythm is actually just a basic syncopation, but at the same time also a very important rhythm to be familiar with in Jazz.

Using Rhythm #2 in a Jazz Solo

As you can see I am starting to mix up the rhythms so that I am not only using one rhythm. In many ways I am using the rhythms to help create a sense of Call-Response in the solo.

Rhythm #3

More complicated rhythms work as well. This one is a lot less clear and can also help you develop your ability to feel off beats more precisely.

Rhythm #3 – Mixing it all up

This 8 bar examples uses Rhythm #3 but I am also mixing it up quite a bit with the previous rhythms. I think this also illustrates how much variation is available like this using more interesting rhythms and a smaller set of notes.

Bebop Phrasing Lesson

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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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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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5 Comping Exercises for Jazz Rhythm on the Blues

Rhythm is much more important than notes. This is very true for jazz and certainly for comping. The easiest way to learn some new rhythms for your comping is to come up with some small riffs and practice playing those through a chord progression. In this jazz rhythm guitar lesson, I am going to show you 5 great variations on some great Comping rhythms and how they sound through a Blues In F.

If you want to practice them with me then you can go to the second examples via the link in the description of this video. I’ll talk a little about that later. This way of really thinking in rhythms as phrases are really important because you can’t think about the notes, you have to hear them.

If you want to check out more material that you can use for both soloing and comping on an F blues then have a look at this Study Guide: F Blues Study Guide

The Shell-Voicings

Instead of using the voicings that I use in the example you can also simplify that part by using shell voicings. In the end this is much more about rhythm than it is about the chord voicings so that will still teach you the most important part of the material in this lesson.

Practice with the video!

In this video I have added the count-off to the perfromances so if you want to play the rhythms together with me then you can do that. If you are a Patron of the channel then you can also download the mp3 backing track via my Patreon Page

The Shell-voicings are shown here below.

You can go through these voicings and use them while practicing the rhythms in the 5 exercises.

#1 Charleston Rhythm

The Charleston rhythm is a great place to start! It is in many ways the most simple rhythm that has it all. It clearly shows the chords by stating that on the 1 and the groove and swing feel is clear from the 2& that follows it.

If you are playing with people you don’t know: When in doubt, Charleston!

#2 Pulling Forward

This rhythm is a little more busy. Here the goal is to state the groove with the first two 8th notes and then use the 3& to really pull the song forward. The 3& sound adds tension or energy and the following chord on the 1 resolves that tension.

#3 Clear Groove

This example is a little busy if you play it too much, especially if the tempo is higher than a slow medium.

It is however a complete groove and a way of laying down the harmony and the groove in a very clear way. This can work as a a great solid background for a soloist, but for some it may also get in the way.

#4 Up-Beat Energy

This rhythm is a little lighter and a great way to break things up a little. It is important to be able to play comping rhythms that are not on the 1st beat all the time.

#5 Leave it to Bass and Drums

Another exercise is to play rhythms starting on beat 2. This exercise helps you feel(or think) the first beat and then play on the 2nd. Internalizing the rhythm and the meter like this is really useful for your overall timing and time-feel.

Get more ideas for comping

If you want to expand your comping and check out some more ideas then check out this lesson in my WebStore:

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