Tag Archives: guitar solo

Triads – How To Use This Powerful Tool In Your Jazz Solos

Every arpeggio is a melody and Triads is a great very strong melodic building block you can use in your Jazz solos. In this lesson, I will show you:

You will learn how to:

  • Find Triads for Chords
  • Exercises to play them
  • How to use them as Odd-Note groupings, strong melodies and outside material

Let’s first look at how to find triads and then what to practice and how to use them going from diatonic to a little outside stuff as well.

The examples of lines using the triads are all on a static or modal Dm7.

Finding Triads – Analyzing Chords For Solo Material

This is really simple if you know a little theory. You only need to know the notes in the chords and the scale they are found diatonic to.

The basic way to look at this: II V I in C major – Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

The scale: is C major: C D E F G A B C

Dm7: D F A C

G7: G B D F

Cmaj7: C E G B

For each chord we can find a triad from the root, so Dm for Dm7 and from the 3rd of the chord. For the Dm7 that is F A C which spells out an F major triad.

By adding extensions and looking at the available triads you can construct this overview:

The available triads are:

Dm7: Dm, F, Am, C

G7: G, Bdim, Dm, F

Cmaj7: C,Em,G

What Should You Practice – Solid Triad Exercises

Now you can find the triads but you also need to be able to use them in your playing and for that, you need to have them as flexible sets of notes, so basically you want to be able to play triads in as many ways as possible.

You can try out these exercises, don’t focus on speed just on being able to play them in tempo with a good tone and technique, then you can use them in your playing.

Some of the triad exercises I play in the video are:

Diatonic triads

Triad arpeggios in Position

Across the neck (showing F major and G major triads)

Inversions on string sets

3-1-5 Pattern in the scale

Across the neck in a skipping pattern

You can check out more exercises in this Triads Lesson

or this lesson on a Blues Solo with only Triads

Making Lines – Using Triads In Solos

Whether it is Charlie Parker, Pat Metheny or Julian Lage, they all use triads as a part of their solo vocabulary. These 3 examples will give you some different ways to use them in solos.

Odd-note groupings and cascading triads

This lick starts with a chromatic enclosure and from the continues with cascading triads.

In this example, I use the F major, Am, and C major triads as 3-note groupings. The melody works because I am stacking the triads in 3rds to connect them.

Open-Voiced/Spread Triads

The 2nd lick is combining Dm, F major, and C major triads.

Dm in a standard root position followed by the open-voiced F major triad in bar 2, and finally the C major triad in 2nd inversion played in a pattern.

Outside Chromatic Triads

Another interesting way to use triads on a static chord is to use them as chromatic structures and approaches, similar to how you would use chromatic passing chords

In the example below you have the melody moving from Dm triad to Db major to C major triads.

An example of this in a Kurt Rosenwinkel solo on All or Nothing At All is shown below:

Kurt plays this at the beginning of his solo off the East Coast Love Affair album.

An equally powerful solo tool on Lady Bird

You can also purchase this lesson at a reduced price as a part of the Easy Jazz Standards Bundle

Get a free E-book

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

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

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

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

5 Chromatic Licks – This Is The Way You Use Them In Your Playing

In Jazz Guitar, Chromatic Licks are really a huge part of what we consider the jazz sound. But you can use chromatic passing notes and enclosures as devices to create different kinds of surprises in your solos. This Guitar Lesson is going over 5 different examples of how you can use chromaticism and chromatic approach in your playing. The examples are both in a Modal setting and on a II V I.

The lesson covers

  • Adding color with chromatic passing notes
  • Suspending chord tones with chromatic enclosures
  • Creating forward motion towards the next chord
  • Outside sequences and parallel movement.

#1 Chromatic Passing Notes for Color

In this modal example I am using a passing notes and chromatic enclosures as a way to add some color to the line. They are there as ways of adding a few colorful or surprising notes in the line.

Whenever you are playing over a chord then the ear exoects to hear the notes of the chord and the surrounding scale notes. It does however also hear the remaining notes as tensions that need to resolve.

You can add this to a line to give it some colors and some movement. In this modal A dorian minor example I am first adding a passing note between the 9th and the root from beat 3 to 4 of the first bar.

The passing note is placed on the off beat which makes it a bit more smooth.

The Chromatic enclosure is a 4 notes melody in the beginning of the 2nd bar that creates some movement towards the C on beat 3 of the bar.

The final part of the lick is a Cmaj7(b5) arpeggio which is a great way to really get the Dorian Am13 color out on the chord.

#2 Chromatic Lick = Forward Motion

In this example I am using the chromatic enclosure to create some forward motion and move the chords along.

The Progression is a II V I in G major. The chromaticism used is first a passing note between the 3rd and the 2nd on D7 (in bar2)

From here I continue with a very common way to target the 3rd(B) of Gmaj7 that really drives the lick forward and pushes towards the resolution on the and of 4.

#3 Suspending a Resolution

Instead of using the chromatic phrase to drive the changes you can also use it as a way of delaying a chord. In this example, a II V I in G major again, I am using two chomatic ideas to delay the resolution to the Gmaj7.

The Am7 line is constructed of a spread triad 1st inversion C major triad. This is followed by an Am pentatonic phrase.

In this example the dominant, D7, is an altered dominant. The phrase is a pretty basic altered phrase using an Ab triad and a stock Ebm line.

The D7alt line should resolve to the D on beat 1 of the Gmaj7 but instead

These types of ideas are very common in Pat Metheny’s playing around the Question And Answer era. You will find him making harmonic movement quite unclear by adding long chromatic phrases instead of a clear resolution.

#4 Modal Shifting Example

Another great way to introduce chromatic passages is to shift an interval and in that way move out of the tonality for a bit.

This A Dorian modal example demonstrates this. The first bar starts with an enclosure targeting the A on beat 3.  From there it is a descending 1st inversion Am7 arpeggio.

In bar two the first two notes are a chromtatic enclosure of an E. The E and the C then becomes an interval that shifts down in half steps twice. The line ends with a chromatic passing note added between D and C. 

#5 Chromatic Licks as Outside ideas

Chromaticism can also be used as a way to create some outside material in a solo. This modal example is demonstrating some side slipping which is shifting an arpeggio in half steps to add some outside melodies to the phrase.

The beginning of the phrase is a fairly straight forward 4-note enclosure targeting the root of Am7. This is followed by an Am7 arpeggio. 

In bar 2 the Am7 arpeggio ends on the 9th and this is then the first note in a descending Em triad. This triad is shifted down to Ebm and Dm. From the Dm the line ends on the 13(F#) of Am via a chromatic enclosure.

Top Dog Live Solo – Jens Larsen

Here’s a short excerpt from my solo on Top Dog.

The clip is from a concert during a Traeben tour two years ago. I am always having fun playing with these guys!


Haye Jellema – Drums

Olaf Meijer – Doublebass

Søren Ballegaard – Sax

Jens Larsen – Guitar Top Dog (J.Larsen)

How to Improve your Jazz Guitar Soloing – One Skill

If you want to improve your jazz guitar soloing skills then you need to go on the basic techniques and start thinking about how you chain together phrases. You probably can play through the arpeggios of the songs and know the right scales, but it is difficult to make real melodies that sound good over the chords with this material.

Improve your soloing by writing solos

In this lesson I am going to take a Bb Blues in one position and go over a 1 chorus solos and talk about what I am using and how I make the solo more melodic and connect the different phrases.

The basic idea is that if you want to be able to improvise better solos then you should also be able to write better solos.

To illustrate how you can think about your solos and the phrases in your solos I have written this solo on a blues in Bb.

The solo

If we listen to the first two bars of  the solo then it is easy to hear that the two phrases are very similar. In fact the 2nd phrase is a repeat of the first phrase but then changed to fit the chord. This idea of using motifs in solos is an important part of learning to play better solos, and you can work on it using composition as a way of exploring how to hear and play motifs over chords.

The Bb Blues Solo

I am assuming that you know how to play the scales and arpeggios on the blues. Otherwise check out this video to help you cover or refresh that: Bb Blues Basics

Bars 3 and 4 also use a motif, but here I have expanded on the repeat by adding a pick up and changing one note to get a Bb7(b9) that pulls to Eb7 much stronger .

A common way to use motifs in bars 5 and 6 on a blues is to play a very simple arpeggio line on the Eb7 and then change the Eb to an E to get a E diminished line. In this case I am also changing the ending of the melody.

The next motif is stated on the Bb7 in bar 7 and is developed in bars 8 and 9. As you can see the first repeat is very close to the originial just transposed to the G7. On the Cm7 the original first part of  motif is still present, moving from the 5th to the b7, but the ending is now changed.

The ascending arpeggio on F7 is used as a way of concluding the previous three motifs. 

In the turnaround the first motif is a descending Bb7 arpeggio. This is repeated in the 2nd bar with an up-beat and a different ending.

Take a look at a longer example and go to the next level

Using analysis and composition is a very powerful tool in learning new ideas and sharpening your skills as an improvisor.

If you want to take a closer look at one of my solos with my analysis you can check out this lesson:

Get a free E-book

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

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

How to Improve your Jazz Guitar Soloing – One Skill

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

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.