Tag Archives: jazz licks

The Exercises You Don’t Do, But You Really Need To

The Guitar Exercises we mostly talk about when it comes to learning Jazz is mostly about scales, arpeggios and hitting chord tones. In this video, I go over 3 great exercises that you can work on that will help you develop your soloing and your skills as a jazz guitarist that is not about the hippest scale or most outside arpeggio.

The exercises in this video will help you work on playing better melodies and playing a solo that tells a story, not just a bunch of licks next to each other.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:09 What You Probably Work On

0:26 What You Should Work On

0:57 #1 Soloing with 3-Notes Per Chord

1:25 The Song and The Exercise

1:44 Getting Away From Dense Solo ideas

1:57 What You Develop with this exercise

2:25 Rhythm?

2:38 How I work with this on the progression

2:52 Choosing 3 Notes and thinking ahead

3:33 Limitation Builds Stronger Melodies

3:54 #2 Vocal Like Melodies

4:19 Maybe You Have A Better Name?

4:40 Every Note Counts

4:57 Things You Develop

5:15 The Pat Metheny Lick 😉

5:53 #3 Solo From The Melody

6:22 Improvising using the melody of the song

7:05 Back To The Roots

7:45 What You Learn From This Exercise

8:15 Limit yourself to expand your skill set.

8:35 A More Abstract way of using the melody9:02 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

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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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5 Charlie Parker Licks – This is How To Play Bebop Blues

If you want to study Jazz Blues and learn how to play solos that really mix Bebop lines and Blues licks then one of the best sources has to be Charlie Parker!
In this video I am going to go over 5 Charlie Parker licks from him and this is fantastic material for playing changes and getting that mix of bebop lines with blues phrasing.

The Licks are also great examples of how to create melodic ideas that last several bars and connect several phrases which are also why Parker clearly was a genius innovator in Jazz.

The Most Famous Charlie Parker Lick – Opening of the Solo

This first example is an opening phrase that Parker uses in both Now’s The Time and Billie’s Bounce. The first part is really just an F major 2nd inversion triad with some chromatic approach. This is followed with a more bebop encircling and trill. From here he runs down an F major pentatonic scale and repeats the root in a dotted quarter note rhythm.

The lick really starts with a blues phrase and then morphs into a bebop line to go back to a repeated simple rhythm.

Parker really bringing the Blues

Where the first example is somewhere in between the blues and bebop, this is more directly Blues phrasing and melody.

The core idea is a motif that is repeated and developed through the first 4 bars. The basic motif is a major pentatonic line.

The first repetition is changing the A to an Ab. This way of marking the transition from F7 to Bb7 is quite common for Parker. The idea is to play an F major phrase on F7 and then repeat or develop that phrase but play it in F minor on the Bb7.

Keeping the b7 untill we need to move on

Another typical Parker choice is to delay the b7, the Eb over F7 in this case, until the song is moving to Bb7. This is clear here where the Eb does not appear until bar 4.

Charlie Parker’s Riffs

Bebop is as a style famous for long lines and surprising twists and turns. But Parker certainly developed from the swing era checking out people like Lester Young and Coleman Hawkings. And Charlie Parker does play riffs as well as bebop lines.

This example is a clear example of a riff. A simple motif that is repeated and developed in a basic way through the changes.

The main motif is a basic F major melody build around an F major triad. The development is also following the F major -> F minor that I alread mentioned, and the riff stays pretty in tact and true to the original phrase.

Start in Blues and end in Bebop

This shorter example demonstrates how Parker starts with a basic Blues leading note lick and connects this to a Bebop trill and F7 arpeggio to get the best of both worlds.

Blues Phrasing and Bebop Phrasing

One of the traits of Blues phrasing is sliding or bending to notes. In Jazz, we mostly do this with sliding. In this example, you see a beginning which is starting with sliding to the 5th. The first part of the phrase is more blues based. Using basic chord tones from the triad, being rhythmically free. The part of the phrase on the F7 is using a trill followed by a scale run that is a very typical Bebop phrase.

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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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5 Jazz Blues Licks – How to use Transcribed ideas

In this video, I go over 5 longer Jazz Blues Licks that incorporate different ideas that I took from transcriptions of great guitarists such as Grant Green, George Benson, Charlie Parker(not really a guitarist, but he wished he was), Wes Montgomery, and John Scofield.

These examples really highlights how I work with material that I have transcribed, and most of them are in fact in videos I have done on these artists.

How I use transcribed licks

For me using larger chunks of a solo from somebody else was never really working. I always preferred to work with small phrases or even the concept behind a phrase and then use that to make my own version of that idea.

In these examples, I am mostly using small bits and pieces of other guitarists licks. This is mainly because the relation to the original would maybe be too unclear.

Grant Green and his great triad lick

This first example uses an opening phrase that is quite common with Grant Green. He uses this 2nd inversion triad in both Miss Ann’s Tempo and I’ll Remember April.

For the rest the line is using some of the great ideas that we use in Blues influenced jazz with the sliding leading notes and especially approaching the 3rd from a half step below.

Another typical jazz line is the use of the G augmented triad to help pull towards the C7.

George Bensons Major Blues Genius

A comment on my recent video on George Benson went on and on about how his use of major pentatonic lines was dreadful. A very strange idea since most of the guys (like Parker and Coltrane) use this sound a lot. And besides that I can’t imagine not wanting to be able to play Blues phrases with the soul of Benson.

The quote in this phrase is in the middle of the line. It starts in bar 2 and continues into bar 3. In the original(in F) he playes the upbeat in quarter notes. Here I turned that into 8th ntoes.

The phrase in bar 4 is a Parker line similar to one of his lines in his original version of Billie’s Bounce.

Kenny Burrel and Wes Montgomery

The first phrase (another major pentatonic 🙂 ) is from Kenny Burrell. The descending 6th at the end is really beautiful. On the C7 I am using a double stop trill that you can hear both Benson and Montgomery use. Wes plays a whole chorus in No Blues off Smoking at the Half note with this phrase. Here I am putting it on the IV chord rather than the I where both Benson and Wes use it.

Scofield’s Amazing Arpeggio Ideas and slides

This example is beginning with a lick that is not exactly taken from a Scofield solo but is more “in the vein of” The way he uses different types of legato techniques to create a really nice flow is beautiful, even if it is a little tricky to play.

The phrase in bars 3 and 4 is more of a direct quote from Scofield but the 2nd half is my take on developing the original as a motif. Here I take the opportunity to also turn it into a more altered sound.

Imitating Wes is always worthwhile

This example is a take on a Wes line from his (unbelievable) solo on Four on Six off the Smoking at the half note album. The original is on 4 bars of G minor, but here I have taken it to G major keeping the basic shape and changing the notes around.

What to take away from this lesson

I think these examples describe how I work with material that I have transcribed. Some of the examples I might really play in a solo and some that I might work with while practicing to develop them into more personal takes on the lines.

Developing your own material is important (and fun) so I’d suggest you do the same.

Supercharge your Blues playing!

If you want some more jazz blues examples then check out this WebStore lesson:

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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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How To Make Mixolydian Mode Licks – 5 New Useful Ideas

The dominant chord is a very common chord both in jazz chord progressions and in more modal settings as the Mixolydian Mode. It is important to have a vocabulary of ideas for improvising over it.

In this lesson I am going to focus on a G7 chord and give you 5 examples of licks over that chord. Each introducing a scale or arpeggio idea that you can use in your own licks.

The Mixolydian Mode

In most cases that you improvise over a dominant chord it is found in a chord progression and not really in a setting where it is modal. But outside jazz having static dominant chords is a lot more common. Thinking more about Funk, Rock and Fusion genres.

#1 Dominant Arpeggio Sequences

The first phrase is starting with a leading note to the 3rd(B) of G7. From there it starts a skipping pattern using the G7 arpeggio ending up on the 9th(A). The second bar is first a scale run with an added chromatic passing note and then finishing the line with a skip between the 3rd and the 5th.

Using Arpeggio sequences is a great way to come up with new material. The skipping pattern that I am using in this example you can practice on a G7 like this. Of course you can experiment with this sequence on all your arpeggios.

#2 Dm Pentatonic Scale 

Using Pentatonic scales is a very common device in modern jazz and fusion. In this lick I am using the Dm pentatonic scale over the G7 chord. The scale we use on G7 is G mixolydian or C major:

G A B C D E F

and Dm pentatonic is a part of that G A B C  D E

Which is Dm pentatonic: D F G A C

The lick is playing descending 4 note melodies first from the E string then B and then G. The final part of the lick is a chromatic phrase connecting the 3rd and the 5th. The lick ends by skipping up to the root and then down to the b7.

The Dm pentatonic scale position I am using in this example is shown here below. 

#3 Em Blues Scale

A closely related option is the Em Blues Scale. The Em pentatonic scale or G major pentatonic scale is of course a good fit for a G major chord, even though you don’t have the b7 in there.

The Blues scale adds an extra chromatic note as well, namely the A# (or Bb)

The line starts with a chromatic enclosure of the 3rd G. From there the melody is really just simple melodies within the blues scale. Again using the A# as a chromatic passing note.

You can use this position to practice the Em blues scale which is also the position I used in the lick above.

#4 Quartal Arpeggios

One of my favourite things to use when improvising is the quartal arpeggios. Having a structure that is not based on stacks of 3rds is a refreshing melodic idea to throw in there.

The beginning of the lick is an Fmaj7 arpeggio. The maj7 arpeggio from the b7 of the chord is another great choice when improvising. From there the line continues with an Am pentatonic scale run before going into a few quartal arpeggios

The quartal arpeggios I use here are actually coming out of an Em pentatonic scale. If you play a pentatonic scale in “diatonic chords” then you end up with a lot of quartal arpeggios.

The lick ends with an Em pentatonic melody.

The easiest way to start practicing quartal arpeggios is probably to start playing them on a string set through a scale. It does pay off to do this for all string sets of course, but below I have written out the C major or G mixolydian scale on the middle string set which is the most common range for the quartal arpeggios.

#5 Spread Triads – Large Intervals

One of the greatest way to add some large intervals to your playing is to use Spread Triads or Open-voiced triads. These are becoming more and more common in modern jazz, but you can also hear people like Eric Johnson and Steve Morse use them in their playing.

In the example below I am combing spread triads with quartal arpeggios and also a normal G major triad.

The first part of the line is using a “mirror” effect on the guitar neck. The beginning is a quartal arpeggio from F and this arpeggio mirrors into a G major triad (you can see clearly it in the video).

From there the lick continues into a G root position spread triad that takes us from G all the way up to B an octave higher. This ascending movement is resolved melodically by a descending scale run and the line ends on the 13th of the chord via a Dm triad.

If you want to practice the Spread Triads then a good place to start is to learn the inversions. I have a few videos on this that you can check out. A basic version

Check out more on Dom7th Chords

If you want to Check out more options for Dominant Chords and getting some ideas on how this works in the setting of a 12 bar blues then have a look at this WebStore Lesson with some exercises and a solo transcription on an F blues:

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Download the PDF

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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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Every Arpeggio in the Known Universe

This video is an overview of different types of arpeggios and how they sound. The Arpeggios are demonstrated in 7 different licks to give you an idea about how they could be used.

Are you an Arpeggio master? Do you know all the different types of arpeggios and how to use them in your playing? The Arpeggio is a very important tool when it comes to jazz and jazz guitar.

Demonstrating arpeggios in a musical context

This video is going over a lot of different types of arpeggios. Showing how you might using them in different licks. Applying the arpeggios in a musical context is a much stronger way to apply them in my opinion.

Table of Contents

0:00 Intro – Are you an arpeggio master?

0:22 Did I miss one? 0:43 Example 1 – Basic Arpeggios

1:14 Example 2 – Diatonic arpeggios and the “from the 3rd rule”

2:05 Example 3 – Harmonic minor?

3:24 Example 4 – Not always 4 notes and a little Melodic minor

4:16 The triads we forget to check out

4:34 Example 5 – Not always 3rd based

5:41 Example 6 – Larger intervals like the Police!

6:45 The Magic Arpeggio!

7:38 Example 7 – Three notes but not a triad

8:42 Another great sound from Melodic minor

9:22 What did I forget?

9:35 Like this video? Check out my Patreon Page.

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10 Awesome Ideas for Better Jazz Licks You Should Know

It’s not all scales and arpeggios when it comes to guitar jazz licks. This video is showing 10 ways to come up with new licks using different ideas that are not all based on the notes. This can really open up your vocabulary and make your solos more interesting and I talk about methods working with dynamics, melodic direction and rhythm.

Some of the examples are also borrowing techniques from artists like Jim Hall, Bill Evans and Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:49 Lick 1 – Shifting Patterns and Parts

1:43 Variation on Lick 1

2:05 Lick 2 – Melodic Direction and using the range of the instrument

3:06 Lick 3 – Accents, Dynamics and breathing life into your 8th note lines

4:13 Lick 4 – Extended arpeggios as a means to get a larger range

5:30 Lick 5 – Chromaticism and Bebop – Add the jazz flavour

6:36 Lick 6 – All the “other” arpeggios

8:13 Lick 7 – Across the bar line – Don’t be tied down by the bar lines!

9:19 Lick 8 – Space and Great Rhythms (Like Jim Hall)

11:04 Lick 9 – Blues in Funny Places (Courtsey of Joe Pass)

12:31 Lick 10 – Triplets and Modern Rhythmical Jazz Phrasing

14:20 Do you have a great idea? Share it in a comment!

14:43 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

Are You Wasting Valuable Time Practicing Jazz Licks Like This?

We all study jazz licks to add new ideas and techniques to our improvisations and our vocabulary. But I often get told by students how they choose a very in effective way of studying licks and are in fact really just wasting their time. In this video I will outline what is not useful when studying licks and also what is a better approach if you want to add material to your repertoire.

I will also use a part of a Grant Green solo as an example of how he gets it right and uses it in his solo.

Practicing Jazz Licks – Contents

0:00 Intro – Learn licks and increase our vocabulary

0:53 The bad way to practice licks even though they are good examples

1:25 Playing some licks (from paper with a metronome?)

1:51 Play the licks over a song

2:22 What is wrong with this approach

2:27 Too Much Information

2:49 A more focused approach to learn from licks

3:10 A II V I lick is about the same as learning a Jazz Standard by heart.

3:35 Why Complete Licks don’t work well in solos

4:03 Converting licks to useful and flexible building blocks

4:33 A lick from the Grant Green Solo on I’ll Remember April and how he uses it

5:21 Finding a better Chunk size

5:39 Making lines with the Grant Green Phrase

6:01 Using the same idea on other chords

6:27 Other examples of how great players use licks.

7:18 How do you work with licks? Do you avoid them? Leave a comment!

7:35 Barry Harris story on learning from Charlie Parker

8:11 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!