Tag Archives: jazz licks guitar

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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Did You Do This With Your Favourite Jazz Lick?

You probably have licks that you play all the time, I think most of us have and of course that is a part of having a style (Pat Metheny or Pat Martino Lick?) But not to get stuck with the same phrases too much it is very important to make variations and open up those phrases.

In this video, I am going over 4 ways you can make new licks from the ones you already know. Something that will also help you get better at writing your own licks and come up with great phrases.

The Lick!

So to have something to talk about we need something to work with. Let’s use this II V I lick

This is, of course, a little long and most of the time I work with ideas that are a lot shorter, but it is a good example to demonstrate some techniques that will give you a lot more vocabulary.

#1 Transpose it to Another Chord

This is always useful to do, if you have an idea that works well on one chord then it probably works well on other chords too.

The first part of this line is really close to a maj7 chord and we can use that directly on Cmaj7 and make a similar type of melody from the rest.

Usually, I wouldn’t move the last part, but here it fits so nicely and it is good to mess around with that as an exercise for your melodic and theoretical skills as well.

You can turn it into a Dm7 phrase as well. Notice that I am not strict about preserving the last part. It is more important to make something that sounds good and is playable.

#2 Invert The Melodies

The goal here is to make a new melody by changing the direction of some of it, so if it is an ascending scale or arpeggio run then you can make it a descending version instead.

The first part is difficult to move around and get to sound good, but the arpeggio works really well. In fact, you can do that and play the rest an octave lower.

#3 Octave Displacement

Another way to turn things around is to use Octave Displacement. The idea with octave displacement is to keep the direction of the melody but move it an octave.

You can see in the example below how that works:

And it can be used on the example as shown in example 7:

Using this on the Dm7 part of the line would give you something like this. Turning around the Fmaj7 is very close to what you hear George Benson and Grant Green. Here is a Grant Green example:

You can do the same with the dominant part of the lick and get something like this:

#4 Diatonic Transposition

Another thing that can work really well is to move a part of the line a diatonic 3rd up or down. In this case that happens to work completely if you do so, but that is actually a coincidence.

If you want more ideas for licks you can start working on and get some ideas for more licks then check out this playlist with videos that are on licks with a certain type of chord or arpeggio.

Putting Licks to use in music

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10 Great Chromatic Ideas in Jazz Licks (Easy to Weird)

One of the things that really got me into Jazz was the sound of the chromatic jazz licks. This is such a huge part of the Jazz sound, especially from Bebop and beyond.

In this video, I am going to show you 10 examples of some great sounding Jazz licks with lots of chromaticism used in different ways: Passing notes, Enclosures, Shifting Patterns, Chromatic interval melodies, and more Atonal or completely far-out ideas.

The examples are borrowing from people like Charlie Parker, Doug Raney, Pat Metheny, and Herbie Hancock.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Jazz and Chromatic melodies go together!

0:28 Simple II V I – From Passing Notes to Chromatic or Atonal Ideas

0:50 Example 1 – Passing Notes

1:05 Example 1 Analysis

1:12 Example 2 – Basic Enclosures and Octave Displacement

1:27 Example 2 Analysis

1:35 Example 3 – 4-Note Enclosures and Bebop Chord Tone Enclosure

1:50 Example 3 Analysis

2:00 Example 4 – Arpeggio Leading notes and Shifting 3rd intervals

2:14 Example 4 Analysis

2:24 Example 5 – Borrowing from Melodic Minor and Longer Runs

2:38 Example 5 Analysis

2:47 Example 6 – Dissonant Enclosure and Chromatic Turns

3:01 Example 6 Analysis

3:10 Example 7 – Side-Slip reharmonization

3:26 Example 7 Analysis

3:35 Example 8 – Shifting 3-note phrase

3:49 Example 8 Analysis

3:58 Example 9 – Chromatic 3rd melody

4:14 Example 9 Analysis

4:22 Example 10 – Chromatic or Atonal 4th melody

4:38 Example 10 Analysis

4:46 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

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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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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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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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New Book: Modern Jazz Guitar Concepts

It’s here! Really proud of the New book: Modern Jazz Guitar Concepts.

You can check it out on Amazon here: http://geni.us/Jens


Or on the Fundamental Changes website here: https://www.fundamental-changes.com/book/modern-jazz-guitar-concepts/ (here there is a PDF version for sale as well)

Huge Thanks to Tim and Joseph for helping shape it into a great book and some insight in Modern Jazz Guitar Vocabulary.

Funny that I can now add author to the list of things I do 😀

You can check out the book in more detail on Amazon and on the Fundamental Changes Website!

Triads – How To Make Jazz Licks and what to Practice

Triads are one of the strongest melodies that we have and in this video I am going to show you some triad exercises and how you can use them to make strong and more interesting triad jazz lines. Triads are used all the time in jazz by people from Wes Montgomery to Kurt Rosenwinkel and Lage Lund and everybody else.

Every scale exercise you play should be something that is a melodic building block. It is important to remember that besides playing the right notes you also have to create strong melodies to play a good solo. 

For each of the triad ideas I will go over a lick using the inversion or pattern and I will also give you some exercises that will test your abilities with both triads and scales since some of them are really difficult to play.

Practicing Arpeggios The Right Way

One of the most effective ways to practice your arpeggios is to practice them in the scales as diatonic scale exercises. When you are improvising you are not only thinking of the arpeggio but also about the scale that surrounds, so learning the arpeggios in that context is very important.

Super-Impose Diatonic Triads

This first example is an jazz lick that demonstrates how you can super-impose diatonic triads over the chords in a II V I in C major.

On the Dm7 I am using an F major triad which is the top notes of a Dm7 chord. In general you want to check out what all the triads are against the different notes in the scale. That wil give you a lot of ideas for creating lines with this material.

The G7 bar is using the basic G triad which of course is also a great option for making lines.

Finally the Cmaj7 bar is made entirely out of super-imposed triads. Em followed by Am and finally a G major triad.

Exercises for Basic Diatonic Triads

There are two basic exercises to check out when it comes to triads. The triads in a scale position as shown here below:

And it is also very useful to practice the triads along the neck on a string set:

When playing these exercises then try to keep track of what triads you are playing.

1st Inversion Triads

A good melody to add to your vocabulary is 1st inversion triads. In this example I am using a 1st inversion Dm triad in beginning of the lick. This is followed by a 1st inversion Am triad later in that bar. Notice that the Am triad adds the 9th to the sound: Against D: Am – A(5th), C(b7), E(9th).

On the G7 the triads are coming out of the Altered scale. The first triad is a B augmented triad which is in root position. The next part of the line is a first inversion Db major triad.

For G altered (or Ab melodic minor) we have these diatonic triads:

Gdim, Abm, Bbm, Baug, Db, Eb, Fdim

On the Cmaj7 the line is using first a C major 1st inversion and then an Am first inversion triad.

1st Inversions Triad exercises

A good but also slightly difficult is to play 1st inversion triads through the scale. For me it was very difficult to think triads from the 3rd, but after a few times you also get really used to hearing the melody and the exercise becomes something you can do in the scale by ear.

The 2nd inversion Triad

The melody in example 6 relies heavily on shifting a 2nd inversion triad through first the major scale and then the harmonic minor scale.

I am using C harmonic minor on the G7, which yields a G7(b9,b13). The melodic idea starts on Dm7 with a 2nd inversion Dm triad and then I am adding a diatonic passing chord in the line by using a 2nd inversion Em triad. Adding chord movement in the melody like this can be very useful. Diatonic passing chords are great colours to have in your vocabulary

Inverted Diatonic Triads

Practicing the 2nd inversion triads in the scale position is really where you want to start with this. I always find that the beginning 4th interval in these inversions are great for a signal like sound in a jazz lick.

Melodic Patterns with Triads

As I talked about in the beginning of this lesson, it is important that you consider all these different triad ideas as different melodies. We too easily get caught up in a way of thinking that is only thinking of the colour they add to the harmony and not the melody.4

Therefore playing a triad as 3 1 5 is different from 1 3 5, and working with this will give you a lot of great options. A bonus feature is also that it makes sense as a melody but does not sound like a typical triad.

The first part of the Dm7 is again using the F major triad, but now in the 3 1 5 pattern. This is followed by a sus4 triad.

On the G7alt the line is using first an F and then a G diminished triad in 3 5 1 pattern. Notic how it does not really sound like a triad and has a lot of interesting skips because of the 5th interval from 5 to 1 in this pattern.

The Cmaj7 bar has an Am triad in a 3 1 5 pattern.

Practicing Melodic Patterns

Again it can be challenging to take a pattern like this through the scale, but it is a good exercise.

Picking Technique Challenge!

Spread triads or open voiced triads are a fantastic way to add larger intervals to your lines and still sound melodic. They are however a bit tricky to play since they consist of only large intervals. Spread Triads will work great both as arpeggios and as chords

The example starts with a Dm 1st inversion open voiced triad followed by a descending scale run.

The construction of the G7alt line is similar since it opens with an Eb 1st inversion spread triad. The Eb major triad is very colourful against the G7: Eb(b13), G(root), Bb(#9).

The Cmaj7 bar has a G major triad which is also played as a 1st inversion open-voiced or spread triad.

Triad Exercises from Hell!

Practicing Spread Triads is difficult for your right hand. I’d suggest you start by learning some basic inversions first:

And then also try to experiment with moving these through the scale like this:

Take Your Soloing to the next level

For me this was the best strategy to learn how to improvise over chord changes and really nail all the fast moving scales and chords. Using target notes was a huge help in thinking ahead and playing sensible melodies that move in a logical way to the next chord.

It is also the approach that has helped a lot of my students in getting this essential skill into their playing.

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Download the PDF

You can also download the PDF of my examples here: 

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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

Why You Want To Write Your Own Jazz Licks

Playing Jazz is about learning a style and a language but it is also about finding your own voice.There are many reasons you want to write you own licks and work on your own vocabulary:

  • – You want it to sound good to you (and sound like you)
  • – Develop Your taste – figure out what you like and what you don’t like
  • – Learn How to Incorporate New things in to your Playing
  • – Practice coming up with Playable licks and material.

Composing Jazz Licks

In this video I will discuss these topics and while it is made with Jazz Guitar in mind it probably holds true for other instruments and styles as well.

Table of Contents

0:00 Intro – Why you want to write your own licks

1:08 Playing in time = Deadlines

1:44 Coming Up With Playable Lines

2:10 Example lick with a Drop2 voicing arpeggio

4:40 Learn How To Use New Material

5:11 Quartal Arpeggios Example

5:45 Three Variations

6:31 Develop Your Taste – Learning The Language

6:53 Listen to what you play – Did you like it?

7:23 Wes Montgomery Lick and variations

8:38 Make Vocabulary that Sounds like you want it to sound

8:56 Investigate what works together.

9:11 Example 1

9:47 Example 2

10:21 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

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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.

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