Tag Archives: jazz chord progressions

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.


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.


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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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

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.

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.

Minor II V I options – Melodic Minor, Phrygian Chords and Tritone Substitutions

The minor II V I can be a difficult chord progression to play on and have a varied vocabulary on. In this video I am going to go over how you can approach it in several different ways with Phrygian Chords, Melodic minor and Tritone Substitutions.

In the video I will demonstrate the different Minor II V I approaches and talk about how to use them both in terms of comping, voicing choices et and also soloing and arpeggios.

I also talk a bit about what will fit with the melody of a piece.


Content of the video:


0:14 Minor II V I The Progression in this video


0:42 Basic II V I – Demonstration

1:03 Scales, Voicings, extensions

2:31 Arpeggios for a m7b5 chord


4:33 Locrian natural 2/ Locrian #2 – Demonstration

4:54 Melodic minor for m7b5

5:15 Chord voicings for m9(b5)

5:54 How does it fit the melody?

6:48 Arpeggios from Melodic minor


7:50 Tritone sub – Demonstration

8:12 Using a Tritone sub dom7th instead of the IIm7b5

8:26 The progression with these chords

8:56 When does it fit the melody?

9:41 Voicing Options and considerations

9:57 The bonus Blue note!


11:51 Phrygian Chord – Demonstration

12:10 What is a Phrygian Chord

13:19 Comping a Phrygian sound

14:06 Soloing on a Phrygian Chord

14:36 How you can use them and where


14:55 Tritone II V – Demonstration

15:17 Tritone substitution of the entire cadence

16:23 Strategies for soloing over a tritone sub


17:27 Borrowing II from Major – Demonstration

17:49 How it works – modal interchange

18:13 Using the brighter sounding II chord

19:34 Voicing considerations

19:56 Soloing over the borrowed II chord

20:43 Do you have a great reharmonization or scale choice for a minor II V I?


21:26 Like the videos? Support me on Patreon!

5 Types of Chord Progressions You Need To Recognize and Be Able To Play – Harmonic Analysis

Analyzing Chord progressions is something we all do as Jazz Guitar players. We need to understand Jazz Harmony in order to play good solos and to improve our Jazz Comping.

Here’s what most people seem to get wrong: Understanding the chords in the context of the song and not just looking at what type of chord it is.

The way we apply Music Theory to our harmonic analysis of a song decides how well we understand the chord progression and helps us play better solos.

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.


0:02 What we use Music Theory for in jazz

0:23 The II V I problem

1:21 What I want from Music Theory

2:08 Examples of why you want to think beyond “it’s a II V I”

2:13 The III VI7 II V I

2:34 Cmaj7 and Em7 both Tonic

3:26 Why Modes fail in Jazz: Phrygian

3:46 IV IVm I and IV bVII I

4:25 Why group in functions?

4:53 V I and II V I progressions

5:36 “Turnaround” the II V I

6:19 Secondary Dom7th and Cadences

8:15 IVm progressions

9:01 Common IVm chords

9:28 The two uses of IVm chords

10:56 The #IV Progressions – The basics

11:31 How #IV progressions are treated in Jazz

11:58 The #IV resolving to a Tonic

13:29 The #IV resolving to IV or IVm

14:47 No Modulations?

15:09 Modulations!

16:03 Examples of songs that modulate

17:10 The point of this way of thinking

Modern Approaches to a Jazz Blues – Rethinking the Chord Progression

Reharmonizing and interpreting chord progressions like a 12 bar jazz blues is a very important part of improvising in jazz. In this video I will take a Bb Jazz Blues and go over a few fairly simple ways to get other sounds on the first 4 bars. It should open some new ideas and widen your knowledge of jazz harmony and jazz theory.

I discuss how I come up with the ideas and how I both improvise and comp with the “new” sound. Often making the chord progression more modal gives you a lot of interesting choices in terms of reharmonization and scale choices.

List of contents

0:32 Overview of what is covered in the video
0:44 Comping and Soloing with alternative changes and sounds

1:10 Standard Blues Changes solo for Reference
1:48 Making the Blues modal

2:12 Lydian b7 as a “different sound”
2:45 Lydian b7 Guitar Solo example
3:36 Structures used for Lydian b7
3:50 Triad Pairs: Bb + C
4:03 Ab Augmented and Bb
5:02 Gm and Ab Augmented
5:08 Bb7(b5) Arpeggio
5:21 FmMaj7 Arpeggio

5:41 Bb Phrygian Guitar Solo
6:32 Bb Phrygian as a Sound on a Bb Blues
6:43 Bmaj7(b5) chord as a Bb7sus4(b9) chord
7:09 Fm7b5 voicing
7:14 Db7 voicings
7:49 Coloring Blues Phrases with Phrygian chords
8:28 Using the Bmaj7(b5) arpeggio

8:43 Whole step dom7th Guitar Solo
9:31 The thinking behind the reharmonization
9:58 Playing Coltrane Changes on a Bb Blues
10:15 Explaining how the chords work
11:05 Comping Description
11:46 Soloing Description, target notes
12:20 Reharmonization in solos and interaction

12:54 Modal Altered Scale Guitar Solo
13:43 The Altered dom7th and extending it to 4 bars
14:26 Voicings (E7/Bb7alt)
14:53 Soloing: Important clear target notes
15:28 The Mysterious Triad
15:56 Dmaj7(#5) arpeggio

16:47 Taking these examples further.
17:12 Using the chord voicings to learn to solo
17:30 Thoughts on soloing with superimposed changes
17:48 Other Reharmonizations and modal sounds
18:10 How to come up with reharmonizations

19:04 Outro

25 Reharmonizations of a Turnaround – Discover New Modern Jazz Chord Progressions

A great way to write better chord progressions is to check out reharmonization techniques and chord substitution. You can build your jazz theory or jazz harmony vocabulary like your solo vocabulary.

In this video I am going to take a I VI II V and go over 30 different ways of playing this progression. Some of the very common ones and also a lot that are more advanced or modern. Hopefully you can use the chord progressions to get some new ideas and techniques for reharmonization or for your own compositions!

0:00 Writing better chord progressions
1:24 The basic turnaround and some variations
4:22 The I I7 IV V
5:34 The Radiohead turnaround
6:09 #IVdim in the standard turnaround
7:12 The Ladybird Turnaround
8:43 Getting less functional and more substitutions
9:55 Reinterpreting other chords in the progression
11:04 The “Inner Urge” idea
11:49 Major 3rd tonalities
12:23 #IV instead of the V
14:42 Same interval in the root movement
16:31 More Poppy sound without dom7th chords
16:45 Same melody note
17:42 IVm type chords instead of V
19:09 Upper-structure resolving passing chords
19:54 How to use the vamps and the exercises

Reharmonization – Making Songs Fresh & Personal by Reharmonizing

Reharmonization is a great tool to add some interesting sounds or surprises to you Jazz Standards or Covers. This video will take the jazz standard Body and Soul, analyze the harmony of the A part and go over some of the more subtle but effective things you can do with reharmonizing the chords.

The video covers different reharmonization techniques and offers some options for an arrangement of this jazz ballad.



Vlog: 30+ Chords in C major?

How many chords are there in the key of C major?

If you are writing a chord progression or making reharmonization then you want to check out what options you have available in jazz harmony. This video is going through 60 chords and talk about how they are related to C major key and show jazz chord progressions that contain them.

I am also referencing chord progressions of jazz standards very often.

The chords that we find in a chord progression in almost any genre will more often than not contain chords that are not diatonic to the scale of the key. So the amount of chords in a key is bigger than the diatonic chords found in the scale, but how big?

Turns out that is a very tricky question!