Tag Archives: jazz guitar licks

How To Make Jazz Licks From Easy Chord Shapes

When you use the chord shapes you play to make solo lines you can access a lot of very useful material. The Link also helps your solos in other ways because it makes it easier to use the chords to tie together several phrases.

In this lesson, I am going to go over this approach with some easy chord shapes and show you how you can apply this to a song and also how you can put it to use on complicated progressions like Giant Steps.

Setting up this Jazz Solo Lesson

To show you how easy this is I am going to take the first 8 bars of Take The A-train, make some easy voicings and use them to make some lines. (here we go)

Finding Voicings for a Solo

A simple way to play the chords of Take The A-train with basic jazz chords could be:

To make them more useful for solos then it makes sense to take away the root and turn them into more compact 3-note voicings:

Examples making lines on a Cmaj7

Now you have some chord voicings and you can start working on turning them into solo lines. The concept is really simple, the melody is using the notes of the chord and adding notes around it from the scale.

These two examples are just basic ways to turn the rootless Cmaj7 voicing into a line by using the voicing and some of the notes around the voicing.

Another example could be this one:

Notice how the lines are different from what you normally will end up with if you use scales and arpeggios.

Playing a Solo based on the Chords

Turning this into a complete solo is really just following the same principle

First, let’s have a look at how the lick is constructed and then I can show you how that works in connecting the lines.

Voice-leading Jazz Licks

The big advantage is that now you have a melody based around the 3-note chord and for the next chord you can use the same lick and just move it to that voicing. In that way you are voice-leading the entire thing. This is exactly what I do in example 3 on the Cmaj7-D7 chords.

Voicings as more interesting melodies

If you use this technique on a II V I with common voicings like the ones shown below, then you can get some really great fresh sounding melodies.

The melody is really just arpeggiating the Dm7 shape, but because the voicing has the 9th(E) in there then we get a nice maj7 interval in the melody.

If you think about this then it is as much a question of learning songs to improvise on and then use the chords as a way of getting some solo material as well

A Practical approach to turnarounds

A basic way to play a turnaround in C could be using the chords shown below.

This is easily turned into a lick, just playing the chord shapes and adding an occasional extra note here and there:

A Solid Strategy for Giant Steps

This is also a refreshing way to approach Giant Steps where you can get some new melodies using shapes that you already have in your fingers.

Using these shapes to play a lick could give you something like this:

With Giant Steps I think it really works well to also add melodies that are not only 8th notes, something that we play too often on changes like that.

Learning Songs to Solo on

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5 Ingredients Of The Best Jazz Phrases

This Jazz Solo Lesson is for you if all the lines in your solos are just a sequence of “now I am playing an arpeggio” then “a bit of scale”. That is of course not that exciting to listen to. There is more to jazz lines and jazz melodies than just trying to put arpeggios and scales next to each other.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the ways that you can make more interesting melodies in your solos. It is all about surprising to the listener without just being weird and hard to understand.

In hindsight, this is a lesson I really wish I had when I was starting to learn Jazz and wanted to play better lines in my solos.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Less boring and predictable Lines in Your solos

0:57 #1 Breaking up Scale melodies – Adding a lower chord tone.

2:05 Example 2

2:52 #2 Breaking up Scale melodies – Chromaticism & Chord Tones

3:56 #3 Breaking up Scale Melodies – I can fit an entire arpeggio in here!

5:34 Example 2

6:10 #4 Benson’s Top-note melodies

7:37 Simpler Example

8:24 #5 Pedal Point Strategies

9:13 II V I Example

10:00 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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This Will Make Your Jazz Licks 10x Better

You already know how to find the scales and arpeggios that go with the chords, and you can play something on each of the chords, but your solos still sounds very much like you are just playing something on each chord, and when you listen to great players like Wes then you hear a whole melody in the solo, not just something on Dm7 and something else on A7.

In this video, I am going to show you how to improve the skills that make it possible for you to play a solo that is a complete piece of music and not a bunch of random lines next to each other.

I a m going to go over 5 examples that will show you what to focus on start hearing and playing connected melodies in your solos. You can use them as blue prints for writing your own lines and try to add this to your solos.

In a way the concepts I am going over here could be described as a “holy trinity” of Beethoven, Muddy Waters and Kurt Rosenwinkel – just a strange side-note.

The material I am using here is pretty basic and you probably know it already.

It is a II V I in C major so we have an arpeggio from the root and one from the 3rd of each chord:

And around that we have a C major scale:

If you want to explore more on diatonic arpeggios then check out this lesson:

Beethoven inspired II V I lick

One way to connect a melody is to follow up a phrase with a developed repetition of that phrase. This is called motivic development and is a very powerful way to make melodies just ask Ludwig Beethoven

This is a really solid example of basic motif: the melody on the Dm7 and G7 are almost identical and just transposed, but that does make it easy to hear how the G7 melody is a logical follow up on the Dm7.

Muddy Waters playing Changes

Call-Response is associated with blues, but is really a part of all melodic traditions. In the example it becomes almost a question answer where the Dm7’s ascending melody is a question and the G7 is the descending answer.

It feels a little like the Dm7 is opening up something and the G7 melody is closing it again. The Cmaj7 line becomes more of a tag to finish it off.

Creatively Voice-leading Motifs

When you work with motifs then you can be very strict and mechanical, but in the end you should also want to be able to use it more freely and maybe a little less obvious.

This example is starting with a descending Fmaj7 arpeggio on the Dm7 and that is “voice-lead” to a descending G7 arpeggio.

It is not only for II V I licks

To keep everything compact in this lesson I am just using short II V progressions, and you should practice making melodies or licks with this types of melodic connections, but as you start getting it into your system then it really pays off to take this to entire songs and work on creating musical sentences over entire sections of a song. I think especially Wes is a great clear example of this, but if you listen closely you will hear it with pretty much everybody!

Stubborn Rosenwinkel Habits

One of the things that I learned from a Kurt Rosenwinkel masterclass was how he already in technical exercises worked on continuing a melodic direction through the changes.

This II V I lick is a simple example of that where the melody is ascending throught the II V to resolve on the Cmaj7.

Another thing that is worth noticing is that instead of playing only scales, arpeggio patterns then the G7 line is using something that works like a D pedal point in the line.

Reverse Rosenwinkel with a motif

And of course you can make a lick that is descending through the entire cadence. In this example it is combined with a motif using first a Dm triad and then a B dim triad.

Adding Alterations (Like Benson)

The previous examples where all very simple and I tried to keep everything diatonic to make it clear that it is about melody (and maybe also about rhythm?)
Of course you can also do this with altered dominants and this example is developed from an altered phrase that I transcribed from a George Benson solo.

The melody has a motivic development between the Fmaj7 and the Fø arpeggio, but also a connection between the Fø and the Em7 arpeggio on the Cmaj7.

New Concepts for your Solos!

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Fretboard Challenge! 12 Licks in a Single Position

Learning the Fretboard and having an overview of the keys is quite difficult on the guitar. This fretboard guitar lesson goes over 12 licks to give you material for each key in a single position.

You can put this to use as exercises, or as inspiration for your own material exploring the different keys. Another way to explore the fretboard is to take one of the II V I licks and then move that around all the positions your use.

There are lots of options!

Exercises like this are really useful for exploring where everything is and also what is practical in each key in this position. I think it is very important to keep that in mind:

It is more important to have practical, playable and good sounding solutions in each position than knowing everything in all positions.

More information on Fretboard Knowledge

If you want to check out more videos where I discuss fretboard knowledge and knowing things in all keys then check out one of these articles:

Fretboard Visualization That makes musical sense for Jazz Guitar

Practice Major Scales like this and You will get more out of it!

#1 C major – Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

#2 F major – Gm7 C7 Fmaj7

#3 Bb major – Cm7 F7 Bbmaj7

#4 Eb major – Fm7 Bb7 Ebmaj7

#5 Ab major – Bbm7 Eb7 Abmaj7

#6 Db major – Ebm7 Ab7 Dbmaj7

#7 Gb major – Abm7 Db7 Gbmaj7

#8 B major – C#m7 F#7 Bmaj7

#9 E major – F#m7 B7 Emaj7

#10 A major – Bm7 E7 Amaj7

#11 D major – Em7 A7 Dmaj7

#12 G major – Am7 D7 Gmaj7

Really digging into a Single Position

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Did You Do This With Your Favourite Jazz Lick?

You probably have licks that you play all the time, I think most of us have and of course that is a part of having a style (Pat Metheny or Pat Martino Lick?) But not to get stuck with the same phrases too much it is very important to make variations and open up those phrases.

In this video, I am going over 4 ways you can make new licks from the ones you already know. Something that will also help you get better at writing your own licks and come up with great phrases.

The Lick!

So to have something to talk about we need something to work with. Let’s use this II V I lick

This is, of course, a little long and most of the time I work with ideas that are a lot shorter, but it is a good example to demonstrate some techniques that will give you a lot more vocabulary.

#1 Transpose it to Another Chord

This is always useful to do, if you have an idea that works well on one chord then it probably works well on other chords too.

The first part of this line is really close to a maj7 chord and we can use that directly on Cmaj7 and make a similar type of melody from the rest.

Usually, I wouldn’t move the last part, but here it fits so nicely and it is good to mess around with that as an exercise for your melodic and theoretical skills as well.

You can turn it into a Dm7 phrase as well. Notice that I am not strict about preserving the last part. It is more important to make something that sounds good and is playable.

#2 Invert The Melodies

The goal here is to make a new melody by changing the direction of some of it, so if it is an ascending scale or arpeggio run then you can make it a descending version instead.

The first part is difficult to move around and get to sound good, but the arpeggio works really well. In fact, you can do that and play the rest an octave lower.

#3 Octave Displacement

Another way to turn things around is to use Octave Displacement. The idea with octave displacement is to keep the direction of the melody but move it an octave.

You can see in the example below how that works:

And it can be used on the example as shown in example 7:

Using this on the Dm7 part of the line would give you something like this. Turning around the Fmaj7 is very close to what you hear George Benson and Grant Green. Here is a Grant Green example:

You can do the same with the dominant part of the lick and get something like this:

#4 Diatonic Transposition

Another thing that can work really well is to move a part of the line a diatonic 3rd up or down. In this case that happens to work completely if you do so, but that is actually a coincidence.

If you want more ideas for licks you can start working on and get some ideas for more licks then check out this playlist with videos that are on licks with a certain type of chord or arpeggio.

Putting Licks to use in music

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10 Great Chromatic Ideas in Jazz Licks (Easy to Weird)

One of the things that really got me into Jazz was the sound of the chromatic jazz licks. This is such a huge part of the Jazz sound, especially from Bebop and beyond.

In this video, I am going to show you 10 examples of some great sounding Jazz licks with lots of chromaticism used in different ways: Passing notes, Enclosures, Shifting Patterns, Chromatic interval melodies, and more Atonal or completely far-out ideas.

The examples are borrowing from people like Charlie Parker, Doug Raney, Pat Metheny, and Herbie Hancock.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Jazz and Chromatic melodies go together!

0:28 Simple II V I – From Passing Notes to Chromatic or Atonal Ideas

0:50 Example 1 – Passing Notes

1:05 Example 1 Analysis

1:12 Example 2 – Basic Enclosures and Octave Displacement

1:27 Example 2 Analysis

1:35 Example 3 – 4-Note Enclosures and Bebop Chord Tone Enclosure

1:50 Example 3 Analysis

2:00 Example 4 – Arpeggio Leading notes and Shifting 3rd intervals

2:14 Example 4 Analysis

2:24 Example 5 – Borrowing from Melodic Minor and Longer Runs

2:38 Example 5 Analysis

2:47 Example 6 – Dissonant Enclosure and Chromatic Turns

3:01 Example 6 Analysis

3:10 Example 7 – Side-Slip reharmonization

3:26 Example 7 Analysis

3:35 Example 8 – Shifting 3-note phrase

3:49 Example 8 Analysis

3:58 Example 9 – Chromatic 3rd melody

4:14 Example 9 Analysis

4:22 Example 10 – Chromatic or Atonal 4th melody

4:38 Example 10 Analysis

4:46 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

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

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New Book: Advanced Jazz Guitar Concepts!

It is here! My New Book:

Advanced Jazz Guitar Concepts

In Advanced Jazz Guitar Techniques I provide more deep insights into the techniques and theory of contemporary jazz guitar. 

You’ll discover a practical, no-nonsense guide to jazz guitar topics that have mystified even experienced jazz musicians – such as effective soloing with triad pairs, applying quartal harmony, how to use altered scales, and much more!

Master the advanced guitar techniques and melodic concepts you’ve heard in the music of everyone from Charlie Parker and Wes Montgomery, to Kurt Rosenwinkel, Michael Brecker and Mike Moreno. 

What you’ll learn:

  • How to use tritone substitution more effectively in your playing
  • Chord and scale substitution ideas to create new sounds with scales you already know
  • How to use triad pairs from the Altered Scale
  • How to combine triads, arpeggios and scale runs to create melodic, modern-sounding licks that avoid clichés
  • Intervallic patterns to introduce exciting melodic leaps into your jazz soloing
  • The Augmented and Tritone scales and how to use them

Learn More

Here’s What You Get:

  • A step-by-step jazz guitar method that starts simple and adds layers of complexity
  • Perfectly notated examples with tab and studio-quality audio to download for FREE
  • A full-length blues with a solo analysis demonstrating all the concepts at work
  • Apply your knowledge to the most common progressions in jazz

You can get the Paperback on Amazon here: Advanced Modern Jazz Guitar

You Can also order it as a PDF on the Fundamental Changes Website here: Advanced Modern Jazz Guitar

I am so proud of this book. I think it really presents some information on soloing in with a more modern sound that is not really available anywhere else but is certainly a key ingredient for a lot of the Jazz Musicians of today.

Learn Jazz – Make Music!

Best regards,
Jens

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

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