Tag Archives: jazz guitar lesson

The Most Important Melodic Minor Modes In One Song

Melodic minor is a beautiful and important sound in Jazz which you want to have in your vocabulary, but it can be a little difficult to internalize the melodic minor modes and really hear melodies with them so that you can use it in your solos.

In this video, I am going to show you a song that is pretty easy to learn that will teach you the 3 most important sounds you need melodic minor for. Don’t forget that practicing to use the scale in real music is the best way to make it a part of your playing

The Song

The song that I am talking about is the standard Bernie’s Tune, a basic AABA song, usually in Dm and with a bridge that is in Bb major. It is most famous from the recordings of Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, but it was written by the jazz pianist Bernie Miller.

The song is not that difficult and the theme is a great swinging melody using 3/4 phrases over the 4/4 meter.

 

Analyzing The Song

Analyzing The Song is pretty easy. In fact, it is really just a minor version of a very common song, but I will return to that later.

The song is in Dm (tonic chords) and it has a II V cadences to Dm at the end of the A-part. The Bb7 is a tritone substitute of E7 so that is a sub for the dominant of the dominant. The chord has an E in the melody so this is very clearly a Lydian dominant.

The bridge is just a few turnarounds in Bb major and a II V back to Dm.

Let’s have a look at where you can put melodic minor to use!

Tonic Minor – The Richest Minor Sound

The m6 and mMaj7 chords are used for the tonic minor sound. This is probably the best place to start when learning to use the melodic minor.

Since this is the sound of the root of the scale then it is easier to hear and get into your playing.

In this case for Dm, we have

D E F G A B C# D

And the diatonic arpeggios in the scale would be:

DmMaj7 Em7 Fmaj7(#5) G7 A7 Bø C#ø

For this chord then you can get a lot out of the basic diatonic arpeggios which is a little more tricky with the other sounds.

The arpeggios you can use would: DmMaj7, Fmaj7(#5), and Bø where Bø is, of course, the same note set as Dm6:

Bø: B D F A -> Dm6: D F A B

DmMaj7 could sound something like:

Fmaj7(#5) is the diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of D, this sounds like>

and The Bø you could put to use like this:

Lydian Dominant

The next chord in the song is a Bb7 which here works as a tritone substitute for the dominant of the dominant, so Bb7 as a substitute for E7, the dominant of A7. And this chord is what makes it a minor version of a famous song in major, but I will get to that in a bit.

The scale that goes with this chord is F melodic minor, and there are some diatonic arpeggios that work well:

FmMaj7 Gm7 Abmaj7(#5) Bb7 C7 Dø Eø FmMaj7

Here the obvious options would be Bb7 and Dø

Bb7:

Dø:

They both sound great, but the arpeggio nails the Bb7 without really getting the #11 in there, and you can construct other arpeggios that really nail the sound of the chord with the #11 as well and there is a really easy way to do that.

Creating Arpeggios That Nail The Lydian Dominant Sound

This is pretty simple because all you need to do is to take the Bb7 arpeggio(play) and then replace the F with an E, which gives you a Bb7(b5) arpeggio

Bb7: Bb D F Ab → Bb D E Ab = Bb7(b5)

And for the Dø the same thing works, but now you get an arpeggio that is not really related to D and is more likely an E7(#5) arpeggio

Dø: D F Ab C → D E Ab C = E Ab C D = E7(#5)

With these you can make lines like this:

Bb7(b5) 

E7(#5):

 

Where to use Lydian Dominants

Lydian Dominants are mostly used to dominant chords that don’t really resolve. There are a few places where the use is maybe more habit than anything else.

Tritone substitutes: Bb7 A7 Dm7

Backdoor dominants: Fmaj7 Bb7 Cmaj7

V of V in major: Bb7 Bbm7 Eb7 Abmaj7

The Altered Dominant

The Altered Chord is the final sound melodic minor sound that fits the song. This can be used on the A7, and A7 altered is Bb melodic minor:

Bb C C# Eb F G A Bb, here it is written out with a C# instead of a Db because we are using it on an A7 chord.

The diatonic chords:

BbmMaj7 Cm7 C#maj7(#5) Eb7 F7 Gø Aø BbmMaj7

Here the two main arpeggios that gives you the sound of the chord (C# and G) and some alterations are

Gø which gives you 3rd, b9, 7th and b13 :

Eb7 which is b5 7th b9 3rd:

The Gø is a little easier to use and sounds a little less harsh because it has the b13 (F) rather than the b5: Eb

Does It Really Fit?

With the Tonic minor and the Lydian Dominant, there are quite a few standards that clearly use those sounds, but that is less clear with the Altered dominant. In most songs, the sound on the dominant of a minor key is coming from the harmonic minor scale. This is also the case with Bernie’s tune which has an A7 arpeggio. The A7 arpeggio has an E which is a note that is not in the altered scale.

The altered dominant is really more of a reharmonization.

The Jazz Guitar Roadmap

My online course is a series of lessons set up so that you start at the beginning and work towards playing solos and making lines.

✅ An organized approach for practicing and learning Jazz Guitar

✅ How to get you started playing solos that sound like Jazz

✅ What you need and how you start coming up with Jazz lines

But don’t take my word for it:

“This is by far the best  Course out there for anyone wanting to get into Jazz Guitar and overwhelmed by the amount of study material available. Jens Larsen has a way of providing you with what you need at the level you are at and you will be amazed at how much improvement you will see both in your playing and understanding of Jazz Guitar and associated Jazz vocabulary.

Thanks, Jens and I look forward to a follow up course if possible!”
– Ger Leahy

Get an invitation to check it out here: http://bit.ly/JazzGtRm

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Jazz Reharmonization – How To Make Great Variations of a II V I

There are some really beautiful variations and reharmonizations of a basic II V I progression that you can check out and start adding to your own repertoire. You don’t always want to play the chords exactly as written, especially if you are trying to make a chord melody arrangement or an intro sound better.

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:33 The Basic II V I

00:45 #1 Walking up

01:46 #2 Walking down

02:13 #3 Wandering to minor

02:58 #4 Strolling back from minor

03:46 #5 Coltrane’s Detour

04:27 #6 The Walk Down to Another Key

05:11 #7 The “Wrong Chromatic” approach II V

05:59 Make your chord progressions more interesting

06:13 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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What Really Makes It Sound Like Jazz?

You already know that just playing the pentatonic scale doesn’t really make it sound like a great blues lick. There are other important things like bends and vibrato that make it sound great.

Of course, this is true for Jazz as well: It is not enough to just run up and down the arpeggio to make it sound like a great Jazz line. You want to play things that sound like this:

In this lesson, I am going to show you some of the techniques you can use to add some jazz phrasing or flavor to your playing, and you don’t need a million scales and arpeggios for this, and this is more important and much more effective

It is Not a Rule Book, It Is A Sound

I am going to use Blues as a reference in this video because most people already have some experience with that and a clear idea about when something sounds like blues or not.

I don’t know if you ever thought about it, but you probably did not learn to play or recognize Blues by reading a list of rules, at least I certainly did not read a Blues rule book.

You just heard it so much that you can recognize the general sound. I think it is important to keep that in mind, and in this video, I am going to give you some examples and then in those examples point out what gives it a Jazz sound.

That way you learn to recognize it and also have a way of using it in your own playing.

Sliding Into It

Here I am making the line work by sliding into the B and then continuing down an Am7(9) arpeggio. This way of changing how some of the notes sound really makes the line a lot more interesting.

And you can use this with any type of material, it also sounds right if you are just sliding into notes in the pentatonic scale:

One of the things you really want to avoid is that all the notes sound the same, this is just one trick, let’s look at some more that you can add to your playing.

 

Fast and Easy Embellishment

One problem that you can run into as a beginner jazz guitarist is that you play long winding 8th note lines, and they have all the right notes and arpeggios, but it still doesn’t really work.

But one of the things that can make a line like this a lot more interesting is to add some embellishments like this:

And you can practice playing these small legato embellishments and insert them into your playing. Some common ones to know would be these:

Notice how they are all small clusters of fast notes targeting a chord tone in Am

You already heard how the first two sound. The last one could be put to use on an Am7 like this:

Here I am targeting the 5th of the chord using a variation of the last embellishment in example 7

Changing The Rhythm

Of course, there are many other ways you can change the rhythm besides embellishments, but one that I think deserves a mention here is 8th note triplets, and especially playing arpeggios as 8th note triplets. This is pure Bebop or instant Bebop, and a great way to make an 8th note line more varied.

Here I am using it on the Am7 arpeggio. You can also use it on descending arpeggios as I did in the beginning of the video or like this:

I have a few other videos where I talk about practicing arpeggios and I am not going to go over it in too much detail here, you can check those out through the link in the description. Let’s look at maybe the most important part of how you get a line to sound like Jazz: Dynamics

The Notes Are Not The Same

Not every note is the same, and they should also not be played the same. I have mentioned before how Bop lines are all about the rhythms that are hidden in the accents and also how that is a big part of why Jazz is rarely played with overdrive or distortion because we want to have the ability to make the notes have very different dynamics.

What this is really about is making lines where you can add accents in the right places. Something where we, frustratingly enough, don’t have a rule book.

But!

You should work on adding accents to your lines and also work on writing lines that allow for interesting accents.

A lick that doesn’t really work would be this:

But if you try to create melodies where the high notes are on off beats then you can end up with something a lot more interesting like this:

Here the melody has a high note on 3& in the first bar and on 2& in the second bar that I can give an accent, and this makes it a lot less heavy and much more groovy.

Starting to hear the phrases as these flowing notes with some notes popping out is a huge part of Jazz phrasing and if you start to get that into your system then you can make almost anything sound like Jazz.

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Jazz Chords – From Easy to Advanced in 5 Solid Exercises

It is easy to get lost in difficult Jazz chords that you don’t have control over and can’t use when you are playing, and that means that you are not really getting anything out of them, so in this video, I am going to show you a set of easy jazz chords and then show you how much you can do with it and how you can really play pieces with them.

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Content:

00:00 Intro – Easy Jazz Chords To Expand On

00:28 #1 Shell-Voicings – What Does The Chords Sound Like

02:11 #2 Add Some Rhythm And Make It Interesting

02:41 #3 More Notes = More Color

04:39 #4 Less Notes = Even More Color (And More Notes)

05:25 #5 Become Free With The Chords

05:57 Get More Out Of Your Shell Voicings

06:03 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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Beautiful Jazz Chords That Make You Less Boring

Do you get bored listening to yourself playing chords? Let’s look at some 3-note jazz chords that change things up a bit so you are not always playing the same tired harmony.

Warning: Some of the chords in this video can be both rootless jazz chords and incomplete, they are so hip that they are almost only alterations.

Make Chords Your Own

This example has a few “advanced” sounds but it also still makes sense and has a natural flow.

You could see this example as derived from these chords that you then change a few notes and make more interesting, and the way I do that is something you can also do with the chords you play.

On the Am7 we have the 11 instead of the 5

On the D7, #9 instead of b9

Gmaj7: First  #11 instead of 5 and then chromatic up to #5 and then #11 instead of 5

Why You Use 3-Note Jazz Chords

As you can see some of what makes it more interesting is also that I move around voices in the chords, and that type of movement is a lot easier to execute if you play 3-note chords, in fact, you can really start to improvise with them as if they were 3 voices. This is much harder with 4-note voicings that are a lot less flexible. (B-Roll 3-note voicings?)

Open Up How You Think About Chords (No More Wonderwall)

One of the things that you should develop if you want to play chords and Jazz harmony is that you don’t want to get stuck only thinking about the chords as static grips where you don’t know what notes are in there. As you can see in the previous example you open up an entire world if you are able to start changing the different voices in the chord. (b-roll, changing the notes of a chord?)

Exploring chords and working with the type of things I do in this video is a great way to get into that. Making your own chord melody arrangements is another one. In the end it is important that you don’t find yourself screwing up the music and say

Next: Let’s try the same type of thing but then also break a few rules for the chords.

Color is more important than Rules!

When you play voicings like these then the context of the II V I is pretty predictable, and therefore you can really get away with playing pretty vague chords as you can see here.

The voicings in the example above are derived from this set:

Here I chose to have a 9th instead of a 7th on the Am7

The D7 doesn’t have a 7th either because I include both b5 and b13. You could see it as coming from this voicing.

The Gmaj7 is actually a G6/9 and you could see it as an Em triad where the G is replaced with an A.

This is followed by a voicing that is really just constructed from what you can fit under the melody, which is the 3rd. The important part of the sound is the minor 2nd interval between #11 and 5th.

But of course, you can also explore these sounds on the high-string sets as I do in the next example.

It Is Fantastic Not To Be Tuned In 4ths

With these voicings you don’t have to sit on the middle string set all the time, you can also branch out to the top strings, and with standard tuning that makes some voicings a lot easier to play.

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Comping – How To Add Movement To Static Chords

Often you come across songs where you are comping a static chord for a few bars, and it can get a little boring with just one voicing, not adding energy and movement to the music. This video will give you some tricks to make places like that more interesting and show you how to add some beautiful chords and reharmonizations to your jazz guitar playing.

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:33 Example 1 – Diatonic Passing Chords on You Stepped Out Of A Dream

01:05 Diatonic Passing Chords – Easy, Solid and Effective

01:38 Example 2 – Secondary Dominants on How High The Moon

02:04 Dominants and Tritones – The Strongest Pull

04:18 Example 3 – Ladybird With Secret Dim Chords

04:37 #IV Diminished – Overlooked

06:06 Voice-leading And Chords You Can’t Analyze

08:25 Example 6 – Take The A train with some voice-leading

08:39 Make Your Chord Progressions More Interesting

08:55 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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Make Your Minor Chord Progressions More Interesting

The minor key has a lot of interesting options, and also quite a few that you don’t have in Major. This video goes over some of the beautiful progressions that you can create in minor when reharmonizing a basic II V I, and you can go pretty far.

This video will give you a lot of examples and concepts to add to your repertoire!

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:47 The Tritone substitute That We All Know

02:07 Minor Ladybird Turnaround

02:50 Making it all II Vs like Wes

03:48 Making it all II Vs But Then A Little Weird

04:17 The Amazing Amount Of Diatonic Chords In Minor

05:27 The Most Beautiful Altered Dominant Is A Minor Chord

06:20 Pretending To Be Go To Another Degree0

06:59 The Neapolitan Subdominant

07:53 A Little Like Coltrane But In Minor

09:37 Another Great Sounding Substitution for the V

09:46 Why You Want To Think in Functional Harmony

09:54 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page

 

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Melodic Minor – How To Make Minor Blues Sound Amazing

The minor blues is a great place to explore Melodic minor, and you can get a lot of very different sounds with it.

In this video, I am going to show you how you can use Melodic Minor on an A minor blues, the different colors that are in there, not only on the minor chords but also melodic minor modes like Lydian dominant and altered dominant sounds.

Let’s start with a solo chorus on the song and then I will down what is going and give you some variations and exercise to use in your own playing.

The backing track I am using in this video was made by Quist, and if you want to play over it then there is a link in the description to it on his channel.

Blues Licks With Melodic Minor

The first few phrases are sounding more like a blues phrase than a bebop line, and this is also an option with melodic minor.

The material I use is really just playing around the basic chord tones: Am6, which are great for sounding like blues, almost a BB king flavor. In the example I kept it a bit more plain with the phrasing, but you could also play the line with a few slurs and grace notes like this:

Here, I am mostly just using the Am6 or F#ø arpeggio, so if you take an arpeggio like this:

Notice that an Am6 arpeggio is the same as an F#ø arpeggio, so as you can see here, where F#ø is in fact an inversion of Am6 (and the other way around)

then you can work on making phrases that sound more like blues phrases, like this:

Making the phrases shorter, and a bit more focus on rhythm usually does the trick.

Another option is using double stops like this:

You Need To Know This For ANY Scale You Want To Use

Something I first want to also cover here that is extremely important and something you ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS want to check out for any scale you want to use in a solo: The Diatonic Chords!

You will see this coming back all the time in this video, and knowing them will give you 1000s of things to play.

For A minor Melodic we have these diatonic arpeggios:

You should check those out like this, but also in a position to really get these into your system 

You already saw how this was useful for the Blues phrases, let’s look at some of the other options we have using Diatonic Arpeggios

Beautiful Notes and Diatonic arpeggios

The next phrase in the solo is a combination of two arpeggios: Cmaj7#5 and Am6, both played descending.

This is, again, the Am6 arpeggio and then the diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord Cmaj7(#5).

The Cmaj7(#5) works great because it spells out the upper part of the minMaj7 chord and adds a 9th:

AmMaj7: A C E G#

Cmaj7(#5): C E G# B

(Secret) Altered dominant

The chord in bar 4 is a super-imposition, so I am adding a chord to the song that is not really there, and it is creating tension that then resolves a bar later.

In this case, I am adding an A7alt which then will resolve to the Dm6 in bar 5.

A7 altered is the same as Bb melodic minor, and the line is also clearly related to a Bbm shape.

This is because the Bbm over an A7 gives us some altered notes and the 3rd of the chord:

Bbm: Bb C# F

against A: b9 3 b13

The Line uses the Bbm triad and adds in a C which is a #9 on the A7alt.

Being Vague On Purpose But Sounding Great

The phrase on the Dm6 chord is a little less clear, but is a nice example of using a structure as a motif.

The first bar is a statement coming from an Esus4 triad, and this is echoed in the 2nd bar as an Asus4 triad playing the same melody.

Checking out sus4 triads is under-estimated but very much something you want to do to have some more options, just like you want to explore the diatonic triads and arpeggios of the melodic minor scale.

The Lydian Dominant

The final cadence in a minor blues is a V chord and then also the tritone substituted dominant for that chord.

In Am that is E7 and the tritone substituted dominant for this: F7.

In the solo example, I playing the F7 as a Lydian dominant, which is a very common scale choice for a tritone substitute, and I use the altered scale for the E7, so both of these sounds are rooted in melodic minor, and two of the most common sounds you need to know.

For an F7, the Lydian dominant scale is the same set of notes as the C melodic minor, and I am using the Ebmaj7(#5) arpeggio combining it with a trill.

Ebmaj7(#5) is a good way to have a melody with many of the important notes in the chord:

Eb G B D

b7 9th #11 and 13th.

The Altered Dominant

The E7 altered is also a melodic minor sound, being the same set of notes as F melodic minor.

The line is in this case based around a few notes of an F minor triad and then a Dø arpeggio.

The m7b5 arpeggio on the b7 is a great arpeggio for getting the sound of an altered dominant across with the

Dø : D F G# C – b7 b9 3rd b13

Here I am resolving it to the 9th on the final tonic chord and also combining these with the maj7 and the maj6 to really get that rich tonic minor sound

A Great Arpeggio Combination

In the final, bar I am using a combination of an Abmaj7(#5) and Fm triads for the altered chord, again using some of the same structures to get that sound across on the altered dominant.

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Jazz Blues – 3 Easy Techniques That Make You Sound Better

Most guitar players, and it is probably the same for other instruments as well, know the sound of the blues and can play blues solos. And then you start playing Jazz, and it is all about playing changes and using arpeggios and the right scales, but there is no common ground, and you don’t have a way to combine the two like you hear Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson or George Benson do.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the techniques you can use to get that mix in there and play Jazz Blues, something that is great on a 12 bar blues, but that will work for you on pretty much all songs.

For this video, I am going to use a basic 12 bar Jazz Blues in F, which happens to also be the key of the transcribed examples which probably says something about how common that is.

The Jazz Blues is pretty similar a straight ahead blues except for the II V in the last line, the cadence to II in bar 8 and the dim chord in bar 6.

The things I cover in this video are applied to a blues and are things you anyway want to be able to do there, but you can easily put it to use on other songs as well. (maybe too much ?)

#1 Riff Melodies in Jazz Solos

B-roll slow bar of parker 1 (maybe 2) chords Bb7 Bdim

This first technique is a way of creating melodies so that you A) nail the changes and B) make a really solid melody over the first few bars.

It is extremely common, and you will find it in most Charlie Parker Solos, and in a ton of other solos and themes.

In the example below you can see a basic phrase in the first F7 bar which is repeated but now the A is changed to Ab on the Bb7. The original statement is further developed in bar 3 and reappears as an altered lick in bar 4.

As I mentioned this is very common in both solos and themes a very clear example is Sonny Rollins’ Tenor Madness

You can see how this theme uses the exact same formula as what I played in example 1 with the main motif and then repeating it in the second bar, only changing the 3rd of the chord to fit the next chord. Then returning to the original motif.

Charlie Parker on Now’s The Time

In a solo, it can be useful to also develop the motif a bit like Parker does on Now’s the time.

In the next chorus, he uses this concept again but is also very creative with it

To be honest I think this is where I learned this, listening to Parker playing Blues.

In Other places in the form

A bonus feature from this way of making melodies is that it works in a lot of contexts, you can use it on the IV #IV dim in bar 5 and 6 of a Blues:

And you can even put it to use on a II V by just changing on note going from II to V

Let’s look at how you phrase the notes and not only the type of melodies you make.

#2 Slides and Phrasing

As you may have noticed bends are not that common in Jazz. Not sure why, but it is likely because the music was invented in a time where the guitar strings were very heavy and guitars had a lot less sustain. Instead, slides are often used, creating a similar sound as the grace notes you hear on the piano.

It is easy to get this type of sound into you lines when you solo. The best place to start is to slide into the important notes in the melody which would be the arpeggio notes.

An example of this could sound like this:

So you can see how I slide into 3rds and 5ths on the chord.

An example of  this a little closer to how you might use bending would be something like this:

Working on using this is pretty simple, just start making short phrases with an F7 arpeggio and experiment with adding slides to it.

Try some of these examples:

#3 Easy Double stops that sound great!

Another thing that is probably also borrowed from the piano is using intervals and double stops. Chuck Berry wasn’t the only one who had that idea, so there are lots of double-stops you can use for Jazz Blues phrases.

Sliding into the 3rd interval that is the upper part of an F major triad. The melody is using the same concept going from I to IV by modifying the motif. 3rds are very practical for double stops and therefore also very common, but there are some other good options as well. First I’ll go over another example and then I will show you how to find some double stops for a chord.

This example is using an A as a lower pedal point and then later returns to the 6th interval to emphasize the first note in that phrase. 6th intervals and tritone intervals like you find in this phrase are also fine options for the F7.

Finding Double Stops for a chord

Zoom in and explain and play – neck diagram! – refer to the different chord shapes

And using double stops as a way of emphasizing a note is really use a simple line using a 5th interval we just found could be something like this.

Level up your Jazz Blues

Jazz Blues Solo Intro Pack

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5 Levels Of Maj7 Chords & How To Make Your Own Voicings

One of the most fun parts of learning and playing Jazz is exploring the Jazz chords and the beautiful colors you can add to it and the freedom you have to improvise with them.

In this video, I am going to go over how we start with basic shell-voicings and then end up with voicing with lots of extensions and colors.

And this is also a great way to really get better at checking out and connecting different types of chords and explore the fretboard

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:34 Level 1 – Shell-voicings, Maj7 & Maj6 chords

01:18 Maj7 & Maj6 chords

01:59 Samba comping with Shell-voicings

02:24 Level 2 – Shell with extension & Drop3

03:25 Comping with The Bigger Chords

03:43 Level 3 – Triads & Rootless Jazz Chords

05:17 Jazz Standard with Triad Voicings

05:36 Level 4 – Drop2 and Inversions

07:24 Level 5 -Inverting Shells with extensions

08:36 Adding more colors to a Standard

08:58 More Colorful Chords and Less boring Chord Progressions!

09:05 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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