Tag Archives: jazz licks

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

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:


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:

F Jazz Blues Arpeggio Workout

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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.


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.


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!

Three Ways to Add Arpeggios to Your Jazz Guitar Licks

We spend a lot of time practicing and learning Arpeggios, so it makes a lot of sense to have several ways to use them in our playing. In this lesson I will show you 3 ways you can add arpeggios to your lines so that they help you create more interesting licks and you get more out of the time you have spend practicing.

The examples in this lesson are all on a II V I in Eb major, so Fm7, Bb7 to Ebmaj7.

Emphasizing a Target note

Really bringing out interesting extensions and alterations is a great way to use arpeggios.

In the example below the target note G, the 9th, is given an extra emphasis because it is the top note in an arpeggio. The note is given even more energy by the fact that the arpeggio is played as an 8th note triplet. This heightens the velocity towards it and makes it sound more like a resolution. The fact that the G is on a heavy beat also helps give it more emphasis.

Learn from Charlie Parker and Wes Montgomery

Playing arpeggios and using the top note as a target is something that has been common in Jazz since Charlie Parker. Wes Montgomery also uses 5 or 6 note arpeggios to bring out specific targets in his solo. A recent video I did on his playing talked about his use of this to emphasize the 11th over a minor chord.

Moving this to the Eb major II V I then that would be:

In the example above the Ab major triad is used to target the Bb on beat 3. The arpeggio is really useful and the technique of summing up your lines in the important target notes can be useful to realize this and also for a lot of other things in the line.

Changing direction and adding large intervals

Playing lines that consist of melodies that only move in one direction can become boring and predictable for the listener. Arpeggios and especially arpeggio inversions can help doing this really well. If you look at the general movement from Fm7 to Bb it is a scale run from C to F and then moving from Eb to D on the Bb7.

The arpeggio is here used to introduce a skip from F down to Ab. From there it moves back up to then return to the D.

Change direction on Chord tones

The strong place to do this is to use it when you are on a chord tone. In the example above it was on the root (F). Below I am using the same technique but now the arpeggio is inserted on the 3rd(Ab). The arpeggio I use is a 1st inversion Abmaj7 arpeggio.

Coltrane and his descending Arpeggio Cascades

The previous technique used the arpeggio to introduce a large interval skip which is then resolved by the rest of the arpeggio. In the example below I am using a quote from John Coltrane’s Cousin Mary Solo, a song off “Giant Steps”

One way to summarize the Fm7 bar is to see it as a three note descending scale run: Bb, Ab, G with two arpeggios inserted after the last two notes. The arbeggios are an Fm 2nd inversion triad and an Abmaj7.

This melody is more radical but therefore also more dramatic and surprising. This probably has to do with the fact that the large interval skip is at the end of the arpeggio and not at the beginning. At the same time the dramatic cascade effect is a great way to shake things up a little.

For me personally this is a great example of how powerful Coltrane’s melodic concept was!

Use what you Practice and explore what is possible!

Exploring how to use the things we practice is almost as important as practicing them in the first place. Of course there are many ways we can do this, both by composing and experimenting but certainly also by transcribing and analyzing. 

This lesson demonstrates both transcribing and composing as examples, and for me those are the two main sources of inspiration and knowledge when it comes to applying what I practice.

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Three ways to Use Arpeggios in Scale Runs

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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5 Sus4 Triads and the Perfect Maj7 licks you can make with them

Sus4 triads are great for creating some beautiful super-imposed lines on maj7 chords, and the sus chords are often forgotten among the diatonic chords and triads. In this video I will go over 5 examples of sus4 triads and show you both how you can use play and practice them and also how an example of them over a Cmaj7 sounds. 

I have also included the chord voicings that you can create using these sus4 triads as upper-structures.

Finding Sus4 triads in a major scale

To find the triads you can build all sus4 triads in a C major scale:

C: C F G

D: D G A

E: E A B

F: F B C

G: G C D

A: A D E

B: B E F

Since the objective is to find triads that work well on a Cmaj7 then it does not make too much sense to include an F in the triad. This means that we have These sus4 triads left: D,E,G and A. I have one more sus4 chord that I often use, but I will explain that later in the article.

The Sus4 triad from the 3rd: Esus4

The best place to look for an upper-structure is the 3rd, somehow it is always like that. Probably because the 3rd is the most basic color of the chord. In this case the Esus4 triad gives use these notes against C:

Triad:         E      A     B

Tension:    3      6     7

Here the sus4 chord is much really conveying the basic color of the chord (with the 3rd and the 7th) and adding the sound of the 6th or 13th. In that respect this triad is maybe as much evidence that the melody of the sus4 triad is at least as important as the notes it contains.

You can play the triad in the position like this:

In the 2nd bar I have included the Esus4/C chord which is a Cmaj7(13) chord.

Using the Esus4 triad on Cmaj7

A lick with this triad is shown here below. The first bar of the lick is the basic Esus4 triad arpeggio.From there it continues with an Em7 arpeggio and finally resolves to the 7th(B) of Cmaj7.

The Prince chord re-interpreted: Gsus4/C

The Gsus4 triad is of course an inversion of the Csus2 (or the other way around) which is the first chord in Prince’s Purple Rain. As shown here below the triad only yields one extension(the 9th) and for the rest consists of basic chord tones, but again the strong melody of the sus4 triad is enough to make is a good arpeggio to use in a solo.

Triad:         G     C     D

Tension:    5      1     9

To place the arpeggio in the 8th position it is written it out here below and the chord you can create with it is added in the 2nd bar.

The Sus4 Melody

In this lick is using two inversion of the Gsus4 triad. The first one is really described just as well as a Csus2. The 2nd half of the bar is the beginning of a descending Gsus4 triad. The triads are played with pull offs and the repeated sequence really brings out the 4th interval and the sus4 sound.

Asus4: The C6/9 arpeggio

The way that diatonic chords are usually practiced and explored there is no real arpeggio for the 6/9 chords. The Sus4 triad on the 6th of the scale could easily fill this void:

Triad:         A     D     E

Tension:    6      9     3

The Asus4 triad is in fact just a rootless C6/9, so it works great for this.

The arpeggio and the voicing is written out below:

Sus4: The Signal melody and the repeating octave displacement

Suspended chords ask for resolution. In a melody this makes it great to catch attention and it gives it the sound of a signal or announcement. This lick really uses this melodic aspect. The opening of the lick is a basic A minor pentatonic run that then transitions into a 3 octave Asus4 triad arpeggio.

The arpeggio is played using the idea that if you play a sus4 triad on the E and A strings you can shift this fingering and repeat it up an octave on D and G strings and one more time another octave higher on the B and E strings.

Mostly colors: Dsus4

As with the Gsus4 triad the Dsus4 is not really conveying the sound of the Cmaj7 chord. But of course less clear structures can also be useful on a tonic major chord.

Triad:         D     G     A

Tension:    9      5     6

The arpeggio and the chord voicing is shown here below. Notice that like the Gsus4/C chord this voicing is not a complete chord since it does not contain a 3rd. It is how ever easy to add a 3rd on the A string in the 7th fret.

The Quartal harmony connection

The lick below is showing how Dsus4(D,G,A) inverted is in fact a 3-part quartal arpeggio (A,D,G). The first part of the lick is a repeated figure playing the Dsus4 triad as a quartal arpeggio. The 2nd part of the lick is resolving the melodic tension created by the ascending quartal arpeggio. This is done with a descending Em7 arpeggio.

B Sus4 triad: Getting a Lydian sound.

The one sus4 triad that is not diatonic to C major is the Bsus4. This triad is great to get a lydian sound and you might not realize that you have been using it all along for your Cmaj7(#11) chords.

Triad:         B     E     F#

Tension:    7      3     #11

The triad contains the basic part of the chord (3rd and 7th) and adds the #11 to convey the Lydian sound.

Play The Arpeggio in the 8th position like this:

Borrowing from Michael Brecker

The first part of the Bsus4 lick is using a quote that I took from a Michael Brecker solo. It’s a nice way to play the sus triad in groups of 4 and it is surprisingly easy to execute on guitar.

The 2nd part of the lick is using a more basic Em7 to get the Cmaj7 sound across.

The Chord Diagrams

This lesson includes 5 voicings using the sus4 triads. The voicings are shown below as chord diagrams as well if you prefer to read an visualize them in that way.

Using Super-imposed structures like the sus4 triad

In Jazz there is a long tradition of using upper-structures when improvising, and it is a very useful approach to building a vocabulary of lines when improvising. The use of the upper-structure and the ability to connect it with more simple material on the chord means that anything you study can be put to use in several places.

I hope you can use these 5 sus4 triads I went over here to expand you vocabulary and add some great melodic ideas to your solos! 

Get a free E-book

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

5 Sus4 Triads and the Perfect Maj7 licks you can make with them

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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.


The Reason Your Jazz Guitar Licks Suck and How you fix it!

Your jazz licks have all the right arpeggios and chord tones, target notes etc. And they still don’t sound like great bop lines! The Problem is probably with the jazz phrasing.  In this video I am going to give you a basic understanding of some of the jazz phrasing that can lift your solos to the next level.

I am also going to give you a way to write licks which you can phrase better and take a few bars from a George Benson solo to demonstrate how he gets it right!

The Good, The Bad and the Bebop!

In the example below I have written out two examples of jazz lines over a Turnaround in C major.

They both contain right notes and the melodies are moving from chord to chord in a logical way, but the second one sits better in the groove and is easier to phrase in a nice way.

The difference is where the target notes and the notes where the line changes direction are placed. In the first example this is all the time on the heavy beats (so beats 1 and 3). This is shown with the circle.

In the second line these notes are placed mostly on an off-beat and that makes it possible to give them an accent and add some more life to the line.

I guess the difference is that bebop lines need the syncopated lines that have high notes and turning points on off-beats because that makes it come alive and add some small dynamic surprises for the listener. 

Composing lines with better phrasing

It does sound a little strange I know, but actually we can work on making lines that are easier to phrase in a right way. 

The trick is to find a way to create lines where we have a high note on an off-beat.

If we take the two heavy beats in the bar, 1 and 3, then there are two types of off-beats we can have: The one before a heavy beat: 2& and 4& and the one after a heavy beat: 1& and 3&.

Before a heavy beat

In example 3 I am using the Dm7 G7 progression to demonstrate 4 different ways to have a high note (and therefore an accent) before beat 3.

After a heavy beat

The 3 different examples below show how you can add an accent on 1& by making that note a local high note.

It is worth noting that the descending line actually also makes the 1& a note you can accent, so that option is also often a good way to add an accent. You will also see this in the George Benson solo.

Examples of Jazz Licks with accents

To show you some examples of lines that have melodies that you can add accents to I have written to II V I lines in C major.

The first example starts with an accent on the 2&. This is achieved with an Fmaj7 arpeggio similar the 2nd bar in Example 3. The rest of the bar does not contain anything that gets an accent. 

In the G7 bar the first accent is on the 1& where the D is a high note. There is another accent on the 3& where the B can get an accent.

The 2nd example is using the same arpeggio on the Dm7 to get an accent on the 2&, but this time the arpeggio is played in an inversion to add a large 6th interval skip on the 1& 

The ascending arpeggios are also used to get accents on the 2& and 4& on the G7alt. Here it is first a G augmented triad and the 2nd one is an Fm7(b5) arpeggio.

Other ways to lget better at phrasing

Learning from composing and analyzing is only one way of the ways to internalize these things. Of course it will help you recognize and hear where accents are and understand the phrasing examples you hear on a conscious level.

Another way to work on this is to listen and imitate examples of good phrasing, this can be copying records or learning to play transcriptions.

Why George Benson has great phrasing

As an example of somebody with good phrasing here is 4 bars from a George Benson solo. These 4 bars are an excerpt from his (really fantastic!) solo on Billies Bounce. I transcribed it and will go over where the accents are.

The excerpt starts on the II V to Gm7, which in Billie’s bounce is Am7 D7(b9). The first part is a sweep of a triad which does not contain any accents, mostly because this technique does not really allow you to add an accent.

The line on the D7 moving to Gm7 does have an accent. The Sweep of the C major triad comes out on an F#. From here it skips up to a D and descends step-wise to Bb. This means that it is possible to add an accent on the 4&(C) which George does. 

On the Gm7 the A on the 2& get’s an accent., and for the rest there is no accents in the Gm7 line. Ont the C7 the G on the 1& is a high note which then gets an accent. It is followed by a dramatic skip (dramatic in a beautiful way…) and the line is ended with a bop cliche that ends on an D on the 3& that also naturally get’s an accent.

On the F7 D7 there are not notes on the off beat and therefore no accents. 

The Gm7 C7 line at the end of the chorus actually has accents on all off beats in the bar, which is of course possible, in this case it is also part of a blues phrase that somewhat asks for it.

How do you go about improving your phrasing?

When you are working on phrasing I would suggest that you combine all the approaches I discussed in this lesson. It is important to listen and analyze solos to get the sound of the phrasing into your ear. At the same time you can reinforce this process with composing and exploring what lines you can come up with that has notes that you can give an accent.

Finally it is also really good to have some solos that you really copy and play along with the record to really get into how the guitarist is phrasing.

Good luck with it!

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Take this approach further with more examples

If you want to explore the concepts discussed in this lesson further with some exercises and examles you can check out this lesson in my WebStore:

Jazz & Bebop Phrasing – C Blues

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

The reason your jazz licks suck!

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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.



From SCALE practice to JAZZ LICKS – Work towards Music!

If you don’t want to waste your time you want to make sure to turn everything you practice into material that you can use when you improvise.

We all practice scales and work on our technique by doing Scale Exercises, arpeggios, diatonic triads and patterns. In this video I want to show you how you can take your exercises and start turning them into jazz licks. 

The Diatonic Triads in a Scale Position

Let’s just start with an exercise that I am sure you already practice: Diatonic Triads. Here below I have written it out in the key of C major:

Turning this exercise into a II V I is shown here below where it is used on a II V I in C: Dm7, G7, Cmaj7:

I am using the descending version of the exercise above on the Dm7. It is then used with the triads of Dm, C and finally B dim. From here it continues with a G7 altered lick before resolving to C.

Diatonic Triads in Patterns

A great way to practice diatonic triads is to play them in a pattern so that you break up the order of the notes. In the example below I have written out the diatonic triads in a 3 1 5 pattern:

Using this type of exercise in a jazz lick is a great way to add some larger intervals to your lines.

The lick here below is using the F,G and Am triads over the Dm7. It then continues with a G7 altered line that is based on a Bmaj7(#5) arpeggio before it resolves to Cmaj7.

Triads along the neck

Another way to practice the triads is to play them on a string set along the neck. This is shown in a 2-1 fingering here below.

Turning this into a lick is easy. I am using the F,Em and Dm triads descending and then continue the triad idea on the G altered with Eb and F dim triads to resolve to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7. 

A good variation on this is to use Db and Eb triads on the G7. This idea is shown here below:

Changing the way we practice scales

In the previous examples I had to rely on scale exercises that are stepwise in nature, so the triads are played in stepwise order: C, Dm, Em etc. 

The problem with this is that If you use triads on a Dm7 chord then Dm, F and Am are fine, but Em and G are less strong and therefore difficult to use in a lick.

One way of getting around that is to look at how the Dm, F and Am are a 3rd apart in the scale. This means that we have can start working on practicing the triads in 3rds in the scale to get them together in the sets that work together. An example of how you can do this is shown here:

The lick below is using the triads like this, and they are played in a 5 1 3 patttern. The triads used then are Dm, F and Am which are all closely related to a Dm7.

Beyond the triads: Shell voicings

Of course you can apply this to any type of structure. In the example here below I am doing hte same type of exercise as example 7, but now using Shell Voicings.

Turning this into a lick is shown in example 10 where I use Fmaj7 and Am7 shell voicings on the Dm7. On the G7 I am also using a Db7 shell voicing and combining that with an AbmMaj7 arpeggio before resolving to C.

Putting it all together

As you can see in these example it is not only important to try to use the exercises you do, but it can also be a great idea to try to shape your exercises so that they are immediately easier to use when improvising or composing lines.

It makes a lot of sense to try to work a lot with 3rds because it reflects how we build chords and keep the triads closely related to the chord you want to use them on.

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From Scale exercises to Jazz Licks – Practice Music

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3 Awesome Ways from Music Theory to Music

In this video I will go over 3 Music Theory Ideas that I use all the time in my own playing!

Why learn Music Theory?

Learning music theory is of course a part of learning guitar. Jazz Guitar especially is often considered theory heavy, but in fact you can really easily start using some of your theory to make music. If you apply the things you learn you will remember them better and get more out of them so that is certainly something you should consider in your Jazz Guitar Practice.

In this video I will go over 3 theoretical ideas and then show you how you can directly turn them into music and hopefully it will give you some more ideas that you can add to your jazz guitar improvisation or compositions.

The Key and the Chords

All the examples I will use in this lesson are in the key of C major and I will demonstrate each idea on both a Dm7 and a Cmaj7 to give you some material to work with,

1. The Arpeggio from the 3rd of the Chord

So the first thing we can look at is how to come up with some more arpeggios to use over any chord that we have to solo over. In most cases the arpeggio from the 3rd will work as a great sound on top of the chord.

The Dm7 chord and it’s 3rd

In Example 1 I’ve written out a Dm7 and an Fmaj7 arpeggio. As you may know F is the 3rd of a Dm chord.

If you compare the Dm7 and the Fmaj7 arpeggio you get this:

Dm7 D F A C  
Fmaj7   F A C E

And as you can see the two arpeggios have the same notes except we are playing an E (which is the 9th ) instead of the root.

A lick using the Fmaj7 arpeggio over a Dm7 chord might be something like this:

The Cmaj7 and the Em7 arpeggio 

In a similar way we have an Em7 on the 3rd of Cmaj7

Again we can look at how these compare:

Cmaj7 C E G B  
Em7   E G B D

An example of a guitar lick with this idea is shown below in example 4.

Notice how I use both Cmaj7 and Em7 arpeggios in the line. It is important to combine new ideas with the vocabulary you already have!

 2. If m7 Then Minor Pentatonic

The second idea is that whenever we have a m7 chord then we can use a minor pentatonic scale to solo over it.

The Dm and the Dm pentatonic

The m7 arepggio is almost the same as a minor pentatonic scale as you can see in the table here below:

Dm7 D F   A C
Dm Pentatonic D F G A C

This is probably also easy to see from this comparison:

Since the difference is only the G, which is the 11th of D and sounds great over the Dm chord then we can use this idea to make pretty modern jazz licks like example 6:

The Cmaj7 and which pentatonic?

Cmaj7 is of course not a m7 chord, but we do have a m7 on the 3rd of the chord: Em7.

This gives us the pentatonic scale shown below:

 The E minor pentatonic scale is 3 5 6 7 9 if you relate the E G A B D to a C root. All great sounds over a Cmaj7.

A guitar lick using this idea could be something like example 8:

3. Adding Chromatic Leading notes

The third idea is to add chromatic leading notes to the arpeggio. Since the chromatic notes are resolved to a chord tone immediately this is something that we can easily apply to a melody.

The Dm7 and some leading notes

In example 9 I have written out a Dm7 arpeggio in one octave and then in the next bar the same arpeggio but now with a chromatic leading note before each note.

I would not recommend that you use all of the leading notes all the time. It is easier to use one or two to get a more smooth lick.

A guitar lick with this concept is shown in example 10. Notice how I don’t add that many leading notes, and one of them is also diatonic so you almost miss it!

The Cmaj7 can be lead on as well

If we try to do the same with the Cmaj7 then we get the arpeggio followed by the arpeggio with leading notes as shown in example 11:

Applying this to a line is shown in example 12:

In the example above you can see how I am combining all of the three ideas: Leading notes, Arpeggio from the 3rd and Pentatonic scales. As I mentioned above it is important to combine as many things in your playing as possible, and especially to combine new ideas with the things you already know so that you can use it in your jazz improvisations.

Turn Your Theory in to Practice!

As you can tell there are great ways to directly turn theory knowledge into lines and by understanding the basics of chords and scales you can already do so! I hope this lesson gives you some ideas to dig a bit further in exploring the possibilities from the theory you know!

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

3 ways to turn music theory into guitar licks

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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.