Tag Archives: jazz chord progressions

Diminished Chords – Beautiful Progressions and How To Use Them

The Diminished Chords are often causing a lot of people trouble, and that is a shame because there are so many amazing sounding progressions that use diminished chords and you can make beautiful chord progressions with them as well.

In this video, I am going to show you the two main categories of dim chords and how you can use diminished chords in some great sounding progressions.

It isn’t that difficult there are just a lot of people telling you to think stuff on dim chords that don’t fit with what you hear, and that is probably getting in your way.

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:27 The Two Types of dim chords

01:41 Dominant Diminished

02:16 Common Dominant Diminished Progressions

04:28 Subdominant Diminished

05:20 Resolving Diminished Problems

05:53 Common #IV dim progressions

07:32 Soloing over Diminished Chords

07:40 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

 

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Make Your Chord Progressions More Interesting

There are many ways you can reharmonize chord progressions. In this video, I am going over a method that is simple and easy to use. I am using basic functional harmony to show you how you can create amazing jazz chord progressions yourself and really change the color of the songs you play.

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:52 Basic II V I and The Power of Chord Functions

01:23 The Advantage of Functional Harmony

02:14 Chord Progressions Have To Make Sense Too

02:39 Subdominant chords and lots of options

02:45 3 Basic major subdominants

03:10 Is VI a subdominant?

03:41 7 useful minor subdominants

05:00 4 exotic #IV subdominants

06:15 Progressions Using Other Subdominants

07:07 Dominant Chords

08:02 Progressions Using Other Dominants

08:53 Tonic Chords and Suspensions

10:20 Changing functions – From II V I to Neo-soul

12:00 Functional Harmony – A Powerful Tool

12:16 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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Simple And Easy Approach To A Minor 2 5 1

The minor 2 5 1 is difficult because you need more scales for it and the m7b5 and dom7(b9) chords are sounds we are less familiar with. But you can actually get started improvising on this progression quite easily and both nail the changes and play something that sounds like music and not just exercises.

In this video, I am going to go over how you can get more used to the chords and start improvising building from 2 arpeggios and adding the rest along the way, step by step.

 

Learn the chords, Play Them and Listen to Them

The first step here is really simple: Let’s play the chords of a II V I in G minor.

This is really quite simple if you want to improvise over the chords then you want to know what they sound like. Playing them will help you hear how the harmony is moving and feel the time, all basic but very useful stuff.

Play this a few times:

Then you can start playing some other rhythms and add a little interpretation to it like this, where ou get a little more used to it then you can try to change it up a little, add some rhythm, and a leading chord.

Arpeggios and how to solo with them

Now you have played the chords a few times and you have an idea about how they sound.

I am going to show you 2 arpeggios and a trick that will help you nail the changes on this progression.

First, you need an Aø Arpeggio

 

 

 

 

 

and then you need a Gm6 arpeggio:

 

A “Hack” for the D7(b9)

Now you are probably wondering what to do with the D7 chord since there is no arpeggio for it, but that is pretty simple.

Since you already know the Aø arpeggio then the arpeggio that you can use for the D7 is the same notes except that you change the G to an F# like this:

Aø:

F#dim:

 

 

 

 

 

I know that this sort of makes this 3 arpeggios and not two, but for my students, this really has worked very well so maybe give it a shot 

Practice them on the progression

Let’s go over these on the progression. Here are two exercises, but you can explore it more if you want to.

A basic version could be this:

And a descending variation to also check out the upper part of the arpeggios:

How To Solo with the arpeggios

Now you can start practicing to make lines with these arpeggios and it is really really easy to make the D7 clear because there is only one note changing: G becomes and F# so for now just try to hit that F# on the 1 of the D7 bar, then you can hear in your solo how the chord changes.

In the same way, try to make melodies that smoothly move from the D7 to the Gm6 by picking notes that are close to each other when you go from one chord to the next.

You can hear me play these examples in the video, both rubato and in time.

In the example below you can see how I move from G to F# to emphasize the D7 and from Eb to D to really bring out the resolution to Gm6:

Similar to the previous one, but now resolving to Bb on the Gm6:

And the final example that is again spelling out the D7(b9) by playing the F# on beat 1 and resolving to the 5th of Gm6.

As you can hear you in the last example, you can also change chord on the 4 and which is a nice change from just hitting the downbeat.

Try to play these and then try to make your own lines, in the beginning then just hit that F# on the D7 so you can really hear that change.

Adding the Scales

Now we can add the scale notes around the notes we already have.

There are three scales in use on the minor II V I:

Aø is from Bb major, or G natural minor
D7 is from G harmonic minor
Gm6 from G melodic minor

You can play them through the progression like this:

But you also want to check out the complete scale positions, so for Aø:

For D7:

 

 

 

 

 

 

And for Gm6:

Small note on CAGED or 3NPS

You may have noticed that this is actually using CAGED positions which I don’t normally use, but the Student that I originally made this for was using those so I kept the whole thing in that system. In the end, scale fingering systems are not that important🙂

Licks with Scales and Arpeggios

With this material,  you can add notes around the arpeggio notes. In the added notes are mostly used as melodic passing notes.

The second example again illustrates how you can change to the next chord on the 4&, both on the D7 and on the Gm6.

Put this into a song

Autumn Leaves – Solo Lesson 2

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How To Create Beautiful Chord Progressions

Functional Harmony is almost a secret weapon when it comes to reharmonizing or creating great sounding chord progressions. In Jazz, we sometimes forget that just understanding basic harmony is a very strong tool for creating new sounds, and in this video, I will show you how you can mess around with a simple II V I and get some fantastic results.

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Content:

00:00 Intro

01:07 Diatonic Chords in major

02:14 Progression #1 – bVImaj7

02:49 Minor diatonic chords and Modal Interchange

05:00 Progression #2 – Tritone substitution

06:12 Don’t limit yourself to substitutions

07:03 Progression #3 – Ending in the Wrong Key

09:00 Understanding Modulation a Pivot Chords

09:34 Progression #4 – Another Dominant Alternative

11:20 Reharmonization with only Maj7 chords

11:34 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page.

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How To Analyze Songs – Music Theory and Functional Harmony

Music Theory and Harmonic Analysis can be great tools when you want to learn jazz and figure out how to improvise over a chord progression. These videos help you get started understanding how to do that, understanding functional harmony, tonal centers, and the rich harmonic language found in Jazz standards.

The videos will give you examples of how to analyze songs and also how to choose scales from that analysis. You will learn a lot from analyzing the songs that you play.

Remember that it is more important to hear the changes and recognize the sound of the theory as it is to know the name, so working on the songs you already know well will really help you. A fancy name probably won’t.

Analyzing Jazz Standards – Understand what you play!

How To Analyze Chords and Progressions – This video uses the song There Will Never Be Another You as an example and discusses the progressions found in there.

All The Things You Are – Harmonic Analysis – All The Things You Are is a great Jazz standard that we all need to have in our repertoire. In this video I am going to go over a thorough All The Things You Are Harmonic Analysis.

Analyzing a Standard: All Of Me – This song is a great example of IV minor chords and secondary dominants

Analyzing a Standard – Stella By Starlight – Functional Harmony in Jazz – I guess Stella by Starlight is in many ways one of the most mysterious chord progressions among the jazz standards. At the same time, it is so beautiful that everybody just keeps at it until they can play it

General videos on Music Theory and Analysis

Jazz Scales! The 3 You Need to practice and How You apply them to Jazz Chords – Jazz Scales can seem like a million options that you all need to learn in all positions and all chords, but there is a way to approach this that is a little easier than trying to learn all jazz scales in all modes. After all the Dorian mode is not as important as the Major or Minor key.

This video has a PDF download of the overview of the analysis – Click Here 

5 Types of Chord Progressions You Need To Recognize and Be Able To Play – Harmonic Analysis – In this video, I will go over 5 types of progressions that if you can use to better understand the functional harmony that you find in a jazz standard.

Music Theory Is The Effective Way For You To Learn Faster – If you know you basic Music Theory well then you can easily start to add another level to how you analyze melodies and chord progressions which will help you work more focused and learn faster when you practice.

 

You can also go through the playlistson YouTube:

Analyzing a Jazz Standard – Harmonic analysis of Jazz Pieces

 

 

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Great Chord Sequences And How To Use Them In A Solo

There is a great way that you can create new lines over a chord progression which is a simple way of changing the chords and outline other chord sequences. This way you get more movement in the lines and another logic to the melody. And checking out a few of those options on basic progressions like a II V I or a static chord can add a lot of variation to your solos.

In this lesson, I am going to show you a few examples of this. Some are staying within the key and others add a few outside sounds, and later I will also show you how this works if you open up the rhythm a bit.

The Basic Chord Progression and Concept

To show you how this works, first we need to set up a key and a II V I to work with.

We have a basic II V I in G major: Am7 D7 Gmaj7 and often if I play these chords then I can also get away with these chords: Am7 Bm7 Cmaj7 D7 (see example 2 below)

Using this progression in a solo

If I do that in a solo in a really basic way then that sounds like this:

You can hear that the comping is just playing the II V I, but it still works and a freer solo line that still sounds like this: could be something like this:

As you can see I am still using the super-imposed chords (short rundown of the arps)

A Modal or Static Variation

You can hear that I am using the direction of the “alternative chord progression” to give the line a specific direction that works great, almost as a counter-point to the comping underneath.

And of course, the same concept used on a static Am7 chord works as well:

More Diatonic Reharmonizations

The previous example was moving up the scale, and there is a very easy way to use the same principle and move down through diatonic chords like this:

The Ab7 is there because it fits in the descending motion, but a D7 would work as well, of course.

Strong Triad lines

A good way to clearly use the descending movement on top of the standard harmony is to use basic triads like this:

Adding Chromatic Passing Chords

There are two obvious ways you can add a chromatic passing chord in this context, namely using a side-slip up or down.

The two examples below shows how that might sound:

And if you translate these into solo lines:

Example 10 using a Bbm7:

And example 11 using Abm7:

More Creative Rhythms and Polyrhythms

Until now the chord progressions have been used as if the chords are placed on the heavy beats of the bar. This is of course what you usually find with chord changes, but when you solo you can be a lot more open and have more fluid barlines.

These 3 examples have a more open approach to the rhythm and also make use of polyrhythms.

A loose Bbm side-slip

Example 12 is a more loose way to quickly insert a Bbm7 line (actually just a Db major triad) and here it almost sounds like an added Eb7 in the context.

The triad is introduced by moving up the preceding C major triad a half step.

Dotted Quarter note arpeggios

The example below uses the Am7 Bm7 Cmaj7 D7alt chord progression, but the melody uses a 3 8th note long melody for each of the chords.

Another great 3 8th-note grouping

Again triads are a fantastic resource to create melodies. This example is using the basic triads of the chords and spelling out the Cmaj7 Bm7 Am7 Ab7 chord progression. The last two beats are covered with a quartal arpeggio that is essentially an Ab7(13).

Level up your Jazz Lines with Bop Embellishments

Another great way to add more variation to your jazz vocabulary is to use more interesting phrasing:

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How To Make Chord Progressions More Simple

Some of the most common ways people tell you to reduce chord progressions are very likely to work against what you hear and the music you are trying to play. You need to apply the right type of harmonic analysis to not end up with complete gibberish when you reduce jazz chord progressions.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the places you can reduce the number of chords and talk about when that is possible.

Check out more Essential Music Theory for Jazz

Jazz Scales! The 3 You Need to practice and How You apply them to Jazz Chords

Why You Want To Think in Functional Harmony

The 10 Types Of Difficult Chords In A Jazz Standard

Content:

0:00 Intro – Using the Rules wrong.

0:28 Not only to make it simple but also to add possibilities

0:41 The II V I rule – A little theory goes a long way

1:15 #1 The Turnaround (almost a lesson on Rhythm Changes)

2:05 Functions AND chords

3:23 Listen to the reduced progression

3:40 Applying this to a Solo – Charlie Parker

4:22 #2 The II V Rule – When It doesn’t work and why

4:39 II chord or I chord? Wes Montgomery

5:33 III VI II V troubles

6:40 You want to end up with a logical progression

6:55 #3 Confirmation of a Parker Bles – Gone Slightly Wrong

7:45 When it is a little better..

8:35 #4 Tempo and Harmonic Rhythm

9:02 Ballads and Slow changes

9:41 #5 Other Progressions to Reduce

10:04 Embellished I [V]

10:52 Tonic chord filler

11:50 Did I forget some progressions?

12:05 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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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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Jazz Chord Progression – Knowing the blocks that make up the Jazz songs

A Jazz Chord Progression is made up of smaller blocks of progressions. This video will go over the three most important types of blocks or progressions that you need to know in order to understand the chord progression of a jazz standard. These will help you memorize and play jazz songs and make it possible for you to get better at sight-reading jazz lead-sheets.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Thinking in blocks of chords – for memorizing and transposing

0:28 The three building blocks that cover most jazz standards

1:06 Block 1 – The Key and the basic cadence

2:10 The Turnaround – creating a loop

2:52 The Substitute for the Tonic: III VI II V

3:14 Block 2 – Secondary Cadences and dominants

3:42 List of Cadences

5:12 List of Secondary dominants

6:00 Block 3 – Subdominant chords in major

6:25 The Country version of a IVm chord

7:15 Common variations of IV IVm progressions in Jazz

8:40 Why think in blocks or groups of chords?

9:15 Did I miss a progression or a chord? Leave a comment.

10:07 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

Guitar Solo With Only Triads – Jazz Blues

The triad is one of the strongest melodies that we have. It is a part of so many famous songs that it makes sense to work on using triads when playing a jazz guitar solo. 

In this lesson I will go over the triads you can use for all the chords in a 12 bar Jazz Blues in the key of F. I also will talk about how I use some of these triads in a solo that I played and transcribed. At the end of the lesson I will also go over some exercises that are useful if you want to be more flexible when using triad based improvisation.

Getting started with Triads

The first thing we need to do is to find some triads for each of the chords in the 12 bar blues.

The chord progression is shown here below:

In this next part of the lesson I will quickly go over the different triads that we have available.

Finding triads for the I and the IV chord

In the blues the I and the IV chord, in this case F7 and Bb7, are more or less identical. They are both mixolydian sounding dominant chords.

The triads that we have available are found on the root, 3rd, 5th and 6th of the scale:

F7: F major, A dim, C minor and D minor

Bb7: B major, D dim, F minor and G minor

Using Harmonic minor to pull to the IV

On the F7 in bar 4 I have an F7(b9) which is there to pull even stronger to Bb7 in bar 5. The scale I am using on this chord is F mixolydian b9,b13, also known as Bb harmonic minor.

The triads we get from this scale are:

F7: F major, A dim, Cdim and Edim

Triads for the #IV dim chord

On the #IV dim in bar 6 I use the C harmonic minor scale. This scale is both close to the F7 chord and contain the  B diminished chord.

Bdim: B dim, D dim, F dim, Ab dim

A secondary dominant resolving to minor

The D7 in bar 8 is an auxiliary dom7th chord used to take us to the Gm7 in the final cadence of the blues.

Since it is a dom7th chord resolving to a minor chord the scale that fits on this chord is a harmonic minor scale. In this case the G harmonic minor scale.

D7: D major, F# dim, Adim and Cdim

The II Chord in a major cadence

On the II chord I have three triads. Just the basic triads found on the root, 3rd and 5th:

Gm7: Gm, Bb, Dm

The Altered Dominant

The C7 in bar 10 is an altered dominant. The C7 altered scale is the same as Db melodic minor and the triads we can find here are a little different than those on the other chords:

C7alt: Dbm, Eaug, Gb, Bbdim

Guitar Solo with only triads

The solo is written out here below. In most of the bars I am only using one triad so it should be fairly easy to follow.

The first bar is using the basic F major triad in 1st inversion. On a blues you can easily use the triad on the root, and in fact this is a very good triad to get the blues sound across.

On the Bb7 in bar 2 the triad used is again 1st inversion. Here I use the triad found on the 3rd of Bb7: D dim.

Returning to the F7 the triad used is Dm. The Dm in bar 3 is “voice-lead” into an Eb dim triad in bar 4. The Eb dim triad is a great to get the F7b9 sound across.

In the Bb7, Bdim F7 section in bars 5-7 I have an alternative progression that makes sense in another way that the chords move under it. The triads use are F minor, F dim, and F major.

On the D7b9 the triad used is an F# dim.

In the final cadence in bars 9 and 10 I start to use more triads per bar. On the Gm7 it is a combination of a Bb major and a G minor triad. The C7 alt combines Gb major and E augmented triads.

The two triads on the C7 altered chord actually form a triad pair because they don’t have common notes. You can look up more of my lessons on triad pairs here: Triad Pairs

Getting more rhythms down

A bonus feature with using the triads like this is that you only have three notes. The fact that you only have three notes will force you to be more creative with the rhythms and I actually think that this is a good enough reason on it’s own to start working on this!

I will probably make a video on this approach at some time, let me know if you are interested.

 

Getting more flexible and opening up your abilities with the triads

As you can probably see I don’t only play the triads in root position from the root to the 5th, and there are a lot more ways to make melodies with them.

To get more options when using the triads I have included a few exercises that you can work on.

This first exercise is to just simply play the diatonic triads through the scale. This is important to be able to find the different triads for the chord and of course also to be able to play them in the context of the scale where the underlying chord is found.

To build a bigger overview I would recommend that you also check out the other inversions as well. Here are the 1st inversions of the diatonic triads

and the 2nd inversion:

Besides having the overview of the diatonic triads in a position it can also be very practical to know the triad in this position as shown here below.

Another useful exercise would be to play the position version of the triad  in inversions.

Exploring more melodies

A final idea is to mix up the order of the notes. If you think of a triad as 1,3 and 5, then you can also make a lot of other melodies by changing the order of the notes. The example here below is showing the diatonic triads played in a 3 1 5 pattern through the scale.

Adding the triads to your vocabulary!

Of course the example solo in this lesson is a bit radical in the sense that while it can be useful as an experiment to work like this and see what you can come up with. In the end you want to work on the process of finding the triads and you also want to try get used to make “alternative” chord progressions that you can use for solos.

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Guitar Solo With Only Triads – Jazz Blues

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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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