Tag Archives: jazz scales

The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

You probably already practice arpeggios, but chances are you can do it as a better Scale exercise than what you are doing now, and that is what I want to talk about in this video. Jazz Scale Exercises should be about giving you the material you can use in your solos and help you know and play the different arpeggios and melodies found in the scale.

When you improvise in Jazz then the lines or melodies that you play are related to the chords you are playing over and the solo follows the chord progression it is played over. One easy way to do this is to use the arpeggios of each chord.

You can use the arpeggio of the chord you are playing over, but in fact, there are more options than this and the exercise in this lesson will help you tie all of that together in one exercise.

Practicing Arpeggios in the Scale

The reason why it makes a lot of sense to practice diatonic arpeggios in a scale position is quite simple.

When you improvise a solo you are not only playing scales and then only arpeggios. The jazz lines you are making are a mix of the two. Therefore it is essential to have the arpeggios placed in a scale as notes that are important, and the rest are available.

Here is a C major scale in the 8th position

Playing the diatonic one-octave arpeggios through this scale position would give you this exercise:

Know the Scale!

Often when you learn Guitar in the beginning you rely mostly on the visual aspect of the instrument. Scales, Chords and Arpeggios are shapes that you can see on the fretboard.

This works really well for learning and remembering, but make sure that you also know what notes you are playing and what notes are in those chords and arpeggios. It will become very useful along the way.

For the exercises here above, it is a very good idea if you also play them while saying the notes or saying the names of the chord that you are arpeggiating. This will teach you the fretboard and the music theory on another level and also really attach it to what you play.

Using the arpeggios in your solos

It is not enough to just practice the scale exercise and then hope that your solos will suddenly magically include the arpeggios.

To show you how you can make some basic licks mixing scales and arpeggios here are a few ideas using a Cmaj7 arpeggio and chord.

The first one starts with the Cmaj arpeggio and then continues with a scale melody.

In the second example You can see how it is possible to mix scale notes into the arpeggio and also add a little chromaticism to more of a bebop sound.

Bebop Arpeggios!

This is a great variation on the exercise that also is really setting you up to play some bebop lines. Here you play the arpeggio as a triplet and insert a chromatic leading note in front of the root. This creates some energy and motion that then really brings out the target note that is the 7th of the arpeggio.

This exercise for the scale looks like this:

Make some Bebop Licks!

Using this way of playing arpeggios can be used in licks like this.

The first lick is using the Cmaj7 arpeggio in the lower octave and combining it with an intervallic melody in the2nd half of the bar.

The 2nd example is using the higher octave and adding a chromatic run between D and C before ending on G.

The Arpeggio from the 3rd

Until now I have only been talking about what how to use the basic Cmaj7 arpeggio over a Cmaj7 chord, but you can use more arpeggios.

The way to understand this is quite simple. You can use other arpeggios that contain notes that work well on the chord. The Arpeggio from the 3rd of a chord is usually a great option:

Cmaj7: C E G B – Em7: E G B D

So the two arpeggios share E G B and the Em7 is only adding the D on top of the Cmaj7 which is the 9th and a good note to add in there.

A few ways of playing an Em7 arpeggio in this position is shown here below:

Jazz Licks with an Em7 arpeggio on a Cmaj7 chord

You can use the Em7 arpeggio like this.

The first example is a basic “bebop Em7 arpeggio” that continues with a more modern sounding Quartal arpeggio from B.

The 2nd example is again focusing more on adding some chromatic ideas. Here the first half of the bar is a chromatic enclosure that is leading us to the first note of the Em7 arpeggio.

Putting all of this into a II V I lick

To give you and idea about how easy this is to generalize to a progression I have added this final example.

Take a look at the lick and see how I am using Fmaj7 on Dm7. Both Bø and G7 on the G7 and also both Em7 and Cmaj7 arpeggios on the Cmaj7.

It is easier than you think!

Use this approach in a Song!

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When Do You Know A Scale?

If you play Jazz Guitar then you will often be confronted with learning and practicing scales. The major scale, pentatonic scale or a jazz scale like melodic minor.

A big part of the vocabulary and the material that you use when you are improvising is linked to scales in some form or other and it is common to practice scales on a daily basis.
But of course, you want to also make sure that you can actually make music with it and think a little bit about how and what you practice

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:23 Jazz and Scales – What you Need and How to Learn It

1:00 #1 Learn To Play The Scale

1:07 Start with a Scale Position

1:47 How To Play The Scale – what is important

2:26 Connecting Positions

2:52 Next Level After Positions

3:26 #2 Music Theory

3:40 Learn The Notes(!)

4:14 The Basic Things You Need To Know

4:50 Finding the material available with Music Theory

6:08 #3 Making Music With The Scale

6:11 It’s not all exercises

7:23 Cmaj7 in G major example

8:14 Cmaj7(#11) identifying triads that are good upper-structures9:00 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

How To Learn and Practice Scales for Jazz Guitar

How do you practice and learn scales for Jazz Guitar? These videos go over different approaches and practice strategies with exercises for scale practice.

When you learn a scale on guitar because you want to use it to play jazz guitar and improvise then there are many things you need to know and some things that can make your practice more efficient. These videos will give you ideas on how to work on this and build a scale practice routine or strategy that fits your way of working.

You can check out more information over this topic in this playlist:

How To Learn and Practice Scales for Jazz Guitar

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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

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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!

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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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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.

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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.

Content:

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.

Content:

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.

Content:

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!