Tag Archives: jazz guitar arpeggios

The Great Thing About Jazz And Arpeggios

Learning to play jazz we practice a lot of scales and a lot of arpeggios. But you also want to make sure that you get as much out of your practice as possible. It is also more fun to work on making new lines and coming up with new things you can use in your solos, so you want to use arpeggios as much as you can and explore where they might sound good.

In this video, I am going to show you this process and help you get a lot more out of the arpeggios you know by finding more chords you can play them on.

To keep this simple, let’s take a Cmaj7 arpeggio and look at where we can use that.

You can play a Cmaj7 arpeggio like this:

I will probably use other fingerings as well in the examples, and in general, I think you should practice arpeggios in scales as diatonic arpeggios as I talk about in this lesson: The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

#1 Cmaj7

The obvious place to start is using the Cmaj7 arpeggio on a Cmaj7 chord.

In this example, I am using inversions of the Cmaj7 arpeggio. The first part of the phrase is a descending 1st inversion Cmaj7 which is then turned into a 6 note phrase and repeated from beat 4 of bar 1. The second repeat is a descending root position Cmaj7.

The last part of the phrase is a series of descending chromatic 3rd intervals.

#2 Am7

If you have seen more of my lessons then you have probably seen examples of using the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord.

Here I am using the Cmaj7 as the arpeggio from the 3rd of Am7.

Am7: A C E G and a great arpeggio option here is the Cmaj7 arpeggio: C E G B.

#3 D7

Similar to how the Cmaj7 works well on Am7 then it is also a solid option on the V chord associated with Am7: D7.

In this example, I am using the Cmaj7 at the end of bar 1. Similar to the previous example I am playing the Cmaj7 arpeggio as a triplet with a leading note.

#4 F#ø

The Maj7 from the b5 of a half diminished or m7b5 chord is a great very useful arpeggio. This is also related to the previous examples, but probably you would see this in the context of a minor key.

In this case, that is a II V I in Em and the F#ø is coming from the harmonic minor scale:

E harmonic minor: E F# G A B C D E

Diatonic Chords: EmMaj7, F”ø, Gmaj7(#5), Am7, B7, Cmaj7, D#dim

#5 Fmaj7

The Cmaj7 arpeggio is also a useful tool to use on a Fmaj7(#11) chord.

In this example, I am mixing it with material that really spells out the Fmaj7 sound: Fmaj7 arpeggio and Am pentatonic.

6 Abmaj7(#5,#9)

The final, more exotic, sound is using the Cmaj7 as a part of the augmented sound on an Abmaj7 chord.

The scale sound this is using is the Augmented scale.

The Augmented scale is a symmetrical 6 note scale that can be seen as the combination of two augmented triads or as the sum of 3 maj7 chords.

In this case: Abmaj7, Cmaj7, and Emaj7.

The scale consists of Ab B C Eb E G Ab

With a little enharmonic spelling (since this is an atonal symmetrical scale) you can construct the 3 maj7 chords.

The example here below is using first an Abmaj7 arpeggio and then continuing in a Cmaj7 arpeggio really bringing out the #5(E) and #9(B) over the Abmaj7.

A great Arpeggio Workout!

Here is a great foundation when it comes to working with arpeggios and pentatonic scales on a Jazz Standard:

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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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2 Arpeggios and How to make 15 Great Licks with them

Scales and Arpeggios are not inspiring, and you can’t immediately go from Arpeggios to Jazz Guitar solos. But this challenge might be a good way to try.

You probably know how it is to feel like you are always playing the same things and nothing sounds fresh. I think we all have that, and mostly we then go look for something completely new to work on.

Last time I felt like this I decided to challenge myself to take something really simple: a II V I and then 2 arpeggios, one for the II chord and one for the V chord, and then see how many licks I could make. That also gave me a chance to use some patterns and melodic ideas that I picked up from people like Jesse Van Ruller, Pat Metheny, Rosenwinkel, Grant Green and a few tricks from Metal as well.

The Challenge: 2 arpeggios and a lot of Jazz Licks

Last time I felt like this I decided to challenge myself to take something really simple: a II V I and then 2 arpeggios, one for the II chord and one for the V chord, and then see how many licks I could make. That also gave me a chance to use some patterns and melodic ideas that I picked up from people like Jesse Van Ruller, Pat Metheny, Rosenwinkel, Grant Green and a few tricks from Metal as well.

The advantage is to use a very limited set of notes (4 per chord) and then really focus on what you can do with the melody. And since the notes are the same all the time it is not about that.
Let’s first look at the two arpeggios: It’s a II V I in G major: Am7 D7 Gmaj7.

Get some fresh ideas!

If you ever had trouble coming up with some new II V I licks with the arpeggios you already know then I am sure this video will help you. In this video I am taking two arpeggios, one for the II chord and one for a V chord and then make 15 II V I licks.

1 – The Basic Arpeggios

I am just playing the II V and then resolving on the G, so on the Am7 I am using the arpeggio from the 3rd, Cmaj7 and on the D7alt I am using the arpeggio from the 7th: Cm7b5.
The first basic example would probably be something like this:

Here the idea is voice-leading, and the arpeggio is treated as 4 separate voices.

2 – One Direction Rosenwinkel

Another way of playing the two arpeggios would be as a movement in one direction ala Kurt Rosenwinkel:

3 – Two Direction Arps

So here I first play one arpeggio and then continue with the closest note in the next one.
You can also try to change direction with the arpeggios:

4 – 1 5 3 7 Pattern

Playing Arpeggios in patterns can be a great way to get some new melodies, and while you should not get lost in all the possibilities it is a great thing to check out and also a good way to practice more flexibel with the melodies you can play.

5 – Grant Green’s Rose

Grant Green likes to use the Honeysuckle rose phrase which is really just an inversion of a Maj7 arpeggio, that works really well like this.

You could also look at the Honeysuckle Rose phrase as an example of what Barry Harris is calling a pivot chord, so the low root is moved up an octave (so pivoted)

6 – A Honeysuckle Variation

A variation on the honeysuckle rose idea and now with a bit more skipping around with the Cm7b5 arpeggio.

7 – Drop2 Not From Mark Turner

I guess this is a Jens Larsen thing that I thought I heard Mark Turner do in a solo, but actually, he was playing something else.

8 – Metheny’s Melodic Voice-leading

Pat Metheny uses this type of melody which is a more elaborate way of using voice-leading:

of course when he does that he usually plays a faster subdivision like 16ths and repeats the patterns several times. You can check out some examples of this in this video on Metheny: Pat Metheny Is Not About The Notes, Are You?

9 – Drop2 Inversions

You can also work with inversions of the Drop two voicings and then not use a drop2 arpeggio for one of the chords.

10 – Reverse Rosenwinkel

The Kurt Rosenwinkel melody that moves in one direction can of course also be done descending. We could call it a “Reverse Rosenwinkel”

11 – Metal Arpeggios

Metal players have very practical ways to play arpeggios and sometimes focus more on easy fingerings than strong melodies, but it does make sense to use some of the easy fingering ideas in jazz as well.

12 – Metal Arpeggios #2

Another very common repeating pattern is this one that you could turn into a lick like this: EX11

13 – Jesse Van Ruller Pattern

A Jesse Van Ruller lick that I transcribed a long time ago used an arpeggio like this Maj7 arpeggio. That’s a very nice pattern and not used too often. It is almost like a shell voicing for the first three notes of the Cmaj7 arpeggio.

14 – Mixed up Drop2 Voicing

Drop2 voicings can be played in patterns as well even if it is a bit difficult. This pattern is pretty challenging for your right hand if you pick it, but if you take your bluegrass chops (or ambitions?) and give it a try you might like it. The lick sounds quite modern and angular

15 – Angular Voice-leading

Taking an Arpeggio played in a pattern can also be a great way to create melodies. Here I am playing the Cmaj7 as 5 7 3 1 and then doing the same with the Cø arpeggio.

Check out my Book: Modern Concepts for Jazz Guitar

If you want more inspiration then check out my book, 5 topics and 50 licks plus of course explanations and exercises. It also includes a transcribed blues solo applying all the material in the book.

It comes with a free download of all Audio examples.

Check it out here: http://geni.us/Jens

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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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6 Types of Easy 3-Note Arpeggios That You Need To Know

You should always try to learn new melodies that you can use in your solos. And in Jazz, Arpeggios are a great place to start.

In this video I will go over 6 different types of 3-Note Arpeggios which are really useful because they are 3 notes, so they are easy to study and also very easy to use in solos giving you a lot of material that you can use when improvising over a song.

An Arpeggio is a Melody and a Great Building Block

What a lot of people miss is that an arpeggio is really just a short melody. We think about what the notes are and what alterations and extensions it is over the chord, but you often forget to listen to it and just realize that knowing this arpeggio is really knowing a very strong melody that you can use in your solos.

If you play jazz and especially more modern jazz then knowing these structures is really something you need as a part of your vocabulary and you will find it everywhere in the playing of people like Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jonathan Kreisberg and Lage Lund.

The way I made this video is that I played a short solo on minor blues that I will take apart and talk about all the different arpeggios, give you some exercises and ideas on how to use it.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Arpeggios are Melodies!

0:52 The Minor Blues Example

1:42 Phrase #1 The Essential Triads

2:25 A few thoughs on Triads and Finding Triads for a chord

2:50 Practicing Triads and Inversions

3:26 Phrase #2 Quartal Arpeggios and Altered Dominants

5:11 How To Practice Quartal Arpeggios

5:51 Phrase #3 Shell-Voicings

6:43 Break up the groove with 4-note groupings

7:24 Exercise for Shell-voicings

7:42 Phrase #4 Quintal Arpeggios and Sus4 Triads

8:17 Sus4 Triads8:37 Quinatal Arpeggios Exercise / Message in a Bottle

9:04 Sus4 Triads on a 2-string set

9:40 The Two “Weird” Sus4 Triads (That Joe Henderson Knew)

10:25 Phrase #5 – Spread Triads

11:05 What are Spread Triads or Open-Voiced Triads

12:09 Technical exercises with Spread Triads

12:51 Phrase #6 – The Major b5 Triad (That you didn’t know you knew)

14:37 Move the b5 triads through the scale (as a 1 3 4 structure)

14:55 Thoughts on moving Interval Structures Through a Scale

16:02 Like the Video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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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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Every Arpeggio in the Known Universe

This video is an overview of different types of arpeggios and how they sound. The Arpeggios are demonstrated in 7 different licks to give you an idea about how they could be used.

Are you an Arpeggio master? Do you know all the different types of arpeggios and how to use them in your playing? The Arpeggio is a very important tool when it comes to jazz and jazz guitar.

Demonstrating arpeggios in a musical context

This video is going over a lot of different types of arpeggios. Showing how you might using them in different licks. Applying the arpeggios in a musical context is a much stronger way to apply them in my opinion.

Table of Contents

0:00 Intro – Are you an arpeggio master?

0:22 Did I miss one? 0:43 Example 1 – Basic Arpeggios

1:14 Example 2 – Diatonic arpeggios and the “from the 3rd rule”

2:05 Example 3 – Harmonic minor?

3:24 Example 4 – Not always 4 notes and a little Melodic minor

4:16 The triads we forget to check out

4:34 Example 5 – Not always 3rd based

5:41 Example 6 – Larger intervals like the Police!

6:45 The Magic Arpeggio!

7:38 Example 7 – Three notes but not a triad

8:42 Another great sound from Melodic minor

9:22 What did I forget?

9:35 Like this video? Check out my Patreon Page.

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Three Ways to Add Arpeggios to Your Jazz Guitar Licks

We spend a lot of time practicing and learning Arpeggios, so it makes a lot of sense to have several ways to use them in our playing. In this lesson I will show you 3 ways you can add arpeggios to your lines so that they help you create more interesting licks and you get more out of the time you have spend practicing.

The examples in this lesson are all on a II V I in Eb major, so Fm7, Bb7 to Ebmaj7.

Emphasizing a Target note

Really bringing out interesting extensions and alterations is a great way to use arpeggios.

In the example below the target note G, the 9th, is given an extra emphasis because it is the top note in an arpeggio. The note is given even more energy by the fact that the arpeggio is played as an 8th note triplet. This heightens the velocity towards it and makes it sound more like a resolution. The fact that the G is on a heavy beat also helps give it more emphasis.

Learn from Charlie Parker and Wes Montgomery

Playing arpeggios and using the top note as a target is something that has been common in Jazz since Charlie Parker. Wes Montgomery also uses 5 or 6 note arpeggios to bring out specific targets in his solo. A recent video I did on his playing talked about his use of this to emphasize the 11th over a minor chord.

Moving this to the Eb major II V I then that would be:

In the example above the Ab major triad is used to target the Bb on beat 3. The arpeggio is really useful and the technique of summing up your lines in the important target notes can be useful to realize this and also for a lot of other things in the line.

Changing direction and adding large intervals

Playing lines that consist of melodies that only move in one direction can become boring and predictable for the listener. Arpeggios and especially arpeggio inversions can help doing this really well. If you look at the general movement from Fm7 to Bb it is a scale run from C to F and then moving from Eb to D on the Bb7.

The arpeggio is here used to introduce a skip from F down to Ab. From there it moves back up to then return to the D.

Change direction on Chord tones

The strong place to do this is to use it when you are on a chord tone. In the example above it was on the root (F). Below I am using the same technique but now the arpeggio is inserted on the 3rd(Ab). The arpeggio I use is a 1st inversion Abmaj7 arpeggio.

Coltrane and his descending Arpeggio Cascades

The previous technique used the arpeggio to introduce a large interval skip which is then resolved by the rest of the arpeggio. In the example below I am using a quote from John Coltrane’s Cousin Mary Solo, a song off “Giant Steps”

One way to summarize the Fm7 bar is to see it as a three note descending scale run: Bb, Ab, G with two arpeggios inserted after the last two notes. The arbeggios are an Fm 2nd inversion triad and an Abmaj7.

This melody is more radical but therefore also more dramatic and surprising. This probably has to do with the fact that the large interval skip is at the end of the arpeggio and not at the beginning. At the same time the dramatic cascade effect is a great way to shake things up a little.

For me personally this is a great example of how powerful Coltrane’s melodic concept was!

Use what you Practice and explore what is possible!

Exploring how to use the things we practice is almost as important as practicing them in the first place. Of course there are many ways we can do this, both by composing and experimenting but certainly also by transcribing and analyzing. 

This lesson demonstrates both transcribing and composing as examples, and for me those are the two main sources of inspiration and knowledge when it comes to applying what I practice.

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Three ways to Use Arpeggios in Scale Runs

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Things You Never Use in Your Solos – Mixolydian

We are always looking for new ideas and things to use in our solos so that we can keep improving and stay inspired. In this lesson I am going to go over three examples of some less common ideas that you can add into you vocabulary when using Mixolydian, so if you are playing over a dominant chord. I chose to keep it in a more modal context than in a cadence since these ideas are very useful and easy to study on a static or modal background.

For each of the licks I have also added some exercises to get familiar with the new structure and talk a little about how to use them in jazz licks.

Scale, Chord, Mode and all that

The examples in this lesson are all on a D7 chord, so I am using D mixolydian which is of course the same as G major, since D7 is the dominant of G. Below in example 1 a position of the G major or D mixolyidan scale is shown.

Quintal Harmony – The sound of the Police.

The first structure you can experiment with is the quintal arpeggio. As you hear me play in the video this arpeggio is associated with the sound of Andy Sumners from the Police. That said, if you ask a jazz piano player he might talk about how Kenny Barron is using it a lot and Hendrix was fond of it as well, so it is certainly not unique to the Police.

A good way to check this arpeggio out is to consider it a diatonic arpeggio and play it through the scale, In example 2 I have done this on the A, D & G string set.

One note per string exercises like this are always great for your right hand if you alternate pick.

Another very useful exercise is to take the quintal arpeggio and play it through a position of the scale. Probably this is more for overview and to connect it with the scale than for speed.

A Jazz Guitar Lick with Quintal Arpeggios

On the D7 chord there are of course several different options for a quintal arpeggios. In this example I am using the one from the 5th: A E B, which related to a D root: 5th, 9th and 13th.

The lick starts with the quintal arpeggio and from there continues with a descending scale run down to the 1 of the 2nd bar. In the 2nd bar the melody is first a quartal arpeggio from C: C F# B which is also what you might know as a D7(13) without the root. The Last part of the lick is a scale run in a 3 note per string B minor (or D major) pentatonic scale.

The Forgotten Triad Pairs

Usually when you see people work with Triad Pairs in improvisation they stick with the two major triads next to each other and work with that sound. So in a C major context that would be F and G major triads.  In fact you can choose any set of two triads next to each other and use that as a triad pair and often you can find a set that works better with the chord you are using it on than the two major triads.

In this example I am making a triad pair by removing the one note that you can’t really emphasize on a D7: G. If we take that note a way we are left with 6 notes in the scale and those 6 notes form the Am and Bm triads.

There are several ways to work on these triad pairs. Here is first the Am and Bm triads in the position. I play them in inversions alternating the Am and Bm triads.

Here is a similar exercise but on the A,D and G string set.

Triad Pair melodies: Beautiful intervals

The lick using the triad pairs is almost exclusively using the triad pairs. The first part is chaining together Am root position and a Bm 2nd inversion. From there it continues with a 315 pattern of the Am and the same for the Bm triad. The ending is a smale melody fragment constructed from an Am triad.

The exotic Sus4 options

In my recent lesson on Melodic Minor I also talk about the diatonic sus4 triads (check it out: HERE).

The Sus4 triads are a great sound, they are of course also related to quintal and quartal harmony since: Asus4 is A D E,  E A D is a quartal arpeggio and D A E is a quintal arpeggio.

The first sus4 arpeggio that I am using is an F#dim(sus4). F#dim is F# A C, and F#dim(sus4) is F# B C.  This is in fact spelling out the core of the D7 Mixolydian with C and F# and adding a 13th with the B.

You may recognize the arpeggio as the opening statement in the Joe Henderson piece Inner Urge.

The arpeggio is shown in the position here below:

The other arpeggio I use is an Asus4 arpeggio. This is shown in position here below in example 9:

The sus4 triads are a great way to add extensions and also get some larger intervals in the lick because they by design already contain a 4th and a 5th interval.

Mixolydian Sus4 triads in Action!

The Line starts with a simple statement of the basic chord: D and F#. This is used as a motif and played in reverse a step lower: E C. The last half of the first bar is an Em pentatonic fragment. In the 2nd bar the melody is the F#dim(sus4) arpeggio in 2 octaves. 

Putting all of this to use!

Of course the point of these exercises and the licks are to demonstrate what is possible with these structures. For all of the ideas there are many more options available if you try to find other sus4 triads or triad pairs. 

The material in this lesson doesn’t become really useful until you work a bit with it and start making your own lines, so don’t forget to incorporate it in your own playing!

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Thing You Never Use in Your Solos – Mixolydian

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Autumn Leaves – Soloing with arpeggios

Autumn Leaves is a great chord progression to start improvising following the harmony. It’s a well known tune and it still covers a lot of important cadences in a key. In this lesson I will go over a set of Jazz Guiat arpeggios in one position, some exercises, target notes and strategies for making solos where you can hear the harmony in the improvisation.

About Autumn Leaves

In this lesson I have chosen to work on Autumn Leaves in the key of G minor. You will find a few versions in the key of E minor since it is printed in that key in the old Realbook, but the most common key is G minor.

The two main cadences in the song are II V I cadences, one to the major tonic (Bb) and one to the minor tonic (Gm). In this way you cover two of the most important harmonic movements in this key.

Learning the song

Besides knowing the arpeggios and the chords by heart you need to know the melody of the song you want to improvise on. In the end the melody is more important because the harmony may vary from version to version but the melody will stay the same. In this lesson (and for copyright reasons) I can’t go over the melody, but if you want some hints on how to do this you could check out this Q&A video where I talk about that: Q&A #3

The form of Autumn leaves is a bit uncommon for jazz since it is AAB where the B is 16 bars and the 8 bars. A good place to start is to just play the chords of the song. In example 1 I have written out chord voicings for the song. In the example I am using the material that I went over in the How to Play Jazz Chords lesson.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-1-1
autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-1-2

Since a lot of the examples I am using are over the whole form I am playing them a bit fast in the video. You can always go back and check or even play them at a slower speed if you have a place that is hard to follow. I ended up doing it like this because the video otherwise would be much too long.

The Arppegios

I have written out the arpeggios in the 6th position of the neck. If you think in Bb major this is a very common Bb major scale position so you probably know it already.

Example 2 has the arppegios of the different chords written out. If you count the chords you’ll see that we have 10 different chords. Since the goal of this lesson is to improvise fluently with well connected melodies using the arpeggios, I have written out all the arpeggios around the 6th position. Shifting up and down the neck is going to make it much more difficult to play logical melodies and almost impossible to do some of the exercises.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-2

Practising the arpeggios

First you should probably try to become familiar with the arpeggios in example 2 and then as fast as possible try to start using them on the song. Students often forget how important it is to practice using what you’ve learnt.

Besides just practising each arpeggio it is a very good idea to work on playing the arpeggios in different patterns. Playing them in groups of 3 or 4 notes, skipping notes etc are good ways to get more flexible with the arpeggio. You need the flexibility when you start improvising, and keep in mind that it is about flexibility and overview not about speed when working on this, so there’s no real need to play it fast.

The first exercise is to just play through the song with the arpeggios from example 2 in a one octave version. This will not only help practising the arpeggios but also build your sense of the form of the song and help you hear the chords moving and when they change. I tried to take the highest octave available of each arpeggios because that is probably the register you’ll need the most when you solo so you might as well start by working on a good overview of that.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-3-1
autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-3-2

Connecting the arpeggios

The next exercise is a very good way to gain a strong overview of the arpeggios and chords. It is also helping you to develop your ability to think ahead. The idea is to start playing the arpeggios over the progression and then when ever the chord changes to continue the movement with the note that is the closest in the next arpeggio. It’s quite tricky to get started with but very rewarding when you start getting the freedom while improvising.

When you start this then you probably don’t need to work on the whole form in the beginning. In example 4 I have written out the example I play in the video in rubato. In the video you can hear me pointing out whenever I change.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-4

In the video I also demonstrate this on the first 8 bars and start in a different octave. As I talk about in the video it is about the proces not about the notes in this case so you should vary where you start in the arppegio to keep challenging yourself and your knowledge of the arpeggios in this position.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-5

Putting it all together in improvising

As I demonstrate in the video the thinking behind making harmony clear in a solo line is to target certain notes of the strong beats (in this case the 1). The idea is that a strong and logical sounding line will be a line that has the direction towards a clear target note. I also discuss this way of making melodies in another lesson that you can check: Target Notes You will notice in the solo I improvise in the video that I am not too concerned with target notes unless the chord is changing.

The first target notes I’d suggest you use is in the song is the 3rd of each chord. There are two advantages to this. It very clearly targets the color of the chord and it also connects what you play with the melody since a lot of the sustained notes in the melody are in fact the 3rd of the chord.

In example 6 I have written out the 3rds of each chord played over the root of the chord.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-6

Making lines with the arpeggios

Now that we have arpeggios and target notes for each of the chords we can start to work on coming up with lines over the song.

The way you start working on this is probably to practice rubato to make a line from one chord to the next. In example 7 I have shown a simple Cm7 melody that leads from Cm7 to F7.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-7

In the video I also take the next step from working in rubato and demonstrate 8 bars in time as written out in example 8.

autumn-leaves-with-arpeggios-ex-8

I hope you can use the arpeggios and techniques I went over here to get started playing strong clear lines over Autumn Leaves.

If you want to learn to play a Chord Melody of Autumn Leaves then have a look at this lesson

Autumn Leaves In-depth Solo lesson

If you want to take this a step further then you can check out the WebStore lesson with a 50 minute video lesson I made on a 4 chorus solo. It goes over some basic ideas as shown hear and continues to more complicated concepts like reharmonization and different scale choices.

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