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5 Licks That Will Help You Understand Jazz Guitar

When I started listening to Jazz and trying to play it then a huge part of what I found exciting about it was that the lines were mysterious and complicated, and at the same time made sense and did not seem completely random.

This was what made me try to pick up phrases from Charlie Parker and John Scofield. I wanted to figure out how the music worked and how I could learn to play like that.

That turned out to be pretty difficult, but there are some basic things that you want to understand about Jazz licks or Jazz solos that will help you learn to play a lot faster. Things that I spent years figuring out, but that are an important part of what makes your solos sound like Jazz, and knowing that is going to speed up your learning process A LOT.

Dig Into The Chords

One of the things that make Jazz music challenging to play in the beginning is that the chords change quite fast. It doesn’t help that the harmony is fairly complicated, but this is also a description of how, especially Bebop-inspired Jazz, works: The lines you play in a solo will connect with the changes and often are so clear that you can pretty much tell what the chords are from just listening to the solo line.

This next example has a lot of chord tones in the melody, especially on beat 1 of the bar, so that when the new chord starts then there is a clear connection between the new chord and the note in the solo.

As you can hear, using chord tones and really hitting the clear chord tones when the chord changes give your solo that sound, that connection to the progression. (highlights)

The Most Important Chord Progression in Jazz

Here, the chord progression is a basic II V I in the key of C major (example chords) and this progression is, as you probably already know, one of the most common progressions in Jazz, and you will find that all over a lot of Jazz songs.

When you start improvising over the chords then you want to know the chord tones each chord, what you also call the arpeggio of the chord. One way you can practice this could be a simple exercise like this:

It is useful to also keep things in one position so that you can easily make a melody that moves smoothly from chord to chord without having to jump all over the neck, you can start doing that later(zoom?)

With this material, you can start making licks that really nail the changes, let’s check out how to make the licks stronger melodies.

The Solo Needs Energy And Direction

In the previous example, you saw that what you play in a solo is connecting to the chord, but just playing random chord tones doesn’t work.

It still has to make sense as a melody, and especially the transition from one chord to the next is important. This is often described as Forward motion, and when you play a solo then you play lines that aim for the target note on the next chord. Something like this:

With this lick, you can see how the descending melody on the Dm7 is going in an almost straight line to the B on G7. It is a bit more complicated on the G7 where you almost have two voices moving to the E on Cmaj7(highlight)

It is a good idea to practice composing lines and then work on choosing a specific target note on the next chord that you want to hit, doing a lot of that will help you start to hear melodies like that and that will become a natural part of your playing.

In these examples, I was mostly going for the 3rd of the chord. That is simply because that is one of the strongest and clearest notes. So in the beginning, this makes it easier for you to hear the chord change in your own solo line.

With all of this in mind then you can now start to learn some more building blocks for your Jazz solos.

Shortcut To Better Melodies

I already showed you how it pays off to use the chord tones in the melodies, but you can actually take that a bit further because the arpeggio is a great melody or building block that you can use in your lines in a few different ways, and there is more than one arpeggio per chord!

Here you have the Dm7 arpeggio on Dm7, but there are some other options for arpeggios on a chord. The arpeggio on the G7 chord is a Bø which is the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord, and it is played as a triplet which is a nice way to change up the rhythm as well.

Just to quickly explain “The Science” behind the arpeggio from the 3rd:

If you look at a G7 arpeggio and a Bø together then you can see that they mostly contain the same notes and the difference is that you add a 9th to the sound when using the Bø instead of G7.

The same technique is used on the Cmaj7 where the arpeggio from the 3rd is Em7.

Until now everything was about the right notes, but let’s start to make it a bit more spicy with some wrong notes

Try Some Funny Notes

One of the things that often springs out when you both listen to a line or just look at a transcription is that there are a lot of chromatic notes in there.

Chromatic phrases are used in different ways and there are a few different types in this example:

Let’s first check out the complicated phrases and then get to the easy chromatic phrases.

The first chromatic phrase on the Dm7 arpeggio is actually used as a way to create some tension that helps you move to the G7. A phrase like this is called an enclosure, which is really just a short melody that moves to a target note. In this case, the B on the G7, and in that way, it is helping them transition from Dm7 to G7.

A shorter enclosure is used on the G7 in the exact same way to take us from G7 to Cmaj7. This type of enclosure is sometimes referred to as a diatonic above chromatic below enclosure, something that you can use in many ways in your playing and that you want to explore on different chords.

The final use of chromaticism is on the Cmaj7 chord where the F# is used as a chromatic passing note. Because you don’t need complete phrases, you can also experiment with adding chromatic notes here and there that resolve to a note in the scale, or what is often stronger: a note in the chord. In this case, the F# is resolving to the 5th of Cmaj7, G.

But you can improvise with more than notes, you can also start to change the sound of the chords, and that is an amazing effect to work with!

You Can Change The Chords To Create New Sounds

Besides improvising licks on the chord progression then you can also start improvising with the chords in the progression. If your progression is going from Dm7 to Cmaj7 then you have a lot of freedom with what chords you are using to get there.

A simple version of this, and probably the first one you want to explore is to use a b9 on the dominant, so making it a G7(b9).

Doing this will help you get a bit more dissonance and more flow towards the Cmaj7.

So what I am using here is first the arpeggio from the 3rd on Dm7, and a Dm triad.

On the G7(b9) I am using a B diminished arpeggio, and you can see how that is the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord: G7 B D F Ab.

This is a concept you can take a lot further with altered dominants, harmonic minor, and a lot more, but just getting started using the b9 and the diminished arpeggios is a great way to ease into it.

Important Skills To Develop For Jazz

What also really makes a huge difference for how well your jazz solos sound will be phrasing and rhythm, that are really the two next ingredients or skills that you want to develop, and one of the ways that you can really get that into your ears and into your playing is to start learning some solos by ear. That might sound incredibly difficult, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. Just check out this video where I recommend some solos that are very useful and both easy and short to get you started learning Jazz by ear.

5 Easy Solos to Learn By Ear and Boost Your Jazz Guitar Skills

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My 7 Best Jazz Licks with Only Four Notes

You are probably thinking 4-Note Jazz Licks! That doesn’t make any sense!

But actually, those 4-note licks are very important! They are the flexible building blocks that you put together as phrases in your solo.

Think of a solo phrase as a sentence (example 1 + text ) and these building blocks are the words, they are how you say something, and you need great building blocks for great solos and as you will see, just naming it with an arpeggio or a scale is nowhere near enough.

Let’s first look at one that is like adding instant Bebop to your solo.

Lick #1 – A Beautiful 6th Interval

This is so simple, but it sounds fantastic in a line, and it isn’t just an arpeggio or a triad.

You can at most call it a scale run with an inserted interval skip, and that is also not much of a description.

If you use it on a m7 chord you get this:

but it is equally great on a maj7 chord

With The Next One, you will see an example where it is pretty clear that just a chord name is not really a description

Lick #2 – Minor Triad With Extras

This is sort of an Am triad with an added B,

 

 

 

 

 

 

or you can think of it as a Cmaj7 shell-voicing with an added A.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is great for altered dominants like this G7alt:

or over an F# half-diminished chord like this:

And I think you will agree that calling it an Am triad or Am(add9) is not really describing it.

An Arpeggio Is Just A Set Of Notes

So you can see how this isn’t just an arpeggio or a scale, and that is what makes it great. You can again think of these building blocks as being like words. it is not enough to have an analytical term for a set of notes like maj7 arpeggio, Diminished triad, because it is just as important what melody you make with those notes.

Similar to what word you use in a sentence there are options and they feel different even if they are sort of the same thing. The 3 examples below are all Cmaj7 arpeggios, but as you can see the melody is very different from example to example:

So you need to know what set of notes but also need to have some ideas on how you get them to sound great. Sometimes the arpeggio is enough, but you want to be more creative with your melodies than that.

Ironically, the next two examples are arpeggios and sound amazing.

Lick #3 – A Hidden Arpeggio

This arpeggio is not strictly a diatonic arpeggio in C even if the notes are all in that scale, it is an Fmaj7 with a B instead of a C

The fact that I call it a maj7(b5) arpeggio is also something that can get the comment section all fired up because some people will insist that it is a #11

But: an Fmaj7(#11) is a chord with 6 notes: F A C E G B and it seems a bit silly to call it an Fmaj7(omit5, add#11). Calling it Fmaj7(b5) makes it very clear that the arpeggio only has 4 notes and especially that there is no C in there which is important for how you use it.

Of course, there is plenty of room in the comments if this really offends you. Go right ahead!

This is a great sound for an altered dominant or a backdoor dominant like this:

You can also use this as a voicing and that sounds amazing as well.

If you have Fmaj7 here, then you create Fmaj7(b5) by moving down the 5th a half step:

And listen to this:

That sounds really great!

The next one is pretty simple but is also so good for really nailing a sound!

Lick #4 – Almost Obvious Arpeggio

So this is a basic m7b5 arpeggio, and I am starting with an Fm7(b5) here because I want to show you how great that sounds on a G7 altered, really nailing the sound and resolving so nicely!

Example 16

Before we get back to some examples that are more melodic techniques than great sounds on a chord, then I want to just show you how you find blocks like this in the solos you transcribe or analyze, because these are really the things you want to search for and try to work into your playing.

Finding the blocks

 

Just to give you a quick impression of how you can isolate some blocks then look at this part of Pat Martino’s solo on Just Friends.

Of course, not everything is a neat 4-note phrase, so the first phrase is a 1-bar phrase with some rhythm in there.

Then you get a pick up followed by a scale melody, a Coltrane pattern, another scale melody with a 16th note turn, descending scale, and then a Bbm triad with an added C. A different version of what I cover as the 2nd lick.

So that is how you can start to find things you want to get into your playing.

Here is another Bebop classic that you definitely need to know.

Lick #5 – The Bebop Arpeggio Melody

There is a fair chance you have heard me talk about this Bebop phrase before. Playing a maj7 arpeggio with octave displacement is a great sound for a lot of chords, and it is in so many Bebop and Hardbop solos. Here it is on a m7 chord:

This list would not be complete without a chromatic enclosure. The next one is one I took from a Michael Brecker solo

Lick #6 – A Great Enclosure

This is one that I picked up from Michael Brecker, but later I actually realized later that he probably got it from Charlie Parker.

It is like a standard enclosure with a leading note for the leading note.

But you also want some more modern sounding melodies, and the next one is one of my favourites, and one that is really underused in my opinion

Lick #7- My Secret Weapon

This Quartal arpeggio with a tritone is a great sound. It works for so many things, tonic minor, altered dominants, but also diminished scale sounds.

I have written it out so that it is the top part of a G7(#9) chord:

         

and you can use it in an altered line like this:

but it also works great with a diminished scale sound:

Finding Truly Great Phrases

When you start searching for blocks like this then I think the best place to do that is probably in the music that inspires you, so the solos that you think are amazing are also more likely to give you this material. This is also why I referenced Pat Martino’s solo on Just Friends. Learning solos and analyzing phrases is incredibly useful for this, and if you want to check out some of the phrases that I think are must-know vocabulary then check out this lesson:

The 3 Bebop Licks You Need To Know

The other way is to mess around with material and try out things to see if you come across something that you like. This is also a lot of fun but can be very time-consuming.

 

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An Amazing Recipe For Jazz Guitar Licks Everyone Should Know

Jazz is often made more complicated than it needs to be. And whether you are setting out on a journey to explore Jazz guitar or just want a different sound to use in your solos, you can get incredible sounding Jazz licks with some very basic Bebop building blocks.

In this video, I am going to show you how to use 2 ingredients to create some great sound Jazz licks, as you will see, a process you can apply to pretty much any song or chord.

Most Important Bebop Ingredients

Voiceover Illustration of extras example 1 maybe with screen capture of writing it? play the line, then play the line slowly with chords on the chord change

A huge part of what makes a Jazz solo sound like Jazz is that the solo follows the chords and in that way spell out the different colors of what is going on in the harmony.

Like this line:

And with the chords, you hear how it connects

The simple way of following the harmony is just to use the arpeggios of the chords that you solo over so that what you play in your solo matches what is being played in the chords.

So the first ingredient is an arpeggio, like this Cmaj7 arpeggio:

Another important part of especially the Bebop sound is using chromatic phrases like:

Approach notes:

Short Enclosures:

Long Enclosures:

And already combining arpeggios with chromatic phrases like these, you can quite easily make some very solid Jazz lines!

Easy Licks

Let’s start with the Cmaj7:

A simple place to start is to play it as a triplet and add a leading note before the arpeggio. You can add more dense and complicated chromatic phrases which will give you some pretty advanced sounding lines, but that will come later in the video. This simple version is actually Bebop gold:

As you can tell, this already starts to sound like Bebop and it is something you can move around to pretty much any chord or arpeggio that you can think of, not only 7th chords, it also sounds beautiful on a for instance a m7(9) like this:

Right now, you are only using a single chromatic leading note before the arpeggio, so let’s add some more chromaticism by at the end of the arpeggio. For the Cmaj7 this gives you a lick that is a favorite of Charlie Parker and that I am pretty sure George Benson transcribed from him because he plays it all the time as well.

Really all that is happening here is that the arpeggio is followed by a chromatic phrase connecting the 7th to the 5th, which is just going down the scale and adding some leading notes.

Let’s look at how you can make this a bit longer with a chromatic enclosure

Getting More Serious

This example is using an Am7 arpeggio, and the melody leading into it is a short enclosure.

Play slow

The formula for this first enclosure is diatonic above, chromatic below, so the target note is A and the note above that in the scale is a B. The chromatic note below is a G# This is a very useful way to create some chromatic movement and still have melodies that sound natural and make sense.

For an Am7 arpeggio that would give you this exercise:

At the end of the lick, you also have a chromatic enclosure like this.

The Arpeggio runs up to the 7th and from there moves down in half-steps to F which is then a part of an enclosure of the 5th of Am.

But you can do even more with some of the longer chromatic phrases like this:

“Real” Chromatic Enclosures

Adding a more extensive chromatic phrase like this is a great way to lead into the arpeggio and it makes the line more surprising and moving before really connecting to the chord, which is really what we use chromatic phrases for small bits of outside melody. In this example, the lick with a short enclosure around the 5th, before the last note, the 3rd, on the 1&

You can also use chromatic phrases like this on the high note of the arpeggio and that can give you some other great effects in the licks:

This example adds a leading note before the arpeggio and then tags it with a more extensive chromatic phrase to the last note. The way this is done then it adds a nice large 5th interval skip to the line.

Until now the chromatic phrases are before or after the phrase, but of course, you can also add them inside the arpeggio which will make the line be less obvious but still give it a natural flow.

Open Up The Arpeggio

This example is built around the Am7 arpeggio using leading notes for the root, and a short enclosure for the 3rd and the 5th.

But you can also get great sounds with longer chromatic phrases:

Now the next thing you can explore is to also use inversions of the arpeggios and get a completely new set of melodies:

Turning It Upside Down

Here you have an inversion of G7:

the lick is built around this descending G7 1st inversion:

First a leading note for the 7th and then a short enclosure of the 3rd before it skips up to the root.

 

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This Will Make Your Jazz Licks 10x Better

You already know how to find the scales and arpeggios that go with the chords, and you can play something on each of the chords, but your solos still sounds very much like you are just playing something on each chord, and when you listen to great players like Wes then you hear a whole melody in the solo, not just something on Dm7 and something else on A7.

In this video, I am going to show you how to improve the skills that make it possible for you to play a solo that is a complete piece of music and not a bunch of random lines next to each other.

I a m going to go over 5 examples that will show you what to focus on start hearing and playing connected melodies in your solos. You can use them as blue prints for writing your own lines and try to add this to your solos.

In a way the concepts I am going over here could be described as a “holy trinity” of Beethoven, Muddy Waters and Kurt Rosenwinkel – just a strange side-note.

The material I am using here is pretty basic and you probably know it already.

It is a II V I in C major so we have an arpeggio from the root and one from the 3rd of each chord:

And around that we have a C major scale:

If you want to explore more on diatonic arpeggios then check out this lesson:

Beethoven inspired II V I lick

One way to connect a melody is to follow up a phrase with a developed repetition of that phrase. This is called motivic development and is a very powerful way to make melodies just ask Ludwig Beethoven

This is a really solid example of basic motif: the melody on the Dm7 and G7 are almost identical and just transposed, but that does make it easy to hear how the G7 melody is a logical follow up on the Dm7.

Muddy Waters playing Changes

Call-Response is associated with blues, but is really a part of all melodic traditions. In the example it becomes almost a question answer where the Dm7’s ascending melody is a question and the G7 is the descending answer.

It feels a little like the Dm7 is opening up something and the G7 melody is closing it again. The Cmaj7 line becomes more of a tag to finish it off.

Creatively Voice-leading Motifs

When you work with motifs then you can be very strict and mechanical, but in the end you should also want to be able to use it more freely and maybe a little less obvious.

This example is starting with a descending Fmaj7 arpeggio on the Dm7 and that is “voice-lead” to a descending G7 arpeggio.

It is not only for II V I licks

To keep everything compact in this lesson I am just using short II V progressions, and you should practice making melodies or licks with this types of melodic connections, but as you start getting it into your system then it really pays off to take this to entire songs and work on creating musical sentences over entire sections of a song. I think especially Wes is a great clear example of this, but if you listen closely you will hear it with pretty much everybody!

Stubborn Rosenwinkel Habits

One of the things that I learned from a Kurt Rosenwinkel masterclass was how he already in technical exercises worked on continuing a melodic direction through the changes.

This II V I lick is a simple example of that where the melody is ascending throught the II V to resolve on the Cmaj7.

Another thing that is worth noticing is that instead of playing only scales, arpeggio patterns then the G7 line is using something that works like a D pedal point in the line.

Reverse Rosenwinkel with a motif

And of course you can make a lick that is descending through the entire cadence. In this example it is combined with a motif using first a Dm triad and then a B dim triad.

Adding Alterations (Like Benson)

The previous examples where all very simple and I tried to keep everything diatonic to make it clear that it is about melody (and maybe also about rhythm?)
Of course you can also do this with altered dominants and this example is developed from an altered phrase that I transcribed from a George Benson solo.

The melody has a motivic development between the Fmaj7 and the Fø arpeggio, but also a connection between the Fø and the Em7 arpeggio on the Cmaj7.

New Concepts for your Solos!

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How To Make Jazz Licks More Exciting

The main vocabulary in Jazz is 8th note lines and is what makes up in most bebop inspired jazz licks. It can be a little tricky to sound good with solos like that because even if you play the right notes, use the arpeggios and follow the changes the line can sound boring and square.

In this video, I am going to give you a way to change things up and show you how to create more exciting jazz licks that take you to the next level as an improviser. Starting from a Charlie Parker lick and then developing the concept.

It’s really about how you think about it when you try to come up with new lines, and something you can easily add to your playing.

Start with a Boring Jazz Lick

Just to have something to compare to. Here is a really boring jazz line:

Everything is on the beat and heavy, and it is moving in a very predictable way.

How Charlie Parker uses Rhythms

What I am going to talk about in this video is about using groups of notes in your solo lines. Charlie Parker does this all the time.

The two things that make the Parker line stand out are the triplet Gm7 arpeggio and the chromatic phrases that follow.

In this video I am going to focus on the last part of this: Having odd-note groupings in your jazz licks.

I talk about the triplet arpeggios in this lesson: The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

Using 8th note groupings in Jazz Licks

The interesting rhythm is that the meter is 4/4 but the melody is shifting on top because it is groups of 3 8th notes.

Split the bar in 3’s and 2’s

How do you work with this. Let’s take a bar of 8th notes and then we can group them together in groups of 3 and 2 notes.

The obvious one is 3 3 2

If you try to use that in a line then you come up with a phrase like this:

It doesn’t really matter how you make the melodies, but it is easier to get it to work with descending melodies as I do in example 3.

Making Melodies with odd note groupings

A good fit for a 3 note grouping is a triad.

If I use the triad from the 3rd and the root on the Gm7 I can make something like this:

Conclusion – It is really just about making melodies that we naturally want to not emphasize the heavy beats,1 and 3, all the time.

3-2-3 Grouping

Of course, you don’t have to use 3,3,2 you can also use 3,2,3:

Taking it further: Across the barline

You can also make ideas that move over several bars, so for example move groups of 3 notes over two bars

We have 16 8th notes, so that is 5 3 note groupings and then we can resolve on the last 8th.

A Great Melodic idea: Repetition

And you don’t have to change the grouping, it also works really well with repeating the pattern on each chord, in fact, that can work as a very clear way to play a different kind of line if the rest of your solo is more forward-moving bop lines.

And finally: 5-note groupings

Now that you are working with phrases over two bars you can also start to use groupings with more notes like 5 note groupings.

Here’s an example of that:

Taking These Concepts to a Jazz Standard

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10 Easy Jazz Licks – How To Sound Like Jazz

This video is going to give you 10 examples of jazz licks and techniques so that you can get some basic material to sound more like jazz.

I am keeping it really simple so everything is on a Cmaj7 chord and in one position, but you still learn some solid rhythmical and chromatic ideas that you can use in your own playing and turn into your own jazz licks. The examples are in a position of the C major scale that you probably already know and the material is easy to move to other chords along the way.

Build your Jazz Guitar Skills!

If you want to further your Jazz Skills and get started with playing Jazz guitar then consider checking out:

How to start soloing over a II V I with arpeggios

The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

10 Easy Jazz Licks – Content

0:00 Intro

0:28 Example 1 – Cmaj7 Arpeggio – Sliding Grace note

0:43 Example 1 Slow + Analysis

0:55 Example 2 – Chromatic Enclosure

1:12 Example 2 Slow + Analysis

1:26 Example 3 – Octave Displacement and double stop

1:41 Example 3 Slow + Analysis

1:54 Example 4 – Blues sound on a Cmaj7

2:09 Example 4 Slow + Analysis

2:21 Example 5 – Arpeggio From The 3rd, Arpeggios in triplets

2:27 Example 5 Slow + Analysis

2:50 Example 6 -Triplet Arpeggios ending in Blues

3:05 Example 6 Slow + Analysis

3:17 Example 7 – Em Pentatonic and beautiful Quartal Arpeggios

3:33 Example 7 Slow + Analysis

3:44 Example 8 – Chromatic Enclosures and Coltrane Patterns

3:59 Example 8 Slow + Analysis

4:10 Example 9 – Double Chromatic Approach

4:25 Example 9 Slow + Analysis

4:36 Example 10 – Chromatic Triplets and Double-stops

4:52 Example 10 Slow + Analysis

5:03 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Build Your Jazz Skills on a Jazz Standard

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How to Improve your vocabulary of Jazz Rhythms

We don’t often talk about is how rhythm is actually also a melody, and how to work on your vocabulary for jazz rhythm. But,of course, a very important part of playing jazz is interesting and great rhythms.

In this video, I am going to go over some great examples of rhythms used in a jazz solo taken from Chet Baker, Kenny Burrel, and Jim Hall. I also discuss how you might want to work on improving this part of your own playing.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Adding New Rhythms To Your Solos

0:14 Getting Inspirations from Kenny Burrell Jim Hall and Chet Baker

0:32 Example #1

0:39 Kenny Burrell – Mastering Medium Swing

1:06 How To Use Simple (but great 8th Note Rhythms)

1:24 Example #1 Slow

1:34 How To Use The Material

1:57 Example Lick #1

2:14 Example Lick #2

2:22 Ideas with more of a concept

2:40 Example #2

2:46 Chet Baker – Strong Rhythm and Simple Notes

3:02 Analyzing the line

3:58 Example Lick #3

4:26 Example Lick #4

4:52 Example #3 

4:59 Jim Hall – Rhythmical Diversity and Strong Melodies

5:36 Motif and a Scale Sequence

5:59 Example #3 Slow

6:07 Getting More Out of the Pattern and understanding why it is great!

6:30 Example Lick #5

6:40 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Check out more lessons on Jim Hall

Here are a few more Lessons I did on Jim Hall and his fantastic playing that always contains a strong and interesting rhythmical concept as well as beautiful melodies.

Jim Hall – Ingredients Of The Best Solos

Jim Hall on Autumn Leaves – Can it get any better?

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Great And Simple Way To Make New Jazz Licks

I think we all know how it is: You are improvising over a song and there is a place or one chord where you always feel like you are playing the Old Jazz Guitar Licks.

One of the ways that I go about finding some new material that I like is actually pretty simple and that is what I am going to show you in this lesson.

In my experience, you are better off working on taking the things that you already know and get better at using them instead of trying to learn a million Star Trek scales that
you can’t make music, so this is actually pretty down to earth.

Very often when I listen to the jazz guitar solos that I love, like Wes on Four on Six or maybe a Kurt Rosenwinkel, then some places really stand out to me, and when I transcribed those passages they were always using very basic things but just creating great melodies with that.

So this is more about getting great melodies or licks out of basic things and that is what I am going to show you a way of exploring in this video because you can make 1000s of great licks with stuff you already know.

For this lesson I am going to take a C7 and the scale that it belongs to which will be an F major scale, so the basic framework is

And it is important to see the Arpeggio or the chord in the context of the scale (Neck Diagrams) Making music is about connecting things, not playing separate ideas one after the other.

We are making licks for a C7 so let’s first try to make some melodies just with the arpeggio and then add in the rest.

The Arpeggio works really well, but for a melody to be interesting then it probably needs to be a little less predictable than just the arpeggio.

#1 Change the order of the notes

The first two suggestions for making licks is really about knowing the arpeggio better and being freer to improvise with it. And this is what you need to work on to do that:

And you can put the 2nd bar from the example above to work on the beginning of a Blues in C:

You don’t always have to play the notes in the same order, we think of them as 1 3 5 7 but when you improvise you can play a lot of other melodies with the same notes in different orders.

#2 Inversions = New Melodies

Just like chords, there are ways you can also change the octave of some of the notes and in that way create inversions which are really just more solid melodies with the same notes.

#3 Repeating Notes

A lot of Great melodies use only arpeggios and one thing that they mostly do is that they also repeat the notes in the arpeggio, Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nacht Musik comes to mind.

In general you can just explore diffierent ways to make patterns by repeating notes as shown here below:

And if you put this to use on a Blues you have this:

#4 Add The Scale Notes

Until now, everything was done using only the arpeggio but we can also add the rest of the scale and create this exercise, which I usually refer to as the Barry Harris exercise:

If we take a few arpeggio patterns to add scale notes to then they could look like this:

And adding the scale could yield an example like this:

Jazz Licks on a Maj7 chord – How To Sound Like Bebop

Learning the rules of a jazz language like Bebop can be a really useful way to study and internalize that sound. In this video, I am going to use some Jazz Licks to cover some of the techniques and how you use them on a Maj7 chord. The 5 examples will show you how you can use Chromaticism, Arpeggios, trills and octave displacement on a maj7th chord.

Jazz Lick #1 – Cowboy Bebop?

When playing bebop we often think about long rows of 8th notes. But it is important to break up that flow to keep it interesting. This example starts with an 8th note triplet which is a chromatic run. This is already adding a different feel fromt the beginning.

From there it continues with a C major triad. The Triad is a great arpeggio to use on a Cmaj7 chord. Charlie Parker plays major triads all the time. From the triad the melody skips up to the 6th(A) and via a chromatic passing note ends on the 3rd(E). Notice how the line is ending on the 2&. This keeps the energy higher than ending on a beat or even a strong beat.

Jazz Lick #2 – Bensons favorite Maj7 lick

This example is build around another 8th note triplet idea. This 8th note triplet is using a Cmaj7 arpeggio. Playing arpeggios as triplets is a very common device in bebop, it really helps target and emphasize the 7th of the arpeggio which is also the top-note. From the target note the line descends in half steps down to the 5th(G)

This example is a favourite of both George Benson and Charlie Parker.

From the G the line concludes with an approach to the 3rd and skipping up to the 6th.

Jazz Lick #3 – Barry’s Recipe

A very useful way to both construct your own lines and understand lines that you have transcribed is to see them as scale melodies with added detours. Barry Harris often constructs lines in his workshops in this way.

This line is essentially a scale melody in bar 1, but with an added chromatic approach between the C and the B.

The 2nd bar is using the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord, Em7, and adds an exciting skip from C to G, ending on 4&.

Jazz Lick #4 – Octave Displacement on a Maj7

Octave displacement is another way to break up the direction of a melody. The idea is to have a melody is moving in one direction and then move a part of the melody an octave up or down.

In this example I am using Octave Displacement to change a Cmaj7 arpeggio and in doing so create a more surprising melody in the first half of bar 1. This is also know as the Honeysuckle Rose lick, since it is in that melody.

The line continues with a descending 1st inversion Am7 arpeggio followed by a trill. Trills are another way to add embellishments to a line that breaks up the flow of 8th notes in a nice way.

In this case the trill is a part of a skip down to the lower G and from here the line concludes with an Em pentatonic melody.

Jazz Lick #5 – Putting it all together!

The final lick is making use of most of the devices discussed in the first 4 examples! Try to have a look and see if you can spot what is used where.

More Bebop lines and Bebop Embellishments?

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How To Study Jazz Licks The Right Way

When You are learning jazz, a huge part of learning vocabulary and melodic techniques is studying Jazz Licks. But you can study licks in useful and less useful ways. This video is going over a 3-step process of how you might study a jazz lick. The focus is on making it a flexible part of your vocabulary. Really a part of your playing.

Most jazz guitar lessons are using jazz licks as a way of demonstrating the topic. Learning licks is also an important part of how we study jazz vocabulary and assimilate jazz languages as bebop and blues. When you are studying it is very useful to also think about how to learn jazz guitar and make sure that you have an efficient way of studying.

In this video I am covering several Jazz Licks Guitar Approaches that you can use when you are studying new vocabulary to have a faster and more efficient way to get it into your system.

Content:

0:00 Intro – How it is difficult to use licks
0:54 The lick I am using in this video
1:32 #1 Make Sure You Can Play The Lick
1:57 Keeping the Context and Chords in mind
2:23 Connect it to you Vocabulary
2:43 #2 Move around the lick
3:14 What Defines the Phrase?
3:58 Move the Lick around the scale
4:36 Take It Through The Blues
6:52 It’s Not An Exact Science, Use Your Ears.
7:19 Voice-leading a Motif Through The Blues
8:42 The Thinking Behind This Process
9:57 #3 Developing and Making Variations
11:31 Rhythmical Variations
12:32 Like the Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

Learn the Progressions you play!

One thing that is very important when it comes to using licks on a song is to have songs that you know really well. If you want to work on really learning songs then check out this article:

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