Tag Archives: jazz guitar licks tutorial

The 3 Things You Need To Add To A Lick To Make It Sound Like Jazz

What are the key ingredients of a Jazz Lick? What do you need to figure out to get something to sound more like Jazz?

In this video, I am going to start with a simple Pentatonic lick and then gradually add things to it to make it sound like a Jazz or Bebop line. This is useful if you want to experiment with adding some jazz ideas to your playing or if you want to check out how good you are at using some of the key Jazz Skills.

The Lick

Here’s a simple lick over a Dm7 chord using a very basic Dm pentatonic scale.
It doesn’t sound wrong, but it is also not really there as a jazz lick.

The lick is using the basic Dm pentatonic scale box 1:

#1 Arpeggios

In Jazz, and especially Bebop, the melody follows the chord progression. One way of doing that is to use the arpeggio of the chord.
When you start to work with this it quickly becomes a lot easier not to think too much in Pentatonic scales, but more in 7 note scales. In this case, I am going to use a C major scale for my D minor chord.

We are playing over a Dm7 chord so we can use that arpeggio (play the Dm7 arpeggio) and another great arpeggio is the one from the 3rd of the chord. The 3rd of Dm7 is F and the arpeggio we have there is an Fmaj7.

If we add the arpeggio then we have a lick that could sound like this:

Practicing Arpeggios

When you want to use arpeggios in your lines it is a good idea to learn them in the scale that you are playing. For this Dm7 I am using a C major scale:

And then practicing the diatonic arpeggios in that scale will be this exercise:

Chromaticism

Another very typical Jazz thing is to use chromatic notes. You use chromatic notes that are either between two scale notes, these are called passing notes.  (play the E. Eb D fragment)
Another option is a short melody that points towards a target note. These are called enclosures. (play the enclosure

If we add those to the line then we have this :

Practicing Chromaticism and Chromatic Enclosures

There are two main ways of working with Chromaticism in lines like this one. In general, there are two types: diatonic passing notes and chromatic enclosure. Most of the time you use both types to target chord tones.

Chromatic Passing notes.

In the exercise below Iam playing diatonic approach notes to the chord tones of the Dm triad. It is a simple way to practice using leading or passing notes.

Chromatic Enclosures

Another, slightly more complicated, way to use chromaticism is to make enclosures. An Enclosure is a small melody that targets a note. Again, I am using this to target chord tones of the Dm triad.

#3 Rhythm – What Jazz Is Really About!

I think The most important part of Jazz is actually rhythm. There are many things to get right about the rhythm, but one thing to work on is to add some upbeats and upbeat accents to the melodies you play.

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Jazz Licks on a Maj7 chord – How To Sound Like Bebop

Learning the rules of a jazz language like Bebop can be a really useful way to study and internalize that sound. In this video, I am going to use some Jazz Licks to cover some of the techniques and how you use them on a Maj7 chord. The 5 examples will show you how you can use Chromaticism, Arpeggios, trills and octave displacement on a maj7th chord.

Jazz Lick #1 – Cowboy Bebop?

When playing bebop we often think about long rows of 8th notes. But it is important to break up that flow to keep it interesting. This example starts with an 8th note triplet which is a chromatic run. This is already adding a different feel fromt the beginning.

From there it continues with a C major triad. The Triad is a great arpeggio to use on a Cmaj7 chord. Charlie Parker plays major triads all the time. From the triad the melody skips up to the 6th(A) and via a chromatic passing note ends on the 3rd(E). Notice how the line is ending on the 2&. This keeps the energy higher than ending on a beat or even a strong beat.

Jazz Lick #2 – Bensons favorite Maj7 lick

This example is build around another 8th note triplet idea. This 8th note triplet is using a Cmaj7 arpeggio. Playing arpeggios as triplets is a very common device in bebop, it really helps target and emphasize the 7th of the arpeggio which is also the top-note. From the target note the line descends in half steps down to the 5th(G)

This example is a favourite of both George Benson and Charlie Parker.

From the G the line concludes with an approach to the 3rd and skipping up to the 6th.

Jazz Lick #3 – Barry’s Recipe

A very useful way to both construct your own lines and understand lines that you have transcribed is to see them as scale melodies with added detours. Barry Harris often constructs lines in his workshops in this way.

This line is essentially a scale melody in bar 1, but with an added chromatic approach between the C and the B.

The 2nd bar is using the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord, Em7, and adds an exciting skip from C to G, ending on 4&.

Jazz Lick #4 – Octave Displacement on a Maj7

Octave displacement is another way to break up the direction of a melody. The idea is to have a melody is moving in one direction and then move a part of the melody an octave up or down.

In this example I am using Octave Displacement to change a Cmaj7 arpeggio and in doing so create a more surprising melody in the first half of bar 1. This is also know as the Honeysuckle Rose lick, since it is in that melody.

The line continues with a descending 1st inversion Am7 arpeggio followed by a trill. Trills are another way to add embellishments to a line that breaks up the flow of 8th notes in a nice way.

In this case the trill is a part of a skip down to the lower G and from here the line concludes with an Em pentatonic melody.

Jazz Lick #5 – Putting it all together!

The final lick is making use of most of the devices discussed in the first 4 examples! Try to have a look and see if you can spot what is used where.

More Bebop lines and Bebop Embellishments?

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Are You Wasting Valuable Time Practicing Jazz Licks Like This?

We all study jazz licks to add new ideas and techniques to our improvisations and our vocabulary. But I often get told by students how they choose a very in effective way of studying licks and are in fact really just wasting their time. In this video I will outline what is not useful when studying licks and also what is a better approach if you want to add material to your repertoire.

I will also use a part of a Grant Green solo as an example of how he gets it right and uses it in his solo.

Practicing Jazz Licks – Contents

0:00 Intro – Learn licks and increase our vocabulary

0:53 The bad way to practice licks even though they are good examples

1:25 Playing some licks (from paper with a metronome?)

1:51 Play the licks over a song

2:22 What is wrong with this approach

2:27 Too Much Information

2:49 A more focused approach to learn from licks

3:10 A II V I lick is about the same as learning a Jazz Standard by heart.

3:35 Why Complete Licks don’t work well in solos

4:03 Converting licks to useful and flexible building blocks

4:33 A lick from the Grant Green Solo on I’ll Remember April and how he uses it

5:21 Finding a better Chunk size

5:39 Making lines with the Grant Green Phrase

6:01 Using the same idea on other chords

6:27 Other examples of how great players use licks.

7:18 How do you work with licks? Do you avoid them? Leave a comment!

7:35 Barry Harris story on learning from Charlie Parker

8:11 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!