Most of us practice scale exercises, but how much of that is just running up and down the scale or playing 3rds or diatonic arpeggios, and is that the best way to go about it?
In this video, I am going to talk about how you can start practicing exercises that are much closer to what you need in your solos and be more free when you improvise. This can really open up your playing so that you find it easier to create and play lines that sound great.
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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
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
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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