Tag Archives: jazz scales

Jazz Guitar Licks With No Scales – This Is Why Its Great

The ingredients of most common approach to jazz guitar: Scales and Arpeggios. never thought I would hear myself say this, but you can make some really great lines by ignoring scales completely. This way of thinking is quite different from the idea of assigning scales to the chords the way we usually do. At the same time it is a traditional way of making lines and a very useful approach to changing things up.

The problem with too much scale movement

The way of making lines that I am going to cover here is at the very least helping you get rid of lines that sound as predictable and boring as this:

Of course in the long run you probably want to learn you scales just the same. It is better to have more options after all. I will talk about why later.

The George Benson Connection

I came across this way of making lines while analyzing a George Benson solo and I realized that if create lines with this concept you can make some really strong lines that don’t move in a predictable way but still make sense.

In this video I am going to show you how it works and how you can start experimenting with it in your own playing.

The basic concept: Triads and Leading notes

This is a really simple concept. Instead of making lines with scales and arpeggios (my entire system for guitar just fell apart) then we can also just think in simple triad arpeggios and leading notes. So Lines are constructed by having triad tones as targets and adding small melodies of leading notes that point towards those triad tones.

The Chord and The Progression

For this lesson I am going to focus on how to use this on a II V I in Bb major, and especially the Cm7 in that progression!

Cm Triad and leading notes – Two Exercises

So the way the melodies are made are from using the simple triads for example: Cm. The basic material I am using is an enclosure and a leading note on a Cm triad like this:

Putting the idea to use in a II V I lick

And an example of a line using this could be something like this:

Above the triad targes are first Eb, then a low G and finally a C. The beginning of the F7 line is also using a chromatic enclosure to move to the 3rd.

The big advantage to Chord and Leading notes approach

What is liberating is that when we play like this then it often works to just jump from one place to the next and you don’t have to think so much about the direction of the scale run or arpeggio run, and because it is using a very basic arpeggio then the leading note melodies make a lot of sense.

Here’s another example on a II V I. Again using chromatic approach phrases to move to both Cm7 and F7 chord tones.

Of course there are also some things that this doesn’t do, and I would not only use this way of playing as a total approach to everything, but it is a nice way to come up with some lines that sound different and still work with the chords. Using this method to create lines with more more extensions gets a little difficult because the extensions also want to sound like leading notes and the leading notes for the extensions are often chord tones.

This example is using one of the lines that Benson uses a lot on the dominant. It is in fact a Parker lick that Benson learned.

How to work on this approach

So the best way to work on this is to mix it with another approach. This is also what George Benson does in his solo. I will link to my video analyzing this in the description of this video.

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Jazz Phrasing – This is what you want to know

You problably know the feeling of trying to come up or with lines and then even though you know the notes are right it is impossible to get it to sound like jazz.

In this video I am going to show you some things that you need to be aware of when trying to come up with lines and which will help you jazz phrasing really a lot. One thing that is really interesting about this is that it is actually possible to write jazz licks that really are not possible to phrase well.
This is about how you play the notes and a little about which notes you play, and for me it was really a huge part of getting my bop lines to sound good.

How to learn good Jazz Phrasing

I am going to cover two things: First how to write lines like this and later I’ll talk about how to hear it in examples and get it into your system so that you don’t have to think about it, because that is what you eventually want to have. Phrasing is something you hear and feel not something you think about while you are playing.

The Lick that doesn’t swing

Have a look at this lick: Harmony is clear, the notes are mostly chord tones.  Target notes make sense but it sounds heavy.

This line has direction and it spells out the chords, but the melody sounds heavy because it asks for accents on the heavy beats: 1 and 3. There is no place where we have a not popping out to make it dance.

In short: That sounds more like Megadeth than Charlie Parker.

Writing better line with Better Phrasing

Luckily you probably already have a good idea about how a good jazz solo sounds. If you try to sing the phrasing of that then you get a much more.

If you pay attentiont to what you are singing and slow that down then you start to notice that the accents in the phrase are not on the beat, so accents are on the off-beat

In Jazz, or bebop, the accents are naturally on the off beats. The question is then how do you make melodies where you can create those accents.

Let’s look at an example:

In the example above the accents are the higher notes in the phrase, so the C on 1-and plus the A on the 3-and.

The rule you want to notice here is:

If a note is higher (in pitch) than the following note and not on the beat. Then you can give it an accent.

In the line above there are therefore two notes that can get an accent. 

Using your technique to make it easier to phrase

Very often the easiest way to accent something is not to play that note a lot louder but instead to play the surrounding notes a little softer. Using legato is a great way to naturally do that.

The way I use this is to pick the note that gets an accent and then use a pull-off to play the following (lower) notes.

Another example of a line where this strategy will give it a natural phrasing is shown below:

Bebop Phrasing on a II V I

Of course this way of thinking and using this rule can also be applied to a complete II V I lick as shown below.

You will notice that the accents are on 4-and in bar 1 and on 2-and in bar 2. The line also ends with a classic “bebop” phrase where the descending interval is the sound that gave the genre it’s name.

Learning to hear good phrasing

Besides writing lines it is also important to listen to great solos and it can be useful to analyze transcriptions to find places where there are accents in the solo.

Be sure to listen to bebop and hardbop artists to get the most out of this. You also want to keep in mind that even if you don’t analyze it then just hearing good phrasing in huge amounts will also help you a lot. 

How Wes Montgomery Gets it Right

As an example of an analysis of a solo let’s have a look at the opening phrase from Wes Montgomerys solo on Four on Six off the Smokin’ at the half note album.

The first part of the pickup is a sliding 5th interval which is on the beat. This is not a bebop 8th note line so or ideas about accents doesn’t really apply.

The next phrase is a Gm pentatonic phrase an here Wes is playing 8th notes. The phrase is essentially a descending scale run and he does in fact accent the top note (a C).

The ascending arpeggio that follows does not allow any accents, but the descending Dm triad in bar 3 does, and here the first note does get an accent.

The way to better phrasing

For me it was a combination of knowing how to phrase bebop themes and lines, composing lines with the accents in the right place and certainly also training my ears by listening and playing along with great examples. 

I would suggest you find a way to mix in all of those approaches if you are working on your phrasing.

A short cut to improve your Bebop Phrasing

One way to speed up the process could be to check out this webstore lesson with analysis and examples of lines that are easy to play and have great phrasing.

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Pat Metheny – This is What Jazz Blues Should Be

The Solo in this Pat Metheny Lesson is on a medium swing 12 bar blues in Bb. The Freedom and the multitude of approaches that Pat Metheny has when it comes to improvising over a blues is mind-blowing. Certainly worth a closer look!

This covers the super melodic side of Pat but also really illustrates his Bop playing and the great way he uses Blues material. There is a reason why Charlie Haden really emphasized how much he loves playing Blues with Metheny. I think this solo really demonstrates why.

Pat Metheny Lesson Content

0:00 Intro

1:18 Example 1 – Blues, Double-time and Lydian Dominants

4:37 Example 2 – Spelling out Harmony and Reharmonizing

8:42 Example 3 – Free Jazz, Tritone Substitutions and Chromaticism

Check out the John Scofield Solo on the same song

If you want to check out the video I did on the John Scofield solo on this track then have a look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6n9FE7PDBU&list=PLWYuNvZPqqcF247KJAOrdpBzCY0YTWk6O&index=6

Pat Metheny Is Not About The Notes, Are You?

This is not only a Pat Metheny Lesson. It is also a short discussion and a practical example of how most things that we hear in great solos are not complicated scales or concepts, but much more masterful and melodic improvisations with basic scales and arpeggios.

In the solo I go over some fragments from the Pat Metheny How Insensitive live from the Secret Story live dvd. It is a fantastic solo.

The solo can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9SPR9eUIbk

And a transcription is available here: https://kupdf.net/download/pat-metheny-how-insensitive_598dfa35dc0d60e927300d1a_pdf

Table of Contents:

0:00 Intro

0:17 No Magic Just Playing The Song

0:40 Getting lost in Theory and Scale Choice

1:21 Pat Mehteny – The How Insensitive Solo

1:49 Why Pat Metheny is a great example for this

2:05 Not only The Lick

2:17 How much do scales really matter?

3:18 Example using Locrian Nat. 2

3:30 Example Using Locrian

3:50 Example Bringing out the Locrian Nat 2 sound

4:19 Solo Fragment 1

4:27 Playing Dm blues or Playing the Changes?

5:19 Solo Fragment 2

5:28 Scale Sequences and Triad Groupings

6:01 Breaking down the line

7:52 What makes this a great solo?

8:15 Keeping the Melody and the key in mind

8:47 Melodic Ideas

9:08 Dm Pentatonic scale?

9:57 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

How can that be an altered dominant? (The Best Hack)

The altered dominant can be difficult to deal with, but there are some really good hacks or tricks you can use to play the chords and add them to your vocabulary.

In this video I am going to go three of ideas and help add new altered dominant chords to your playing. Using other chords that you already know as altered chords.

Being able to see the same voicing as several different chords was a huge help in building my chord vocabulary and has opened up a lot of things in my comping and soloing.

The Altered Dominant Hack

Which is maybe a hack or is it actually a skill?  The idea is to use other chord voicings that we already know as altered dominant chords. The basic concept is really clear if you look at this example:

Here the G7 altered voicing is really an Fm7b5 or Fø voicing with a G in the bass.

The Fø agaings the G root is F(b7), Ab(b9), B(3) and Eb(b13) so the G7 is a G7(b9b13)

#1 The Fø

From example 1 You now know that You can then use all the Fø voicings and inversions as G7alt chords.

Here’s an example using the original Fø voicing:

And of course you can use the inversions as well:

But you can do a lot of interesting things by using other types of voicings than the Drop2 that was in the previous examples:

#2 Bmaj7(b5)

Another great candidate for a G7 altered voicing is a maj7b5 arpeggio.

A Bmaj7(b5) arpeggio against the G root is: B(3), Eb(b13), F(b7), Bb(#9) so a G7(b13#9)

An example of this that you probably already know would be:

And another great example using a basic root position maj7b5 voicing could be this:

And another good example using an inversion of the Bmaj7(b5) arpeggio:


#3 Using the Db7 or tri-tone substitution voicings

Another great example is to use the Db7 chord as a voicing.

In this first example I am using a basic Db7 voicing. 

Against a G root that would be: Db(b5) F(b7) Ab(b9) B(3) so a G7(b5b9)

And you can use variations of the Db7 chords as well.

Here are an example using a Db7(13) voicing which contains B(3) F(b7) Bb(#9) Db(b5) which is a G7(b5#9) 

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Sign up for my newsletter

Get the PDF!

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How can that be an altered dominant

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

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


6 Most Important Dominant Scales And Hidden Tricks With Them

Dominant Scales!

Using different Dominant scales on dom7th Chords is one way we can make variation and add new sounds to our solos. In this video I will go over the 6 basic scale choices you need to know for improvising over jazz standards and originals

For each of the scales I will go over what they are, the extensions or colors they add to the chord and also an example of a really useful but less common idea that you can use when soloing over the chord.

These ideas or arpeggios are things that I have dug out from improvising and studying the music you can make with these scales and they really give a clear picture of the sound plus they make for interesting melodies.


0:00 Intro

0:58 The Blues Scale Question?

1:15 #1 Mixolydian

1:48 Extensions

2:16 Constructing a great non-diatonic arpeggio

2:53 The Arepggio

3:03 Mixolydian chord voicings

3:20 Example of Lick / Analysis

3:55 #2 Dominant from Harmonic minor

4:29 Extensions

4:54 Constructing an arpeggio

5:21 b9b13 Chord Voicings

5:33 The Arpeggio

5:43 Mixolydian b9b13 Example / Analysis

6:34 #3 The Altered Scale

7:19 Extensions and Alterations in the scale

7:45 Altered Chord Voicings

8:06 The secret Altered Arpeggio

8:36 Altered Scale Example / Analysis

9:10 #4 Lydian Dominants

9:40 Extenstions and the 13th Arpeggio

9:58 Lydian Dom7th chord voicings

10:13 The Dom7th(#5) Arpeggio

10:45 Example Lydian Dominant

11:15 #5 Diminished Scale

11:46 Extensions and Alterations

12:21 Chord Voicings

12:34 The Overlooked Dom7th arpeggio

12:59 Diminished Dom7th Example / Analysis

13:26 #6 Whole-tone scale

14:06 The Extensions in the Whole-Tone scale

14:32 Chord Voicings

15:19 Whole-Tone Example / Analysis

15:55 Did I leave out a scale?

16:34 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

9 Surprising Pentatonic scale secrets on a Blues

Pentatonic Scales and Modern Jazz go hand in hand just like guitar and pentatonic scale do. In this video I am going to try to bring the two together using a 12 bar blues and demonstrating 9 ways you can apply pentatonic scales to this chord progression. The ideas are not only going to be on which scale to use on which chord, but more about finding a series of pentatonic scales that you can use to create other movements on top of the jazz blues.

Pentatonic Scale use on a Blues (without sounding Bluesy..)

The blues is a great progression to explore reharmonizations and super-imposed pentatonic scales. There are a lot of very standard chord changes that can be approached in many interesting ways. Most of the examples are using several scales to demonstrate other ways to move throught the changes, but there are also a few surprising scale choices for a chord here and there.


0:00 Intro

0:17 12 Bar Blues and -9 Pentatonic Scale ideas from Wes and Others

1:04 Example 1

1:30 Altering the F major Pentatonic

2:33 Example 2

3:00 Wes’ Pentatonic trick applied to an F blues

3:55 Example 3

4:22 Altered Dom7th Pentatonic + A Charlie Parker observation

6:12 Example 4

6:39 The Altered Dom7th and II V I trick

7:37 Counterpoint ideas on a cadence

8:27 Example 5

8:53 Borrowing a bit of Parker Blues and Parallel Harmony

11:04 Example 6

11:31 Borrowing a bit more Parker Blues

12:28 The Tri-Tone II V and it’s Pentatonic

12:49 Example 7

13:15 Minor pentatonic and m6 pentatonic motifs

14:32 Scale ideas that help connect phrases

15:10 Example 8

15:36 Blues sounds and Tri-Tone II V’s

16:44 Example 9

17:11 Lydian Major Pentatonic, the Lydian b7 pentatonic sound

18:29 Using Pentatonic ideas to create melodic concepts and add a story to your solo

18:59 Do you have a great Pentatonic idea? Leave a comment!

19:46 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Synthetic Jazz Scales and How You Can Make New Personal Scales and Sounds for Your Solos!

In this video I am going to show you how you can take any chord and easily make a completely new scale for it that you can use when you improvise. With some really cool (but also a bit strange) sounds.
The method will work for any chord and I will also discuss some of the ways that you can use Synthetic Jazz Scales to improvise including a few outside jazz licks using the scale.


0:00 Intro Solo with a Synthetic 8-note Scale

0:15 Construct a scale for any chord

0:43 The Scale construction principle – From analyzing C major

1:26 A basic construction for a Cmaj7 chord

1:43 Go for Out There or Re-make the major scale?

2:03 First example of an 8 note scale for Cmaj7

2:32 The Scale and some thoughts on diatonic harmony

2:46 Improvise with this scale – Approach no 1

3:03 Some Diatonic harmony: triads

3:39 This is like Barry Harris 6th diminished scales!

3:52 Why this is not ideal for Cmaj7

4:30 Improvise with this scale – Approach no 2

4:45 Shifting between the colors

4:58 Synthetic Lick No 1

5:46 Synthetic Lick No 2 – Opening up and mixing the chords

6:18 How to develop the 2nd approach and how it works better for the chord.

6:48 Digging into find more structures in the scale

7:24 A 7 note example from music I have played

7:51 A new perspective on Double Harmonic Major

8:19 Dbmaj7(#9#11b14)

8:26 Where I learned about this: John Ruocco

8:56 When to use this scales and why.

9:28 Do you work with creating your own scales? Are you a mad music scientist? (Am I?)

10:25 Like the lesson? Check out my Patreon Page!


the 3 jazz scales you need to know

Jazz Scales! The 3 You Need to practice and How You apply them to Jazz Chords

Jazz Scales can seem like a million options that you all need to learn in all positions and all chords, but there is a way to approach this that is a little easier than trying to learn all jazz scales in all modes. After all the Dorian mode is not as important as the Major or Minor key.

My Approach to Jazz Scales – Learn from the songs you play

In this video I am going to take a practical look at the chord progressions you will encounter and what scales over what chords you are going to need. I am also going to discuss how you apply the scales to the chords and practice in a more general way towards being able to use a scale over any of it’s diatonic chords.
Hope you like it!

List of content: 

0:00 Intro — a myriad of Jazz Scales

0:20 Practice efficiently

0:50 Finding the scales by looking at the progressions

0:59 The Major II V I Cadence: Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

1:15 The II V I and the other diatonic chords

1:44 The Major scale it’s all you need from So What to Giant Steps.

1:57 The Minor II V I Cadence: Bø E7(b9) Am6

2:09 Adding Harmonic minor and Melodic minor

2:34 Secondary dominants and cadences

2:51 Secondary cadence to IV in C major

3:07 Secondary cadence to III in C major

3:27 IV minor variations

4:26 Diminished Chords the two types

4:40 Dominant diminished chord

5:04 Subdominant diminished chord

5:44 What is covered so far

6:06 The tritone substitute: Dm7 Db7 Cmaj7

6:23 The Backdoor dominant: Fmaj7 Bb7 Cmaj7

6:48 Double diminished or German Augmented 6th: Fmaj7 Ab7 Cmaj7

7:23 Cadences with other dominant choices: Altered and Harmonic minor

8:11 The three scales and where we need them — cutting away what we don’t need.

8:55 Getting this into your practice routine!

9:12 Scale practice suggestions and knowing the scales

9:40 Example of what works and what doesn’t work when improvising over an Fmaj7 in C major

10:59 The Bonus from practicing like this!

11:20 Learning the rest of the scales

11:58 Do you work with this system or do you have a better one?

12:36 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

From Scale exercises to Jazz Licks – Practice Music

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.