Tag Archives: jazz guitar

Beautiful Jazz Chords That You Never Played

Learning Drop2 and Shell-voicings is a great way to learn some systems of jazz chords and a lot of inversions all at once. But if you only think in systems you forget to explore what chords you can come up with that are not in those systems. That’s what I explore in this Jazz Chords Lesson.

In this lesson, I am going to talk about some of the guitar jazz chords that I like to use and find really beautiful which I don’t really hear people use a lot, probably because they don’t fit in the systems. And they are not even that difficult to play, so there is no need to not check them out!

Looking outside the systems

It is important not to be locked down by systems, also when it comes to learning chords. The Chords that I am using in this lesson are more aimed to be beautiful rich sounding chords. I mostly use them as sustained chords that I can leave there as a rich harmonic background for a soloist. They are not really intended for more rhythmical comp. When I do that I go for other chords and focus not on a single chord but as much on the movement.

Adding extra notes to a Dominant

The voicing that I am first going to show you is a chord that is really associated with the melodic minor scale. The first way to use it is as an altered dominant. In this case a G7(#9):

The Dm7 is a straight Drop2 voicing for an Fmaj7, which in this context is a Dm7(9). The G7 voicing is a basic 3-note G7 with an added #9(Bb) on top. This resolves nicely to another surprising voicing which is the Cmaj7. Here I play this with a G triad and a lower C (you can’t really call it a bass note).

Turning it into a Lydian Dominant.

In some ways this voicing works even better when you use it as a Lydian dominant. That is shown here below where I use it as a backdoor dominant in C major.

When used like this it becomes a Dominant chord with a #11 and a 13.

The Cmaj7 voicing is another rich chord voicing which has a 9th and a 13th. It is an Asus4 upper-structure and a B.

New Altered Options

This chord is another way to play an altered voicing and also have the 7th in the melody. The voicing in this case is a G7(#9): B(9), G(1), Bb(#9), F(b7). In the example I am moving the F down to a b13(Eb) and resolves it to the 9th of Cmaj7.

The Dm7 voicing is derived from a Drop 2 where the 5th has been replaced with the 11th and the root with the 9th.

The same voicing is also great for a Lydian dominant. Here it becomes a dom7th(13#11).

In the example below I am using it as a Bb7 in a backdoor dominant chord progression.

Bb7: Ab(b7),E(#11), G(13), D(3).

I am using the same voicing for the Cmaj7 as in the very first example.

Sus4 triads can be upper-structures too

This example is using three chords all based on upper-structures.

The Dm7 voicing is a Dm7(11) using a C major triad.

G7 uses an E major triad to create a G7(13b9)

C6/9 is made using a Dsus4 triad.

Why don’t you ever play a b5,b13 chord?

This last “bonus” example is a little different because it is a chord that you probably already know, but don’t use like this.

The Dm7 and Cmaj7 voicings are both drop2 chords.

The G7 voicing is a chord you probably know as a Db7(9) chord. Since Db is the tritone substitute of G7 we can also use this voicing as a G7.

That would give us this G7: B(3) Eb(b13) F(b7) Db(b5) – G7(b5,b13)

Explore more voicings

A great place to start exploring new sounds and voicings is to work with 3-note jazz chords. These are very flexible and great to use both as they are and as a starting point for adding more voicings.

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Jazz Practice – Why You Need To Keep It Practical

What if the way that you practice makes sure that you don’t feel like you are practicing something that you never get to use? Jazz Practice is difficult to get right and there are some mistakes that I see people make again and again.

What if you could work in a way that you could feel that your playing was improving? Maybe it is often better to take a more practical approach and practice in a way that is really focused on fixing a problem in the music that you are playing.

If you start with the music and choose goals to fix problems you encounter while making music you are much more likely to improve and also able to feel yourself improve.

In this video, I am going to talk about how to learn jazz guitar and how to choose the right strategies for some of the problems we encounter. It is easy to get lost in empty exercises and not work on something that is directly related to the music you play, but that can quickly leave you drowning in exercises.

Content:

0:00 Intro
0:12 Solve problems in your playing?
0:38 Strategies and how to Improve specific things in your playing.
1:23 Two Types of Solutions
1:54 The Two Examples in this video: Soloing and Comping.
2:13 #1 Soloing: How to Learn New Vocabulary
2:45 Long-term Goal and solution
3:51 Short-term Approach – Specific and Fixing the problem in the song
4:49 Less information more focus on using it while making music
5:42 #2 Comping: Learning New Voicings
6:18 Long-term for Learning All Voicings and Inversions
7:22  Short-term Approach – Think about what you already play and Add to That!
8:54 Be Practical if you want to improve your playing fast.
10:33 Teachers does this as well!
10:56 Like the video? Check out My Patreon Page!

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Kurt Rosenwinkel – How To Make Interesting Lines

In this Kurt Rosenwinkel Lesson, I look at some lines from a live solo on the song I’ll Remember April and talk about some of the things that he uses a lot in his playing. I am going to try to go a little deeper than just looking at what notes are used but also talk a little about how the melody of the line works.

  • Arpeggio patterns & Quartal Arpeggios
  • Side-slipping in lines
  • Chromatic runs
  • Playing across the bar-line and adding extra harmony
  • Improvised lines with a huge range

I will also try to talk about Rosenwinkel’s extraordinary sense of melody which makes the lines interesting and surprising even when they are quite long and dense 8th note lines.

The complexity of the lines used in this solos is very impressive and at the same time Rosenwinkel really manages to keep it all very melodic and easy to digest. This aspect of his playing is always mind-blowing to me.

Content of the Guitar Lesson

0:00 Intro

0:29 The Topics Covered in the Analysis

1:24 Example #1

1:32 Analysis – Side-slipping and Dominant Scales

4:24 Example #1 Slowly

4:34 Example #2

4:40 Analysis – Motivic Development in 8th note lines

5:59 Example #2 Slowly

6:07 Example #3

6:18 Analysis – Larger Range – Harmonizing in the solos and Tritone Substitutes

9:56 Example #3 Slowly

10:32 Example #4

10:35 Analysis – Never-ending Scale Exercise

11:39 Example #4 Slowly

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Easy Jazz Licks – How To Use The Pentatonic Scale

A big part of what makes Jazz difficult in the beginning is that you have to play solos that really follow the chords and when you listen to people playing you hear different sounds flying by.
In this video, I am going to show you how you can pentatonic scale jazz licks. I will go over some jazz licks, and in that way help you get started playing solos where you really follow the harmony.

If you are already familiar with playing over changes then using pentatonic scales is something that can add another sound to your solos and in that way increase your vocabulary so you may find that useful as well.

II V I jazz licks with Pentatonic Scales

The examples in this lesson are all on a II V I in C major, as shown here below.

For each chord I am going to use a different minor pentatonic scale.

Dm7 – Dm Pentatonic

G7alt – Bbm Pentatonic

Cmaj7 – Em Pentatonic

I am going to be using one position of each scale and keep it simple to use . The scales are shown here below first as sheet music and tabs, and then Scale diagrams:

Dm Pentatonic:

Bbm Pentatonic:

Em Pentatonic:

II V I lick #1

The first example is using a fairly simple lick using mostly scale runs within the pentatonic scales.

Notice how I transition from chord to chord using a stepwise motion. D to Db going from Dm7 to G7 and Eb to E when moving from G7 to C.

Never Ending Scale Exercise

A great way to practice moving smoothly from one scale to the next is to play an exercise like this. Here I am moving up Dm pentatonic for 1 bar and then continuing to the closest note in Bbm pentatonic when the chord changes to G7. On the G7alt the scale turns back at the top note and goes to the B in Em pentatonic when the chord changes to Cmaj7.

II V I lick #2

Pentatonic scale positions are two notes per string, and that makes them great candidates for using legato. This example demonstrates that.

It is also an example of how you can make pentatonic licks that skips around and does not move only in a stepwise manner.

To practice playing some basic melodic skips you can do this exercise which is essential playing a pentatonic scale in diatonic 3rds.

II V I lick #3

Using rhythmical patterns and adding more movement to the lick. I am again using some legato to play the lick.

The pattern on the G7 is moving around a 3 note pattern in the scale. This breaks up the rhythm in a nice way, and shifting rhythms like these are an important part of jazz phrasing.

You can practice the pattern through the pentatonic scale to get more used to playing this. It also really builds your general flexibility with the scales.

Taking Pentatonics to Jazz and getting started Soloing

A great jazz song to check out using pentatonic scales on is Blue Bossa. If you want to dig into a lesson on Blue Bossa then you can check out this lesson:

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Can You Do This On The Chord Progressions You Know?

You practice improvising jazz solos over progressions and spend hours or days learning to solo over songs. One thing that we mostly leave almost random is when do we know it. How do you answer if you know a song or a chord progression? Having a way of judging how well you know a song is very important but also difficult to really describe.

In this video, I am going over 4 exercises that I use and that my students use to learn chord progressions. Two are technical and two are more about being musical and working on playing what you hear.

I find that learning Songs and Chord Progressions is extremely important for learning jazz or jazz guitar, so if you have any thoughts on when you know a progression or exercises that are useful then please leave a comment.

Content:

0:00 Intro – When Do You Know A Chord Progression?

0:37 4 Exercises – Two Technical, Two Musical – Know what there is and Play What You Hear

1:15 The Turnaround – Scales

1:52 #1 Only Using The Arpeggios

2:25 Basic Technical Exercise

2:45 Solo only using Basic Chord Tones and Arpeggios

3:27 #2 Never Ending Scale Exercise

4:24 The Scale version

4:51 Using Diatonic Arpeggios instead of the Scale

5:11 The Diatonic Triad version

5:52 #3 Rubato Solo from chord to chord

6:24 The Exercise and the Goal

7:01 Giving you time to listen to what you hear in your solo

7:36 #4 Motif Exercises

8:16 Learn from Wes Montgomery

8:42 It is a great measure of how free you are on a progression

9:04 Hearing motifs and then playing them.

9:27 What Exercises do you find very useful? Leave a comment!

9:46 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Improvise using Target Notes

One of the core ideas that I used when I learned how to improvise over chord changes was using target notes. This method took me from working on Rhythm Changes to Giant Steps. It is such a strong concept that it will help you deal with any progression.

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John Scofield – How To Mix Bebop And Pentatonics

John Scofield is in many ways a fantastic jazz artist. Besides having a signature tone and always coming up with new projects and collaborations he also has a very personal melodic language. In this John Scofield Lesson, I am going to break down some phrases from his solo on Not You Again. This is a song based on the changes of There Will Never Be Another You. Analyzing John Scofield licks really demonstrates how he uses pentatonic scales, melodic minor and mixes this with bebop influences.

John Scofield has a great very practical way to use legato in his playing. In many ways, it is a pretty fantastic way to use a technique that makes it easier to play the lines in a way that makes the phrasing more interesting. The solo is also a great example of how half of playing a good solo on a jazz standard is about interpreting and re-harmonizing the standard chords while playing.

What I don’t talk about in this lesson, even if it is as interesting as the notes he plays, is how John Scofield works with tone and shapes the sound of what he plays. This aspect of his playing is not that common in Jazz Guitar, but the dynamic and tonal range of John Scofield could easily be the topic of long books.

The song, Not You Again, is off the album John Scofield recorded with Billy Higgins, Kenny Garrett, Christian McBride, and Brad Mehldau. The Brad Mehldau solo is also worth studying as he is also a master at re-interpreting the harmony. This is also the first album that Scofield recorded without using his signature chorus.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Scofield on a Jazz Standard

0:55 #1 Diatonic Pentatonic Scale

1:49 Linking Technique and Phrasing Dynamics

2:10 #1 Diatonic Pentatonic Scale – Slow

2:14 #2 Bebop Line and Phrasing

2:58 Using Legato to help add Large Intervals to the solo

4:18 #2 Bebop Line and Phrasing – Slow

4:27 Analysis of Scofield’s Legato and Phrasing 5.07 Keeping it Practical like Allan Holdsworth

5:14 #3 Altered Scale Pentatonic

5:43 Altered Pentatonic Melodic Patterns

6:16 Groups of 7 8th notes

6:31 #3 Altered Scale Pentatonic – Slow

7:00 #4 Angular Legato lines

7:51 Legato to create Angular lines 8:

24 #4 Angular Legato lines – Slow

8:27 #5 Rhythmic and Octave Displacement

8:50 Rhythmic Displacement with pentatonc scales

9:26 #5 Rhythmic and Octave Displacement – Slow

9:31 #6 Pentatonic & Bebop melodies

10:33 Legato: Hammer on/Pull off and Slides

10:58 #6 Pentatonic & Bebop melodies – Slow

11:04 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Get some new Pentatonic ideas!

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Learn Jazz Standards – Get The Most Out Of What You Already Know

Learning Jazz Standards is an important part of learning jazz. To yet again quote Peter Bernstein: “Learn the song and let the song teach you.” It is important to learn songs as a part of learning Jazz or Jazz Guitar. You want to have progressions where you can use and improve your skills as an improviser. In fact, learning Jazz Standards is also important for being able to play with other people and going to jam sessions.

In this video, I am going to show you how you can use the songs you already know to make it easier to learn new songs. I will also give you some examples of why it is great to think in functions and chord progressions rather than just each individual chord. The way I demonstrate this is by analyzing some jazz standards lead sheets These things are very much connected and also a huge help in learning songs. It is also important to use the music theory that you learn and benefit from analyzing jazz standards.

Content:

0:00 Intro
0:57 Efficient Music Theory
1:20 Improve the way you learn songs
1:58 Analyzing 5 Jazz Standards
2:06 Understanding the Form
2:12 The Blues Form Comparison
2:37 Learning Standards By Ear
2:43 Using The Form when transcribing
3:32 Thinking in Functions – How it helps
4:20 Thinking in Smaller Progressions as Building Blocks
4:44 Song #1 There Will Never Be Another You
4:52 The Basic Form
5:21 Main Analysis
8:38 Learn Jazz Songs, not Steely Dan, Coldplay etc.
8:58 Song #2 It Could Happen To You
13:42 Song #3 But Not For Me
15:44 Conclusion: Analysis side by side
17:06 Other Common Forms in Jazz
18:18 Song #3 Out Of Nowhere
18:42 A Double Diminished Chord!
19:50 More #IVish than German and Augmented
22:51 Out of Nowhere compared to the previous songs.
23:58 Song #4 Just Friends
27:50 Think “Top Down” when learning songs.
28:19 Think in Functions not only Chords
29:19 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page

Using Reharmonization in Solo

When you can analyze and understand a chord progression you also have the freedom to start changing the chords and create some really cool surprising melodies.

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Chet Baker – How To Make Bebop Lyrical

Chet Baker is one of the most lyrical hardbop or bebop improvisers. And checking out his playing on guitar is certainly very useful! This video is analyzing some phrases from his solo on the Blues Doodlin’ His approach to playing on this tune is both deeply rooted in bebop and at the same time very melodic and restrained. The combination of these aspects really makes the solo melodic and have an incredible flow.

In the video, I also discuss how Chet Baker is changing his interpretation of the chords from chorus to chorus and in that way really adding development to the solo.

Chet Baker is playing this song with his trio with guitarist Philip Catherine.

Develop you own Melodic Skills

If you want to develop material with a more melodic emphasis in your own solos you can also check out this lesson working with the Jazz Standard All The Things You Are

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5 Comping Exercises for Jazz Rhythm on the Blues

Rhythm is much more important than notes. This is very true for jazz and certainly for comping. The easiest way to learn some new rhythms for your comping is to come up with some small riffs and practice playing those through a chord progression. In this jazz rhythm guitar lesson, I am going to show you 5 great variations on some great Comping rhythms and how they sound through a Blues In F.

If you want to practice them with me then you can go to the second examples via the link in the description of this video. I’ll talk a little about that later. This way of really thinking in rhythms as phrases are really important because you can’t think about the notes, you have to hear them.

If you want to check out more material that you can use for both soloing and comping on an F blues then have a look at this Study Guide: F Blues Study Guide

The Shell-Voicings

Instead of using the voicings that I use in the example you can also simplify that part by using shell voicings. In the end this is much more about rhythm than it is about the chord voicings so that will still teach you the most important part of the material in this lesson.

Practice with the video!

In this video I have added the count-off to the perfromances so if you want to play the rhythms together with me then you can do that. If you are a Patron of the channel then you can also download the mp3 backing track via my Patreon Page

The Shell-voicings are shown here below.

You can go through these voicings and use them while practicing the rhythms in the 5 exercises.

#1 Charleston Rhythm

The Charleston rhythm is a great place to start! It is in many ways the most simple rhythm that has it all. It clearly shows the chords by stating that on the 1 and the groove and swing feel is clear from the 2& that follows it.

If you are playing with people you don’t know: When in doubt, Charleston!

#2 Pulling Forward

This rhythm is a little more busy. Here the goal is to state the groove with the first two 8th notes and then use the 3& to really pull the song forward. The 3& sound adds tension or energy and the following chord on the 1 resolves that tension.

#3 Clear Groove

This example is a little busy if you play it too much, especially if the tempo is higher than a slow medium.

It is however a complete groove and a way of laying down the harmony and the groove in a very clear way. This can work as a a great solid background for a soloist, but for some it may also get in the way.

#4 Up-Beat Energy

This rhythm is a little lighter and a great way to break things up a little. It is important to be able to play comping rhythms that are not on the 1st beat all the time.

#5 Leave it to Bass and Drums

Another exercise is to play rhythms starting on beat 2. This exercise helps you feel(or think) the first beat and then play on the 2nd. Internalizing the rhythm and the meter like this is really useful for your overall timing and time-feel.

Get more ideas for comping

If you want to expand your comping and check out some more ideas then check out this lesson in my WebStore:

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And the Shell-voicings are available here:

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Phrygian Chords – Some Of The Best Places To Use Them

Phrygian Chords are a great chord substitute to have in your vocabulary. It can be used in reharmonizing songs for arrangements or as something to throw in there in solos and comping. In this video, I talk about some of the places where you can apply a phrygian chord. Some more “out” than others. I demonstrate this using a chord melody of the song “I fall in love too easily” which I then harmonized using a lot of Phrygian, or Dom7thsus4(b9) chords.

I use the arrangement of the song but also talk about applying this type of chord substitution or reharmonization on Stella By Starlight and Night And Day.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Phrygian Chords

1:12 Chord Melody – I Fall In Love Too Easily

2:41 Phrygian Chords – What is it

3:00 A few Phrygian Voicings – The Abmaj7(b5) connection

4:30 Phrygian Chord as a substitute for a II V

5:02 Scale Choices and variations for the chords

5:57 Reharmonizing a minor II V I

6:42 Night And Day Reharmonization

7:06 Stella By Starlight

7:49 A few bars with “normal” changes

8:40 Minor II V substitutes and the consequences

10:47 What is the melody actually?

11:34 Tonic chord substitute #1: Phrygian on III

12:30 Using this on Night And Day – Consequence of this choice

13:00 Arranging: Think in expectation of the listener

13:33 Tonic chord substitute #2: Phrygian on I

14:40 Learning to use new chord sounds

15:24 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page.

Learn using Reharmonizations in your solos

A huge expansion of your vocabulary happens once you learn to improvise not only with the notes of the chord but also with the chords in the progression.

This video lesson demonstrates and discusses that.

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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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