Tag Archives: improvisation

Endless new ways to play the same II V I voicings

I made this lesson to bring an aspect of playing chords to your attention that there is a big chance you don’t think too much about, and which can give you a huge number of new ways to play progressions with the voicings you already know.

The progression and the voicings

What I will try to demonstrate here is how many different ways you can play the same set of voicings by arpegiating the voicings and not just playing them all together as a block.

In the lesson I will use this II V I and only these voicings:

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 1

As you might notice they are all Drop2 voicings. A subject I’ve already covered in previous lessons. You can check out the series here:  Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings – Part 1

If you are used to drop2 voicings you will probably agree that my choice is fairly straight forward.

Arpeggiate you voicings!

So usually we are trying to create melodies and use certain types of voicings to extend the range of sounds we have available while comping, but as I mentioned we can do really a lot by just arpegiating the voicings we already use.

 

Here are 5 examples to illustrate how easily you can vary the sound of one set of voicings.

The first example is quite simple, for each chord I play the voicing spread in two string sets so that you emphasize the sound of two of the contained intervals. On the Fm7 and Ebmaj7 chord that gives us a diatonic 7th and a diatonic 6th. On the Bb7 there are two 7th intervals.

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 2

Another way to split the voicing is to have an inner and an outer interval set, which with the drop2 voicings gives us an inner 3rd and an outer 10th or 11th.

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 3

So after a few systematical approaches we can also try to make more of a melodic statement by freeing up how each voicing is arpeggiated. In example four I am using the outer voices on the Fm7 and making a short melody with the inner 3rd. On the Bb7alt the chord is arpeggiated in a spread out pattern that almost suspends the sound of it. On the Ebmaj7 voicing I am splitting in strings sets in the same way as in Variation 1

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 4

The Fm7 line in variation 4 is first introducing the whole chord and then a melody with the inner voices. On the Bb7 the first part is the 2nd and 4th voice followed by an arpeggiation of the Dmaj7 shell voicing that is the top of the Bb7alt chord. The Ebmaj7 is played by first the lower 3 strings and then as an added melody later the top note.

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 5

The final example is using a more traditional way of arpeggiating a chord on the guitar, followed by 2 string sets, which is another way to draw out more sounds within the voicing. Something that is often used in Brazilian guitar music. On the Bb7 the entire chord is first played before a string skipping arpeggio pattern is played. The line resolves to Ebmaj7 with a pattern that is first the Bb melody note and then the rest of the chord.

5 ways to play the same II V I chord voicings ex 6

As you can see there are a lot of possiblities to play even a simple three chord progression. If you are used to arpeggiating chords in different ways then you probably do not need to work on anything in a systematical way, but you can better just try to apply it while playing with others or when practicing a tune.

As always you can download the examples I used as a pdf here:

Endless ways to play the same II V I voicings

I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. 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.

 

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio

This lesson came about from a conversation I had on twitter. I wanted to try to demonstrate how it is more important to be able to use simple arpeggios and other structures than knowing a lot of exotic scales or arpeggios. Because the good a lot of goods melodies can be made with very simple structures. This is why I took one arpeggio and used that in 10 II V I licks.

The Arpeggio

So as I mentioned the point of this is to demonstrate how you can put a fairly basic structure like a Gm7 arpeggio over a Gm7 chord to use and make a lot of melodies without substitutions or exotic scales. What I set out to do was to use this arpeggio in 10 II V I licks in F and not repeat myself. Here’s the arpeggio:

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - the arp

The II V I licks

The first line is trying to show a very basic way of using the root position arpeggio in a line. The Gm7 transitions into the C7 with a chromatic approach of the third of C(E). From there it continues in a melody mae with the Em7b5 arpeggio before it with a chromatic passing note resolves to the 3rd of F(A).

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 1

In the 2nd line the arpeggio is played in a sequence and from the 7th is linked to a descending Dm7 arpeggio. On the C7 I used the altered scale and the line is based around a Bbm7b5 arpeggio with some diatonic passing notes. You can filter out the Bbm7b5 by looking at the notes on the beat. It resolves via the #9 and b9 of C to the 5th of F(C).

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 2

The 3rd example is using a descending Gm7 arpeggio from the 3rd and continues with a Bb major “Coltrane” pattern. The whole line on the Gm7 is contained in the Gm pentatonic scale. On the C7alt chord the line is using the Ebm pentatonic scale and basically repeating the pattern on the Gm7, before resolving to the 5th of F(C).

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 3

Now that we have had both ascending, descending and a sequence of the Gm7 arpeggio the 4th example is using a more freely moving melody with the arpeggio. The line moves from the 5th via the 7th and down to the root. From there it ascends up the sale and continues into a C7alt line that is based on a DbmMaj9 arpeggio. As you probably know Dbm Melodic is the same scale as C7 altered. The altered line is resolved via a smalle scale run with a chromatic passing note, and ends on the 5th(C) of F.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 4

In example 5 a similar melody is made with the Gm arpeggio, this time using it as a Gm7 shell voicing and then down the arpeggio to the 3rd(Bb). From there the melody skips up a major 7th to an A and descends down the scale. On the dominant the line is first two 3rds in the altered scale and then a line around the Dbm triad that resolves to the 5th of F.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 5

Example 6 demonstrates a very common way to use arpeggios in bebop is to place a chromatic leading note before the root and play the arpeggio as an 8th note triplet with the 7th as target. From there the line descends down the scale which somehow resolves the tension of the fast moving triplet. On the dominant the line is build around a sequence of the Gb7 dominant arpeggio that resolves to the 5th(C) of F.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 6

The 7th example is using the basic four note arpeggio descending from 7th to root. This is followed by a Dsus4 triad arpeggio which then moves to a a very clean sounding mixolydian line over the C7, consisting of two scale runs. The line resolves to the 7th(E) of Fmaj7.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 7

In example 8 the Gm7 line emphasizes the Bb major triad for the first part of the bar, but after that it is a descending Gm7 arpeggio ending in an encircling of the 3rd(E) of C7. On the C7 the line is using the diminished scale. First a C7 arpeggio and then an Amajor triad, which together spells out a C7(13b9) sound.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 8

Using an arpeggio is not only just playing the notes of the arpeggio, it can also be a emphasizing those notes within another melody. Example 9 is doing just that where it starts whith a scale run from G to D with the arpeggio notes on beats 1 to 3. The melody on the C7 is made using the triad pair Gb and Ab diatonic to the C7alt scale.This way of using two triads with no common notes to make lines is something I plan to make lessons on in the future. It can   be used quite effectively to make some nice lines. In this example the line is using Ab, Gb and then two notes of an Ab triad before resolving to the 5th of F.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 9

The final example is starting out with a sequence in the higher octave of the arpeggio. After that it is strictly descending from the 5th to the 3rd an octave lower. The line on the C7alt is infact the exact same movement but then with a Gb7 arpeggio, which is the tritone sub of C7. The line resolves to the 5th of Fmaj7.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 10

I hope that by demonstrating a few different approaches for making melodies with the Gm7 arpeggio you get some new ideas to expand your own vocabulary. Working on stuff like this is for me often a good way to get some new melodic ideas. I think it’s possible that I get more from lifting concepts like these of a transcription than actually studying the solo that is transcribed.

As always you can download the examples as a PDF here:

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio

I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines – Part 1

In this lesson I’ll discuss a few strategies for adding chords to your solo lines and give you some exercises and ideas to help you practice and figuring out how and when to add chords to your solo lines.

I’ve never really had any lessons on this and have sort of worked it out along the way while improvising so I had to look analyze this and try to remember how I worked on it to try to make some exercises and guidelines for learning this.

Why do we add chords to solos.

  1. To clarify the harmonic sound of a melody note by adding the sound of the chord it’s played over. It gives us the ability to play harmonically vague because we can make the notes sound like the extension of the chord.
  2. Add an extra layer that fills up spaces, so you can use the chords to clarify the harmony between the lines and also convey the groove that is being played under the solo.
  3. Give certain notes an accent within a melody by making them the top note of a chord.

How to practice

In this lesson I’ll be using an Am7 in the key of G major, what is also called A dorian and give you some exercises and ideas to help you practice adding chords and figuring out how and when to add chords to your solo lines.

When I was listening to how I place the chords I realized that for me the chords are mostly  at the end of lines because if they are at the beginning you probably have to mute them right away. If they are at the end of a line they can help reinforce the last note (and maybe the previous melody)

If you get used to knowing where the line you’re playing ends (the target note) then you’ll have an easier time being ready to put a chord under it. I already made a lesson on target notes that you can check out to get better at this.

THe first exercise is a demonstration of how you can put Am7 chords under the notes in A dorian around the 5th position. When you try to play like this you are probably better of not restricting yourself too rigidly to positions. I’ve started with the E on the D string, if you try to harmonize lower notes than that it might get too muddy.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 1

As you can see I us fewer notes the lower the melody this is also to get clear voicings since it can be difficult to get clarity with dense low voicings. The higher the melody is the more notes you can fit under it, but you should of course keep the voicings so easy to play that you can easily add them to the solo, so big stretches and huge voicings are often not too practical.

Another observation I made about my own playing is that I very often add the chord after the line has ended. This is probably for two reasons, it takes away the risk of the melody disappearing in the chord because the top note does not get enough emphasis. The other reason is that if you add the chord afterwards it gives a little more of the feeling that the chords are independent of the melody and therefore more polyhponic.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 2

When you start practicing you should probably just start in rubato and try to add a chord in the way it is done in example 2 at the end of the phrase. Then once that is starting to work try to play lines in a slow tempo and try to always add a chord at the end of the line.

Make sure to record yourself and check that the melody is clear when you start playing chords. The point is to use chords to empasize the solo line, not the other way around (in this lesson anyway…)

Solo Lines with chords

The first example is a fairly straight forward Am7 line. First an Am7 shell voicing as arpeggio and then an Em pentatonic descending scale fragment ending on the 13(F#) that is then harmonized as an Am7(13) chord. Here the chord on the last note makes the somewhat unclear extension clear as n Am7(13) chord and not a D7 or Gmaj7 resolution.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 3

In the 2nd example the chords are used more as accents, so they are there not only there to support the harmonic picture but also to add weight to some of the notes in the melody. The first movement is a scale run from D, via E to B where the first and the last note of the run is harmonized with an Am7(11) and Am9 respectibely. After that the line is resolved with another Am9 chord on the and of 4. This way of harmonizing the low 9 on an Am chord is something I find my self doing quite often.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 4

For the 3rd example I wanted to demonstrate a bit more of how you might add chords in a way that really emphasizes the 2 layes present in the solo. The first bar is quite straight forward. The A is harmonized with an Am triad and followed by a scale run down to the E which is harmonized as a major 3rd interval. In the 2nd bar I am using a part of the 2nd exercise to add chords right after the melody notes and then finally resolve to an Am7(11) chord on the and of 4.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 5

I hope that you can use the exercises and examples I made here to get started with using Adding chords to your solos. As always you will probably learn more from making you own lines than just copying mine, and you probably need to make your own versions of the voicing exercises too so that they fit the type of chords that you are used to working with.

Download a pdf of the examples for later study here:

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines – Part 1

I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Jazz Blues Chord Solo

This weeks lesson is a short etude, a chord solo on an F blues. You should be able to use it as inspiration and resource to make your own chord solos but if it was played less dense it will also work well for comping.

Chord solos is a great thing to add to your repertoire to have a different approach to improvising on a song. They are of course also part of the standard vocabulary for guitar since Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass.

Here’s a transcription of what I played:

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 1

Some exercises and how to make your own

Since this is a blues in F there are a few exercises that you should make for yourself to have voicings to make the lines with. This follows the concept I talked about in the lesson on Soloing with Chords Part 1 So for each chord we are trying to harmonize the scale using only that chord, and if necessary something that is close to it (that would be harmonizing the 4th over a dominant in this lesson)

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 2

As you can see I am mostly using 3 and 4 note voicings and that I am trying to keep it easy to play. Iit can be very useful to make different versions of this exercise, for example it might work well to figure it out for the scale on the high E and for the scale on the B string. It is not so important that you play it fast, it is more important that you figure it out and use voicings that you can easily play and that connect well.

Example 3 is the same exercise for Bb7.

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 3

As you see I that whenever I have to harmonize the 4th over a dominant I am changing the chord to a sus4 chord.

For the II chord in the final cadence you could make an exercise like this:

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 4

The Valt chord in the final cadence could be coming out of this exercise.

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 5

The fact that we use melodic minor gives us a #11 instead of an 11 in the scale so we don’t need to make a sus4 chord.

As you can see in the exercises I mostly use a mix of Drops2 3 part quartal harmony and Triad based voicings in the solo and these exercises, since I find that those fit the style where I use chord soloing the best, and they are fairly easy to play.

The Solo

A good way to work under stand the solo is to play it through leaving out the chords, so in fact just play trhe melody. It is easy to get lost in voicings when working on this and it is in the end about the melody and the rhythm in the solo.

The first 2 bars are a motif that I first play on F7 and then sort of repeat in Fminor on the Bb7, a melodic trick that I use quite a lot. You’ll find it in the Ornette Coleman blues Turnaround too btw.

Bars 3 and 4 are first a melody with a chromatic passing note followed by  a similar idea using the F7alt sound. You can check out how to practice Chromatic Passing chords in this lesson: Chromatic Chords – part 1

In bars 5 and 6 I am really using this altering notes in the melody to make a motif and develop it again. Since the chords are Bb7 and Bdim I have a melody consisting of C descending scalewise to F on the Bb7. The only thing I need to change to fit the dim chord is to play a B instead of a C as a first note. To me this approach to melody is very strong and creats a bigger context than just some notes on the chord.

Bar 6 is a fairly common C minor pattern harmonized with F7 chords using the scale in example 2. On the Am7b5 D7 cadence the melody is trying to stay within the 5th position so that it is easy to play.

The line on the II chord is Gm(9) followed by a scale run. In the run I uses a C major triad as a diatonic passing chord which is a sound I think works well on that chord.  The C7alt line is fairly straight ahead, for the Bb I am not playing a chord but just the note. Sometimes that works better for a line and will get the melody to stand out better where harmonizing everything would sound heavy.

The final turnaround is a fairly straight forward, on the D7b9 I am using F# dim voicings and the melody over the Gm7 is harmonized with a single chord under it, in a way similar to how Red Garland would sometimes play block chords.

Hopefully you can put these exercises and examples to work in making and playing your own chord solos.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here for later study:

Jazz Blues Chord Solo

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Pentatonics part 3 – Arpeggios and Melodic ideas

 

In this lesson I am going to take another approach to using pentatonic scales so that we can get some other sounds than what you might already use from it. I am going to do that by analyzing some of the different structures that are contained in it and later demonstrating how that can be used in a solo.

The Scale and some arpeggios

For the theory part of this lesson I’ll use the C minor pentatonic scale as shown here:

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 1

I assume that you are familiar with the notes in the scale : C Eb F G Bb

Let’s have a look at what triads we can pull out of the scale, if you try to build a major or minor triad from each of the notes in the scale you find that these 2 triads are the only possibilities:

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 2

Finding them is quite simple, For each note in the scale you look whether they have f.ex a minor 3rd, so that is only possible for C and G, and for G we can’t make a triad because we don’t have a fifth(D) in the scale.

In last weeks lesson I was talking about: Sus4 Triads as Upper Structures and you can in the same way as I described above find three of those in the scale: Csus4, Fsus4 and Bbsus4.

As I talked about in the lesson on the Sus4 triads they are connected to quartal harmony, and this lesson: Diatonic chords of the Pentatonic Scale Will show you how pentatonic chords and quartal harmony are very closely related.

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 3

So now we have 5 different triads that we can use to make lines with, and don’t remember that you can also use their inversions and use them as Open Triads in your lines so that is in fact a vast amount of structures to play with.

The lines

Our goal is of course to make pentatonic lines that sound less “standard pentatonic” so that we can combine the fact that we are using a scale we know very well with some structures in the scale that we might not very often use.

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 4

The first example is the 1st 4 bars of the song Night and Day. On the Abmaj7 I am using C minor pentatonic and playing a Csus4 triad followed by an Eb major triad. The scale choice for the G7al is Db maor or Bb minor pentatonic. On that I am first playing a Db major triad in a sequence followed by a Bb minor triad before it resolves to the fifth(G) of Cmaj7.

The second example is a II V I in G major. Here I am using Am pentatonic over the Am7 and Fm (or Ab major) pentatonic over the D7alt.

The first part of the line is just an Am triad melody until the 3 of the bar. It is followed by a Dsus4 root position triad. On the D7 it descends down an Ab major triad followed by an ascending Bbsus4 triad that resolves to the fifth(D) of Gmaj7

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 5

The last example is a II V I in D major. On the E minor I am (again) using the pentatonic scale of the root of the chord, and the A7alt is using a C minor (or Eb major)  pentatonic scale. The Em line is the combination of first a G major triad in a pattern and then a descending Asus4 triad. On the A7alt the line is constructed by first an Fsus4 arpeggio followed by a Csus4 arpeggio before it resolves to the 9(E) of Dmaj.

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 6

I hope you can use some of the ideas I covered in this lesson to make up new lines with pentatonic scales. This approach can also serve as a bridge towards using different arpeggios over chords in major or melodic minor situations, so in that way it might be a gateway to more jazz approaches when soloing.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here for later study:

Pentatonics part 3 – Arpeggios and Melodic ideas

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

 

Lydian Mode

I’ve had a lot of requests for a lesson on the lydian mode, so I thought I’d finally try to honour that. I’ll try to give you some melodic and harmonic tools to make it easier to make lines that has that sound. The lessons also contains some examples of how you can use them in a II V I as a surprising sound on the I chord.

The Lydian mode

Let’s first shortly look at what the Lydian Mode is. If you play a Maj7th chord as if it is a IV chord in a major scale you have pretty much the same as the normal major or ionian sounds, but you also have the #4 or #11 in the sound. If we look at that in the key of C this means that we play it using the  G major scale that gives us this build up of the chord:

C E G B D F# A

The main feature being the F# in the chord.

You should note that I am considering the Lydian sound something that is connected to one chord, in this case a Cmaj7(#11). I don’t see it as a key or really think it makes too much sense to think of a songs as being in D lydian etc.

For this lesson I’ll try to keep my examples around this position of the G major scale:

Lydian Mode ex 2

 

Lydian Maj7th chords

Let’s first check some chord voicings since it often makes things a lot clearer if you know what the sound of a lydian chord is in whatever context you want to use it. Most of the time on guitar we leave the 5th out when playing the #11, so in essence you get a Maj7b5 chord. I have another lesson on Maj7b5 chords and how you can use them which you might want to check: Maj7b5 Chords and Arpeggios – a powerful tool for superimposition. But here are a few chord voicings that are useful:

Lydian Mode ex 1

When you start to insert these chords into songs you might come across places where it won’t work in the context, not so much that the chord don’t sound good by itself, but more because it doesn’t work with what just happened or will happen in the progression. Mostly because it makes it sound like the chords coming after it or just before it.

 Lydian melodic ideas

The trick to get the lydian sound in you lines is in my experience mostly about emphasizing the #11 but not lose the sound of the chord, so what we need are a few melodic devices that helps with that. The way I am going to go about that is to find some structures that contain the base of the chord: 3rd and 7th (E and B in this case) and the #11 (F#) .

The first example is in fact just summing up those 3 notes B E F# which gives us a Bsus4 triad to make lines with. Sus triads are great devices if you check out Mark Turner you’ll hear them often used in his playing.

Lydian Mode ex 3

The II V I line is quite basic: Over the Dm7 I used an FMaj7 arpeggio and a G7 arpeggio over the G7 chord. On the Cmaj7 the first half of the bar is playing the Bsus4 triad from F# to B and from there it descends down the scale to an F#

Another fairly obvious structure to use is of course the Maj7b5 arpeggio (C E F# B), which many don’t check out because it is not strictly a diatonic arpeggio in any scale.

Lydian Mode ex 4

The Dm7 part of the line is an Am triad, and on the G7alt I am infact playing a scale fragment from the C harmonic minor scale. The Cmaj7(#11) line starts out with a  Cmaj7b5 drop2 voicing played as an arpeggio. After that the line continues scalewise down until it ends on an E.

If we extend the B E F# and add a D and an A we have the B minor pentatonic scale which also is a solid device we can put to use for lydian sounding lines:

Lydian Mode ex 5

The Dm7 line is a scale run from F to C. On the G7 it is an Bbm7 or Db6 arpeggio. The Cmaj7 line is first a pentatonic scale pattern similar to playing the scale in diatonic thirds. After that the line ends on a B.

If you want to download the examples for later study I have them here as a PDF:

Lydian Mode

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Pentatonics part 2 – II V progressions

In this lesson I want to demonstrate how you can use different pentatonic scales on a major II V, what kind of sounds and melodies it gives you and how I use that in solo lines.

The Scales

All the examples in this lesson are made on this II V I in Bb Major. Since I already made this lesson on what scales you can use over the I chord: Pentatonics Part 1 – Maj7 Chords I am not going to spend too much time on that.

I am also assuming that you have checked out pentatonic scales in different positions and keys, so I won’t go into that part of the technique involved.

Pentatonics part 2 - II V progressions - ex 1

In a major scale you have 3 diatonic minor pentatonic scales (You can try to build them if this is news to you, that’s a really good exercise for theory and getting an overview of the scales). The scales are on the II, III and VI degree of the scale, so in Bb that gives us C minor, D minor adn G minor pentatonic.

For the II chord in the progression I have chosen these two scales: C minor and G minor. C minor is fairly obvious since it is the Cm7 arpeggio with an added 11. The G minor scale is the same notes as the C minor except it has a D instead of an Eb.

Pentatonics part 2 - II V progressions - ex 2

You can also use the Dminor pentatonic scale on a Cm7 chord, but in this progression where the chords are moving quite fast and has a direction the A in the D minor scale is not so easy to use and I have therefore decided to omit it. In a modal situation where you have a Cm sound for a longer period of time it can work fine.

The V chord has 2 obvious options in the C minor pentatonic and the D minor pentatonic. The C min yields a sort of a F7sus4 sound, but it will work on a normal F7 as well. D minor pentatonic is also F major pentatonic so that will for that reason work just fine. I have omitted the Gm scale because it does not contain the A and the Eb which is the core of the F7 in this example.

Pentatonics part 2 - II V progressions - ex 3

T he third option, Abm pentatonic works as an F7alt sound. F7 altered is F# or Gb melodic minor and the only pentatonic scale contained in that is Ab pentatonic. Which also happens to be the major pentatonic scale of B, the tritone substitution of F.

Putting it all together

Part of what I find useful about using pentatonic scales like this is that the melodies you get when you improvise with them are not the typical hardbop vocabulary consisiting almost only of 2nds and 3rds. In that way it is a nice change from other ways to come up with lines.
Pentatonics part 2 - II V progressions - ex 4

The first example is using the Cm pentatonic on the Cm7 chord and the Dm7 on the F7 chord.

On the Cm it starts with an Eb major triad and moves on to a stack of 4ths, which is infact also a Diatonic chord of the Pentatonic Scale. On the F7 I play a melody which is almost a sequence of 4 notes in the scale before resolving to the 5th(F) of Bb.

Pentatonics part 2 - II V progressions - ex 5

In the 2nd example the Cm line is pretty much a run down the C minor pentatonic. On the F7alt it is first an Abm7 arpeggio followed by a four note scale run resolving to the 5th of BbMaj7. The Cm7 line and the last part of the F7 alt line is a good example of how a pentatonic scale run in this context  will work as a melody because it is not placed in it’s “normal” surroundings.

Pentatonics part 2 - II V progressions - ex 6

 

A very nice “counterpoint” trick you can apply to a II V I with pentatonics is that you can have chromatically ascending scales over the chords which sound like they are somehow resolving down. In this case you’d get the following scales: Cm7 (Gm) F7alt (Abm) Bbmaj7 (Am). I use this kind of thinking often when I am trying to use pentatonics because you can often make scales move in other ways than the chord and it can be a good effect in the melody.

It opens up with a stack of fourths which (to me) has sort of an Allan Holdworth flavour to it, maybe because of the string skipping and wide intervals. It then descends down the scale. On the F7alt I am again using the Abm pentatonic. The line starts with an Abm7 arpeggio and then moves on to a Gbsus triad. The Abm is resolved to an Am pentatonic line on the BbMaj7. The first part of that line is a standard “thirds” exercise in the pentatonic scale followed by an Am7 arpeggio before it ends on a D.

I hope you can use some of the ideas that I went through here to make your own lines, and maybe get some more mileage out of some lines you thought you’d stopped using.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here:

Pentatonics part 2 – II V progressions

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

 

Jazz Chord Essentials – 3 note 7th chords part 1

In this lesson I want to introduce a type of chords that I use a lot which are a versatile and practical way to play chords with 2nd intervals in them which is often difficult on guitar, but has a very nice and interesting sound.

 

I had quite a hard time coming up for a name for this kind of chord as you might have noticed on social media, but I think the name that I have now is a good description and it is of course also more or less the same as what people tell me it is called in literature (though there is not one single name in use).

In this first part of the two lessons I’ll focus on the chords that are constructed of 3rds and 2nds. There is another version possible that consists of 2nds and 5ths or 4ths which I’ll cover in the next lesson.

The Voicings

Let’s first go over the voicings. The first one is a diatonic 3rd followed by a diatonic 2nd, so from C that would give us C E F (in the key of C major), which is the 4th chord in example 1.

Example on is that construc through a C major scale on the middle strings. I find that with voicings like this I prefer to have the 2nd placed on the D,G or G,B strings. Probably because it does not get muddy but also because it is practical.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 note 7th chords part 1 ex 1

The 2nd example is the version that has a 2nd followed by a 3rd through the C major scale. From C (the 4th chord in example 2) C D F

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 note 7th chords part 1 ex 2

 How to use the voicings

As the name suggests the chords are derived from 4 note chords with one note left out. Even if you could try to rationalize how you would use the chord I think that I mostly just look at the notes it contains and listen to check if it makes sense in the context I am playing.

In the examples that follow I<ll try to explain why I chose this voicing, but if you play the example you can probably also hear how the voices lead from one chord to the next.

For all of these examples I am using the voicings from example 1 and 2 for the chords diatonic to C major (Dm7 and Cmaj7) and I am using the same construction from the Abm Melodic or G altered scale for the voicings on the G7alt.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 note 7th chords part 1 ex 3

In this first example I am using a chord consisting of F E and C fro the Dm7 which gives me a fairly clear Dm7 sound. The G7 altered is using a voicing that consists of b13, 3 and #9 so it lacks the 7th but in the context of the II V I it works quite clearly as an altered dominant. The C chord is using the same sort of voicing as the G7, but moved up a half step so. On that chord that is in fact a 3rd,root and 7th so a complete chord.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 note 7th chords part 1 ex 4

The 2nd example use the same voicing for Dm7 but now the chord is moving to the G7alt by lowering the C and the E to B and Eb yielding a G7b13. I also use m 4th finger to add a Db on top. One of the advantages to using 3 note voicings is the freedom to add and alter notes above and below the chord. The G7 is resolved to a Cmaj7(9) which is infact an Drop2 E minor voicing.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 note 7th chords part 1 ex 5

In the 3rd example I am using inner voice movement which is a way to have small simple melodies moving within the chords. It can be a nice way to add details to a chord progression. In this example the inner voice movement is on the 3rd string on both the Dm and the G7 chords. The Dm7 is using another voicing containing the C, D and F, which then via the inner voice movement becomes a C E, F voicing of the first two examples. On the G7alt I am using the fact that the sound of the altered notes are enough to get the sound of the chord in this context, so the chord consists of Eb, G and Ab which means that it has no 3rd or 7th, Cmaj7 is a voicing consisting of D, E and G.

The 4th example is also demonstrating inner voice movement, on the Dm7 the chord contains A F and E, but again in the context the C is not really missed. The E moves to D. On the G7 the chord is the same as in the 3rd example except that it is turned around and the movement is in the other direction from F to G in the middle voice. The voicing on Cmaj7 is again the C(9) sound used in example 3.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 note 7th chords part 1 ex 6

In the last example I try to show how you might connect these voicings to other kinds of voicings since in the end you’d want to combine them all as a natural whole. On the Dm7 chord I use the same as in the first example but now add the 4th finger to play a high D on the E string. I then voice lead that into a G7 alt drop2 voicing which resolves to a CMaj7, where the voicing used for the C is a G triad over a C note.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 note 7th chords part 1 ex 7

I hope you can use these examples as a way to get an idea about how I use voicings like these, and then make it part of your own playing.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here:

Jazz Chord Essentials – 3 note 7th chords part 1

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Harmonic Minor Dominant Lines

In this lesson I want to show how I might use harmonic minor on the dominant in a II V I resolving to a major tonic. This is a very useful way to apply this scale to get a surprising sound on the dominant in a major cadence.

The II V I cadence

Let’s first look at the cadence. In this lesson I am using a II V I in the key of G major, so the chrods are Am7 D7 Gmaj7.

For the Am7 and Gmaj7 chord I use the G major scale which in the 10th position would be this.

Harmonic minor dominant lines ex 1

For the dominant, D7, I play that as if I was in the key of G minor, so I use the G harmonic minor scale which in the 10th fret would be this:

Harmonic minor dominant lines ex 2

You’ll notice that the G minor harmonic scale is the G major with a flatted 3rd and 6th degree, giving us the b9(Eb) and b13(Bb) on the D7.

The lines

The first example uses a trill and a scale fragment on the Am7. On the D7 the line is base around an Eb minor triad. The Ebminor triad is not really diatonic to G harmonic minor, but since you have both a G and an F# you can construct it.

Harmonic minor dominant lines ex 3

The line ascends up the triad and then resolves to the 3rd(B) of Gmaj7

The next example uses the diminished arpeggio which, to me, is the stereotype sound or a D7 from G harmonic minor.

Harmonic minor dominant lines ex 4

The line on the Am7 is a Cmaj7 arpeggio followed by a stack of fourths from A. The line on the D7 consists of an F# dim arpeggio followed by a chromatic encircling that resolves to the 3rd of GMaj7.

Another very useful device in the D7(b9b13) repertoire is the augmented triad. In the scale the triad is found on the 3rd of the scale which in the key of G would be a Bb. SInce I mostly use it on a D7 I guess I tend to think of it as a D augmented triad. Of course it is that too since the augmented triad is symmetrical.

Harmonic minor dominant lines ex 5

On the Am7 I start out with an encircling of the root which is then followed by a Cmaj7 arpeggio.  The line on the D7 is build from the Bb augmented triad followed by a scale run that resolves to the 5th(D) of G.

A good way to create interesting lines is to combine triads in pairs. I have written a few articles about this subject they can be found on the list here: Online lessons

In this case I am using the D and Eb major triads which give you a good set of notes to convey the D7(b9b13) sound.
Harmonic minor dominant lines ex 6

The line on the Am7 is a combination of two arpeggios. Am7 followed by an Em7 arpeggio. The D7 line connects the Eb and D triads and resolves via the b9 and b7 to the 5th of G.

The last example makes use of the diatonic chord on the 3rd degree of the scale, so in this case a BbMaj7#5.

Harmonic minor dominant lines ex 7

The Am7 line is a combination of a C major triad and an Asus4 triad, both good devices for that sound. On the D7 I start of with a melodic fragment that to me sounds like a dim chord (I don’t actually have a name for it though) and then I descend down the BbMaj7#5 arpeggio and resolve to the 3rd of G.

I hope that you can use the material I presented hear in you own improvisations and that you get some new ideas and melodic devices to use over a b9b13 dominant chord.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here:

Harmonic minor dominant lines

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.