Tag Archives: jazz guitar licks

25 Jazz Guitar Exercises – How To Improve Skills In A Musical Way

It is important that we practice and improve our technique, and often a good way to do this is to work on jazz guitar exercises like a phrase or musical fragment. In this video I am going to go over some technical topics you can work on and a few phrases to help you develop your technique.

The format of this lesson is different from what I normally do since it is a set of exercises to work on that will work as technical and musical exercises teaching you.

#1 Triads are great Jazz Chords

#2 Mix Triads with 3-part Quartal chords and sus4 triads

#3 Advanced 3-Part Jazz Chords

#4 Drop2 chords

#5 Drop2 chords with extensions

#6 Beautiful Inner-voice movement

#7 Must Know Drop2 voicings

#8 Medium-swing Bop Lines

#9 Chaining Arpeggios together

#10 Charlie Christian Inspired

#11 F7 Blues line #1

#12 F7 Blues line #2

#13 F7 Blues line #3

#14 Challenge your right-hand

#15 String Skips in arpeggios

#16 Quartal arpeggios

#17 Using Legato in lines

#18 Using Slides

#19 Legato in arpeggios

#20 8th note triplets in lines #1

#21 8th note triplets in lines #2

#22 8th note triplets in lines #3

#23 Sweeping Arpeggios #1

#24 Sweeping Arpeggios #2

#25 Sweeping Arpeggios #3

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Great And Simple Way To Make New Jazz Licks

I think we all know how it is: You are improvising over a song and there is a place or one chord where you always feel like you are playing the Old Jazz Guitar Licks.

One of the ways that I go about finding some new material that I like is actually pretty simple and that is what I am going to show you in this lesson.

In my experience, you are better off working on taking the things that you already know and get better at using them instead of trying to learn a million Star Trek scales that
you can’t make music, so this is actually pretty down to earth.

Very often when I listen to the jazz guitar solos that I love, like Wes on Four on Six or maybe a Kurt Rosenwinkel, then some places really stand out to me, and when I transcribed those passages they were always using very basic things but just creating great melodies with that.

So this is more about getting great melodies or licks out of basic things and that is what I am going to show you a way of exploring in this video because you can make 1000s of great licks with stuff you already know.

For this lesson I am going to take a C7 and the scale that it belongs to which will be an F major scale, so the basic framework is

And it is important to see the Arpeggio or the chord in the context of the scale (Neck Diagrams) Making music is about connecting things, not playing separate ideas one after the other.

We are making licks for a C7 so let’s first try to make some melodies just with the arpeggio and then add in the rest.

The Arpeggio works really well, but for a melody to be interesting then it probably needs to be a little less predictable than just the arpeggio.

#1 Change the order of the notes

The first two suggestions for making licks is really about knowing the arpeggio better and being freer to improvise with it. And this is what you need to work on to do that:

And you can put the 2nd bar from the example above to work on the beginning of a Blues in C:

You don’t always have to play the notes in the same order, we think of them as 1 3 5 7 but when you improvise you can play a lot of other melodies with the same notes in different orders.

#2 Inversions = New Melodies

Just like chords, there are ways you can also change the octave of some of the notes and in that way create inversions which are really just more solid melodies with the same notes.

#3 Repeating Notes

A lot of Great melodies use only arpeggios and one thing that they mostly do is that they also repeat the notes in the arpeggio, Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nacht Musik comes to mind.

In general you can just explore diffierent ways to make patterns by repeating notes as shown here below:

And if you put this to use on a Blues you have this:

#4 Add The Scale Notes

Until now, everything was done using only the arpeggio but we can also add the rest of the scale and create this exercise, which I usually refer to as the Barry Harris exercise:

If we take a few arpeggio patterns to add scale notes to then they could look like this:

And adding the scale could yield an example like this:

This Is How You Should Use Scale Exercises

If you want to play jazz and want to learn how to play jazz solos then you are probably also practicing scales and working on scale exercises.

In this lesson, I am going to go over a few scale exercises that you probably already know or at least should check out and then I am going to talk about how to connect them to chords and really use them to make music.

It is very important that you don’t just work on moving your fingers with exercises, you should always try to practice the things you need when you are playing.

Getting Started – Basic Scale Exercises

So first I am going to go over a few exercises and then I am going to relate this to a little simple music theory and show you how you can turn that into something you can make music with.

Let’s look at some of the fundamental things you check out in a scale, just playing the scale and playing thirds.

Lets take a Cmaj7 chord and this C major scale.

You want to play these two exercises because they are going to help you develop the technique to play the things that you can use in lines. Of course, you can use both 3rd intervals and scale runs in solos, but that is something I will save for another lesson.

The Mighty Triad – Powerful Melodic Structures

For most of this lesson, I am going to focus on how to practice and use triads because they are both flexible and powerful tools in soloing. But the process is really the same for all sorts of arpeggios.

There are a few great ways to practice triad arpeggios in the scales. First here is a basic version: play Diatonic Triads

But you can also give it more of a jazz sound already at the exercise level by adding leading notes both ascending

and descending:

Now we can start working on making some really great sounding licks with these exercises, but first, we need to figure out which triads will work over a Cmaj7.

Music Theory (just a little..)

Now, we have 7 triads in the scale. They don’t all sound that great on the chord, so first we need to find some that work.

The only note that sounds funny on the Cmaj7 is an F. I don’t like calling it an avoid note, but if we are looking for triads then that is not the greatest one to use.

We have all these triads: C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim,

C: C E G
Dm: D F A
Em: E G B
F: F A C
G: G B D
Am: A C E
Bdim: B D F

If we remove the triads that contain an F then we get these 4 triads C, Em, G, Am

These fit!

C: C E G (1, 3, 5)
Em: E G B (3, 5, 7)
G: G B D (5, 7, 9)
Am: A C E (13(6), 1, 3)

Now we can start making lines with these exercises and then I will show you another exercise that is great for creating solid melodies

Making Lines with the triads

The first example is using an Em triad and adding a leading note to the 5th:

Another way to work with the Em triad is to play the triad as a triplet to change up the rhythm:

You can also chain together triads as I am doing here with G major and Em triads:

Another Great Exercise

Since the triads work so well in licks it is also possible to change the order of the notes. Until now it was always 1 3 5 or 5 3 1 but if you practice other patterns you can really get some great melodies as well.

Here is a simple pattern that starts on the third: 3 1 5 pattern example

If I make some licks with this pattern then you get something like this:

Arpeggios and Pentatonics!

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How to Use Chromatic Ideas in Jazz Licks The Right Way

Chromaticism is a huge part of Jazz. In this video, I am going to take a look at some great examples of chromatic jazz licks or phrases from Charlie Parker, Pat Metheny, Doug Raney, Pat Martino, and George Benson. All the examples are great ideas when it comes to chromatic phrases and also quite different takes on how to work with it.

I am sure you can get some great ideas from this, I know that I did.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:19 Jazz licks from Charlie Parker, George Benson, Pat Metheny, Doug Raney, and Pat Martino

0:33 Charlie Parker Lick – #1 Connecting Jazz Chord Tones

1:50 Lick # 1 Slow

1:54 Pat Martino – #2a Chromaticism with a Pedal Point

2:35 #2b Chromatic Enclosure

3:04 Exercise for Chromatic Enclosures

3:23 Lick #2 Slow

3:27 George Benson – #3 Pentatonic Chromaticism

4:53 Lick #3 Slow

4:59 Doug Raney – #4 Bebop Chromaticism

5:41 Creating lines from a skeleton with added chromatic phrases

6:15 Lick #4 Slow

6:31 Pat Metheny #5 Outside Chromatic Notes

7:00 Bebop Ala Metheny

8:20 Lick from Solar with Parallel Thirds

8:43 Lick #5 Slow

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Triads – How To Make Them Jazz Chords

In this video, I am going to show you how you can use the triads that you already know as a great way to create some beautiful jazz chords. Starting with material that you already know to open up a vast amount of jazz voicings is a really efficient approach to becoming much freer and begin to create a jazz chord vocabulary, and it is also really great for fretboard knowledge.

It is really interesting to explore how great a tool the triads are as jazz voicings.
I am going to do this in three steps:

  • How To Find Triads You Can Use, in a Practical Way
  • Easily Turn This Into a lot of chords and ideas to play
  • Find Triads for more Complicated Chords with Extensions

Step 1 – Rootless Jazz Voicings for a II V I

If we take a II V I in C major with some very basic jazz chords then we have this:

If I remove the Bass note then I have

Turning Diatonic 7th chords into triad voicings

The same principle use on all the diatonic chords in C major would yield:

And without the root we have these triads that could work as the above chords:

Step 2 – More Triad voicings with inversions

Before looking at adding extensions and alterations to the chords, let’s have a look at how much we can already do with these simple triads.

We now can play a II V I with these rootless, triad-based, but if this F major triad is a good voicing for Dm7 (Example 3) then the inversions of it are as well.

If I do this for the II V I progression I have these 3 ways to play that:

And of course this is just on the middle string set. This works on other string sets as well

Step 3 – Adding Extensions and using other triad types

If you look at a G7b9 voicing spelled out x 10 9 10 9 x or G B F Ab then the top notes of this chord are B F Ab which is, in fact, an F dim triad.

If I inser these into the II V I’s from example 4 then I have:

In the same way a Dm11: 10 x 10 10 8 x or D C F G has the three notes C F G on top. That is a Csus4 triad.

This gives us these II V I examples

And finally we can add a 13th to the Cmaj7: which is the same as playing an Asus4/C which gives us:

If you want to check out more options on using upper-structure triads for Cmaj7, I also have this lesson: 6 Triads for a Cmaj7 Chord (well 10 actually..)

Mix it with Other Chord Types

Check out how Triads work well with other 3-note voicings in this lesson on the changes of Some Day My Prince Will Come.

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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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Triads – 5 Easy Exercises for Better Solos

You want to include Triads in your Jazz Guitar vocabulary. Triads are some of the stronges melodies we have available and in the video I am going to go over 5 easy exercises to build your triad vocabulary on jazz. For each of the exercises I also have a jazz lick using the pattern so you can hear how it sounds in context.

Of course you are practicing scales and arpeggios but it is difficult to put that into real music. But there are also ways to practice that are a lot easier to put into a solo.  I am also going to talk about how ways practice them and of course give you some examples on how to use them in a solo.

I find that working a bit at these patterns really helps:

  • Making more interesting solo lines
  • Use the things you Practice for technique
  • Have a better overview of arpeggios on the neck
  • Knowing the Scales and music theory

As a small extra feature this also demonstrates some of the places where I use sweeping or economy picking!

Lick #1 – Top Note Targets

As you will see I tend to work mostly on triads in scales, so what is often called diatonic triads. This is because if you check them out there then you have them together with all the other notes you use when you are soloing so it is about understanding the triad, the chord and the scale.

This first example is a pattern that really emphasizes the top note of the triad arpeggio. Since the top note also almost can work as an independent melody this is an easy way to build a strong line just having a simple melody that is harmonized with arepggios.

On a side note you can hear Lage Lund use this pattern quite a lot.

Exercise 1 – Diatonic Arpeggios

Probably the great thing about this pattern is that it really emphasizes the top note, so the rest of the notes almost sound like they are accompanying that note. This means that the melody you hear is mostly the top-notes moving. The large interval skip from the 5 to 1 followed by the ascending arpeggio also gives the line a lot of forward motion.

Altered Scale Triad Pair

Here you have an example of how I might use the top-note pattern. In this II V I lick I am using it starting on the Dm7 and then going on to the G7alt with Bbm and Abm triads.  

Bbm and Abm form a triad pair on a G7alt since they are triads with out common notes:

Abm: Ab B Eb and Bb: Bb Db F

Finding triads for a chord

The way I find the triads that I can use over a chord is by looking at a chord with extensions. As an example you can look at the Dm7 chord, with the stable extensions in C major that would be a Dm(11):

D F A C E G

And the process is really just to pick out the triads contained:

Dm: D F A

F: F A C

Am: A C E

C: C E G

Lick #2 – 3rds Distance Cascade3rds distance

This way of playing the triads is useful because you are playing them together so that they fit a chord. If you are improvising over a Dm7 then Dm, F and Am triads all work over that chord.

Having the triads together like this works well for cascading arpeggio ideas combining several triads over one chord.

A useful or practical way to practice this is across the string sets in two different ways

The first approach relies on Economy picking where the second is using legato for the same note set. As you may have noticed in other lessons I use this economy patter quite a lot.

3rds Distance – Legato idea

In this lick the cascading triads are on the Dm7 and then stretching into the G7alt with the Db triad. This way of using the triads also creates a great 3 note grouping.

Lick #3 – Leading Notes

Adding chromatic passing notes to triads is a great way to use them and add some bebop or jazz flavour to the triads.

The exercise here below is taking the diatonic triads in a common 8th fret scale position and add a chromatic leading note before the root.

Chromatic leading notes

The example here below adds a leading note first to the F major triad and then the A minor triad. The G7alt also adds a descending version of the leading note to an Abm triad.

Lick #4 – The Wrong way around

Another variaton that is easy to use is to play the triads ascending through the scale, so Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bø, C but then play each triad descending.

This exercise is showed on the top string set and notice how I am using economy picking to play the triads.

New Directions for Triads

The lick is using the first three triads from the exercise: Dm, Em and F major and from there going into an altered lick based on an AbmMaj7 arpeggio.

Lick #5 – Arpeggios are melodies

You don’t have to play the notes of the triad in the same order all the time. In this exercise I am changing the order from 1 3 5 to 3 5 1. 

This has two advantages: I t really brings out the 3rd in the triad and of course creates a strong melody.

Creating new triad sounds

This lick is demonstrating how you might use the triads. On the Dm7 I used an F major and an A minor triad.

Notice how the lick has a lot of large intervals and the triads still pull everything together.

Arpeggios and Target notes

A huge part of playing over chord changes is using arpeggios like triads and then thinking ahead so you hit the right target notes in the next chord.

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How To Make Mixolydian Mode Licks – 5 New Useful Ideas

The dominant chord is a very common chord both in jazz chord progressions and in more modal settings as the Mixolydian Mode. It is important to have a vocabulary of ideas for improvising over it.

In this lesson I am going to focus on a G7 chord and give you 5 examples of licks over that chord. Each introducing a scale or arpeggio idea that you can use in your own licks.

The Mixolydian Mode

In most cases that you improvise over a dominant chord it is found in a chord progression and not really in a setting where it is modal. But outside jazz having static dominant chords is a lot more common. Thinking more about Funk, Rock and Fusion genres.

#1 Dominant Arpeggio Sequences

The first phrase is starting with a leading note to the 3rd(B) of G7. From there it starts a skipping pattern using the G7 arpeggio ending up on the 9th(A). The second bar is first a scale run with an added chromatic passing note and then finishing the line with a skip between the 3rd and the 5th.

Using Arpeggio sequences is a great way to come up with new material. The skipping pattern that I am using in this example you can practice on a G7 like this. Of course you can experiment with this sequence on all your arpeggios.

#2 Dm Pentatonic Scale 

Using Pentatonic scales is a very common device in modern jazz and fusion. In this lick I am using the Dm pentatonic scale over the G7 chord. The scale we use on G7 is G mixolydian or C major:

G A B C D E F

and Dm pentatonic is a part of that G A B C  D E

Which is Dm pentatonic: D F G A C

The lick is playing descending 4 note melodies first from the E string then B and then G. The final part of the lick is a chromatic phrase connecting the 3rd and the 5th. The lick ends by skipping up to the root and then down to the b7.

The Dm pentatonic scale position I am using in this example is shown here below. 

#3 Em Blues Scale

A closely related option is the Em Blues Scale. The Em pentatonic scale or G major pentatonic scale is of course a good fit for a G major chord, even though you don’t have the b7 in there.

The Blues scale adds an extra chromatic note as well, namely the A# (or Bb)

The line starts with a chromatic enclosure of the 3rd G. From there the melody is really just simple melodies within the blues scale. Again using the A# as a chromatic passing note.

You can use this position to practice the Em blues scale which is also the position I used in the lick above.

#4 Quartal Arpeggios

One of my favourite things to use when improvising is the quartal arpeggios. Having a structure that is not based on stacks of 3rds is a refreshing melodic idea to throw in there.

The beginning of the lick is an Fmaj7 arpeggio. The maj7 arpeggio from the b7 of the chord is another great choice when improvising. From there the line continues with an Am pentatonic scale run before going into a few quartal arpeggios

The quartal arpeggios I use here are actually coming out of an Em pentatonic scale. If you play a pentatonic scale in “diatonic chords” then you end up with a lot of quartal arpeggios.

The lick ends with an Em pentatonic melody.

The easiest way to start practicing quartal arpeggios is probably to start playing them on a string set through a scale. It does pay off to do this for all string sets of course, but below I have written out the C major or G mixolydian scale on the middle string set which is the most common range for the quartal arpeggios.

#5 Spread Triads – Large Intervals

One of the greatest way to add some large intervals to your playing is to use Spread Triads or Open-voiced triads. These are becoming more and more common in modern jazz, but you can also hear people like Eric Johnson and Steve Morse use them in their playing.

In the example below I am combing spread triads with quartal arpeggios and also a normal G major triad.

The first part of the line is using a “mirror” effect on the guitar neck. The beginning is a quartal arpeggio from F and this arpeggio mirrors into a G major triad (you can see clearly it in the video).

From there the lick continues into a G root position spread triad that takes us from G all the way up to B an octave higher. This ascending movement is resolved melodically by a descending scale run and the line ends on the 13th of the chord via a Dm triad.

If you want to practice the Spread Triads then a good place to start is to learn the inversions. I have a few videos on this that you can check out. A basic version

Check out more on Dom7th Chords

If you want to Check out more options for Dominant Chords and getting some ideas on how this works in the setting of a 12 bar blues then have a look at this WebStore Lesson with some exercises and a solo transcription on an F blues:

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How to Play and Use Coltrane Patterns – Easy and Useful

Coltrane Patterns are amazing melodic patterns to have in your vocabulary. They are probably mostly connected to the Giant Steps solos on that Coltrane Album, but are actually very common melodies.

The fact that they are easy to play and map onto a major scale makes them ideal for adding to your vocabulary as useful and flexible melodic fragments.

This video will cover how you construct a major and a minor Coltrane Pattern. How you can make diatonic versions. Different ways of playing them using different techniques. I will also discuss how you can choose different Coltrane Patterns for chords.

Finally I also have two examples of how you use them for superimposing strong melodies on top of other chords like altered dominants.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Coltrane Patterns

0:35 Solo with Coltrane Patterns

0:45 The Giant Steps connection and why they are great

1:07 What is a Coltrane Pattern, Major and Minor versions

1:22 Major Variation

1:40 Minor Variation

2:18 Three ways to play the Coltrane Pattern in several octaves

2:41 2-2 version

2:44 3-1 version

3:02 1-2-1 version

3:32 Simple ways of making melodies with the notes

3:46 Combining this with a major scale – Diatonic to each step in the scale

5:05 Applying the Patterns to a II V I in G major

5:20 Which pattern for which chord

5:50 Example Lick with an Am7 using Em Coltrane Pattern

6:02 Example Lick with an Am Coltrane Pattern on a D7

6:43 How it isn’t really a “Coltrane” Pattern

7:06 Super-imposing Coltrane Patterns

7:32 Lydian Augmented example

8:00 Short solo example on a Cmaj7 Shell-voicing

8:13 Altered Dominant example

8:42 Ab7alt line with an E Coltrane Pattern

9:17 How do you use or practice Coltrane Patterns?

9:58 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!