Tag Archives: jazz lesson

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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Mike Stern – What is The Best Mix of Bebop and Rock?

Mike Stern is known for a few things: He is a great bebop player, he knows his rock licks and he sounds good on everything. In this Mike Stern Lesson I am taking a look at some phrases from his solo on There Is No Greater Love of the “Standards and other songs” album.

The Mike Stern Solo on this track has many of his trademark or signature licks and, besides demonstrating what a great soloist he is, it is also a good jazz lesson if you want to have a look at how a Mike Stern Guitar Style is put together using elements from many genres and still sounding unique.

Satin Doll – Easy Jazz Chords (and a little beyond)

The Ellington/Strayhorn tune Satin Doll is a standard that you need to have in your repertoire. It is also a great standard if you want to work on some easy jazz chords and playing II V progressions, since the progression is mostly made up of one bar II Vs.

In this lesson I am going to go over two sets of easy jazz chords that you can use to comp Satin Doll, namely two versions of shell-voicings. They work really well for Freddie Green rhythm guitar, but are also a great place to start and something that you can build a lot on. This is what I demonstrate with an example at the end of the video adding a lot more color and melodic material to the way I comp it.

The Song and the Form

When learning a song like Satin Doll it is extremely useful to also take the form into consideration. In this case Satin Doll is a 32 bar AABA form.

If you realize that it is an AABA then you also realize that you only need to know the A and the B parts by heart to know the entire progression.

A II V is one unit

Another thing that is very practical is to think of the II V progressions as one thing. Most of the progressions in Satin Doll are one bar II V progressions and by thinking of those as one progression you make it a lot easier to both play and remember.

Shell Voicings for Satin Doll

A Shell voicing is a chord voicing containing the root, 3rd and 7th of the chord.

In Jazz harmony this is enough to spell out the color and the function of the chord most of the time and is a great way to play the basic progression.

Shell voicings are also very useful as a starting point where you can add more melodic material on top in terms of other chord tones or extensions.

In example 1 I have written out the first A part played with shell voicings around fret 10:

First A – Shell Voicings

Notice that there are two different sets of II V voicings used: One with the m7 root on the 6th string and the other with the m7 root on the 5th string.

The Bridge in the same position

Now that we have an A-part covered then the next thing to sort out is the bridge:

The 2nd set of voicings

A good way to expand the options is to take a look at what the A-part might be with the other II V set. 

This is shown in example 3:

For practical reasons I have the same chords in use in the turnaround. After all music is not an exact science…

Adding Variation and Melody chords

The next step is to start expanding the voicings. The way I am going to do that is by taking a shell-voicing and add extensions on top of it.

For the Dm7 and G7 voicings in the 10th fret this would be:

For the other II V set we have these options

Putting the variations to use

To get used to improvising with this material it can be a good idea to first just improvise some melodies using a single II V as I do in the video.

After this you can also start making exercises such as this:

Here I am playing the chords on 1 and 3 and then adding an extra melody note in between. The goal is to add a strong melody on top of the chords.

Shell-voicings for Chord Melody

If you want to use this material in chord melody arrangements then you can check out this WebStore lesson on Chord Melody arranging:

Chord Melody Survival Kit

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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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10 Commandments of Learning Jazz

Setting up an efficient Jazz Practice is both important and difficult. You have to take care to spend your time efficiently and not have unrealistic goals or expectations. This video goes over some things that you want to think about and consider when you are learning jazz or any other style of music like jazz (though it probably applies to studying other styles as well). It is coming out of my own experiences with a few suggestions from people like Allan Holdsworth and Peter Bernstein.

Having the right mindset when studying and learning music is extremely important and I am curious what you think about this 10 topics, so please chip in with thoughts and suggestions!

the 3 jazz scales you need to know

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

Jazz Scales can seem like a million options that you all need to learn in all positions and all chords, but there is a way to approach this that is a little easier than trying to learn all jazz scales in all modes. After all the Dorian mode is not as important as the Major or Minor key.

My Approach to Jazz Scales – Learn from the songs you play

In this video I am going to take a practical look at the chord progressions you will encounter and what scales over what chords you are going to need. I am also going to discuss how you apply the scales to the chords and practice in a more general way towards being able to use a scale over any of it’s diatonic chords.
Hope you like it!

List of content: 

0:00 Intro — a myriad of Jazz Scales

0:20 Practice efficiently

0:50 Finding the scales by looking at the progressions

0:59 The Major II V I Cadence: Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

1:15 The II V I and the other diatonic chords

1:44 The Major scale it’s all you need from So What to Giant Steps.

1:57 The Minor II V I Cadence: Bø E7(b9) Am6

2:09 Adding Harmonic minor and Melodic minor

2:34 Secondary dominants and cadences

2:51 Secondary cadence to IV in C major

3:07 Secondary cadence to III in C major

3:27 IV minor variations

4:26 Diminished Chords the two types

4:40 Dominant diminished chord

5:04 Subdominant diminished chord

5:44 What is covered so far

6:06 The tritone substitute: Dm7 Db7 Cmaj7

6:23 The Backdoor dominant: Fmaj7 Bb7 Cmaj7

6:48 Double diminished or German Augmented 6th: Fmaj7 Ab7 Cmaj7

7:23 Cadences with other dominant choices: Altered and Harmonic minor

8:11 The three scales and where we need them — cutting away what we don’t need.

8:55 Getting this into your practice routine!

9:12 Scale practice suggestions and knowing the scales

9:40 Example of what works and what doesn’t work when improvising over an Fmaj7 in C major

10:59 The Bonus from practicing like this!

11:20 Learning the rest of the scales

11:58 Do you work with this system or do you have a better one?

12:36 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

7 Jazz Scales for Cmaj7 – Vital Guide to Modern Jazz Guitar Sounds

What jazz scales you use over a chord tells you something about the sound of what you play in terms of extensions and alterations. In this video I am demonstrating the sound of 7 scales that you can put to use over a Cmaj7 type chord. Ranging from the good old major scale to a few atonal and more exotic scale choices. A big chunk of what is available in Jazz Theory I guess 🙂
For each scale I also give some suggestions for what arpeggios or pentatonic scales might be useful for that sound.

List of content:
0:08 Intro
1:32 Major Scale Improvisation
1:53 Major Scale, extensions and arpeggios
3:28 Lydian Improvisation
4:04 Lydian Scale, Target notes, extensions, pentatonic scales
5:18 Lydian #9 Improvisation
5:38 Lydian #9, sound, chord construction, arpeggios and triad pairs
7:55 Lydian Augmented Improvisation
8:24 Lydian Augmented Scale, Special Pentatonic, Cmaj7#5 and arpeggios
10:55 Don’t Study modes Rant!
12:18 Augmented Scale Solo
12:43 Augmented Scale, construction and Triad sets
15:53 Messiaen Mode Improvisation
16:26 Messiaen Mode: Construction, arpeggios, Minor Fragments
21:56 Lydian Augmented #9
22:38 How to find scales for a chord?
23:29 Lydian Augmented #9 – Arpeggios, triad pairs and ideas
25:48 Practicing using these scales – Target or Defining notes of the sound
27:27 Did I leave out any Scale options?

3 Bebop Concepts and how to turn them into Jazz Licks

Bebop is a fundamental part of all modern jazz. In this video I am going to go over three concepts that are used a lot in bebop solos. I will turn them into some simple exercises and finally demonstrate how you can put them together to make some solid bebop jazz licks.

All the examples and exercises are in the key of G major, and the lines I will end up with are all going to be II V I licks in the key of G major.

The exercises are not necessarily meant as something you need to learn to play really fast. They are more aimed at things you can check out so that you get better at composing lines, explore the possibilities and develop your vocabulary.

Concept 1: Triplet arpeggios with chromatic leading notes

Using 7th chord arpeggios to emphasise a note is a very common device in Bebop lines. One of the ways that you will see this used the most is to take a 7th chord arpeggio, play it with a leading note before the first note and the rest of the arpeggio as a triplet. This makes it a natural way of highlighting the 7th in the arpeggio. 

To practice playing this we can do this for each of the arpeggios in a scale. In example 1 I have written this out in a G major scale. You probably want to take it through the different positions you use

Working through a position like this is a great work out for your technique and you need to figure out different ways to execute the triplets which may vary from position to position.

Another way you want to work on these arpeggios is to not work in a position but to work on a string set as shown in example 2 here below:

Concept 2: Adding Chromatic Passing notes to the scale

The 2nd idea is to be able to insert chromatic passing notes between any two notes in the scale.

In this example I will use the same position for the G major scale as above:

We can insert a chromatic between any of the notes in there as shown in example 4 below.

This is really simple in all examples except when we don’t have a chromatic note between the notes. This is the case between B and C. One way to solve this is to  use the diatonic note above, so in this case the D. This is also shown in example 4.

Of course you can expand on this and start to use several chromatic passing notes in a line. I won’t cover this in detail, but an example of adding passing notes between A and B and also between B and C is shown below:

Concept 3: Octave Displacement

The concept of octave displacement is a way to introduce larger intervals into your melodies by displacing part of a simple melody an octave. A few examples of this is shown in example 6 here below. The only thing to remember is that the octave displacement works the best if it is introduced on an off beat.

The first line is a simple II V I in G major using an Am7 arpeggio and a scale run on D7 to resolve to the 3rd on G major.

The 2nd line is displacing the phrase from the G in the Am7 arpeggio . This yields a beautiful descending 6th interval and it resolves to the B an octave lower.

In the 3rd line the octave displacement is on the D7, where the line is displaced an octave up on the E. 

The final example is using octave displacement on both the Am7 and the D7 to get two nice skips.

It is quite amazing how useful this idea is and how we can make several melodies that sound quite different from the same simple statement. 

Creating bebop lines with the concepts

In this section I am taking the three concepts and putting them to use in some II V I lines. This will show how easy they actually are to use. Hopefully it will also show you how strong the concepts are in making solid bebop lines.

Arpeggios, Scale runs and diminished sounds

In the first example here below, I start with an Am7 arpeggio with a leading note. From the targeted G on the 3rd beat the line continues up the scale adding an A# between the A and B. On the D7 it is first descending down the scale to F#. From the F# it goes on in an F# diminished arpeggio. The arpeggio is octave displaced which adds a very nice major 6th interval between the F# and the Eb. It then descends down to resolve to a B on the G major chord.

The arpeggio from the 3rd

In the next example I start by encircling the 3rd(C) of Am7. The line then continues with a triplet Cmaj7 arpeggio and then adds a “chromatic” D between B and C .

The D7 line is again utilising an F#dim arpeggio that is octave displaced. This time between the high Eb and the F#. It then continues first up to C and then down the arpeggio to resolve to the 5th(D) of Gmaj7.

Interval skips leading into an augmented triad

The third line is also using the Cmaj7 arpeggio on the Am7. This time in the lower octave. From the B on beat 3 it then descends down an Em pentatonic fragment which serves to encircle the 3rd(F#) of D7. On the D7 the line starts with an octave displacement moving the descending line up between F# and Eb. From the Eb it descends down the (G harmonic minor) scale to the b13(Bb). This becomes the first not of an augmented triad that is then resolved to the 9th(A) of Gmaj7.

How to use the material in this lesson!

To get the exercises into your fingers and ears you probably want to play the exercises in different positions and keys.  

Where I would suggest that you spend most of the time when working on this is in making lines with the material. Once you can play the exercises a bit you can start working on coming up with lines using the three concepts and in that way expand you vocabulary. You cna work on this both by writing down material but also just sitting around and coming up with melodies. If you do the latter you are better off making sure that you can play them in time so that you are sure that it makes sense rhythmically.

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Another way to work further on developing your Bebop phrasing is available in this lesson:

Jazz & Bebop Phrasing – C Blues

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

3 Bebop Concepts and how to turn them into Jazz Licks

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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.