Tag Archives: jazz guitar scales lesson

The Scale is NOT That Important – This is!

This isn’t really a jazz scale lesson. A lot of teaching and a lot of online discussions are about what scales to use on what chords, and of course it is important and also the topic of one of my most viewed videos: 3 Scales To Play Jazz

But in this video, I am going to talk about how we may be overemphasizing the scales and not thinking about what we really need and give you some examples of how a lot of the artists we admire may not be thinking in scales or modes that much, and what we should think about instead.

Focus on the song not the scales

When you are improvising you are playing lines that need to match the underlying chord sequence and relate to it. The scale you use will contain the chord, but sometimes it is not that important what else is in there.

First I am going to talk about how a lick or a solo follows the changes and then about how that makes some of the notes in the scale a lot less important.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:11 Jazz Scales are not everything

0:30 Follow the examples of great players

0:43 How Solos Relate to the Chords

0:58 Example #1 – A lick that spells out the sound of a Gm7 chord

1:30 Why and how is it related to the chord

2:02 Example #2 – A Lick that uses the Gm7 with other chords

2:27 Hear the harmony without any backing

2:46 Splitting the Scale in Chord Tones and Extensions

3:14 Example #3 – Chord tones vs Extensions

3:48 Example #4 – Gm7 line that is thinking Chord Tones and leading notes, not just a Scale

4:17 Examples of Licks that are constructed only thinking chord tones and not the scale

4:31 George Benson Example and Analysis

5:02 How Pat Metheny suggest you work on this

5:39 Focus on the Chords and make strong melodies don’t worry too much about scales

6:06 What is important about a scale?6:19 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

How To Explore Scales in a useful way

If you want to see how you should approach scales in a way that you can use in music then check out this lesson:

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The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

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Jazz Guitar Licks With No Scales – This Is Why Its Great

The ingredients of most common approach to jazz guitar: Scales and Arpeggios. never thought I would hear myself say this, but you can make some really great lines by ignoring scales completely. This way of thinking is quite different from the idea of assigning scales to the chords the way we usually do. At the same time it is a traditional way of making lines and a very useful approach to changing things up.

The problem with too much scale movement

The way of making lines that I am going to cover here is at the very least helping you get rid of lines that sound as predictable and boring as this:

Of course in the long run you probably want to learn you scales just the same. It is better to have more options after all. I will talk about why later.

The George Benson Connection

I came across this way of making lines while analyzing a George Benson solo and I realized that if create lines with this concept you can make some really strong lines that don’t move in a predictable way but still make sense.

In this video I am going to show you how it works and how you can start experimenting with it in your own playing.

The basic concept: Triads and Leading notes

This is a really simple concept. Instead of making lines with scales and arpeggios (my entire system for guitar just fell apart) then we can also just think in simple triad arpeggios and leading notes. So Lines are constructed by having triad tones as targets and adding small melodies of leading notes that point towards those triad tones.

The Chord and The Progression

For this lesson I am going to focus on how to use this on a II V I in Bb major, and especially the Cm7 in that progression!

Cm Triad and leading notes – Two Exercises

So the way the melodies are made are from using the simple triads for example: Cm. The basic material I am using is an enclosure and a leading note on a Cm triad like this:

Putting the idea to use in a II V I lick

And an example of a line using this could be something like this:

Above the triad targes are first Eb, then a low G and finally a C. The beginning of the F7 line is also using a chromatic enclosure to move to the 3rd.

The big advantage to Chord and Leading notes approach

What is liberating is that when we play like this then it often works to just jump from one place to the next and you don’t have to think so much about the direction of the scale run or arpeggio run, and because it is using a very basic arpeggio then the leading note melodies make a lot of sense.

Here’s another example on a II V I. Again using chromatic approach phrases to move to both Cm7 and F7 chord tones.

Of course there are also some things that this doesn’t do, and I would not only use this way of playing as a total approach to everything, but it is a nice way to come up with some lines that sound different and still work with the chords. Using this method to create lines with more more extensions gets a little difficult because the extensions also want to sound like leading notes and the leading notes for the extensions are often chord tones.

This example is using one of the lines that Benson uses a lot on the dominant. It is in fact a Parker lick that Benson learned.

How to work on this approach

So the best way to work on this is to mix it with another approach. This is also what George Benson does in his solo. I will link to my video analyzing this in the description of this video.

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

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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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