Tag Archives: how to learn jazz guitar

A Great New Sound In Your Jazz Solo

Arpeggios and scales are often reduced to the notes they contain against a chord, but by doing that you throw away other information that is more important for the sound of your jazz solo, and this is something you want to be aware of and not miss.

It is a way to get so much more out of scales and even pentatonic scales that you already know because you can use them in a different way.

What is the difference?

If you listen to how quartal arpeggios sound on a II V I: 

Compared to a more traditional bop line:

Of course, you can mix the two as well, but I think this makes the difference quite clear.

There are a few ways to approach this, and I am going to go over both diatonic and pentatonic options using the II V I in G major: Am7 D7alt Gmaj7

The Scale and a Diatonic Arpeggio exercise

For the Am7 and Gmaj7, you can use the G major scale, and it is fairly easy to play a G major scale in diatonic quartal arpeggios:

The construction of a diatonic quartal arpeggio is really simple:

G A B C D E F# G A B C D

if you want to find the quartal arpeggio on B you just stack 4th intervals: B E A:

 

or for C: C F# B, but notice here that you get an augmented 4th between C and F#:

Using this on the Am7 chord

It is easy to make some lines using these arpeggios on Am7, especially if you avoid using the ones with the F# in there (for now anyway)

That gives us these:

Example using Quartal Arpeggios on Am7

Here I am using two quartal arpeggios on Am7, the one from B and the one from A. I actually continue with quartals on the D7 altered, but I am going to cover those a little later.  First, let’s try to come at this from a pentatonic scale instead of a major scale.

Am pentatonic scale and an important exercise

You all know the Am pentatonic scale:

And if you play this exercise in that scale:

A lot of these are quartal arpeggios (high light and explain) also the C and Am triads

Example using the Pentatonic scale

You can use this as a way to get to this sound in a lick like this

Quartal Arpeggios on an Altered Dominant

Now let’s look at how you can also use quartal harmony on an altered dominant:

Here I am using quartal harmony on all 3 chords and it is constructed so that I am moving two quartal arpeggios on each chord as a motif.

You can practice the quartal arpeggios in the Eb melodic minor

See this in use on a song:

Lady Bird – Arpeggios & Pentatonic Scales

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How To Make It Sound Like Jazz – Great Embellishments

In this lesson, I am going to show you some techniques and ways to play simple phrases that make them sound more like Jazz. There are some very common phrasing techniques in Jazz Guitar that are a huge part of the sound, and you can quite easily start adding them to your playing if you want to work on your Jazz phrasing.

I am going to go over how you might play them and also give you some good examples of how they can be added to a line.

In the lesson, I will show you how to get better sounding lines by adding them to a basic Cmaj7 arpeggio, and while I was preparing this video I was actually quite surprised about how they really give you a lot of sounds, especially some of the longer embellishments at the end of the video.

Slides (and the triplet trick)

The basic Cmaj7 arpeggio can be played as is shown below.

I am also going to play it with a leading note and then making it a triplet which is also a very bebop thing to do, which is shown in the following bar.

Adding a Slide to the top-note

One of the easiest ways to get this slightly boring arpeggio to have a little more life is to use slides, so you can slide into the top note, which serves as a sort of target for the arpeggio when you use the triplet.

Notice how I play the notes at the end of the phrases short most of the time, that is also a way to connect with the groove and make the lick sound better.

This is a big part of Wes Montgomery’s phrasing vocabulary like this from his solo on Unit 7. which is a Gm(11) arpeggio over a C7 chord

Delaying the target note

Chromatic passing notes are great for getting things to sound like Jazz, and this is a quite simple way to make that work on the Cmaj7 arpeggio. As I said before, the “target note” of the arpeggio is the B, and delaying this works really well:

Sometimes you will get told that chromatic leading notes have to be on the offbeat and resolve back on the beat. As you can hear in this example that is not true, but don’t take my word for it, ask Charlie Parker:

Above you can see how Parker uses a leading note on the beat. In bar 2, beat 4 and in bar 6, beat 3 and 4.

Turns

The names for embellishments like this are a little open, so sometimes what I am calling turns here are also called trills and slurs. It’s like chord symbols, just try to figure out what is meant and don’t worry about it.

For this video, a turn is more or less a short faster phrase with notes close to a target note. The examples will make it easier to understand what I mean.

There are a few ways you can add turns to this arpeggio.

Turn #1 – 16th note pull-off

The first variation is shown here below:

The easiest way to work on this is probably to play the scale with the turn on one string like this:

Turn #2 – 16th triplet – Mid Phrase

The 16th note triplet is also a good way to get into this. It should be executed with a quick hammer-on/pull-off and is a very common and very effective way to break things up.

Turn #3 – 16th triplet – Begin Phrase

Another way you can use this embellishment is at the beginning of a phrase.

That is what I am doing in the example below, think of it as a way of sending off the arpeggio. The line continues with a slide to the high B.

Joe Pass using “Double Turns”

To give you an example of how this is used by jazz artists, here is a lick from Joe Pass on a II V I in D major.

Pass uses the turns in the 2nd half of the A7 bar, and the last turn is used to introduce a b13 and create a little tension before resolving to Dmaj7.

Take It To a Song and Into Your Playing!

Take The A Train – Bebop Embellishments

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The Most Important Solo Tools For A Maj7 Chord

Sometimes it is hard to come up with something that inspires you when you are improvising a jazz solo. There are a lot of things you can use if you want to improvise over a maj7 chord, and in this video, I am going to give you some of my favourites terms of arpeggios, triads, pentatonics and a few special tricks as well.

You should have a lot of things to start working with at the end of this video, and most of it is really just a new way to use the things you already know.

Focus on how it sounds because I think that is how you are going to be inspired by it, and I will also give you some other tips on getting new ideas that are not only about what notes to play.

Cmaj7 – You can always get more out of this!

The basic material in this video is this chord, the C major scale.

And the one Cmaj7 octave arpeggio

Chromaticism – Pure Bebop

A great way to tap into Jazz as a sound and getting this type of melodies into your playing is to use chromaticism.

The example below has two short lines using different chromatic enclosures and a melody build around a Cmaj7 chord. You can check out more information on different types of chromatic enclosures here: 5 chromatic enclosures

There are more examples in this lesson: 10 Great Chromatic Ideas in Jazz Licks (Easy to Weird)

Be creative! Don’t just run up and down arpeggios

Very often when I listen to a great line and check out what it is and how to use it. Often I find that the melody is actually a basic arpeggio melody. Below are some examples of lines like this that I have come across.

You can use a variation of the Rosenwinkel melody like this:

You can also experiment with inventing melodies playing patterns with a one octave arpeggio. Try to mess around and see if you find something that sounds like an interesting melody.

Em7 – Don’t Box yourself in, you are missing out

The Em7 arpeggio is the diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of Cmaj7.

If you look at the notes of Cmaj7: C E G B – and look at the notes of Em7: E G B D you can see that they share most of the notes and the Em7 adds a D, the 9th of C. That makes it a great arpeggio to use on a Cmaj7.

In fact the arpeggio found on the 3rd of the chord works great for most chords.

Sometimes you miss great melodies because the focus is on learning in a position, in a scale or in some other shape. This example using an Em7 arpeggio is branching out of the regular patterns and making specific melodies a lot easier to play.

Gsus4 – Not Obivous and Very Cool

The thing with the sus triads is that they sound a little less obvious and that is why they are great to use once in a while. In this first example I am using the Gsus4 triad to make a 5-note group that I can repeat before continuing, another way to change things up in a solo: odd-note groupings.

Another way to play the notes of the Gsus4 triad is this beautiful C quintal arpeggio that is the perfect way to add some larger intervals to your lines. In this case, I am combining it with a sus4 triad which is another great tool on a Cmaj7.

The Esus4 triad is really useful (leave this clip out?)

Esus4 – Complete Chord And some Color!

The Esus4 is really the complete chord, it has an E and a B so the 3rd and 7th of Cmaj7 and also the 13th: A adding some color. Here I am using it as a 3-note grouping and again taking advantage of sus4 triads being less obvious so that it is easier to repeat them in a melody without it getting boring.

Em pentatonic – Quartal Cmaj7 licks

The Pentatonic scale is very closely related to the sound of quartal harmony, and since it is a scale that we guitarists are usually very familiar with then it is a great place to find some interesting lines.

Practicing the pentatonic scale in the way shown below can help you explore melodies similar to what I use in the example.

Triad Pairs

This triad pair works fantastic for Cmaj7, besides that they are also what I used to make the most annoying picking exercise I ever cam up with…. (B-roll) and the way I usually improvise with triad pairs is by chaining together inversions to get different colors on top of the chords. This has a sound that is different from other types of melodies and still produces very strong melodies.

Putting these concepts in a song

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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!

Comping – Putting It All Together

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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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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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