Tag Archives: jazz guitar arpeggios exercises

The 3 Guitarists I Wish I Checked Out As A Jazz Beginner

There is a downside to how we teach Jazz now, on one hand, it is very efficient and helps internalize important skills, but on the other hand, it is often very focused not taught using real music and teaching how others played which helps you understand the music in a broader way and also teach you other important things at the same time. There are a few guitarists that I was not really aware of while I was learning and didn’t discover until much later, but I think they could really have taught me some useful things and made learning Jazz easier. The 3 guitarists are sort of split into periods: one that is mostly before Bebop, one that is in the creation, and one that plays Bebop. I’ll talk about how one of them in a way is a bit like Van Halen 😁

#1 The Father of Bebop?

When I started out playing Jazz guitar, I was still studying Mathematics at the University of Århus. I was actually pretty lucky to get some pretty solid recommendations from my classical guitar teacher Morten Skott. This meant that I was not only listening to Charlie Parker who I had just discovered, but also had cheap compilation cd’s with Wes Montgomery and Charlie Christian. And even though I am talking about people that I didn’t really check out in this video, then I did actually learn some Charlie Christian solos by ear from that compilation cd, the problem with that was that while I could figure out some of his phrases and a few entire solos, at least I hope I got it right since I don’t really remember what I checked out, then I had no idea what the songs were or how to play them, and my theory was not good enough to tell me anything, so they were just solos and phrases I could play not even really knowing what key I was in.

My favorite from that album was Seven Come Eleven which is a really typical swing riff composition.

The main theme is:

So very rhythmic, repetitive, and only a few notes.

PLAY

I probably liked this because it was easier to understand and made more sense to me than some of the other tracks which had really interesting phrases with shifting dim runs like “Good Enough To Keep” Which has phrases like:

Of course, that is not really THAT complicated, but it was very far away from Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Rage Against The Machine which is where I was coming from.

The Solo from Seven Come Eleven is a great example of what I later felt I had missed:

As I already showed you then there are more complicated and dense phrases in Charlie Christian solos, but I really think that this lighter more sparse playing is something that really helps you get the rhythms to sound right, also later when you start playing longer bop lines.

All this stuff where it is just a few or even one note that is interesting because of the rhythm

And this is really just one area of the neck and strong basic Ab or Ab7 vocabulary to learn.

You can get so much from checking this out; I have also often used it with students.

The People who came after Charlie Christian

Charlie Christian was a huge influence on all of Jazz guitar, and when I listen to him now then I really hear how Barney Kessel was influenced by him, I believe they also met at one point, but I am not sure if that is true.

Let’s check out another guitarist that is criminally overlooked!

#2 Sideman of A Giant

I guess sometimes when you work with really famous artists as a sideman you end up standing in the shadow of them and not getting noticed. I think that sort of happened to Oscar Moore who is probably best known as “the guitarist of Nat King Cole” maybe a bit like George Martin being the 5th Beatle, but that is hard to say.

The Nat King Cole Trio stuff with Oscar Moore is from the mid-40s until the beginning of the 50s and since Nat King Cole was both an amazing musician and a commercial success, then a lot of the songs are short takes with a single or a half chorus of solo for the guitar.

This makes them fairly easy to learn, and Oscar Moore solos always have a lot of solid lines, but also some interesting phrasing. Check out this solo from Sweet Lorraine:

I sometimes feel that these shorter solos are really more similar to a solo that you might find in a pop or rock song, which I guess the song also was when it was released in 1940-something.

There are some solid simple melodies in this, and actually a fair amount of blues,

but also some stuff that is really a lot more about effects and surprising sounds. In this case by being very intervallic,

He also used long slides, bends, tremolo picking, and stuff like that to have different sounds.

That part of it pretty much disappeared when Jazz became more serious with Bebop and was supposed to be real art. Here it almost reminds me of stuff you might hear in a Van Halen or Steve Vai solo, where the sound is sometimes as important as the notes.

It’s more about sounds than about a longer melody, and since I am anyway making this a hottake then maybe Ellington’s saxophone player, Johnny Hodges also is an example of someone using phrasing and effects like that.

Keep in mind that I am not really saying anything about whether this is good or bad music, I am just showing you an aspect of their playing where they are similar. You can get rid of your anger in the comment section if it offends you that Johnny Hodges and Van Halen are similar.

In the case of Oscar Moore, it sort of makes some of his material more modern, and less Bebop because Bebop is much more about flow, and some of his phrases are intervallic and sort of the opposite of flowing, probably also because he wanted to not sound like the melody that had just been sung.

I felt that I learned a lot from how Oscar Moore mixes the different things in these short solos and Nat King Cole is fantastic both as a piano player and a vocalist! Another thing worth mentioning is that if you check out later Oscar Moore stuff then you really hear him develop with the times and start playing altered scale and more Bebop-influenced lines, similar to the next guitarist.

#3 The Shortcut To Bebop

This solo actually always makes me happy. Grant Green is probably the one of the 3 that I ended up spending the most time with, mainly because I have given his solos to a lot of students for them to learn Bebop vocabulary, and that is also how I heard this solo the first time, and how I discovered the standards album that he made. For guitarists then there probably is no better place to learn Bebop than Grant Green, his lines are absolutely incredibly melodic and his vocabulary is solid Bebop, and I am saying that while I still don’t like his tone on this album, but you can complain about that in the comments, first, check this out:

Within these 8 bars you have so many great things!

3 variations of  using the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord: Ebmaj7 over Cm7:

Bdim over G7:

and on Aø over F7:

A great pivot arpeggio with some chromaticism on Bbmaj7:

A line cliche turned into a bebop lick in the 2nd line with some really nice phrasing embellishments:

 

 

The King Of Bebop Guitar

And this is in 8-bars, and there are several places like this in the solo. The greatest thing about this is that he manages to make Bebop lines playable on guitar and still makes great music. If you want to develop that side of your playing then he is where you need to go next.  Especially how he mastered adding pivot arpeggios and large intervals to his playing and in that way not sounding like he is just running up and down scales, there are techniques for this that you can start using. 4 of the most common variations are all in the solo that I talk about in this video and that can really breathe new life into your Bop vocabulary and give you some fresh melodic ideas. The solo is on another standard: You Stepped Out Of A Dream

I Wish I Had Checked Out This Guy! His Solos Are Jazz 101 On Guitar

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I Wish Every Jazz Beginner Could Watch This!

You Are Practicing Arpeggios Wrong

Everyone on the internet and every guitar teacher you ever met probably told you to practice arpeggios.

But I remember spending hours practicing arpeggios and not really being able to do anything with them. Being able to play them doesn’t mean that you get them to sound great in my solos. It feels like you might be wasting your time

Luckily that isn’t too difficult to fix, and I’ll show you 7 ways you can turn any arpeggio into a solid Jazz line!  It is not super difficult, and really more about how you think about the arpeggios.

You can build all of this around a single exercise, because when you are starting out with Jazz then there is a right and a wrong way to practice arpeggios, and I would also suggest that you skip inversions for now but I will explain that later.

In Jazz, you mostly use arpeggios that are one octave, so it doesn’t really make a ton of sense to spend a lot of time practicing complete positions, instead,  you will be more efficient practicing them in a scale position as diatonic arpeggios.

That is the way you will hear them used the most in Jazz solos, and it is also a way to connect them to the scale and the other notes that they work together with, it covers a lot of stuff you will need along the way. I learned this exercise from Barry Harris and that is one of the most practical things to get right in the beginning.

Diatonic Arpeggios:

The focus is on turning these arpeggios into music, and I will show you how you add phrasing, notes, and rhythm to them because that is how they become Jazz lines, but first let’s keep it really simple and just improvise with the arpeggio because that will teach you some other important things as well.

#1 Arpeggios Are Enough If You Do It Right

Let’s say you want to solo over a II V I in C major, so Dm7 G7 to Cmaj7.

You need those arpeggios to play a solo over the progression, and luckily you already practiced them in the exercise.

It is a II V I, so in C major, we need the arpeggio from the 2nd note of the scale: Dm7, then from the 5th that is a G7 and then you can do this Cmaj7.

Connect that to the music and practice that on the II V I:

The first thing to do is to practice soloing with this, just try to come up with some lines, use rhythm and maybe compose or play rubato, notice how I am really careful in getting from one chord to the next.

And then after some time, you develop better rhythmical ideas and melodies and you can start making lines like this:

This is great for nailing the changes and developing some solid rhythms in your playing, but let’s open up the arpeggio with a few extra notes, that’s where it starts to get really fun!

#2 The First Thing To Add

The exercise I gave you connects the arpeggios and the scale, so if we look at a Cmaj7 arpeggio:

You can add scale notes to the mix in between the notes in the arpeggio.

That could give you a line like this.

Which turns into a lick like this:

Or a descending version like this:

Super easy! Barely an inconvenience. It is mostly about seeing the notes around the arpeggio and using them to move to a note in the arpeggio.

In these two lines that is how I think about the notes: something around the arpeggio.

Let’s add some notes that are a bit more exciting!

#3 The Jazz Thing To Add

I am talking about adding chromatic passing notes since you already have the diatonic notes from the scale.

You can do a LOT of things with chromatic passing notes, and there are systems that help with that, but for now, essentially you can do whatever you want as long as you resolve it to a chord tone. That is what I am doing in this example, check this out:

and just mixing chromatic and diatonic notes with the arpeggio can already give you this:

Of course, when you practice this then work on composing lines and find things that you like the sound of. One thing that can make them sound more like Jazz is by having the high note of the phrase on an off-beat like you heard the B in the last example on the 1&.

There is a way to make it easier to do that in your Jazz lines, that is the next level, but keep in mind that you can actually go through this video and just pick one of the topics to explore, write some lines, and work on getting that into your playing. It doesn’t have to be in this order.

#4 Going Around The Chord Tones

Instead of adding a single note here and there then you can also add small melodies that move to a chord tone from above and below, these are called enclosures. Let me show you these and then we can add some rhythm to the arpeggios.

A simple example of an enclosure could be a diatonic note above and a chromatic note below which for Cmaj7 could be something like this:

Remember that you are still seeing the Cmaj7 in the scale as well, and now you can create something like this, and try to compare how far this is from just playing the arpeggio:

And it is incredibly simple to create solid vocabulary here is one with an enclosure around the root and around the 5th:

With these enclosures:

#5 The Mighty Triplet

There is one way of playing arpeggios that is pretty much instant Bebop. When you hear it I am sure you will recognize it:

So I am playing the arpeggio as an 8th-note triplet and I am adding a leading note before the arpeggio. Now check out how this sounds when you add a few enclosures:

Or this example which is one of George Benson’s favorite licks that he probably learned from Charlie Parker:

I said that inversions are not so useful for Jazz lines, let me show you what you can do instead, and then I’ll show you some phrasing tricks.

#6 The Melodic Inversion

Similar to the triplet, then this is really a great technique for making your lines sound better, and not be too predictable. I mentioned in the beginning of the video that Inversions are not that useful for Jazz, this is mostly from observing vocabulary of Bop and a lot of later stuff, where inversions are not that common in lines when it comes to 7th chord arpeggios. Triads are a different story, there are Triads inversions all over the place.

Instead, this is a much nicer option: The Pivot arpeggio.

What I am doing here is taking the arpeggio:

But I play the root and then move the rest an octave down, so you still get the same order of notes but the last part is moved down an octave:

Using this and a bit of chromatic magic will give you a great line like this with the pivot arpeggio:

And you can of course use this on the higher octave as well and throw in an enclosure:

 

But one thing is changing the melody and the rhythm. You can also tweak how you play the notes on the instrument, the phrasing.

#7 It’s The Phrasing

Let’s start by sliding into a note, here it is the top note in the phrase:

You can add a slide later as well:

Another useful tool for phrasing is adding trills like this one:

Which sounds great like this:

Adding Chromatic Notes With Barry Harris’ system

In my experience, the best way to learn to use chromatic passing notes in your solos is using Barry Harris Chromatic Scale. But there is a lot more in there than you might think!

Why Barry Harris has the Best Method for Chromatic Notes

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25 Arpeggios That Sound Amazing On A G7 And How To Use Them

Building a vocabulary of arpeggios that you can use when you solo is like having a set of very flexible licks that you can use freely. Each arpeggio has a melody and a color on top of a chord.

In this video, I am going to show you 25 arpeggios that like to use on a basic G7 chord and I will also show you how to use them in some lines so you know how they sound.

 

This is a huge collection of arpeggios on for G7, just a plain old basic G7, not nasty alterations or #11s that will have to be in another video, you can always let me know in a comment if you would like to see a lesson on altered dominant arpeggios.

7th Chords

First let’s work with the basic 7th chord arpeggios, which is the basic arpeggio of the chord and some other really useful options. Then I am going to go over some more exotic arpeggio choices.

You may think that I just transposed the material from the Dm7 video, but as you already here will see that is not the case, and actually some of the 7th chord arpeggios are a bit surprising.

Now, you can use these 5 arpeggios in licks then that could be something like this:

G7

Dm7

Fmaj7

Em7

Avoid notes?

Including Dm7 and Fmaj7 may seem a bit strange if you consider that they both contain the “dreaded avoid note” But in the case of G7 then using C as a note that resolves to B in a melody is both a strong melody and a very common device. Having the C in the middle of the arpeggio is also quite common, and using the maj7 arp from the b7 is a favorite device with people like George Benson and Charlie Parker (and pretty much everyone else)

This is good to check out for options and it is also a great exercise to go through the list and make a lick with each arpeggio, in the end, you can never be too good at making lines with a set of notes over a chord.

Triads

An easy way to find triads is to just extend the 3rds around the basic arpeggio of a chord.

If you look at G7: G B D F

then we can add the diatonic third intervals around it like this:

C E G B D F A C

And from here we get these triads:

  • Em
  • G
  • Bdim
  • Dm
  • F

Examples of these triads could sound something like this

Em

G

Bdim

Dm

F

Sus4 Triads

To me the sus4 triads are often an overlooked gem in terms of getting some other melodies in there. They have a really nice sound with the 4th and the 2nd intervals.

The available sus4 triads are:

And from these the ones that I like to use are these 4:

Asus4, Bdimsus4, Dsus4 and Esus4

You could probably get other ones to work as well, I guess this is also a matter of taste and habits. Using these would sound like this:

Asus4

Bdim(sus4)

Dsus4

Esus4

Shells-voicings

You could see triads as being the 7th chord arpeggios with one note take out: the 7th. And in the same way the arpeggio you get when you take the 7th chord and removes the 5th is a useful melody. For this I am really just using the same chords as I did 7th chords:

  • G7
  • Dm7
  • Em7
  • Fmaj7

G7

Dm7

Em7

Fmaj7

Quartal Arpeggios – The Modal Sound

Of course, Quartal arpeggios are inversions of sus4 triads: G C D → D C G but the sound of the two when you use them as arpeggios are so different that I think it makes sense to check out quartal arpeggios as something separate.

If you look at what is available in the scale you have this set of voicings.

Diatonic Quartals

The 4 Quartals that we can take out here are E F A and B which can be put to use like this:

E Quartal

F Quartal

A Quartal

B Quartal

Quartal voicings are often connected to more modal sounding contexts because they are a little more open or vague, but they still make great melodies as you can hear in the examples. Another really useful sound is stacking 5th intervals which I will cover next.

Quintal Arpeggios – Large intervals to open up the sound

The final type of arpeggio that I will cover here is the quintal arpeggio

Quintal from G

Quintal from D

Where you really learn to use Arpeggios?

Jazz Standards – Easy Solo Boost

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Skills You Need To Develop – Important Jazz Exercises

You need to learn scales, arpeggios, and vocabulary to play solos and to get it to sound like Jazz, but there are other aspects of improvising a solo that you need to develop as well if you want to sound good.

This week, the focus is on some of the other essential skills you need to develop to become good at improvising Jazz. So it is not really about scales, arpeggios, and vocabulary. I take a standard and go over some of the exercises you can start to do to really learn how to become a better soloist.

The focus is on playing solos that:

  • Play real phrases
  • Make the solo one piece of music
  • Play what you hear

It takes more than just scales and arpeggios to play a great Jazz Solo

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:22 The Song

00:34 #1 – Limit Yourself – 2 or 3 notes

01:14 Choosing notes for a solo

02:47Tips for doing the exercise

03:22 Challenge your Creativity

03:50What you improve in your playing

04:52 #2 – Motivic Development

05:59 Basic practice

06:42 Motivic Development on a song

07:10 Digging into the Harmony

07:21 Melodic Voice-leading

07:47 Rhythmic Displacement = Motivic Development

08:20 What You Learn

08:58 #3 – Improvise with chord tones

09:44 Two variations

09:47 #1 Arpeggios within one octave

10:27 #2 One Position

11:06 How to play over chord changes and make sense 


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7 Ways To Make Arpeggios Sound Great In A Solo

It is difficult to combine scales and arpeggios and most of us struggle with arpeggios into music and to make it something that we really make music within our Jazz Guitar Solos. In this video, I am going to take you through a challenge, and you are going to figure out if there techniques for making lines or licks, that you don’t know or use. You can keep score and see if there is anything you want to add to your playing or develop further. So the focus is not really on learning new arpeggios but learning how to use them in your playing.

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Content:

0:00 Intro

0:41 The Challenge

0:56 Making Lines and Inventing Names

1:10 #1 Adding Scale notes

1:45 #2 Using Related Arpeggios

2:02 Knowing A lot of Arpeggios is always good

2:21 Finding Related Arpeggios

3:55 #3 Chaining Arpeggios

5:00 #4 Cascades 

6:00 #5 Passing Chords as Arpeggios

6:56 #6 Octave-displacement

7:28 Analyzing the example

7:49 Example 2 

8:16 #7 Voice-leading

9:29 How Many Points did you get?

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25 Arpeggios That Sound Amazing On A Dm7 Chord

You probably know that it is important to have a lot of options when you improvise, especially over a common chord like an m7 chord. In this video, I am going to show you a lot of arpeggios, how you can find them and how you can use them on a basic m7 chord.

The arpeggios work for this chord, but the method works for all chords. I am also going to show you how I use the arpeggios because that is, in the end, more important than knowing that they exist.

..and I will throw in a few strong and honest opinions on music and practice for free so you have something to disagree with in the comment section.

Check out more about Arpeggios

7 Great Jazz Licks And Why You Need To Know Basic Arpeggios

How To Use Arpeggios In Jazz – Important Skills

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How to apply Arpeggios and Pentatonics to a song

Lady Bird – Arpeggios & Pentatonic Scales

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:41 7th Chords

1:54 The Mighty Triads

2:57 Strong And Honest Opinion: Arpeggio Choices and Modes

3:47 Sus4 Triads – The 3-note arpeggio hack (part 1)

4:59 Shell-voicings  (Thank You, Pat Metheny)

6:09 Quartal Arpeggios – The 3-note arpeggio hack (part 2)

7:18 Quartals and Sus4 triads

8:00 Strong And Honest Opinion: Inversions

8:24 Spread Triads – Make Triads Great Again

9:30 Quintal Arpeggios

10:18 Solo Tools for Maj7 Chords

10:28 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page

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Amazing Little Solo Exercise That You Don’t Want To Miss

Working with limitations can be a really good way to help you explore and dig deep into how you solo over a chord progression.
This exercise that I am going to show you works great as a few different levels of practicing and will help you develop:

  • Fretboard overview
  • Making it impossible to rely on habits
  • Creativity with Rhythm and Melody

I am going to apply this to the song Ladybird in the video, but I actually also used to practice this with a single pentatonic scale, and you can also change the way you approach it so that it fits you.

Start with a song you know, but you can also use it to open up songs you are studying and really work on connecting the harmony and moving freely through the chords.

A Pretty Simple The Exercise

I am going to stick to one position and use 3 strings to really explore:

  • How the changes connect
  • What Melodies I can make
  • How to make music with a limited amount of notes

It is a limitation but it is also in a way really making it a lot easier because I don’t have to think about a million possibilities and scale…

Ladybird and Some arpeggios

If you look at the Chord Progressions of Ladybird you can see that essentially it is in C major:

The Basic Scale position and reduction

Since the song is in C major then the basic scale position could be:

And I am going to reduce that to these 3 strings:

The Arpeggios and REALLY knowing the Harmony

The first part of the exercise is to take this small area of the neck and find all the arpeggios. This is because I want to improvise in this area just using the arpeggios, which is a great way to REALLY solidify your fretboard knowledge and know the harmony of the song.

The way I found these arpeggios is using my fretboard knowledge, so the way that I see the notes on the neck and how I organize using the Arpeggio fingerings that I am familiar with. It is very important that you use your own version of this, you could play through mine and see what you think, but it is more important that you use your own choices, that is the information you want to get better at using and my arpeggio fingerings may not help you with that.

Cmaj7

Fm7

Bb7

Cmaj7

Bbm7

Eb7

Abmaj7

Am7

D7

Dm7

G7

Cmaj7

Eb7

Abmaj7

Db7

If you want to download a PDF of my Arpeggios then there is a from further down in the article.

Getting Started

The first exercise is to use the arpeggios above and then solo on the song.

If this is completely new to you then it can be good to run through the song in rubato and get used to making melodies within these limitations.

I play two different solos with this in the video, one with and one without a backing track.

What You Want To Improve

What you want to focus on when playing like this:

  • Freedom when improvising, try new things
  • Using your overview of the fretboard
  • Find NEW melodies

The Next Step – Adding the context

The next thing you can start working with is to take the overview you have of the arpeggios and the harmony and then add in the rest of the material you usually use, so scale, chromaticism etc.

I have a solo demonstrating that in the video as well. Again you want to focus on how free you are and finding new things to play. Really digging in and getting everything out of the few notes you have available.

Putting this to use on other Jazz Standards

It is important to work through the harmony of standards and really get the scales and arpeggios under control just like you need to know the melody and the chords by heart.

This collection of lessons will help you build that foundation for 5 songs:

Getting more arpeggios and scale positions

If you want to expand your knowledge of arpeggios and scales you can also check out the PDF chart section of my website:

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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3 Great Ways To Use Arpeggios In A Solo

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

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

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

Content:

0:00 Intro – Arpeggios and Jazz Vocabulary

0:35 Example #1

0:37 Wes Montgomery – Great Arpeggio Polyrhythm idea

1:47 Example #1 Slow

1:52 Example #2

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

3:02 Example #2 Slow

3:09 Putting this into your playing #1

3:29 Putting this into your playing #2

4:12 Example #3

4:14 Pat Martino’s Power Arpeggio Pickup

5:08 A Great Chromatic Idea

5:25 Example #3

5:49 Putting this into your playing #3

6:07 Putting this into your playing #4

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

7:27 Example #4

7:38 Wes’ Amazing Sense Of Melody

8:29 Example #4 Slow

8:46 Making Long Phrases like Wes!

9:27 Putting this into your playing #4

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

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Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

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Jazz Guitar Licks With No Scales – This Is Why Its Great

The ingredients of most common approach to jazz guitar: Scales and Arpeggios. never thought I would hear myself say this, but you can make some really great lines by ignoring scales completely. This way of thinking is quite different from the idea of assigning scales to the chords the way we usually do. At the same time it is a traditional way of making lines and a very useful approach to changing things up.

The problem with too much scale movement

The way of making lines that I am going to cover here is at the very least helping you get rid of lines that sound as predictable and boring as this:

Of course in the long run you probably want to learn you scales just the same. It is better to have more options after all. I will talk about why later.

The George Benson Connection

I came across this way of making lines while analyzing a George Benson solo and I realized that if create lines with this concept you can make some really strong lines that don’t move in a predictable way but still make sense.

In this video I am going to show you how it works and how you can start experimenting with it in your own playing.

The basic concept: Triads and Leading notes

This is a really simple concept. Instead of making lines with scales and arpeggios (my entire system for guitar just fell apart) then we can also just think in simple triad arpeggios and leading notes. So Lines are constructed by having triad tones as targets and adding small melodies of leading notes that point towards those triad tones.

The Chord and The Progression

For this lesson I am going to focus on how to use this on a II V I in Bb major, and especially the Cm7 in that progression!

Cm Triad and leading notes – Two Exercises

So the way the melodies are made are from using the simple triads for example: Cm. The basic material I am using is an enclosure and a leading note on a Cm triad like this:

Putting the idea to use in a II V I lick

And an example of a line using this could be something like this:

Above the triad targes are first Eb, then a low G and finally a C. The beginning of the F7 line is also using a chromatic enclosure to move to the 3rd.

The big advantage to Chord and Leading notes approach

What is liberating is that when we play like this then it often works to just jump from one place to the next and you don’t have to think so much about the direction of the scale run or arpeggio run, and because it is using a very basic arpeggio then the leading note melodies make a lot of sense.

Here’s another example on a II V I. Again using chromatic approach phrases to move to both Cm7 and F7 chord tones.

Of course there are also some things that this doesn’t do, and I would not only use this way of playing as a total approach to everything, but it is a nice way to come up with some lines that sound different and still work with the chords. Using this method to create lines with more more extensions gets a little difficult because the extensions also want to sound like leading notes and the leading notes for the extensions are often chord tones.

This example is using one of the lines that Benson uses a lot on the dominant. It is in fact a Parker lick that Benson learned.

How to work on this approach

So the best way to work on this is to mix it with another approach. This is also what George Benson does in his solo. I will link to my video analyzing this in the description of this video.

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Herbie Hancock Voicing = Awesome Huge Arpeggio on Guitar

The amount of notes and colors that you can add to chords on piano is always making guitar players jealous. But in this Herbie Hancock Guitar Lesson I am going to take the Herbie Hancock Voicing for a m11 chord and show how you can transform it into a great arpeggio with a huge range and a lot of nice colors. In the process you also get a Herbie Hancock Guitar Chord that you can use for maj7 chords or m11 chords and taking this further to create some other arpeggios and chord voicings for other chords.

Learning things from Piano or other instruments

This lesson is as much about applying material from piano than it is about this specific voicing.

Learning and using material from other instruments is a very important part of Jazz. Jazz is a genre that is not dominated by one type of instrument, and different instruments have a leading role throughout Jazz history, just look at the shift from Alto to Tenor with Parker to Coltrane. The guitar is a little late to the game even if it has gradually become one of the most influential instruments in Jazz since the 1970’s.

The Herbie Hancock m11 voicing

The Herbie Hancock voicing can be seen as a poly chord. If you play it on piano then the left hand is playing an Am triad (as a spread triad) and the right hand is playing a 2nd inversion G major triad.

This gives us these pitches:

A E C D G B

Which is an Am7(9,11) chord.

The chord is shown in example 1 both as a complete 6 note chord and a more playable version that leaves out the root.

Construction of the Piano Voicing

The best way to understand this is to look at it as consisting of two parts (similar to left and right hand on the piano)

The lower part is this Am spread triad or open-voiced triad. 

And the upper part, a G major triad.

Turning the voicing into an arpeggio

While it is difficult to really play this chord on the guitar it is very possible to turn it into an arpeggio and use it as an interesting melody with a large range.

The easiest way to do that is probably to play it one note per string, as shown below in example 4.  I have added an extra D on top because I like the sound of it.

Putting the Herbie Hancock Arpeggio to use

Now that we have a great Am7 arpeggio it is easy to put it to use in a II V I in G major like this:

Creating more Arpeggios and Chords

The first thing to try todo to create some more variations of the arpeggio is probably to understand it as a part of a scale. This allows us to move it around as a diatonic structure and hopefully find some other great sound and playable arpeggios.

In doing so then it makes sense to start with the lower part. Here are the 3 string versions of the open-voiced triads. With this I think the low and the high G major are both a bit tricky, but it depends on how you sit and your guitar.

Diatonic Transposition #1 – Cmaj7(#11) chord

The first thing to try is to move up the arpeggio a diatonic 3rd. This is shown in Example 7.

This yields a Cmaj7(9#11): C G E F# B D

and an interesting Cmaj7(9#11) chord voicing (2nd half of the 1st bar)

Diatonic Transposition #2 – D7(#11) chord

Repeating this process and moving it up to D7. When you do that strictly in the scale you have a D7 with an 11, a G and that is not the nicest note to have on a D7. One way to fix this is to make it a #11. Changing the G into a G# gives us this arpeggio and another interesting new chord voicing (at least I didn’t know it)

Changing the Arpeggio and making it more playable

The lower part of the arpeggio is very difficult to play, so it makes sense to try to change that for another structure. Similar to the Kenny Barron voicing the lower part could be a quintal chord (also known as a stack of 5ths)

Implementing this change on the Cmaj7 and using an Esus4 triad as an upper-structure yields this arpeggio:

And a similar idea using the D quintal arpeggio and an F#dim(sus4) arpeggio creates this arpeggio:

Explore more and put it to use

I hope you can take this idea and use it in your own playing. Try to mess around with different arpeggio and chord ideas and let us know what you come up with either here or on the YouTube video!

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