Tag Archives: jazz guitar

The 3 Most Important Things For Solid Jazz Comping

Think about how you would feel soloing over your own comping.

That is probably the best way to evaluate how you comp. There are some things that you need to get right if you want to be effective in comping. You don’t want to just play jazz chords while the music is happening. You want to be part of the music. That is what this Jazz Guitar Lesson is all about and if you can comp then you get asked to play at sessions and gigs.

Related Guitar Lessons on Comping

10 important comping rhythms

Video on being your own teacher

Great examples of comping:

Wynton Kelly behind Miles Davis: So What Live https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Amyp4v-I84

Herbie Hancock behind Wayne Shorter: 502 Blues https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aTwWZweGSw

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:50 #1 It is Clear

1:34 Beat One is your friend

1:59 Don’t be afraid of repetition

2:38 #2 Don’t Get In The Way

3:31 Not just the soloist, there are more people in the band

3:39 A Great Strategy

4:08 Great Examples: Wynton Kelly and Herbie Hancock

4:38 Understand what fits the soloist

4:49 #3 Are You Playing Music?

5:42 Listen, Listen, Listen, Listen!

6:14 How Do You Practice comping?

6:30 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Comping Rhythms – 10 Examples You Need To Know

Rhythm is everything in Jazz and especially comping. Building a solid vocabulary of great Jazz Comping Rhythms is difficult. In this video, I am going to go over 10 examples of comping rhythms to check out.

I play each example 3 times, so you can either use it as inspiration for your own practice or even use the video as a play along and comp together with me.

For each of the rhythms, I have an illustration of how the basic pattern is and a version that is written out with chord voicings to play on guitar.

All the examples are using a turnaround in C major.

Rhythm #1 – Charleston

This first example is the “Charleston rhythm” and is very useful also as a repeating riff.

It has the clarity of the changes with the chord on beat 1 and the syncopation with the chord on the 2&

Rhythm #2 – Shifted Charleston

A variation of the Charleston is this 1 bar pattern where the whole rhythm is shifted an 8th note.

Rhythm #3 – Forward motion with Syncopation

This rhythm uses the tension of the sustained note on the 3& to move the progression forward towards the next chord stated on beat one.

Rhythm #4 – Red Garland

Red Garland is often associated with this way of mostly comping on the anticipated heavy beats: 2& and 4&.

Rhythm #5 – Basic Syncopation

This rhythm is a great way of turning the basic syncopation rhythm into a riff that sits well on top of a swing groove.

Rhythm #6 – Quarter Note Rhythms

Often the focus in comping is too much on all the 8th note upbeats and we forget that you can do a lot with quarter notes as well.

Rhythm #7 – Dotted Quarter notes

Using the dotted quarter note rhythms in jazz comping is very common and very worth incorporating into your vocabulary.

Rhythm #8 – Shifting motif

Another great way to work with rhythm is to shift a motif around. This example is a very basic version of this.

Rhythm #9 – Call-Response phrases

Besides motifs you can also use call-response as a way of generating phrases in your comping.

Rhythm #10 – Anticipated Beat 4

This rhythm is often left out but is very common in a lot of themes (and pretty much all of Salsa), so it is very worthwhile to know and feel comfortable with.

Take the Comping Rhythms Further

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57 Ways To Play a Cmaj7 with a G in the melody

Exploring the Fretboard and the options you have for chords is a great exercise. This video takes one melody note and one chord and I go through 57 maj7 chords and show you how I come up with voicings, how I listen to harmony and think about the chords.

This video is a bit of an experiment, but exercises like this are very very useful for developing your fretboard knowledge, your taste in harmony and your understanding of chords and how they sound.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:46 Three Note Voicings (12)

3:47 The importance of exploring and experimenting in Practice

4:39 Spread Triad (9)

6:15 A Few Thoughts on Range and in which octave you put notes

6:54 Drop2 and Derived Voicings (13)

9:52 Drop3 Voicings(10)

12:10 Drop2&3 (5)

13:29 Drop2&4 Voicings (8)

15:36 Hear Voicings, understand chords better.

16:16 Weird Messiaen voicing

16:35 How you work with this and what you learn

16:59 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page.

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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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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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How To Make Chord Progressions More Simple

Some of the most common ways people tell you to reduce chord progressions are very likely to work against what you hear and the music you are trying to play. You need to apply the right type of harmonic analysis to not end up with complete gibberish when you reduce jazz chord progressions.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the places you can reduce the number of chords and talk about when that is possible.

Check out more Essential Music Theory for Jazz

Jazz Scales! The 3 You Need to practice and How You apply them to Jazz Chords

Why You Want To Think in Functional Harmony

The 10 Types Of Difficult Chords In A Jazz Standard

Content:

0:00 Intro – Using the Rules wrong.

0:28 Not only to make it simple but also to add possibilities

0:41 The II V I rule – A little theory goes a long way

1:15 #1 The Turnaround (almost a lesson on Rhythm Changes)

2:05 Functions AND chords

3:23 Listen to the reduced progression

3:40 Applying this to a Solo – Charlie Parker

4:22 #2 The II V Rule – When It doesn’t work and why

4:39 II chord or I chord? Wes Montgomery

5:33 III VI II V troubles

6:40 You want to end up with a logical progression

6:55 #3 Confirmation of a Parker Bles – Gone Slightly Wrong

7:45 When it is a little better..

8:35 #4 Tempo and Harmonic Rhythm

9:02 Ballads and Slow changes

9:41 #5 Other Progressions to Reduce

10:04 Embellished I [V]

10:52 Tonic chord filler

11:50 Did I forget some progressions?

12:05 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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The Real Magic of Jazz Chords – Easy & Amazing

What is really great about Jazz chords or comping in Jazz is that you are allowed to improvise with the chords and choose what sounds you play, especially in terms of extensions but it can go a lot further as you will see in this jazz chords guitar lesson.

In this video, I am going to show you some really simple but also really great ways to add some chromatic notes and even entire chords to your playing. This works great if you are playing Jazz of course but it is also really useful in other genres that use extended chords.

In chord progressions and static chords

I am going to go over some different examples of how to mess around with a chord. I am going to show you how it works on a single chord but also how you can use it on a chord progression.

The first few are examples only moving one note in the chord and then it is going to get a little more extensive and you will learn how to start to add chromatic chords as well.

When it says Cmaj7 in the chart you can play a Cmaj7, but you can also play a C6. The difference between these two is a B and A :

We can play what we want as long as it sounds like the right chord in the context and as long as it does not clash with the melody or the soloist. For the different chords in this video, I will give you some examples of extensions you can use.

Why I Don’t Add Extensions to Chord Symbols

This way of improvising with the chords is also why I often don’t write extensions on the chords of a song: We are allowed to chose. (b-roll? comping You Stepped out of a dream with chord symbols)

You can also move from one to the other, and you can even add a chromatic leading note in between like this:

If you use this on a II V I then it becomes:

It does not have to be in the top note melody, it sounds great in the middle of the chord too:

The 9th – Another great extension

Another extension you can add to a Maj7 chord is the 9th. That can move down to the root:

The example is also moving the b13 to the b5 on the altered dominant. Whenever I chose a note to move to in the scale that works with the chord.

In example 5 I am moving the 7th and the 9th, but one of them alone

Stealing from Stairway to Heaven

So now we start moving several notes and before I go into chromatic chords, let’s have a look at how you can also move them in opposite directions (ala Stairway to Heaven)

Here are two ways of doing that on a Dm7. On a Dm7 you can use other extensions from the scale, the 9th and the 11th are pretty safe most of the time if Dm7 is the II or the VI chord in the scale.

Notice that the chord in between is actually an Fm7, but that is actually a coincidence which is why I did not write the chord symbol.

Chromatic Passing Chords on a G7

Now let’s add some chromatic chords. For a G7 you can play the G7 but also choose to add either a 9th or a 13th.

A 3-note version of adding some chromatic chords as leading chords could be something like this:

The idea is really just to move the chord a fret up or down when it resolves as you can see I do both in the first bar going down and the second moving up.
This is pretty easy to play on guitar so you should really explore that for more chords than just the dominants.

Another way to use this is to let the melody move one way and the chord another. This is what I am doing in this example:

Here the melody is the same in bars 1 +2 and bars 3 + 4.

The first example is using an Ab7 to harmonize the Ab in the melody, and the 2nd example is using a Gb7. The difference is that in the second example the melody is moving down while the chord is moving up (Gb7 up to G7).

If you want to explore more sounds and chords that you can use when you comp then check out this video where I am covering different inversions of chords you probably already know plus some great voice-leading tricks you can add to your playing.

Add some Chromatic chords to your comping

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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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How To Sound Like Jazz – It Is All Phrasing

You want to learn Jazz, and everybody is saying: Learn Bebop scales and altered chords, upper-structure triad pairs. All these fancy things, and you can do great things with that, but in the end, it is not that which makes it sound like jazz. It is the phrasing, it is how you play it.

In this video, I am going to go over some examples of fairly simple things that do sound like Jazz and talk about how you start sounding like that what to work and what to practice.

Jazz Phrasing – What To Listen For

To give you an idea about what I mean here are a few very simple II V I licks in C major, just using the notes of the scale, no chromaticism or alterations everything is just in C.

Then I am going to analyze that and give you two great ways to work on improving your phrasing.

What is important is to start hearing about a line like this is that the notes are note played with the same volume or intensity. Jazz lines are not just a row of notes that are either on or off like this PLAY same note equal dynamic

If I played the line like without accents and dynamics it would sound boring and not like Jazz at all.

So I add some accents to the line. In this line, I have accents on the 1, 2& and on the 2& in bar 2. This is shown below:

The first note naturally gets an accent, but within the line then the interesting accents that make it sound like Jazz are on a note that is off the beat and higher than the following note.

Notice how I am using legato to give one-note and accent and make the following softer, this is a very common way to use legato for phrasing.

Accent on a note that is off the beat and higher than the following note.

Here we have accents on 1&, 3& and 2& in bar 2 as shown here below:

Again I am just using the scale and the diatonic arpeggios, so it is clearly more about how you play the lines and how the melodies are constructed than what notes you are playing.

The Dorian #4 Bebop scale will not automatically make you sound like Bebop.

How To Learn Jazz Phrasing

Now you have an idea about what is happening and how to get what you play to sound better.

But if you really want to sound better then you need to get this way of playing into your system so that it becomes automatic, something that is a little more difficult.

There are two exercises that you can work on that will really help this the first one is a great way to learn some repertoire as well. I also have a WebStore lesson dedicated to this that you can check out here: Jazz-Blues – 4 Easy Jazz Phrasing Etudes

One way to really dig into phrasing is to learn bebop themes and really try to analyze them and figure out how to phrase them. This way of working is a bit technical or theoretical and you need to work on it for some time and with a few tunes to get it to work in your playing., but it can be a great way to start hearing better phrasing and you can also reference different recordings of the bebop theme to get a sense of how people phrase the lines.

An analysis of Charlie Parkers Au Privave is shown here below with possible accent notes circled:

Of course, playing along with a recording and really nailing the phrasing is also a great exercise.

It could open up a completely new way to hear the melodies.

Transcribing

The other way to work on this is by learning solos by ear. For me, this was the most important takeaway from transcribing and still is. If you learn a solo and can play along with the recording then you really start hearing the phrasing and it is going to be a lot easier to get that sound out into your playing.

Learning solos by ear can seem really difficult compared to the previous exercise, but the advantage over working from a piece of written out music is that you have to listen a lot to a recording, really try to hear how it sounds and then reproduce that so the process is much closer to how you hopefully will end up using the phrasing and therefore it is much more effective as a way of learning.

Even if this was the only thing you would learn from learning a solo by ear and playing it with the recording, then phrasing is so important that it is more than enough reason to start doing this. I think that is obvious from the first part of this video.

What solos have you checked out by ear, do you have recommendations for good easy solos to learn? Maybe especially because of the phrasing. Leave a comment on this video!

A really important part of improving your phrasing is to hear what you sound like and see how it matches what you want to sound like. The only real way to do this is to record yourself. This is a great tool for learning and especially self-teaching. If you want some solid tips and advice on how to work with this then check out this video on that topic.

I have other videos on phrasing and how to interpret jazz lines like these. I find myself much more hearing drums when I am hearing how a line is supposed to sound.

Practicing Jazz Phrasing with Easy Etudes

Other Lessons on Phrasing

Jazz Phrasing – This is what you want to know

Bebop Soloing – The Licks You Need To Check Out

Jazz & Bebop Phrasing – C Blues

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

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.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

5 Scale Exercises That Are Great In Solos

Practicing scale exercises is something that we do to gain flexibility and an overview of the guitar. But another thing you should also consider is that the things you practice in a Jazz scale exercise should also not be too far from what you actually need when you solo.
Setting your scale practice up so that it is helping you develop vocabulary is very useful and very efficient.

In this video, I will show you 5 exercises that are scale exercises but that you can also use as great building blocks for jazz licks. When you check out these concepts you should also start to be able to make your own scale exercises that help you play better solos using the things you want to play in your solos.

Other videos on Scale Exercises and using them

How to practice your scales and why – Positions

The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

Content:

0:00 Intro – Exercises for Flexibility, Technique and…

0:30 Scale Exercises that are building blocks for Jazz Solos

0:51 The Scale and How I Play it

1:15 #1 The Bebop Arpeggio

2:04 Lick using Exercise #1

2:33 #2 Triads with Enclosures

3:31 Lick using Exercise #2

4:09 #3 Chaining Arpeggios Like Kurt Rosenwinkel

4:49 Along the Neck

5:25 Lick using Exercise #3

6:13 #4 Barry Harris’ Chromatic Rule

6:59 The Rules

7:29 Lick using Exercise #4

8:09 #5 Parker and Benson’s Arpeggio with Chromatic Tail

9:14 Lick using Exercise #5

10:05 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page

The 10 Types Of Difficult Chords In A Jazz Standard

If you are learning a Jazz Standard then the analysis is a great tool. It is very useful to know how the chords work and how they sound in the key of the song. But in a Jazz Standards Analysis, you are likely to come across chords that are not just a part of a II V I and more difficult to understand.

This video is on 10 types of chords that are like that and how you learn to recognize and deal with them. It should help you take your harmonic analysis up a level and help make it easy to learn jazz standards quickly.

My video on why you want to learn and use Functional Harmony
https://jenslarsen.nl/why-you-want-to-think-in-functional-harmony/

My video on why you don’t want to use modes:
https://jenslarsen.nl/learn-the-modes-is-horrible-advice-this-is-a-better-skill/

More information on Diminished Chords:

Secret to play over Diminished Chords

Content of the video

0:00 Intro

0:22 The chords that are not a II V I 

0:50 Secondary Dominants – Identifying and Playing

1:48 Function of a Secondary Dominants

2:13 #1 V of V

2:22 Example in C Major

2:58 Where they are in the form (ABAC + AABA forms)

4:05 Examples to hear V of V as Lydian and as “normal” dominant

4:22 #2 Secondary Dom7th that resolves to a major chord

4:45 Secondary II V Cadence

5:18 A Chord in the song vs A chord in a solo

5:52 #3 Secondary Dom7th that resolves to a minor chord

6:36 #4 Tritone Substitutions

7:18 Lydian Dominant on Tritone subs

7:34 Example in a Jazz Standard

7:45 #5 Secondary Diminished Chords

7:57 Example in a Standard + Reharmonization

8:45 Scale Choices for secondary diminished chords

8:57 #6 IVm chords

9:25 Basic IVm in C major

9:48 Example in a Standard

10:05 #7 Backdoor Dominants

10:18 It is a minor subdominant!

10:50  Scale choice and example in a song

11:11 #8 bIImaj7 and bVImaj7

11:23 bII – Neapolitan Subdominant

11:53 Standard Example You Stepped out of the dream and Suspension use

12:25 bVImaj7 

12:53 #9 #IVdim

13:05 Rhythm Changes example and voice-leading

13:30 Scale Choice for #IV dim

13:44 #10 bIIIdim

14:00 Typical Progression and Scale choice

14:40 #11 Reharmonized #IV dim chords

15:07 How it works

15:20 In a song: I remember you

15:40 Stella By Starlight

16:14 Understanding Jazz Harmony in Jazz Standards

16:35 Like the video? Check Out my Patreon Page

Drop 2 Magic On Satin Doll – This Is How To Use Jazz Chords

Drop 2 voicings are really useful for a lot of things in Jazz. They are essential for most jazz comping, Wes Montgomery or George Benson chords solos and other kinds of block harmony.

In this video, I am going to go over how you take a basic set of drop2 chords on the song Satin Doll and then expand them adding chromatic chords, making riffs and melodies. It will also show you how to really comp a song using melodic concepts like call response and motivic development that really are what separates you from just playing the harmony and sounding like a musical statement.

I am going to take the first 8 bars of Satin Doll and then in 5 levels add different things to the comping working on voicings, melodies, and rhythm.

Level 1 – Basic Chords

The first example is using one voicing for each chord. Keeping it simple

When you less complicated chords you can focus on great rhythms and that is also important.

Level 2 – Top-note melodies

Even though we are playing chords we still have to make musical statements. A big part of that is playing strong top-note melodies. The next step is really going to open up the possibilities for the melodies you can create.

Satin Doll and chord progression really lend itself to motivic development. There are a lot of repeating progressions like between bars 1-2 or between bars 1-2 and 3-4. This makes it easy to repeat and develop motifs.

Level 3 – Mixing voicing types

I have a lot of videos where I talk about how important it is to not get stuck in only using one chord type. You want to try to combine as many things as you can.

This example is it mixing the drop2 with 3-note voicings. The 3-note voicings are really just the drop2 but then leaving out the top string, which gives us a lot more options for melodies.

As you can see in the example below:

The II V I example mixing the different voicings is this:

Level 4 – Chromatic Passing notes

The top-note melodies we play are Jazz, so you can add a little chromaticism in there on top of the chords.

Level 5 – Chromatic Chords

With chromatic melodies, you can also harmonize them and get some great sounding chromatic passing chords.

Drop 2 Boost for your comping and chord solos

Get more examples of how to use and embellish Drop2 chords

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

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.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

How to write Jazz Licks – What You Want to Know

One of the best ways to practice Jazz and to learn to play better solos is to work on writing jazz licks. When you are composing licks you are working on how you can use the material that you can practice and really figuring out how to get it to sound great in a solo.

This video takes you through working on this in steps or levels and talks about important techniques you can use to make what you write sound better.

In this video, I am going to break down 6 levels that you can work on writing licks and discuss:

  • How you get started writing jazz licks
  • What does it mean to have a lick that follows the changes
  • How do you incorporate Arpeggios and chromatic melodies
  • What makes it sound like Jazz
  • How to get more surprising melodies in there.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:18 Writing Licks and Solos as a way of practicing

0:33 Scary White Papers with empty lines

0:48 Level 1 – The Scale and Connecting to the changes

2:11 Why it is good to keep it simple

2:41 Bebop Scales – it is a bit too systematic

3:11 Level 2 – Arpeggios of the chords 

4:17 Level 3 – Arpeggios as Frames for lines

6:00 Level 4 – Arpeggios from the 3rd and Chromaticism 

6:20 Arpeggios from the 3rd 

8:19 Different way to use chromaticism 

9:11 Level 5 – Octave Displacement 

9:20 Rhythm and Joe Pass etudes

10:21 Explaining Octave Displacement on an Arpeggio 

12:15 Level 6 – Suspending Chord Tones

12:37 Chromatic enclosure as a suspension 

14:46 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!