Tag Archives: jazz licks guitar

How To Make Jazz Licks From Easy Chord Shapes

When you use the chord shapes you play to make solo lines you can access a lot of very useful material. The Link also helps your solos in other ways because it makes it easier to use the chords to tie together several phrases.

In this lesson, I am going to go over this approach with some easy chord shapes and show you how you can apply this to a song and also how you can put it to use on complicated progressions like Giant Steps.

Setting up this Jazz Solo Lesson

To show you how easy this is I am going to take the first 8 bars of Take The A-train, make some easy voicings and use them to make some lines. (here we go)

Finding Voicings for a Solo

A simple way to play the chords of Take The A-train with basic jazz chords could be:

To make them more useful for solos then it makes sense to take away the root and turn them into more compact 3-note voicings:

Examples making lines on a Cmaj7

Now you have some chord voicings and you can start working on turning them into solo lines. The concept is really simple, the melody is using the notes of the chord and adding notes around it from the scale.

These two examples are just basic ways to turn the rootless Cmaj7 voicing into a line by using the voicing and some of the notes around the voicing.

Another example could be this one:

Notice how the lines are different from what you normally will end up with if you use scales and arpeggios.

Playing a Solo based on the Chords

Turning this into a complete solo is really just following the same principle

First, let’s have a look at how the lick is constructed and then I can show you how that works in connecting the lines.

Voice-leading Jazz Licks

The big advantage is that now you have a melody based around the 3-note chord and for the next chord you can use the same lick and just move it to that voicing. In that way you are voice-leading the entire thing. This is exactly what I do in example 3 on the Cmaj7-D7 chords.

Voicings as more interesting melodies

If you use this technique on a II V I with common voicings like the ones shown below, then you can get some really great fresh sounding melodies.

The melody is really just arpeggiating the Dm7 shape, but because the voicing has the 9th(E) in there then we get a nice maj7 interval in the melody.

If you think about this then it is as much a question of learning songs to improvise on and then use the chords as a way of getting some solo material as well

A Practical approach to turnarounds

A basic way to play a turnaround in C could be using the chords shown below.

This is easily turned into a lick, just playing the chord shapes and adding an occasional extra note here and there:

A Solid Strategy for Giant Steps

This is also a refreshing way to approach Giant Steps where you can get some new melodies using shapes that you already have in your fingers.

Using these shapes to play a lick could give you something like this:

With Giant Steps I think it really works well to also add melodies that are not only 8th notes, something that we play too often on changes like that.

Learning Songs to Solo on

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5 Ingredients Of The Best Jazz Phrases

This Jazz Solo Lesson is for you if all the lines in your solos are just a sequence of “now I am playing an arpeggio” then “a bit of scale”. That is of course not that exciting to listen to. There is more to jazz lines and jazz melodies than just trying to put arpeggios and scales next to each other.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the ways that you can make more interesting melodies in your solos. It is all about surprising to the listener without just being weird and hard to understand.

In hindsight, this is a lesson I really wish I had when I was starting to learn Jazz and wanted to play better lines in my solos.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Less boring and predictable Lines in Your solos

0:57 #1 Breaking up Scale melodies – Adding a lower chord tone.

2:05 Example 2

2:52 #2 Breaking up Scale melodies – Chromaticism & Chord Tones

3:56 #3 Breaking up Scale Melodies – I can fit an entire arpeggio in here!

5:34 Example 2

6:10 #4 Benson’s Top-note melodies

7:37 Simpler Example

8:24 #5 Pedal Point Strategies

9:13 II V I Example

10:00 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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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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7 Great Jazz Licks And Why You Need To Know Basic Arpeggios

You need to know your basics and you need to know them extremely well. I am sure you have heard that before. Once in awhile it is very useful to go back to the basics and really improve the jazz licks that you can write with very simple and basic scale and arpeggios choices.

When you do that then you are working on being better at using rhythm, make stronger melodies and have better phrasing, and you always want to improve that.

In the end, it is more important to improve those skills instead of knowing a lot of scales and arpeggios.

The things you need for this video are basic material that you probably already know and practice: the scale, the arpeggios and also the diatonic arpeggios of that scale.

And what this lesson is going to show you is 7 great licks that are just using these basic arpeggios and give you some ideas so you can start making better licks like this yourself.

Scale and Arpeggios

The basic C major scale I am using here:

This is combined with the diatonic arpeggios that I also cover in this lesson: The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

And of course, you can also download Scale and Arpeggio diagrams in this section of my website: PDF Charts and Diagrams

Lick #1 Just Basic Arpeggios – But Great Rhythm

The first example is only using the basic arpeggios of each chord. The reason why this works so well is that the rhythm is more interesting and driving it forward.

Notice that moving to the G7 and the Cmaj7 the melody is changing to the next chord on the 4&. In that way it is anticipating the chord change, something that is an important part of Jazz.

It is also important to see how them melody really works towards the chord change and in that way adds direction to the line.

Lick #2 Forward Motion

The second lick is making use of forward motion, an aspect of especially bebop, that Jazz has in common with the music of Bach.

When you work on forward motion you should try to create melodies that move towards a target note in the next chord. You can explore this in more detail in this lesson: Target notes on a II V I or an extensive guide in this webstore lesson: Rhythm Changes – Target Note Strategies

In this example the target note is the 3rd on both the G7 and the Cmaj7

Lick #3 Quarter-note Rhythms

Rhythm is important, as you can tell from the first two examples, but Jazz is not only about 8th notes. It is as important to learn to play rhythms that use quarter-notes and in fact, they are great for more groove-oriented playing. You don’t want to only play long 8th note lines in your solos and you want to sit in the groove with the beat.

The example below demonstrates how you can incorporate some quarter-note rhythms in your lines, but again keeping it simple.

Lick #4 Rhythmical Tension

Rhythmical tension is not often a topic in Jazz guitar lessons, but any aspect of music can be considered as a tension/release tool.

In this example, you can hear how the melody is moving forward and using first the trill in the Dm7 bar and the off beats in G7 to create tension which is then released back on the beat on the Cmaj7.

This way of thinking about other aspects of music when improvising, so no only trying to create tension with harmony, scale or note choice, is very powerful and really underrated.

Lick #5 Changing Direction

The first examples were focused on rhythm and direction of the melody, and the goal was to drive the line forward.

If you only focus on that you will get very clear lines, but they also become a little predictable because you are playing from chord to chord and often emphasizing the heavy beats where the harmony changes.

In the example below, you can hear how the melody is changing direction and skipping around in the middle of the bar.

Especially the G7 arpeggio that is played with octave-displacement or pivotting.

If you want to see more examples of this then check out this lesson: Bebop Soloing – The Licks You Need To Check Out

Or this WebStore lesson: Bebop Embellishments on Take The A-train

Lick #6 Chromatic Enclosure

Another way to create tension without using fancy scales or structures is to use Chromatic melodies in the lines. The concept is to use a short melodic phrase with notes that don’t belong to the scale.

That melody sounds outside and is made so that it resolves to a target note back inside the sound of the chord or the key.

In the example below I am using chromatic passing notes on the chords as enclosures and passing notes (on the Dm7), and also to drive the change of chord from G7 to Cmaj7.

Lick #7 Everything All The Time

And of course, you can also put all of these things together (well most of them anyway). In this example, there are different rhythms, enclosures and melodic turns.

See if you can recognize the different blocks which will really help you understand how the line works and get more out of analyzing other solos by famous players like Charlie Parker or Wes Montgomery.

Of course, I also analyze it in the video.

Get started with the Music and build a foundation

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Fretboard Challenge! 12 Licks in a Single Position

Learning the Fretboard and having an overview of the keys is quite difficult on the guitar. This fretboard guitar lesson goes over 12 licks to give you material for each key in a single position.

You can put this to use as exercises, or as inspiration for your own material exploring the different keys. Another way to explore the fretboard is to take one of the II V I licks and then move that around all the positions your use.

There are lots of options!

Exercises like this are really useful for exploring where everything is and also what is practical in each key in this position. I think it is very important to keep that in mind:

It is more important to have practical, playable and good sounding solutions in each position than knowing everything in all positions.

More information on Fretboard Knowledge

If you want to check out more videos where I discuss fretboard knowledge and knowing things in all keys then check out one of these articles:

Fretboard Visualization That makes musical sense for Jazz Guitar

Practice Major Scales like this and You will get more out of it!

#1 C major – Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

#2 F major – Gm7 C7 Fmaj7

#3 Bb major – Cm7 F7 Bbmaj7

#4 Eb major – Fm7 Bb7 Ebmaj7

#5 Ab major – Bbm7 Eb7 Abmaj7

#6 Db major – Ebm7 Ab7 Dbmaj7

#7 Gb major – Abm7 Db7 Gbmaj7

#8 B major – C#m7 F#7 Bmaj7

#9 E major – F#m7 B7 Emaj7

#10 A major – Bm7 E7 Amaj7

#11 D major – Em7 A7 Dmaj7

#12 G major – Am7 D7 Gmaj7

Really digging into a Single Position

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The Most Important Ways To Study Jazz Licks

What do you learn from Jazz Licks, and why should you practice them? That is what this video is about!

How do you study licks? What can you learn and How do you not waste time on them? These are important things to figure out, especially if you are teaching yourself.

Whenever you are studying and practicing something from a book or a video like mine, then the examples of how the topic is applied is most often in the form of Jazz Licks, short musical phrases that demonstrate how a scale, rhythm or arpeggio sounds when used in a solo. You even have books that are only licks and no other information.

Other useful videos on working with licks

Bebop Soloing – The Licks You Need To Check Out

How To Study Jazz Licks The Right Way

Are You Wasting Valuable Time Practicing Jazz Licks Like This?

Content of the video

0:00 Intro

1:10 Don’t Waste Your Time

2:00 How To Play That Lick In My Solos

2:52 Example 1

3:44 Variation on Example 1

4:47 Example 2

5:53 Variation on Example 2

6:03 How To Apply A Specific, Arpeggio, Scale, Rhythm on a Chord Progression

8:18 How To Phrase Melodies in Jazz.

9:47 How Jazz Melodies Sound and How to Play Them

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How to write Jazz Licks – What You Want to Know

One of the best ways to practice Jazz and to learn to play better solos is to work on writing jazz licks. When you are composing licks you are working on how you can use the material that you can practice and really figuring out how to get it to sound great in a solo.

This video takes you through working on this in steps or levels and talks about important techniques you can use to make what you write sound better.

In this video, I am going to break down 6 levels that you can work on writing licks and discuss:

  • How you get started writing jazz licks
  • What does it mean to have a lick that follows the changes
  • How do you incorporate Arpeggios and chromatic melodies
  • What makes it sound like Jazz
  • How to get more surprising melodies in there.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:18 Writing Licks and Solos as a way of practicing

0:33 Scary White Papers with empty lines

0:48 Level 1 – The Scale and Connecting to the changes

2:11 Why it is good to keep it simple

2:41 Bebop Scales – it is a bit too systematic

3:11 Level 2 – Arpeggios of the chords 

4:17 Level 3 – Arpeggios as Frames for lines

6:00 Level 4 – Arpeggios from the 3rd and Chromaticism 

6:20 Arpeggios from the 3rd 

8:19 Different way to use chromaticism 

9:11 Level 5 – Octave Displacement 

9:20 Rhythm and Joe Pass etudes

10:21 Explaining Octave Displacement on an Arpeggio 

12:15 Level 6 – Suspending Chord Tones

12:37 Chromatic enclosure as a suspension 

14:46 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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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