Tag Archives: how to play jazz guitar

Minor II V I – Getting The Most Out Of The Basics

The Minor II V I is a very common progression in Jazz. But it is also a bit more complicated than the major counterpart. This is mainly because of the IIø chord and also because you need to change scales moving through the chords.

This video is going over 5 Minor II V I licks demonstrating some of the scales, arpeggios and melodic ideas you can use when improvising over a minor II V I. This can really help you expand your vocabulary on this chord progression, and there is a lot of great ideas in there that you need to know.

#1 A few basic scales and tricks

First, we should cover some basic material. The Dø is coming out of a C natural minor or Eb major scale. Here I am just playing the arpeggio in a pattern and adding a chromatic run to take me to the G7.

The G7 is the dominant of Cm, so I am using C harmonic minor over this chord., but I also add a Bb to the melody.

The G7 melody is build around one arpeggio: Fm7b5.

Fm7b5 related to a G root gives us a chord with a b9 and a b13. If you play the Fø chord with a G bass note you will probably also recognize that as a G7 voicing.

#2 Beyond the basic arpeggios of the chord

It is useful to have a few arpeggio choices for any chord you want to improvise over.

In this example I am using Abmaj7 over the Dø which is a great choice for this chord.

On the G7 I am using the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord: Bdim.

#3 Coltrane Patterns

Another useful resource is to use Coltrane Patterns.

In this example I am using first an Fm Coltrane Pattern on the Dø.

The G7 is combining the Bdim which I also used in the previous example with the augmented triad. In C harmonic minor the augmented triad is found on Eb, but that is, of course, enharmonic with a B augmented which makes a little more sense on a G7.

#4 Maj7th and DimMaj7th Ideas

This example is using two different Maj7th ideas.

First the Abmaj7 on the Dø, here combined with an Fm Coltrane pattern.

On the G7 the melody is build around an Abdim(maj7) arpeggi.o

#5 Maj7(b5) and m7(b5)

The b5 connection. A great voicing for a Dø(11) is in fact an Abmaj7(b5). This is also the arpeggio I am using in this example on the Dø.

On the G7 the first part is a basic G majro triad which (of course) also works great. From there it is again the Fø arpeggio that is now played descending and resolves to the 3rd of Cm6.

More Minor II V I options

A great song to really work on some Minor II V I ideas is Blue Bossa.

And of course also my first Blue Bossa Solo Lesson

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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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The Exercises You Don’t Do, But You Really Need To

The Guitar Exercises we mostly talk about when it comes to learning Jazz is mostly about scales, arpeggios and hitting chord tones. In this video, I go over 3 great exercises that you can work on that will help you develop your soloing and your skills as a jazz guitarist that is not about the hippest scale or most outside arpeggio.

The exercises in this video will help you work on playing better melodies and playing a solo that tells a story, not just a bunch of licks next to each other.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:09 What You Probably Work On

0:26 What You Should Work On

0:57 #1 Soloing with 3-Notes Per Chord

1:25 The Song and The Exercise

1:44 Getting Away From Dense Solo ideas

1:57 What You Develop with this exercise

2:25 Rhythm?

2:38 How I work with this on the progression

2:52 Choosing 3 Notes and thinking ahead

3:33 Limitation Builds Stronger Melodies

3:54 #2 Vocal Like Melodies

4:19 Maybe You Have A Better Name?

4:40 Every Note Counts

4:57 Things You Develop

5:15 The Pat Metheny Lick 😉

5:53 #3 Solo From The Melody

6:22 Improvising using the melody of the song

7:05 Back To The Roots

7:45 What You Learn From This Exercise

8:15 Limit yourself to expand your skill set.

8:35 A More Abstract way of using the melody9:02 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

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Pentatonic Scale – How To Not Sound Like The Blues

The Pentatonic Scale can be great both as a way to get started playing jazz and also just some extra material that you can use as another sound if you are already playing jazz. But when you want to use The Pentatonic Scale in jazz you don’t always want to use blues licks. You want to play melodies that sound like jazz.

In this video, I am going to go over some exercises and show you how you can use them to get another sound out of pentatonic scales and create some modal and some II V I jazz lines. Pentatonic scales are a huge part of the vocabulary of people like Pat Metheny, Kurt Rosenwinkel and John Scofield.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:15 Jazz Melodies with Pentatonic Scales

0:39 Who Uses Pentatonic Scales in Jazz

0:58 Example 1

1:02 The Basic Am Pentatonic Box

1:28 Analyzing the Example

2:14 Exercises  1

2:27 Making Variations on Exercise 1

3:23 Example 1 – slow

3:28 Using The Am Pentatonic Scale with other material

3:42 Example 2

4:02 Example 2 – slow

4:07 Example 3

4:10 What is really important about the exercises!

4:37 Exercise 2 – Construction

5:10 Exercise 2 – Demonstration

5:16 Analysis of Example 3

5:43 Example 3 – Slow

5:53 Example 4 – Using it in a II V I

6:11 Example 4 – Slow

6:36 Example 5

6:40 Flexibility in Practicing

7:04 Designing Exercises with Good Phrasing

7:18 Analysing Example 5

7:56 Exercise 3

8:38 Example 5 – Slow8:41 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

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When Do You Know A Scale?

If you play Jazz Guitar then you will often be confronted with learning and practicing scales. The major scale, pentatonic scale or a jazz scale like melodic minor.

A big part of the vocabulary and the material that you use when you are improvising is linked to scales in some form or other and it is common to practice scales on a daily basis.
But of course, you want to also make sure that you can actually make music with it and think a little bit about how and what you practice

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:23 Jazz and Scales – What you Need and How to Learn It

1:00 #1 Learn To Play The Scale

1:07 Start with a Scale Position

1:47 How To Play The Scale – what is important

2:26 Connecting Positions

2:52 Next Level After Positions

3:26 #2 Music Theory

3:40 Learn The Notes(!)

4:14 The Basic Things You Need To Know

4:50 Finding the material available with Music Theory

6:08 #3 Making Music With The Scale

6:11 It’s not all exercises

7:23 Cmaj7 in G major example

8:14 Cmaj7(#11) identifying triads that are good upper-structures9:00 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

How To Learn and Practice Scales for Jazz Guitar

How do you practice and learn scales for Jazz Guitar? These videos go over different approaches and practice strategies with exercises for scale practice.

When you learn a scale on guitar because you want to use it to play jazz guitar and improvise then there are many things you need to know and some things that can make your practice more efficient. These videos will give you ideas on how to work on this and build a scale practice routine or strategy that fits your way of working.

You can check out more information over this topic in this playlist:

How To Learn and Practice Scales for Jazz Guitar

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Easy Jazz Licks – How To Use The Pentatonic Scale

A big part of what makes Jazz difficult in the beginning is that you have to play solos that really follow the chords and when you listen to people playing you hear different sounds flying by.
In this video, I am going to show you how you can pentatonic scale jazz licks. I will go over some jazz licks, and in that way help you get started playing solos where you really follow the harmony.

If you are already familiar with playing over changes then using pentatonic scales is something that can add another sound to your solos and in that way increase your vocabulary so you may find that useful as well.

II V I jazz licks with Pentatonic Scales

The examples in this lesson are all on a II V I in C major, as shown here below.

For each chord I am going to use a different minor pentatonic scale.

Dm7 – Dm Pentatonic

G7alt – Bbm Pentatonic

Cmaj7 – Em Pentatonic

I am going to be using one position of each scale and keep it simple to use . The scales are shown here below first as sheet music and tabs, and then Scale diagrams:

Dm Pentatonic:

Bbm Pentatonic:

Em Pentatonic:

II V I lick #1

The first example is using a fairly simple lick using mostly scale runs within the pentatonic scales.

Notice how I transition from chord to chord using a stepwise motion. D to Db going from Dm7 to G7 and Eb to E when moving from G7 to C.

Never Ending Scale Exercise

A great way to practice moving smoothly from one scale to the next is to play an exercise like this. Here I am moving up Dm pentatonic for 1 bar and then continuing to the closest note in Bbm pentatonic when the chord changes to G7. On the G7alt the scale turns back at the top note and goes to the B in Em pentatonic when the chord changes to Cmaj7.

II V I lick #2

Pentatonic scale positions are two notes per string, and that makes them great candidates for using legato. This example demonstrates that.

It is also an example of how you can make pentatonic licks that skips around and does not move only in a stepwise manner.

To practice playing some basic melodic skips you can do this exercise which is essential playing a pentatonic scale in diatonic 3rds.

II V I lick #3

Using rhythmical patterns and adding more movement to the lick. I am again using some legato to play the lick.

The pattern on the G7 is moving around a 3 note pattern in the scale. This breaks up the rhythm in a nice way, and shifting rhythms like these are an important part of jazz phrasing.

You can practice the pattern through the pentatonic scale to get more used to playing this. It also really builds your general flexibility with the scales.

Taking Pentatonics to Jazz and getting started Soloing

A great jazz song to check out using pentatonic scales on is Blue Bossa. If you want to dig into a lesson on Blue Bossa then you can check out this lesson:

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Can You Do This On The Chord Progressions You Know?

You practice improvising jazz solos over progressions and spend hours or days learning to solo over songs. One thing that we mostly leave almost random is when do we know it. How do you answer if you know a song or a chord progression? Having a way of judging how well you know a song is very important but also difficult to really describe.

In this video, I am going over 4 exercises that I use and that my students use to learn chord progressions. Two are technical and two are more about being musical and working on playing what you hear.

I find that learning Songs and Chord Progressions is extremely important for learning jazz or jazz guitar, so if you have any thoughts on when you know a progression or exercises that are useful then please leave a comment.

Content:

0:00 Intro – When Do You Know A Chord Progression?

0:37 4 Exercises – Two Technical, Two Musical – Know what there is and Play What You Hear

1:15 The Turnaround – Scales

1:52 #1 Only Using The Arpeggios

2:25 Basic Technical Exercise

2:45 Solo only using Basic Chord Tones and Arpeggios

3:27 #2 Never Ending Scale Exercise

4:24 The Scale version

4:51 Using Diatonic Arpeggios instead of the Scale

5:11 The Diatonic Triad version

5:52 #3 Rubato Solo from chord to chord

6:24 The Exercise and the Goal

7:01 Giving you time to listen to what you hear in your solo

7:36 #4 Motif Exercises

8:16 Learn from Wes Montgomery

8:42 It is a great measure of how free you are on a progression

9:04 Hearing motifs and then playing them.

9:27 What Exercises do you find very useful? Leave a comment!

9:46 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Improvise using Target Notes

One of the core ideas that I used when I learned how to improvise over chord changes was using target notes. This method took me from working on Rhythm Changes to Giant Steps. It is such a strong concept that it will help you deal with any progression.

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Joe Pass – How to Make Bebop Melodic

Joe Pass is in many ways the definition of solid hard bop and a great place to go if You want to learn to play some melodic lines over chord changes. In this Joe Pass Lesson I am going to break down 4 lines from his solo on There is No Greater Love off the Joy Spring album.

They are really great examples of how to improvise over chord changes and sound like jazz. And You can also learn how there is more to it than just hitting the right notes or playing the right arpeggio. The examples in this video are great for learning some melodic hard bop lines and understanding some of the things you can do to make your bebop solos more melodic. And of course they also demonstrate some of his style and techniques.

A great Joe Pass Lesson book

There is a reason that I keep recommending his Joe Pass Guitar Style book to all my students.
If you want to check out the book you can do so here: http://amzn.to/2l2WzuU (This is an affiliate link so you support the channel by using it to purchase the book)

Check out some of my previous lessons on Joe Pass

Another lesson disccusing the great lines of Joe Pass in a rhythm changes solo. This solo is a duo with Danish Bass Player NHØP playing Oleo. Joe Pass Rhythm Changes lines: Here

Joe Pass is also known for his incredible Chord solos and solo guitar work. This lesson discusses how he interprets a theme and adds fills: Joe Pass Chord Solo Technique: Here

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Lage Lund – Favourite Voicing and Solid licks!

In this Lage Lund Lesson I am taking a look at three licks from a live solo with the OWL Trio. The three examples are demonstrating things that Lage does very well in his playing. Making strong melodies with basic arpeggios. A great chord voicing and also an example of a more modern sounding Lage Lund Lick.

I also discuss some of the many ways the chord voicing can be put to use and that you can actually use it to play the entire song Green Dolphin Street.

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How to Learn to Play Jazz Chords – Study Guide

You want to learn how to play Jazz Chords. An important part of playing Jazz is to be able to interpret and play the rich chord language of the genre. This list of lessons is an ordered way to work your way through this from getting to know a basic vocabulary to having more freedom in comping with different types of chord voicings.

Your Feedback is very valuable

Remember that the guides are here to help you so if you have suggestions for this or other guides then let me know! I might have missed something or you have another idea for something that is important to check out! Feel free to send me an e-mail or message via social media.

I have also collected the videos in a Playlist on Youtube if you prefer that:

Playlist: How to Learn to Play Jazz Chords – Study Guide

The Jazz Chord Survival Kit and vocabulary

The first three lessons deal with a basic chord vocabulary and how to use it when playing important chord progressions and jazz standards

Leaving out the root and getting used to upper-structures

Once you know some chords and can play a few songs you can start to expand your vocabulary.

There are two main topics you should add first: Triads as Jazz chord voicings and Drop2 voicings. These two are the foundation for most other voicings and you can build on this knowledge to really build an extensive chord vocabulary.

The Essential Drop2 Voicings

Drop2 chords form a huge chunk of all the voicings that are used in jazz. These lessons will take you through a lot of material using drop2 voicings. If you want to hear Drop2 chords in action then just put on a Wes Montgomery album, he used them extensively in his chord solos and comping.

Developing Comping skills beyond the chords

Playing Chords does require more than just knowing what chord to play where. Some of the other skills that are equally important are discussed in these lessons:

More Modern sounds

If we look beyond the triads and Drop2 voicings it is of course possible to start checking out more modern sounds that may not immediately be covered in the lessons I already included. These voicings are both more extreme with having large intervals or much more cluster like with second intervals:

Allan Holdsworth Chord Series

One of my favorite players when it comes to modern jazz chords is Allan Holdsworth. Since I have made several lessons inspired by his chordal language I though it only right to include some of these lessons. 
I am obviously a huge fan, but there is a lot to be learned from him and the chords are very beautiful and worthwhile checking out. Even if they are not all easy to play.

Chord Solos

One way of getting good at comping is to get good at playing chord solos. Being able to improvise solos with chords really helps develop your freedom and ability to play solid comping behind others. 

For that reason I have included a few of the lessons I have on chord soloing that you can dig into if you want to take this approach.

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