Tag Archives: how to learn jazz guitar

How To Make Jazz Licks From Easy Chord Shapes

When you use the chord shapes you play to make solo lines you can access a lot of very useful material. The Link also helps your solos in other ways because it makes it easier to use the chords to tie together several phrases.

In this lesson, I am going to go over this approach with some easy chord shapes and show you how you can apply this to a song and also how you can put it to use on complicated progressions like Giant Steps.

Setting up this Jazz Solo Lesson

To show you how easy this is I am going to take the first 8 bars of Take The A-train, make some easy voicings and use them to make some lines. (here we go)

Finding Voicings for a Solo

A simple way to play the chords of Take The A-train with basic jazz chords could be:

To make them more useful for solos then it makes sense to take away the root and turn them into more compact 3-note voicings:

Examples making lines on a Cmaj7

Now you have some chord voicings and you can start working on turning them into solo lines. The concept is really simple, the melody is using the notes of the chord and adding notes around it from the scale.

These two examples are just basic ways to turn the rootless Cmaj7 voicing into a line by using the voicing and some of the notes around the voicing.

Another example could be this one:

Notice how the lines are different from what you normally will end up with if you use scales and arpeggios.

Playing a Solo based on the Chords

Turning this into a complete solo is really just following the same principle

First, let’s have a look at how the lick is constructed and then I can show you how that works in connecting the lines.

Voice-leading Jazz Licks

The big advantage is that now you have a melody based around the 3-note chord and for the next chord you can use the same lick and just move it to that voicing. In that way you are voice-leading the entire thing. This is exactly what I do in example 3 on the Cmaj7-D7 chords.

Voicings as more interesting melodies

If you use this technique on a II V I with common voicings like the ones shown below, then you can get some really great fresh sounding melodies.

The melody is really just arpeggiating the Dm7 shape, but because the voicing has the 9th(E) in there then we get a nice maj7 interval in the melody.

If you think about this then it is as much a question of learning songs to improvise on and then use the chords as a way of getting some solo material as well

A Practical approach to turnarounds

A basic way to play a turnaround in C could be using the chords shown below.

This is easily turned into a lick, just playing the chord shapes and adding an occasional extra note here and there:

A Solid Strategy for Giant Steps

This is also a refreshing way to approach Giant Steps where you can get some new melodies using shapes that you already have in your fingers.

Using these shapes to play a lick could give you something like this:

With Giant Steps I think it really works well to also add melodies that are not only 8th notes, something that we play too often on changes like that.

Learning Songs to Solo on

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Why Half Diminished Chords Are Amazing And How To Use Them

For many beginners, the half diminished chord or m7b5 chord is a weird mysterious chord, but it is actually a very flexible chord to have in your vocabulary

In this video, I am going to talk about how to construct and play them and then go through how you can use them in a song, not only as half-diminished chords but also as a lot of other chord sounds.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:57 #1 Basics: Half diminished Chord construction and Voicings

2:08 #2 Basic use in a minor II V I

3:35 Two things!

4:33 #3 Dominant

6:56 #4 Altered Dominant

9:22 #5 Lydian Chords

11:13 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page.

Getting Comping and Chord voicings into your playing!

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How To Learn Drop 2 Jazz Chords The Right Way

Drop 2 voicings are often made into this mysterious thing that is hard to practice and learn. Something that you have to spend months practicing to get into your playing and be able to use.

That is of course not true and in this video, I am going to show you some of the simple things you can practice, how to remember the chords and how you start using it in your playing.

It is about staying practical!

3 Types of Drop2 voicings

For this lesson I am using the song, Solar known as a Miles Davis Tune but it is actually written by Chuck Wayne.

First I am going to go over some voicings that we need to play the song. It really is just 2 sets of 4 voicings on the top strings and then a dim chord.

Then I am going to use those voicings to play through Solar and embellish the basic comping and show you how you can add to it yourself.

I will talk about why we use some voicings and explain it from a music theory point of view, but also a more visual description that really helps understanding and remembering the voicings.

Basic Set of Drop 2 Voicings

The m6 is a very useful voicing for three types of chords:

First we need a m6 voicing, that will also work as a m7b5 and a dom7 chord:

The m7 chord can be used for m7 but also maj7 chords:

The Voicings would be these:

Putting it to use on a Song

This first example of how to use the drop 2 voicings is using one voicing per chord. Everything is kept simple and I am using the same voicing sets for the II V I’s in F and Eb major.

The II V I in Db is a little different because I want to move closer to where I will play the Dø.

This is about reusing as much as possible and playing music with only a few voicings. That way we have something to build from.

Progessions as building blocks, not chords

It is extremely important to start thinking in progressions more than single chords. If you do that then you can sum up a song in a few blocks where it might be twice or three times as many chords.

That is also what is clear in how I think in II V I progressions and treat them as one thing, more than separate chords.

Adding Melody – Making Music

The next step is to use the same chord voicings but now I am also using different top-note melodies to have some melody and variation in the comping.

From Chords to Musical Statements

The important part of adding more melodies and thinking more like a melody is that it is easier to comp in a way that responds and supports whoever you are playing chords for. Developing this skill is so essential, and it is important to remember that comping should be a piece of music, not just some chords on a groove.

Expanding What You can Play

Now that there are some melodic options and you probably have one voicing in your system then you can start adding voicings by using the surrounding inversions. An example of how that might work is shown below:

Putting Drop2 chords to use

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5 Ingredients Of The Best Jazz Phrases

This Jazz Solo Lesson is for you if all the lines in your solos are just a sequence of “now I am playing an arpeggio” then “a bit of scale”. That is of course not that exciting to listen to. There is more to jazz lines and jazz melodies than just trying to put arpeggios and scales next to each other.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the ways that you can make more interesting melodies in your solos. It is all about surprising to the listener without just being weird and hard to understand.

In hindsight, this is a lesson I really wish I had when I was starting to learn Jazz and wanted to play better lines in my solos.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Less boring and predictable Lines in Your solos

0:57 #1 Breaking up Scale melodies – Adding a lower chord tone.

2:05 Example 2

2:52 #2 Breaking up Scale melodies – Chromaticism & Chord Tones

3:56 #3 Breaking up Scale Melodies – I can fit an entire arpeggio in here!

5:34 Example 2

6:10 #4 Benson’s Top-note melodies

7:37 Simpler Example

8:24 #5 Pedal Point Strategies

9:13 II V I Example

10:00 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Freedom on The Fretboard – Great Exercises

Of course, you want to play the guitar and be completely free to find whatever lick or melody wherever you are playing on the neck. That is the goal of knowing the fretboard.

And you need to have a solid overview so that you can use it while you improvising.
In this video, I am going to show you a strategy and some of the best exercises to develop that.

Content

0:00 Intro

0:26 Jazz as a Language and You can use that

1:02 onlyapesappreciateheavymetal

1:45 Charlie Parker Lick 

2:27 Side-note using a Finnish Sentence 

3:24 Exercises you probably already know

3:38 Basic Scale overview

4:22 Adding Harmony

4:46 Really Understanding How To Play Arpeggios

6:08 Moving Around Real Music

8:44 Important point about All Positions and All Options

9:22 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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The Worst Mistake When You Study Jazz

It is probably mostly a problem you are teaching yourself but organizing your Jazz Practice and getting the right things in there is something that is often going wrong. At the same time, this is so incredibly easy to avoid and all you need to do is take a step back and look at what you are trying to learn without getting lost in the details.

I say it all the time: Learn Jazz, Make Music but for you to make music you need to focus on learning some pieces to make music with and that is very often not on the list when people start practicing and studying Jazz.

Other Important Practice Lessons

This is a Good 10-minute Practice Routine

Avoid Long Practice Plans – This is what you should focus on

Guitar Practice – How To Be Your Own Teacher

Content

0:00 Intro

0:26 Forgetting What You Want to Learn? 

0:42 It may seem ok, but it isn’t

1:15 Skills for Jazz

1:40 Exercises are not Music

2:19 What you will miss and what you should be doing

2:38 Playing Real Music

3:07 Jazz Harmony is more than II V I and Turnarounds!

3:37 How many II V’s in a Jazz Standard?

4:30 How To Really Learn Jazz

5:10 What is playing Jazz, what is the goal.

5:53 Is this missing in online education?

6:12 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

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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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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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Bebop Soloing – The Licks You Need To Check Out

Bebop is a beautiful but difficult musical language to learn.

Bebop is a beautiful but difficult musical language to learn.

Sometimes it works better to hear how the phrases sound and try to play them. This way you get a feel for how you should phrase them, and add to your bebop soloing techniques.

This started as a lesson on how arpeggios are used in bebop but then I got really into the licks and liked them so much that I ended up just making a lot of really solid traditional bebop lines.

You should check out the licks but also try to isolate small phrases and make your own licks with them. That is how it really becomes a part of your vocabulary.

1 Inserting 2nd voice and using trills

In the example below I am using two voices in the Dm7 line. The 1st voice is on beats 1 and 3 and in between are the counter-point melodies. This way of adding extra melodies is a great way to add surprising skips and have short changes of direction in the lines

2 Using a chromatic enclosure to resolve

Chromatic enclosures are a great way to create suspensions and movement in a line. In this line, the Dm7 line is first suspending the F with a 4-note enclosure. I am also using chromaticism to move from the G7 to Cmaj7.

3 Adding Arpeggios in Scale-runs

Inserting arpeggios in scale melodies is a good way to change things up. This is what is happening with the Am triad on the Dm7 chord.

The G7 line is using a G augmented mixing it up with an Abm triad.

4 Arpeggio Patterns to get large intervals

Using Arpeggios played in inversions and patterns is a great way to have melodies that are closely related to the harmony and add larger, more surprising, intervals.

On the Dm7 I am using a 1531 pattern of the F major triad. The triad of the 3rd. The G7 line has a Bdim arpeggio, again the arpeggio from the 3rd.

5 Voice-leading ideas as great bebop lines.

Many great bop lines are made from voice-leading concepts. This example is turning a Dm7 – DmMaj7, Dm7 Dm6 into a great super-imposed bop line.

Notice how the Dm to DmMaj7 uses basic arpeggios and introduces a large range.

6 2-note enclosure and motivic chromaticism

The line on the Dm7 is starting with a 2-note enclosure. The G7 line is using the G augmented triad and adding octave-displacement.

The last half of the G7 bar is a chromatic phrase that is moved and repeated on the Cmaj7 to develop the melody.

7 Moving phrases on the G7 chord

Another way to move phrases is illustrated on the G7 line in this example. The motif uses a maj7th interval that really makes it stand out.

8 Chromaticism and Maj7 inversions

Chromaticism as a means to suspend the sound of the chord is a good way to keep the line moving forward and also a way to add an outside phrase to a line.

The line below opens with a double-chromatic enclosure resolving back into the chord on beat 3.

9 Extended arpeggios in Bebop Soloing

Using 9th arpeggios is also a good option for bebop lines. The line here below is using a DM9 arpeggio and playing the last part of it as an 8th-note triplet.

The G7 line is using a Bdim arpeggio and breaking up the 8ht note flow with a trill.

10 Triplet and embellishing dim arpeggios

The Dm7 line is using the Fmaj7 arpeggio, again the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord. This time it is played as an 8th note triplet.

The entire line on the G7 is based around a pattern of a B (or Abdim) that is embellished with passing notes and played in an inversion.

Level up your Jazz Phrasing

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Chord Solo – How To Make Melodies and find chords

How Do you play chord solos? It is something we hear people do all the time on our favorite records by Wes, Joe Pass or George Benson. But it does seem really complicated to do.

In this video, I am going to give you an example of an Easy Chord solo and then I am going to talk about how you can practice making your own solos. Another thing that you don’t want to miss is how working on this type of playing is something that can really boost your single-note solos.

  • Easy Chord Solo on Lady Bird
  • Exercises to Practice the chords in a melodic way
  • Some ideas on how to come up with melodies with them

The Chord Solo Transcription

First let’s check out the chord solo:

An important part of any solo is to play strong melodic ideas. If you listen to or play the chord solo you can hear several strong concepts being used in it.

Exercises for Chord Solos and Melody

When you improvise with chords then you can’t think about the voicings you play. You need to practice playing melodies and have the voicings ready. The way you learn to play melodies is by practicing doing that, but also by working on harmonized scales.

If you want to play this :

When you make exercises like this then keep in mind that you should use the voicings that fit for you. There are a lot of options available. A few alternative solutions are shown below:

Harmonizing a scale with Fm7 and Bb7 chords

To give you some more insight into the process here are the harmonizations of the Eb major scale using the Fm7 and Bb7 chords.

The Fm7 is pretty similar to the Cmaj7 example:

Above the Fm13 is a little tricky, but in this case, it is possible to harmonize that with an Fm chord.

On the Bb7 I am harmonizing the chords with the melody notes on the B string.

I do this with 3 note voicings because that makes it easier to combine these with 4-note voicings and make melodies that move across two strings.

A few thoughts on Melodic Structure

The solo is played thinking mostly of the melody I play. That is the best way to approach this way of playing in my experience.

If you listen to the first two bars you can hear a motif that is repeated and developed in bars 3 and 4.

The original motif is repeated in bars 5 and 6 and given a conclusion in bars 6 and 7.

Notice how the melodies are simple and step-wise. They also rely much more on rhythm than complex interval movements etc. This is, of course, a practical thing, but also an important part of why you want to play melodies like this and what you want to aim for.

Listen to Wes Montgomery for this type of melodic approach. Both with chords and single-note lines.

Repetition is also an important way to generate melodies. The Abmaj7 melody below demonstrates that quite clearly.

Learn more about Block Chards and Solos

Best Exercise for Chord Solos

Block Harmony and Block Chords

Take the solos up a level

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Jazz Chords – Here Is Why You Want To Make Inversions

We mostly think about jazz chord inversions when it comes to types of chords like Drop2 and triads, but there is a lot more to discover when it comes to using inversion to create beautiful jazz chords.

In this lesson, I am going to start with a Dm7(9) voicing that you are probably already familiar with and then use that and a little voice-leading to create some great voicings and make inversions of entire chord progressions.

Later in the lesson, I will also show you a few great “guitaristic” tricks that are easy to play but sound incredible.

A great Dm7(9) voicing

You probably know this great Dm7(9) voicing and maybe you also use the rootless version.

But from this rootless 3-note chord you can make beautiful voicings like this with inversions:

Putting inversions to use on a progression, not just a chord

If I took the first one and played a II V I in C then that could be this: II V I in C

Since it is only 3 notes you can easily look at how the voices move: F, F, E,   E, Eb, D and C, B, B
Working through a few progressions like this is incredible for your fretboard knowledge and understanding of chords and voice-leading, even if you don’t use these voicings that in itself is a great exercise.

If you do this in the other postions you get this:

Inversions of Shell-voicings

If you try the same with a Shell-voicing like for example Cmaj7. Below is first the shell-voicing and then the two inversions.

Creating and inverting a II V I for the shell-voicing

Now we can construct a II V I with the shell-voicing and make inversions of these chord sets.

First the basic II V I:

And the inversions we can create from this set of chords:

A great trick with Shell-Voicings

A great way to create some moving voices when you use shell voicings is to move the outer voices in opposite directions.

In this case, that means moving the C, on the D string, up to a D and the B, on the B string, down to an A.

This is a pretty easy thing to play that also sounds great. The basic idea is shown below:

This works great with a lot of voicings. You could use that like this:

Or make a simpler variation like this one:


Another thing that these voicings can do really well is inner-voice movement that could be something like this.


And it also works in this place:

In the last one, it would be the melody which also sounds really good.

If you want to check out some more ideas then check out this video and learn some beautiful chord voicings and inner-voice ideas with 15 rootless II V I voicings.

How to use Great Flexible 3-note Jazz Voicings

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3 Easy Bebop Licks – How To Sound Like Jazz

What makes a phrase sound like Jazz? Even if you know the chords and can play the right notes there is more to get it to sound like Jazz. This video is going to give you 3 examples of Bebop licks which really use some of the core elements of the jazz sound. I also give you some exercises so that you can get them into your playing and add them to your own solos.

The techniques and the licks

The topic of this lesson is jazz and bebop sounds so it makes more sense to also work with a moving chord progression like the II V I. But at the same time the techniques and exercises will work just as well on static chords, and you can easily convert them.

#1 Lick using Arpeggios and how to use them

The first example here is using arpeggios on the different chords of the II V I.

On the Dm7 the arpeggio from the chord is played with a C# chromatic leading note. On the G7 the melody is created from the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord: Bø. Here I am adding a scale note between the F and the A.

When you improvise with arpeggios the melodies are created by mixing arpeggios and the scale that fits the chord.

Arpeggio from the 3rd and the Exercise

Something that I have discussed earlier is the concept of using the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord.

The concept is really simple. Let’s look at a Dm7: D F A C.

You were to build a chord from the 3rd(F) then you would have an Fmaj7: F A C E. Obviously these two chords share a lot of notes and the Fmaj will sound great on the Dm7.

Using that logic we have two arpeggios per chords, the one from the root and the one from the 3rd:

Dm7 – Fmaj7

G7 – Bø

Cmaj7- Em7

Practicing these two arpeggios through the progression could be like this:

#2 Lick using Chromatic Leading notes (and an alteration)

Another very characteristic part of Jazz is the use of chromaticism. Chromatic leading notes and Chromatic enclosures .

This lick is using chromatic leading notes. The two places where they are used are both to lead to a chord tone, so the G# resolving to the 5th of Dm7 and the A# leading up to the B on G7.

Notice how the A# is used to transition to the G7 and in that way really drive the progression and the lick forward.

Practicing leading notes

A great way to work on this is to play through the arpeggios and then add a leading note to each chord tone. This is shown in the example below.

#3 Lick using 8th note triplets

Jazz and especially bop-oriented jazz consists of a lot of 8th note lines. An amazing way to add variation to 8th note lines is to use some 8th note triplets, and especially when playing arpeggios.

8th note triplet arpeggios move quickly over almost an octave range and nicely break up the 8th note flow.

The lick below is using a Dm7 arpeggio played as a triplet and with a chromatic leading note before the root.

Similar to the first exercise this can be used on the arpeggio from the root and equally well on the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord. This is what the exercise below shows:

Explore these concepts on a song!

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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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