Tag Archives: how to play jazz guitar

The Music Theory You Need to Focus on First

Most of the time the one thing that holds you back from really understanding Music Theory or using an idea on several different chords is a really simple part of what is going on.

A big part of what having a good overview of music theory is to be able to think in different layers. You can think of the notes you play as individual notes but also as groups of notes like arpeggios, scales or other melodic ideas. But you need the basic overview of the material to be able to do this.

Content:

0:00 Intro – The Basics Are What is Holding You Back

0:21 Three Layers of understanding what is going on

0:37 High-Level Tricks with no foundation.

1:14 Learning the instrument and tying it to Music Theory

1:50 #1 Using Other Arpeggios Over A Chord

2:35 How To Relate an upper-structure to a root note

3:09 Analysis of “The Fake Michael Brecker Lick”

3:39 Build your options from knowing what it is.

3:56 Exploring diatonic sus4 triads

4:26 #2 Pentatonics Over Extended Chords

4:54 Bm Pentatonic over Cmaj7

5:24 How Theory Can Help You Use this better.

6:03 #3 Understanding How Chord Progressions Move

6:25 Fm6-Cmaj7 example

7:01 Voice-leading and how you use it.

7:56 #4 How Do You Learn This?

8:14 Not when you solo, but maybe in on the Bus?

8:47 Connecting different types of information

9:05 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Connect Music Theory with Fretboard Knowledge

A very big part of studying this is to also work on your overview of the Fretboard.

You can check this out here:

Do This To Improve Your Fretboard Knowledge

Fretboard Visualization That makes musical sense for Jazz Guitar

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3 Great Ways To Use Arpeggios In A Solo

Arpeggios are one of the building blocks you need to have in your vocabulary. But using Arpeggios in a solo can be very difficult. They can be hard to use in a way that sounds like a natural melody and not an exercise.

One way you can learn that is to check out how master jazz guitarists like Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino use arpeggios in their playing. Take over some of their great ideas and start using similar concepts in your own jazz licks and solos.

In this video, I am going to show analyze some great arpeggio phrases and talk about how you can use them in your own playing.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Arpeggios and Jazz Vocabulary

0:35 Example #1

0:37 Wes Montgomery – Great Arpeggio Polyrhythm idea

1:47 Example #1 Slow

1:52 Example #2

2:07 Pat Martino’s take on this rhythmical idea

3:02 Example #2 Slow

3:09 Putting this into your playing #1

3:29 Putting this into your playing #2

4:12 Example #3

4:14 Pat Martino’s Power Arpeggio Pickup

5:08 A Great Chromatic Idea

5:25 Example #3

5:49 Putting this into your playing #3

6:07 Putting this into your playing #4

6:41 How To Practice This and What To Focus on

7:27 Example #4

7:38 Wes’ Amazing Sense Of Melody

8:29 Example #4 Slow

8:46 Making Long Phrases like Wes!

9:27 Putting this into your playing #4

9:33 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

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Great And Simple Way To Make New Jazz Licks

I think we all know how it is: You are improvising over a song and there is a place or one chord where you always feel like you are playing the Old Jazz Guitar Licks.

One of the ways that I go about finding some new material that I like is actually pretty simple and that is what I am going to show you in this lesson.

In my experience, you are better off working on taking the things that you already know and get better at using them instead of trying to learn a million Star Trek scales that
you can’t make music, so this is actually pretty down to earth.

Very often when I listen to the jazz guitar solos that I love, like Wes on Four on Six or maybe a Kurt Rosenwinkel, then some places really stand out to me, and when I transcribed those passages they were always using very basic things but just creating great melodies with that.

So this is more about getting great melodies or licks out of basic things and that is what I am going to show you a way of exploring in this video because you can make 1000s of great licks with stuff you already know.

For this lesson I am going to take a C7 and the scale that it belongs to which will be an F major scale, so the basic framework is

And it is important to see the Arpeggio or the chord in the context of the scale (Neck Diagrams) Making music is about connecting things, not playing separate ideas one after the other.

We are making licks for a C7 so let’s first try to make some melodies just with the arpeggio and then add in the rest.

The Arpeggio works really well, but for a melody to be interesting then it probably needs to be a little less predictable than just the arpeggio.

#1 Change the order of the notes

The first two suggestions for making licks is really about knowing the arpeggio better and being freer to improvise with it. And this is what you need to work on to do that:

And you can put the 2nd bar from the example above to work on the beginning of a Blues in C:

You don’t always have to play the notes in the same order, we think of them as 1 3 5 7 but when you improvise you can play a lot of other melodies with the same notes in different orders.

#2 Inversions = New Melodies

Just like chords, there are ways you can also change the octave of some of the notes and in that way create inversions which are really just more solid melodies with the same notes.

#3 Repeating Notes

A lot of Great melodies use only arpeggios and one thing that they mostly do is that they also repeat the notes in the arpeggio, Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nacht Musik comes to mind.

In general you can just explore diffierent ways to make patterns by repeating notes as shown here below:

And if you put this to use on a Blues you have this:

#4 Add The Scale Notes

Until now, everything was done using only the arpeggio but we can also add the rest of the scale and create this exercise, which I usually refer to as the Barry Harris exercise:

If we take a few arpeggio patterns to add scale notes to then they could look like this:

And adding the scale could yield an example like this:

This Is How You Should Use Scale Exercises

If you want to play jazz and want to learn how to play jazz solos then you are probably also practicing scales and working on scale exercises.

In this lesson, I am going to go over a few scale exercises that you probably already know or at least should check out and then I am going to talk about how to connect them to chords and really use them to make music.

It is very important that you don’t just work on moving your fingers with exercises, you should always try to practice the things you need when you are playing.

Getting Started – Basic Scale Exercises

So first I am going to go over a few exercises and then I am going to relate this to a little simple music theory and show you how you can turn that into something you can make music with.

Let’s look at some of the fundamental things you check out in a scale, just playing the scale and playing thirds.

Lets take a Cmaj7 chord and this C major scale.

You want to play these two exercises because they are going to help you develop the technique to play the things that you can use in lines. Of course, you can use both 3rd intervals and scale runs in solos, but that is something I will save for another lesson.

The Mighty Triad – Powerful Melodic Structures

For most of this lesson, I am going to focus on how to practice and use triads because they are both flexible and powerful tools in soloing. But the process is really the same for all sorts of arpeggios.

There are a few great ways to practice triad arpeggios in the scales. First here is a basic version: play Diatonic Triads

But you can also give it more of a jazz sound already at the exercise level by adding leading notes both ascending

and descending:

Now we can start working on making some really great sounding licks with these exercises, but first, we need to figure out which triads will work over a Cmaj7.

Music Theory (just a little..)

Now, we have 7 triads in the scale. They don’t all sound that great on the chord, so first we need to find some that work.

The only note that sounds funny on the Cmaj7 is an F. I don’t like calling it an avoid note, but if we are looking for triads then that is not the greatest one to use.

We have all these triads: C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim,

C: C E G
Dm: D F A
Em: E G B
F: F A C
G: G B D
Am: A C E
Bdim: B D F

If we remove the triads that contain an F then we get these 4 triads C, Em, G, Am

These fit!

C: C E G (1, 3, 5)
Em: E G B (3, 5, 7)
G: G B D (5, 7, 9)
Am: A C E (13(6), 1, 3)

Now we can start making lines with these exercises and then I will show you another exercise that is great for creating solid melodies

Making Lines with the triads

The first example is using an Em triad and adding a leading note to the 5th:

Another way to work with the Em triad is to play the triad as a triplet to change up the rhythm:

You can also chain together triads as I am doing here with G major and Em triads:

Another Great Exercise

Since the triads work so well in licks it is also possible to change the order of the notes. Until now it was always 1 3 5 or 5 3 1 but if you practice other patterns you can really get some great melodies as well.

Here is a simple pattern that starts on the third: 3 1 5 pattern example

If I make some licks with this pattern then you get something like this:

Arpeggios and Pentatonics!

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Joe Pass – How to Keep Solos Interesting

An important part of playing a great solo is also to not play with the same approach all the time. You have to play the song and make strong melodies, but like Joe Pass does here: You need to have different types of melodies or colors in your playing.

If there is one guitar player you want to check out for bop guitar then it is probably Joe Pass. His playing is really setting the standard when it comes to solid bebop lines on guitar.

In this video, I take a few examples of his playing on the C Jazz Blues: Relaxin’ at Camarillo and talk about the different kinds of lines that he uses on the blues.

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Sonny Rollins – Things You Need To Know About Jazz Blues

Sonny Rollins needs no introduction in Jazz. He is one of the most influential Tenor players that we have with an amazing and long career. In this Sonny Rollins lesson, I am taking a look at some of the great phrases from the Jazz Blues Tenor Madness. We can learn a lot from his very musical and natural approach to both blues and reharmonization in this solo.

When I was studying at the conservatory we referred to Tenor Madness as the dictionary, because it has so many important lines and chord changes that you want to know for your own Jazz Blues vocabulary.

Check out my analysis of John Coltrane’s solo on Take The Coltrane. The beginning of Modal playing: This Is Not Bebop, But It Is A Great Coltrane Solo

Content:

0:00 Intro – Sonny Rollins

0:25 Tenor Madness with John Coltrane

0:56 Example #1

1:14 Changing the Chords – Intuitive and Decision driven

2:10 Is it Chi-Chi changes?

2:44 Altered but not altered scale

3:19 A Motif across the Chords

4:24 Eaxmple #1 Slow

4:45 Reharmonizing Bars 5-9

5:07 Example #2

5:30 A Musical Reharmonization with two voices

6:50 Example #2 Slow

6:59 Example #3

7:09 Parallel Minor Chords (Like Parker and Coltrane)

8:04 Is that a Wrong note, Mr Rollins?

8:55 Example #3 slow

9:10 Blues phrases that are not Dominant chords

10:09 Example #4

10:14 Bb Triad + Chromaticism

11:44 Example #4 Slow

11:56 Examples #5 and #6

12:10 Using Bbmaj7 on the Blues

12:36 Examples #5 and #6 – Slow

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Triads – How To Make Them Jazz Chords

In this video, I am going to show you how you can use the triads that you already know as a great way to create some beautiful jazz chords. Starting with material that you already know to open up a vast amount of jazz voicings is a really efficient approach to becoming much freer and begin to create a jazz chord vocabulary, and it is also really great for fretboard knowledge.

It is really interesting to explore how great a tool the triads are as jazz voicings.
I am going to do this in three steps:

  • How To Find Triads You Can Use, in a Practical Way
  • Easily Turn This Into a lot of chords and ideas to play
  • Find Triads for more Complicated Chords with Extensions

Step 1 – Rootless Jazz Voicings for a II V I

If we take a II V I in C major with some very basic jazz chords then we have this:

If I remove the Bass note then I have

Turning Diatonic 7th chords into triad voicings

The same principle use on all the diatonic chords in C major would yield:

And without the root we have these triads that could work as the above chords:

Step 2 – More Triad voicings with inversions

Before looking at adding extensions and alterations to the chords, let’s have a look at how much we can already do with these simple triads.

We now can play a II V I with these rootless, triad-based, but if this F major triad is a good voicing for Dm7 (Example 3) then the inversions of it are as well.

If I do this for the II V I progression I have these 3 ways to play that:

And of course this is just on the middle string set. This works on other string sets as well

Step 3 – Adding Extensions and using other triad types

If you look at a G7b9 voicing spelled out x 10 9 10 9 x or G B F Ab then the top notes of this chord are B F Ab which is, in fact, an F dim triad.

If I inser these into the II V I’s from example 4 then I have:

In the same way a Dm11: 10 x 10 10 8 x or D C F G has the three notes C F G on top. That is a Csus4 triad.

This gives us these II V I examples

And finally we can add a 13th to the Cmaj7: which is the same as playing an Asus4/C which gives us:

If you want to check out more options on using upper-structure triads for Cmaj7, I also have this lesson: 6 Triads for a Cmaj7 Chord (well 10 actually..)

Mix it with Other Chord Types

Check out how Triads work well with other 3-note voicings in this lesson on the changes of Some Day My Prince Will Come.

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The First 10 Jazz Standards You Need To Know

I say it all the time: Learn Jazz – Make Music, and to do that you need to know some songs, so in this video, I am going to go over 10 jazz standards that you want in your repertoire and are great places to start learning jazz. This is In terms of playing changes and knowing all the chords and scale but also about the form that you want to know which is going to make it easier to learn more complicated standards.

When talking about the songs I will try to reference great versions of them, and also talk about whether this song may be a good place to start for you if you are looking for songs to learn.

If you already know a lot of songs and have some other suggestions for this list then let me know about that in the comments to this video. Sharing information like that is really useful for everybody checking it out! I’ll talk about the first standards I learned later in the video, none of those are on the list.

Get started learning some of these standards: Learn Easy Jazz Standards

For example Blue Bossa or Autumn Leaves

If you want to check out some of the important progressions that make up Jazz Standards then check out this video: Chord Progressions as Building Blocks

Want to learn how to analyze standards? Then see how I do that in this playlist of videos on Jazz Standards and music theory: How To Analyze Jazz Standards

Content:

0:00 Intro – Learn Jazz Make – Music!

0:24 10 Typical Standards and Forms

0:36 The Form Of Songs is Important!

0:56 Where are you coming from?

1:12 Something missing?

1:37 #1 Take The A train

2:04 AABA forms

2:52 #2 Cantaloupe Island – Modal Jazz

4:03 #3 Blues

5:28 #4 Satin Doll

6:12 The Ellington Bridge

6:23 #5 Blue Bossa

6:54 #6 Autumn Leaves

7:25 #7 Perdido – Rhythm Changes Bridge

8:02 No Rhythm Changes?

8:15 The First 3 Standards I learned

8:57 #8 Summertime – Four On Six

9:27 How To Use the list

10:00 Did I leave out a Song?

10:05 #9 Solar – Not by Miles Davis

11:23 #10 All Of Me – ABAC Form

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The 3 Things You Need To Add To A Lick To Make It Sound Like Jazz

What are the key ingredients of a Jazz Lick? What do you need to figure out to get something to sound more like Jazz?

In this video, I am going to start with a simple Pentatonic lick and then gradually add things to it to make it sound like a Jazz or Bebop line. This is useful if you want to experiment with adding some jazz ideas to your playing or if you want to check out how good you are at using some of the key Jazz Skills.

The Lick

Here’s a simple lick over a Dm7 chord using a very basic Dm pentatonic scale.
It doesn’t sound wrong, but it is also not really there as a jazz lick.

The lick is using the basic Dm pentatonic scale box 1:

#1 Arpeggios

In Jazz, and especially Bebop, the melody follows the chord progression. One way of doing that is to use the arpeggio of the chord.
When you start to work with this it quickly becomes a lot easier not to think too much in Pentatonic scales, but more in 7 note scales. In this case, I am going to use a C major scale for my D minor chord.

We are playing over a Dm7 chord so we can use that arpeggio (play the Dm7 arpeggio) and another great arpeggio is the one from the 3rd of the chord. The 3rd of Dm7 is F and the arpeggio we have there is an Fmaj7.

If we add the arpeggio then we have a lick that could sound like this:

Practicing Arpeggios

When you want to use arpeggios in your lines it is a good idea to learn them in the scale that you are playing. For this Dm7 I am using a C major scale:

And then practicing the diatonic arpeggios in that scale will be this exercise:

Chromaticism

Another very typical Jazz thing is to use chromatic notes. You use chromatic notes that are either between two scale notes, these are called passing notes.  (play the E. Eb D fragment)
Another option is a short melody that points towards a target note. These are called enclosures. (play the enclosure

If we add those to the line then we have this :

Practicing Chromaticism and Chromatic Enclosures

There are two main ways of working with Chromaticism in lines like this one. In general, there are two types: diatonic passing notes and chromatic enclosure. Most of the time you use both types to target chord tones.

Chromatic Passing notes.

In the exercise below Iam playing diatonic approach notes to the chord tones of the Dm triad. It is a simple way to practice using leading or passing notes.

Chromatic Enclosures

Another, slightly more complicated, way to use chromaticism is to make enclosures. An Enclosure is a small melody that targets a note. Again, I am using this to target chord tones of the Dm triad.

#3 Rhythm – What Jazz Is Really About!

I think The most important part of Jazz is actually rhythm. There are many things to get right about the rhythm, but one thing to work on is to add some upbeats and upbeat accents to the melodies you play.

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Joe Henderson – Why He Is One of the Big 3

Joe Henderson is one of the three most influential tenor players to help shape modern Jazz in the ’60s. You probably know him from Blue Bossa and Inner Urge, but his impact on Jazz both as a composer and improviser is huge. And he is a fantastic improviser as I will show you in this video.

The solo I am using here is a later solo, but it is a great demonstration of how much Joe Henderson can do with a very simple beginners standard like Billy Strayhorn’s Take The A-train.

The song is performed as a duo with drummer Gregory Hutchinson, it is from an album with only Billy Strayhorn songs, and A-train is a great vehicle to demonstrate a few of the things that are really fantastic about Joe Hendersons playing!

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:27 Solo on Take The A Train

0:45 The Big 3: John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson!

1:05 Example #1

1:13 Subtle Motifs

2:04 Reharmonizing The A train

2:56 Example #1 Slow

3:07 Example #2

3:12 Rhythm as Tension Release

3:26 Michael Brecker Pedal Point

4:07 Pedal Point Abm7 line in A train

4:21 Example #2 Slow

4:29 Example #3

4:34 Dom7th(b5) arpeggios

4:44 Pedal Points

5:16 Example #3 Slow

5:22 Example #4

5:31 16th note Sequences

6:19 Lines with a Large Range

7:07 Example #4

7:19 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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