Tag Archives: jazz guitar

Jazz Blues – 3 Easy Techniques That Make You Sound Better

Most guitar players, and it is probably the same for other instruments as well, know the sound of the blues and can play blues solos. And then you start playing Jazz, and it is all about playing changes and using arpeggios and the right scales, but there is no common ground, and you don’t have a way to combine the two like you hear Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson or George Benson do.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the techniques you can use to get that mix in there and play Jazz Blues, something that is great on a 12 bar blues, but that will work for you on pretty much all songs.

For this video, I am going to use a basic 12 bar Jazz Blues in F, which happens to also be the key of the transcribed examples which probably says something about how common that is.

The Jazz Blues is pretty similar a straight ahead blues except for the II V in the last line, the cadence to II in bar 8 and the dim chord in bar 6.

The things I cover in this video are applied to a blues and are things you anyway want to be able to do there, but you can easily put it to use on other songs as well. (maybe too much ?)

#1 Riff Melodies in Jazz Solos

B-roll slow bar of parker 1 (maybe 2) chords Bb7 Bdim

This first technique is a way of creating melodies so that you A) nail the changes and B) make a really solid melody over the first few bars.

It is extremely common, and you will find it in most Charlie Parker Solos, and in a ton of other solos and themes.

In the example below you can see a basic phrase in the first F7 bar which is repeated but now the A is changed to Ab on the Bb7. The original statement is further developed in bar 3 and reappears as an altered lick in bar 4.

As I mentioned this is very common in both solos and themes a very clear example is Sonny Rollins’ Tenor Madness

You can see how this theme uses the exact same formula as what I played in example 1 with the main motif and then repeating it in the second bar, only changing the 3rd of the chord to fit the next chord. Then returning to the original motif.

Charlie Parker on Now’s The Time

In a solo, it can be useful to also develop the motif a bit like Parker does on Now’s the time.

In the next chorus, he uses this concept again but is also very creative with it

To be honest I think this is where I learned this, listening to Parker playing Blues.

In Other places in the form

A bonus feature from this way of making melodies is that it works in a lot of contexts, you can use it on the IV #IV dim in bar 5 and 6 of a Blues:

And you can even put it to use on a II V by just changing on note going from II to V

Let’s look at how you phrase the notes and not only the type of melodies you make.

#2 Slides and Phrasing

As you may have noticed bends are not that common in Jazz. Not sure why, but it is likely because the music was invented in a time where the guitar strings were very heavy and guitars had a lot less sustain. Instead, slides are often used, creating a similar sound as the grace notes you hear on the piano.

It is easy to get this type of sound into you lines when you solo. The best place to start is to slide into the important notes in the melody which would be the arpeggio notes.

An example of this could sound like this:

So you can see how I slide into 3rds and 5ths on the chord.

An example of  this a little closer to how you might use bending would be something like this:

Working on using this is pretty simple, just start making short phrases with an F7 arpeggio and experiment with adding slides to it.

Try some of these examples:

#3 Easy Double stops that sound great!

Another thing that is probably also borrowed from the piano is using intervals and double stops. Chuck Berry wasn’t the only one who had that idea, so there are lots of double-stops you can use for Jazz Blues phrases.

Sliding into the 3rd interval that is the upper part of an F major triad. The melody is using the same concept going from I to IV by modifying the motif. 3rds are very practical for double stops and therefore also very common, but there are some other good options as well. First I’ll go over another example and then I will show you how to find some double stops for a chord.

This example is using an A as a lower pedal point and then later returns to the 6th interval to emphasize the first note in that phrase. 6th intervals and tritone intervals like you find in this phrase are also fine options for the F7.

Finding Double Stops for a chord

Zoom in and explain and play – neck diagram! – refer to the different chord shapes

And using double stops as a way of emphasizing a note is really use a simple line using a 5th interval we just found could be something like this.

Level up your Jazz Blues

Jazz Blues Solo Intro Pack

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5 Levels Of Maj7 Chords & How To Make Your Own Voicings

One of the most fun parts of learning and playing Jazz is exploring the Jazz chords and the beautiful colors you can add to it and the freedom you have to improvise with them.

In this video, I am going to go over how we start with basic shell-voicings and then end up with voicing with lots of extensions and colors.

And this is also a great way to really get better at checking out and connecting different types of chords and explore the fretboard

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:34 Level 1 – Shell-voicings, Maj7 & Maj6 chords

01:18 Maj7 & Maj6 chords

01:59 Samba comping with Shell-voicings

02:24 Level 2 – Shell with extension & Drop3

03:25 Comping with The Bigger Chords

03:43 Level 3 – Triads & Rootless Jazz Chords

05:17 Jazz Standard with Triad Voicings

05:36 Level 4 – Drop2 and Inversions

07:24 Level 5 -Inverting Shells with extensions

08:36 Adding more colors to a Standard

08:58 More Colorful Chords and Less boring Chord Progressions!

09:05 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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Triplets Can Make Your Jazz Solo Sound Amazing

You are always working on playing better solos, making your lines more interesting and finding the right arpeggios or scales. But Jazz is also about rhythm, and it is actually more important to work on playing more interesting rhythms in your solos. Using triplets is a great way to improve your vocabulary and not sounding like an 8th note robot with no dynamics or expression.

In this video, I am going to show you 4 ways that you can easily add 8th note triplets to your jazz lines and make them sound a lot more interesting.

Chromatic Triplets

Let’s get to it. The first place to use triplets is pretty easy to play because you can put it on one string most of the time. When you check out these examples you will also hear that these are really a core part of the Bebop Language

Chromatic enclosures add tension or dissonance that is then resolved quickly, and the combination of this with 8th note triplets is a very nice way to add some energy and momentum to a line. Here I am first using it on the Dm7 with one triplet and two 8th notes to target the F on beat 3. You can find this with Joe Pass and Charlie Parker (Pictures?)

A shorter variation is used on the Cmaj7.

This double triplet chromatic melody is one you will find often with Charlie Parker in his solos on Anthropology or Now’s the time. (Pictures?)

To practice phrases like this you could see the phrase as being a way to connect a minor 3rd with half steps, E to G.

You can then also make one for a major 3rd that starts with a whole step not a half step.

This way you can play the pattern through an Fmaj7 arpeggio like this:

The next thing to check out is how you can create some great sounding arpeggio lines with triplets

Bebop Arpeggios

Playing the Gm7 arpeggio as a triplet with a leading note is something you will find pretty much everywhere, and certainly, something that should be a part of your playing.

You could see the triplet as a way of giving emphasis to the top note, consider that a target note of the arpeggio.

Another way to use the triplets with arpeggios is what you will hear in this Wes Montgomery inspired line again the point is to target the first note after the triplet:

In this example, I also use Honeysuckle rose arpeggio played as a triplet on the Fmaj7.

The best way to practice the arpeggios like this and get them into your playing is to take them through the scale in an exercise like this:

Next I am going to show you a way to transform “normal” 8th note phrases to phrases with triplets

Triplet Transformations as 8th note variations

Here you could play this as “normal” 8th notes like this:

But you can easily hear how the first version is more exciting, and really this is just about mapping 4 8th notes on to a the rhythm with triplets

ILLUSTRATION

Another variation of this principle could be this:

Here the rhythm is this (ILLUSTRATION) and you could make other variations yourself.

Let’s look at how to use triplets for polyrhythms

Groupings and Polyrhythm

Usually, we feel triplets as groups of 3 notes like this:

EXPLAINER OVERLAY

But triplets can also be seen as the bar split into 12 notes and you can group them into 3 groups of 4 notes which sounds like this:

And this shifts on top of the quarter note pulse in a very nice way that you can also use in a solo like this:

Here you have 4-note groupings on the G7alt

Another way to use this on an entire II V I, but then playing a slightly less obvious rhythm would be this:

Here I am using a rhythm which is 3 notes and the last is a quarter note triplet.

Practicing Playing These Rhythms

When it comes to these triplet rhythms both the transformations and the polyrhythms then it can be really useful to work on playing these by working on soloing on Afro Cuban 12/8 grooves which are based on the triplets and will help you get comfortable playing them.

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3 Jazz Phrasing Problems You Need To Fix In Your Playing

You probably already figured out that knowing scales, arpeggios, and Jazz chords is not really enough to be able to play a great Jazz Solo.

It can be frustrating and seem like magic when you listen to great jazz phrases like Wes or George Benson but there are ways to work on this, and it is not magic, it is just a bit of work.

But you will sound better if you fix it!

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:23 The First Thing You (Anyway) Should Start Doing

01:09 How Swing 8th Notes Sound

02:33 Make Your Phrases And Phrasing More Interesting

04:34 Overdrive/Distortion in Jazz – Here’s the problem

04:48 Don’t End On The Beat All The Time

05:53 Ending On Long Notes.

06:54 The Types of Practice That Helps Phrasing

07:30 More Exercises for Phrasing and Swing-feel

07:37 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

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How To Make One Arpeggio Into 25 Great Jazz Licks

It is surprisingly difficult to get arpeggios to sound good, and often solos become boring and predictable with uninspired melodies, that’s why it is very useful to work on becoming better at writing your own Jazz Licks

In this video, I took a really basic Cmaj7 arpeggio and then I wrote 25 short and easy Jazz Licks using that arpeggio, so if you are looking for inspiration or want to check out some new ideas then you can probably find something here.

Keep it simple – Just Like You Practiced It

Let’s start with the basic ascending arpeggio, then I will go over some other simple ways to make more lines and at the end discuss some that I don’t use but that you can certainly explore in your own solos and make many more licks.

As you can see the construction is fairly simple, mixing the arpeggio with scales and chromatic enclosures. But you can still do a lot and make some great sounding lines.

This video will also give you some really basic ways to make licks and help you come up with something new or internalize something you are practicing.

When you work on this then try to write melodies, don’t just go for what you can play, try to make music. Don’t just move your fingers

Now let’s try to play a descending arpeggio and use that.

But Turn It Around

The next 5 licks all use the basic descending Cmaj7 arpeggio.

With these examples I am also using a few more advanced chromatic ideas as you see in example 9, and using sus4 triads is also a great “other” type of sound to throw in there example 8

The Bebop Arpeggio

Playing arpeggios as a triplet is another great way to make some great lines, certainly works for Charlie Parker and Wes Montgomery!

I also talk about this way of playing diatonic arpeggios in the lesson on The most important scale exercise in Jazz

In example 14 I use one of the triads that is a great option with the Cmaj7, the one from the 5th: G major

Don’t Start With The Arpeggio

Of course, you can also make some licks where the first thing you play is not the arpeggio. Which gives us a lot more melodies.

As you can see, I rely a lot on adding chromaticism to the arpeggios to make the lines a little more interesting and adding more movement in and out of the key.

Notice how most of these examples would work really well on an Am7 or D7 chord where a Cmaj7 arpeggio is useful. Making connections like this can be very efficient.

Ascending Arpeggios With a Pickup

With these examples, I am still keeping it very simple, so if you are looking for other things to try then remember that you can also:

  • Add notes between arpeggios notes
  • Play Sequences
  • Use Octave displacement and Inversions
  • Maybe those are for another video?

The Jazz Guitar Roadmap

If you want learn how to create solid Jazz licks on a standard then check out my online course:

The Jazz Guitar Roadmap

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The Most Effective Way To Improve Your Jazz Solos

A title like this is of course extreme, but I do really think that this way of working and improving your jazz solo is both underused and misunderstood, and that is a pity because it is very effective and in fact, it is also a part of The Jazz education tradition.

If you can practice in a way that makes you learn faster and sound better then what do you have to lose?

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Content: 

00:00 Intro

00:22 How To Really Learn A Lick

02:31 Composing Is About The Process!

04:32 Cornerstone of Barry Harris’ method

06:16 Hearing Strong Melodies

07:24 Analyze Licks with Your Ears

08:44 This Is Why You Should Study Bebop

09:03 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

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Easy Way To Make Your Jazz Chords Sound More Interesting

Just playing Jazz chords isn’t enough to make it sound great. You have to know how to make it interesting and keep the song moving.

In this video, I am going to give you some really easy examples that you can make your chords sound a lot better, stuff that helps you sit in the groove and keep things moving, and it is a simple trick that is more visual than a lot of complicated music theory.

A Basic G7 Voicing

The basic technique that I am using in this video and develop into a lot of great ideas is extremely simple. For a G7(13) chord like this:

You can add a harmonized chromatic melody to this chord like this:

And the rootless version of this which is often a little more practical.

What is happening here is really just that I am playing a melody going down in half-steps and then the chord use the chord on the D, the last note in the melody as a way to harmonize the note leading to it. In that way everything just slips into place and it is also very easy to play.

And this works for other chords as well, not just dominant chords, let’s check that out.

Chromatic Passing Chords on a II V I

Here you can hear how it also works on the II Chord, and of course, you can also use it on a tonic chord like this:

Here I am using a Db6 to get from the Cmaj7 to the C6

Another Great Trick With Chromatic Chords

Now you have one way to harmonize chromatic passing notes, but there is another one that is also pretty easy and works just as well and even makes

In bar 3 I am playing a melody that moves down in half steps, but instead of harmonizing it with the chord a half step above then I shift the first G7(13) chord down a half step, and then the lower part of the chord moves up and the melody moves down

This means that you now have two ways to create some chromatic melodies with chords. Let’s try that out on a few chords.

Exploring More Melodies And Options

To give you a way to get this into your playing let’s go over how this works on a few chords.

If you want to move from this voicings to this voicing:

If you use these two options then you can start with a voicing like this (1st chord in example 6) and then there are two ways you can move the melody down in half-steps:

With the starting chord, you have two ways you can move down, you can use the target chord as we did in the beginning, and you can also start by shifting the first chord.

Here’s another version. If you go from then you have these two options: 7a then there are these two ways to do this:  

Putting this to use on a Jazz Standard

You can put this to use on a song like Ladybird like this. Try to see if you can analyze what is going on.

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Why This Is The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

A little over a year ago, I made a video on the most Important Scale Exercise in Jazz(b-roll exercise maybe licks?), and once in a while, I get comments that I have no right to say that and all scale exercises are created equal.

That is not the case, some things are useful in some genres and not in others.

Take an exercise like this:

This is a great exercise if you want to be the next medium swing Yngwie Malmsteen, but it pretty much sucks if you want to sound like Charlie Parker.

The Most Important Scale Exercise

So in this video, I am going to show you why it is the most important scale exercise in Jazz, and then I am going to show you how you can use it to make your own great sounding licks!

So first let’s just look at why this exercise is important, or actually, just very useful and practical, and then I will go over how to use it.

Here’s Why It Is Amazing!

So the exercise is playing the diatonic arpeggios in a scale position like this:

The Arpeggios you get would be this exercise:

Why is this so useful?

When you play the exercise then you are playing the arpeggios of all the diatonic chords in that scale, so for C major you now have arpeggios for these chords:

It fits the harmony of Jazz songs!

If you look at a Jazz Standard then the basic chords in there are all 7th chords, so if you have to improvise over a G7 or an Am7 in the key of C, then the diatonic arpeggios are immediately clear because you have already practiced that and you know where the arpeggio is.

In that way, it links the scale to the chords and the arpeggios and directly gives you something to play on the chord.

More arpeggios per chord

The other thing that you can use this exercise for is that you can link several different arpeggios to a chord and that gives you a lot more vocabulary, so on a Dm7 chord there are other arpeggios that work well besides the Dm7 arpeggio, and you already know how to play them and where to find them because you played the exercise.

Obviously, a Dm7 works on a Dm7 chord because you are playing the same notes as you find in the chord. Fmaj7 works as well because the notes are almost the same, except the E which adds a 9th on top of the Dm chord and that sounds fine.

Dm7; D F A C

Fmaj7: F A C E

Am7: A C E G

Let’s just check out what they sound like:

Keep in mind that right now, I am talking about this for a Jazz standard, but this is also true if you are playing over a static 7th chord vamp: You can use more arpeggios on the chord and, knowing them will give you more material for your solos

Before I show you how this also works for other chords then I will give you some great examples of how you can use this in your playing, because THAT is what makes it a great exercise: It gives you a lot of stuff you can use.

Arpeggio Combinations

Now that there are several arpeggios that you can use then you can also work by combining them.

Here I am using an Fmaj7 arpeggio and a Dm7 arpeggio on the Dm7 chord.

A great way to play these two arpeggios could be to put them together like this, so first the Fmaj7 and then the Dm7 naturally follows AUDIO

Now you can do the same with the combination of the Am7 and Fmaj7 arpeggio

Taking It To Other Chords

The same concept using the G7 and Bø on G7:

Here it is the same priniciple:

G7: G B D F

Bø: B D F A

And using this in a line sounds like this:

And you can use it on a Cmaj7 as well combining the Am7 and Cmaj7 arpeggios:

 

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5 Jazz Chords You Need To Use More

You probably already know some Jazz Chords, Drop2 or Drop3 voicings, or Shell-voicings, and those systems are really great to build a vocabulary. But sometimes you want to play some different chords that sound really beautiful and a little more surprising to the ear so that you don’t make the song boring.

Those voicings are what this video is about!

Some of these chords are a little stretchy, but as you will hear, they are worth the effort, just don’t start by playing them in the 1st position.

I am going to introduce them in chord progressions because I think that is how they are the easiest to hear, but you can of course also use them one a single chord vamp.

#1 – Beautiful m7(9,11) Upper-structure Triad

Upper-structure Triads

These 3 voicings really fit well together and they are all using upper-structure triads, something that makes them sound both colorful and strong.

The Am7 is a C and a G major triad which gives us 3rd, 11th, 7th and 9th

Here I am combining it with a D7(13b9) and a G6/9

The D7 uses a B major upper-structure and the G uses an Asus4 triad as an upper-structure, and this is something that you will see throughout the video.

Any Easy Way To Be Creative With These Chords

Arpeggiating chords

Turning it into a Maj7 chord

In the later examples, you will also see that a lot of these voicings can be used for different chords, and in that way they are a very practical way to increase your chord vocabulary.

The Am7 voicings is also great as a tonic chord in C major, even though it does not have a 3rd.

Here it is a more modern sounding Cmaj7 in this II V I with a tritone substitution.

#2 – Close-voiced Maj7(9,13)

This vamp is using the Cmaj7(9,13) voicing which is 7th,9th,3rd,13th and then alternating that with a Bb7, the backdoor dominant.

Notice that this Cmaj7(9,13) also works as a G6/9 which was how I used it in Example 1

There it is 3rd 5th 6th and 9th.

#3 – Dom7(13b9) the most beautiful Dominant sound

The 13b9 sound on a dominant is one of my favorites. It is a great mix of an altered and unaltered sound which I find really rich.

Here I am using that on a II V I in F major, mixing it with a Gm7(11) and an Fmaj7(9,13)

The C7(13b9) is a voicing with an A major triad as upper-structure which is also a part of why it sounds so stable while still working as a dominant.

Another great way to use this same type of voicing is as a diminished chord. You can do that like this on “The Song Is You”

Here it becomes a Dim(b6) but you can also move it around to get to other extensions.

#4 – The Magic Chord – The Maj(b5)

Can you hear it? It is the sound of the #11 Police coming to get us for notating this chord as a Maj(b5) – Clip from Mad Max

You are probably using this set of notes, but using it in this voicing is really a great sound and it is so incredibly flexible.

In this example, I am using it as both a tonic minor chord and a half-diminished chord.

First, an F#ø(11) which leads into a B7(13b9) using another version of the Ab major upper-structure and continuing to an Em6/9 played with two different voicings.

#5 – Dom7th(#5)

The Dom7(#5) chord is a great voicing for melodic minor sounds, and you can make some really beautiful sounds with the inversions as I do in this example, where it is used on the II chord in a minor II V I in Am.

But you can also use it for the tonic minor chord and use the same type of fill like this:

 

 

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Simple Things To Play On A C7 That Sound Great

Sometimes it is great to have some things to fall back on when you are soloing. Stuff that you can easily get to sound good and that fits the chord, whether you solo on a song or on a Blues, you don’t want to run out of ideas or play something that doesn’t work.

In this video, I am going to show you some easy things to use on a C7 chord. Most of this stuff, you already know, I just want to show you how to tweak it and make it sound better.

Chromatic Shortcut

So we keep it simple, this C7 and this scale around it:

You probably know this way of adding chromatic enclosures around the notes of a chord where you use a diatonic note above and a chromatic note below. Joe Pass does this really often.

There is a way of using this that nobody really talks about, that really makes it sound so much better, I will get to that in a minute.

Like anything else, you should mix it with other things like the scale. Then you can make lines like this:

Here I have an enclosure around the G and the E, but this line sounds a little predictable and you can make it much more interesting if you turn around the enclosures:

so now I am skipping down to F# back up to A and then resolve to G, and the same thing happens on the E. This makes the line sound much more interesting and unpredictable but still has a natural flow.

So if you work on using enclosures then think about turning them around like I am doing here, that can really make a huge difference.

Make an Arpeggio Sound Amazing

Before I show you a visual trick that works great for dominant chords then you should check out this really useful concept that combines arpeggios, chromaticism and triplet rhythms.

If you have seen any of my videos then you have probably heard me talk about how you can use the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord.

For the C7 then you have the C7 arpeggio and from the 3rd, the E, then you have this Eø arpeggio.

This already gives you a lot of material, but an easy way to play this arpeggio so it sounds even better is to add some chromaticism around it and change the rhythm.

Here you add a chromatic leading note before the arpeggio, play the arpeggio as a triplet to add a little energy, and then also add some chromaticism going down from the top note.

And this works great for the Eø, George Benson does this all the time, but you can also do that from the root:

As you can see it is great to really know the diatonic arpeggios because a lot of them work on other chords, so if you want to check out some exercises for this then check out this video called The Most Important Scale Exercise For Jazz

Visual Triad and Quartal arpeggios

You probably know this as the top of a C7(13)

and a great visual connection is how this is diagonal across the strings and you can flip it around and then you have a C major triad.

and that is what I am using here, which sounds great and is pretty easy to play.

Let’s look at some another great arpeggio option

A Secret Arpeggio

One arpeggio, which is in fact another favorite of both Charlie Parker and George Benson, is using the arpeggio from the 7th of the chord, so for C7 that is a Bbmaj7 arpeggio. (filmed end of the examples no backing)

That is what I am using here, playing it as a triplet and putting it together with some basic scale melodies, typical bebop

But you can also connect it to a Gm triad like this:

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