Tag Archives: jazz licks

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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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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The Great Thing About Jazz And Arpeggios

Learning to play jazz we practice a lot of scales and a lot of arpeggios. But you also want to make sure that you get as much out of your practice as possible. It is also more fun to work on making new lines and coming up with new things you can use in your solos, so you want to use arpeggios as much as you can and explore where they might sound good.

In this video, I am going to show you this process and help you get a lot more out of the arpeggios you know by finding more chords you can play them on.

To keep this simple, let’s take a Cmaj7 arpeggio and look at where we can use that.

You can play a Cmaj7 arpeggio like this:

I will probably use other fingerings as well in the examples, and in general, I think you should practice arpeggios in scales as diatonic arpeggios as I talk about in this lesson: The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

#1 Cmaj7

The obvious place to start is using the Cmaj7 arpeggio on a Cmaj7 chord.

In this example, I am using inversions of the Cmaj7 arpeggio. The first part of the phrase is a descending 1st inversion Cmaj7 which is then turned into a 6 note phrase and repeated from beat 4 of bar 1. The second repeat is a descending root position Cmaj7.

The last part of the phrase is a series of descending chromatic 3rd intervals.

#2 Am7

If you have seen more of my lessons then you have probably seen examples of using the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord.

Here I am using the Cmaj7 as the arpeggio from the 3rd of Am7.

Am7: A C E G and a great arpeggio option here is the Cmaj7 arpeggio: C E G B.

#3 D7

Similar to how the Cmaj7 works well on Am7 then it is also a solid option on the V chord associated with Am7: D7.

In this example, I am using the Cmaj7 at the end of bar 1. Similar to the previous example I am playing the Cmaj7 arpeggio as a triplet with a leading note.

#4 F#ø

The Maj7 from the b5 of a half diminished or m7b5 chord is a great very useful arpeggio. This is also related to the previous examples, but probably you would see this in the context of a minor key.

In this case, that is a II V I in Em and the F#ø is coming from the harmonic minor scale:

E harmonic minor: E F# G A B C D E

Diatonic Chords: EmMaj7, F”ø, Gmaj7(#5), Am7, B7, Cmaj7, D#dim

#5 Fmaj7

The Cmaj7 arpeggio is also a useful tool to use on a Fmaj7(#11) chord.

In this example, I am mixing it with material that really spells out the Fmaj7 sound: Fmaj7 arpeggio and Am pentatonic.

6 Abmaj7(#5,#9)

The final, more exotic, sound is using the Cmaj7 as a part of the augmented sound on an Abmaj7 chord.

The scale sound this is using is the Augmented scale.

The Augmented scale is a symmetrical 6 note scale that can be seen as the combination of two augmented triads or as the sum of 3 maj7 chords.

In this case: Abmaj7, Cmaj7, and Emaj7.

The scale consists of Ab B C Eb E G Ab

With a little enharmonic spelling (since this is an atonal symmetrical scale) you can construct the 3 maj7 chords.

The example here below is using first an Abmaj7 arpeggio and then continuing in a Cmaj7 arpeggio really bringing out the #5(E) and #9(B) over the Abmaj7.

A great Arpeggio Workout!

Here is a great foundation when it comes to working with arpeggios and pentatonic scales on a Jazz Standard:

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What Makes This Sound So Good and How To Play Like That

One thing that we probably all love is the sound of great jazz phrasing in a solo. In this video, I am going to take a look at a great example from George Benson and talk about why these jazz phrases sound great. In that process, I will also go over some ways to turn the lick into exercises and use those to make your own licks that have great phrasing.

I also explain how jazz phrasing sometimes clashes with some of the other skills we teach for jazz improvisation and how to work around that.

The George Benson Solo Example

Here is a transcription of the phrases from the Benson solo that I am using

I am going to use the 2nd line as an example.

#1 Why does it sound great?

I have talked about what makes jazz phrasing great in other videos, and there are many things that come together to make a jazz solo great, but one thing that is a huge factor is how the line lets us give some notes an accent.

Let’s focus on the last part of the example and get a little scientific by slowing it down. You can hear that in the video.

When you listen to the slow version you can hear the accents on the high notes that are not on the beat:

I am sure you already have an idea about this, and one way to access this is to sing bop lines in terms of phrasing, that really helps you realize that you probably hear it and you just need to figure out how to get it on to your instrument.

But two of these examples are similar in a way and you can practice getting that into your lines quite easily.

#2 What Should You Practice

If we look at this fragment (D# to E in bar 2) then what happens here is Benson is playing a blues phrase, but the effect is really just a leading note resolving upwards and then a lower not.

If we apply this idea to an arpeggio then you would have an exercise like this:

And at the end of our example, Benson does something similar with this arpeggio, one way to look at that is as a way of playing a 1st inversion Cmaj7 arpeggio. If you take that through a scale then you have this:

#3 How Do We Play Licks that Sound Like That?

Usually when you start playing Jazz then you have a really hard time playing logical melodies that follow the changes. And one of the first things you learn, or at least should learn, is that if you play chord tones as target notes on the heavy beats of the bar then you connect with the phrase.

This might sound like this:

Where I am playing an F on beat one and an A on beat 3, but the line doesn’t really give us a nice flow with some accents. As my old teacher used to say: “It doesn’t make me want to dance”

But with the exercises, you can start putting together your own lines and in that way getting it into your playing.

Here I am using the exercise from EX2 on the Dm7 (play that) and leaving a little more space to go from G7 to C

Another one could be something like this:

Develop your phrasing

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25 Jazz Guitar Exercises – How To Improve Skills In A Musical Way

It is important that we practice and improve our technique, and often a good way to do this is to work on jazz guitar exercises like a phrase or musical fragment. In this video I am going to go over some technical topics you can work on and a few phrases to help you develop your technique.

The format of this lesson is different from what I normally do since it is a set of exercises to work on that will work as technical and musical exercises teaching you.

#1 Triads are great Jazz Chords

#2 Mix Triads with 3-part Quartal chords and sus4 triads

#3 Advanced 3-Part Jazz Chords

#4 Drop2 chords

#5 Drop2 chords with extensions

#6 Beautiful Inner-voice movement

#7 Must Know Drop2 voicings

#8 Medium-swing Bop Lines

#9 Chaining Arpeggios together

#10 Charlie Christian Inspired

#11 F7 Blues line #1

#12 F7 Blues line #2

#13 F7 Blues line #3

#14 Challenge your right-hand

#15 String Skips in arpeggios

#16 Quartal arpeggios

#17 Using Legato in lines

#18 Using Slides

#19 Legato in arpeggios

#20 8th note triplets in lines #1

#21 8th note triplets in lines #2

#22 8th note triplets in lines #3

#23 Sweeping Arpeggios #1

#24 Sweeping Arpeggios #2

#25 Sweeping Arpeggios #3

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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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