Tag Archives: jazzguitar

Turnarounds part 1 – I VI II V

In this lesson I want to talk about the I VI II V turnaround and what you can play over it and how you can practice it. The lesson will give you some exercises and suggestions to make strong melodiclines using diatonic arpeggios and target notes.

The Turnaround

Turnarounds are progressions that are used a lot in standards like Rhythm Changes and Ain’t Misbehavin, The Touch of Your Lips and so on. For that reason alone it’s well worth checking out.

I am going to start a series of lessons on different variations of turnarounds which should include a good portion of most sorts of jazz harmony. It should take us from standard turnarounds and gradually closer to John Coltranes Giant Steps cycle, which can be seen as derived from turnarounds too.

Because turnarounds are so common they are also a good place to start when practicing playing over faster moving changes. By faster moving changes I mean 2 chords per bar which is something that already in medium tempos can be hard to navigate in a musical way, and play something that makes sense melodically. If you have 2 chords per bar and improvise in 8th notes then you have to make a melody with 4 notes from one chord and 4 from the next, this can be quite tricky at times.

In this lesson I am going to work on a turnaround in Bb major. Which is this chord progression:

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 1

I am in this lesson using Harmonic minor on the dominant 7th chords. This is something you can also check out in this lesson:  Harmonic Minor Dominant Lines

So in this lesson we have these scales:

For the Bbmaj7 and Cm7 chords:

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 2

Since G7(b9) is a dominant resolving to Cm7 it is best to consider it an auxiliary dominant and use C harmonic minor:

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 3

 

And for the variation I chose to do consider the F7(b9) a chord that is borrowed from Bb minor and use Bb harmonic minor over that too.Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 4

Raw materials for lines

The main part of the lines I make on a progression like this are made up of the arpeggios of the chord and the arpeggios found on the 3rd of the chord, so for BbMaj, I have that arpeggio and the arpeggio from D which is a Dm7 arpeggio. I use other things too but these two are probably the most important to know, and the you can of course use them in inversions and as shell voicings and triads too, as you’ll notice in my examples.

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 6

So now we have two arpeggios and a scale for each chord in the turnaround and can begin to start practicing lines on it.

Practicing and composing lines on the I VI II V

When you first try to make lines on the progression you probably need to be concerned with two things: Have clear target notes so that when you play that note on the 1 or the 3 you can hear the chord change clearly, and you need to approach it in a way where you practice playing towards the target note. Playing towards the target note is going to make the flow of your lines much moe logical and will help you make stronger lines whenever you improvise.

To give you some examples of how I might compose lines on this turnaround I wrote this small exercise:

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 7

You’ll notice that I am trying to just use basic ideas and movements and keep it quite simple, mostly because it is better to stick to the basics when starting to work on a progression like this. We can always add the fireworks later.

The first bar is using first the Bb triad and then the B dim arpeggio over the Bbmaj7 and G7(b9). In the second bar the lines is first a bit of the Cm7 arpeggio and then chromatically leading up to the 3rd(A) of F7. In bar 3 the Bbmaj line is a descending “Coltrane pattern” or Bb major pentatonic scale, depending on what you prefer calling that. On the G7 the line is again the B dim, but this time ascending. The Cm7 is a scale fragment from the C minor pentatonic scale followed by an inversion of a F7(#5) arpeggio.

The 5th and 6th bar are not using the same target note strategy to make the melody, but instead using arpeggios and voice leading to creat a coherent line. The first part on the BbMaj7 chord is a Dm7 arpeggio which is then altered to a Bdim inversion over the G7 by introducing an Ab and a B. Over the Cm7 the whole thing shifts up to an Eb Maj7 arpeggio which continues up to a C dim triad over the F7. Over the final turnaround the Bbmaj7 line is again a Dm7 arpeggio but this time in a pattern. The line on the G7 is a descending scale fragment from the C harmonic minor scale. The line continues through a descending Ebmaj7 arpeggio in inversion which then is encircling the A of an A dim inversion over the F7. This arpeggio resolves to a D.

I hope you can use the material and the strategies to become more at home over changes like this turnaround. I will make a few different lessons on different sorts of turnarounds which should help categorizing the progression and splitting songs up in bigger parts so that they are both easier to play and easier to remember.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here for later study:

Turnarounds part 1 – I VI II V

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

 

 

Jazz Blues Chord Solo

This weeks lesson is a short etude, a chord solo on an F blues. You should be able to use it as inspiration and resource to make your own chord solos but if it was played less dense it will also work well for comping.

Chord solos is a great thing to add to your repertoire to have a different approach to improvising on a song. They are of course also part of the standard vocabulary for guitar since Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass.

Here’s a transcription of what I played:

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 1

Some exercises and how to make your own

Since this is a blues in F there are a few exercises that you should make for yourself to have voicings to make the lines with. This follows the concept I talked about in the lesson on Soloing with Chords Part 1 So for each chord we are trying to harmonize the scale using only that chord, and if necessary something that is close to it (that would be harmonizing the 4th over a dominant in this lesson)

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 2

As you can see I am mostly using 3 and 4 note voicings and that I am trying to keep it easy to play. Iit can be very useful to make different versions of this exercise, for example it might work well to figure it out for the scale on the high E and for the scale on the B string. It is not so important that you play it fast, it is more important that you figure it out and use voicings that you can easily play and that connect well.

Example 3 is the same exercise for Bb7.

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 3

As you see I that whenever I have to harmonize the 4th over a dominant I am changing the chord to a sus4 chord.

For the II chord in the final cadence you could make an exercise like this:

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 4

The Valt chord in the final cadence could be coming out of this exercise.

Jazz Blues Chord Solo - ex 5

The fact that we use melodic minor gives us a #11 instead of an 11 in the scale so we don’t need to make a sus4 chord.

As you can see in the exercises I mostly use a mix of Drops2 3 part quartal harmony and Triad based voicings in the solo and these exercises, since I find that those fit the style where I use chord soloing the best, and they are fairly easy to play.

The Solo

A good way to work under stand the solo is to play it through leaving out the chords, so in fact just play trhe melody. It is easy to get lost in voicings when working on this and it is in the end about the melody and the rhythm in the solo.

The first 2 bars are a motif that I first play on F7 and then sort of repeat in Fminor on the Bb7, a melodic trick that I use quite a lot. You’ll find it in the Ornette Coleman blues Turnaround too btw.

Bars 3 and 4 are first a melody with a chromatic passing note followed by  a similar idea using the F7alt sound. You can check out how to practice Chromatic Passing chords in this lesson: Chromatic Chords – part 1

In bars 5 and 6 I am really using this altering notes in the melody to make a motif and develop it again. Since the chords are Bb7 and Bdim I have a melody consisting of C descending scalewise to F on the Bb7. The only thing I need to change to fit the dim chord is to play a B instead of a C as a first note. To me this approach to melody is very strong and creats a bigger context than just some notes on the chord.

Bar 6 is a fairly common C minor pattern harmonized with F7 chords using the scale in example 2. On the Am7b5 D7 cadence the melody is trying to stay within the 5th position so that it is easy to play.

The line on the II chord is Gm(9) followed by a scale run. In the run I uses a C major triad as a diatonic passing chord which is a sound I think works well on that chord.  The C7alt line is fairly straight ahead, for the Bb I am not playing a chord but just the note. Sometimes that works better for a line and will get the melody to stand out better where harmonizing everything would sound heavy.

The final turnaround is a fairly straight forward, on the D7b9 I am using F# dim voicings and the melody over the Gm7 is harmonized with a single chord under it, in a way similar to how Red Garland would sometimes play block chords.

Hopefully you can put these exercises and examples to work in making and playing your own chord solos.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here for later study:

Jazz Blues Chord Solo

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings

When you are improvising in 4/4 odd note groupings are a very useful way to vary the rhythmic flow of your improvised melodies, since they are a way of creating a tension by not following the underlying meter. In this lesson I am describing how you might emphasize this in exercises and demonstrate how I might use it in II V I lines.

Getting it into the routine

You probably spent some of your practice time on scale exercises to develop your technique and knowledge of the neck. You probably know most of these exercises, and only needs to think a bit about how you play them and how you hear them to get more out of them.

The first exercise is a standard A minor box 1 pentatonic played in groups of 3. If you practice this in 4/4 and really emphasize the first of each 3 note group you are working on hearing 3 note groups over a 4/4 meter. The clearer you can play the accent on the first note and still keep the original time the better.

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings ex 1

The same idea also applies to playing a major scale in triads. Since triad arpeggios contain 3 notes they make excellent 3 note groupings, as does shell voicings, stacks of 4ths, so those will also work well as prepatory exercises.

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings ex 2

Finding good examples of 5 note groupings are a little more difficult since we don’t use too many structures with 5 notes. Example 3 is a fairly famous pentatonic note grouping that is used a lot in Eric Johnson and Shawn Lane solos

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings ex 3

One very useful trick to make 5 note groupings is to take a 4 note grouping and then adding a rest at the end of it. In example 4 I’ve done this with an Am7 arpeggio, but it could be done with any arpeggio or 4 note group. When you practice this you are also hearing the Am7 arpeggio as a melody and how it sounds placed on every possible 8th note in the bar.

Moving a phrase to another beat or off beat is a great way to create or develop an idea in a solo and you should check that out and add it to you vocabulary. John Scofield often uses this in situations where he is playing over one chord.

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings ex 4

Lines with odd note groupings

The examples in this lesson are all 2 bars II V I resolving to the I in the 3rd bar. Since 2 bars are in total 16 8th notes, you can use this to fill in groupings 3 groups of 5 or 3 groups of 5 and make a melody with this. In most of these examples I am actually placing filling in the different groupings with arpeggios and moving from arpeggio to arpeggio in a logical way, like 3rds or step-wise voice leading.

In example one the 3 note group is a stack of 4th that moves up and finally down step wise before it resolves to the 5th(G) of C major.

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings ex 5

The 2nd line is using the tecnique I explained in example 4 to make 5 note groupings out of 7th chord arpeggios. On the Dm7 I am using an Fmaj7 and Am7 arpeggio and on the G7alt I use a Db7 arpeggio.

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings ex 6

The last example is again using 3 note groups this time Shell voicings. The first 3 are Dm7, Fmaj7 and Am7 shell voicings over the Dm7 and over the G7alt it is a Bbm7 and a Bmaj7 arpeggio from G the altered scale.

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings ex 7

As you might have gathered from the explanations the material part of this lesson is more a technique to compose lines and some exercises to hear what the groupings sound like over a 4/4 meter. I hope you can use this to make some new lines and have fun with playing with odd note groupings!

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here for later study:

Making II V I lines with Odd Note Groupings

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Pentatonics part 3 – Arpeggios and Melodic ideas

 

In this lesson I am going to take another approach to using pentatonic scales so that we can get some other sounds than what you might already use from it. I am going to do that by analyzing some of the different structures that are contained in it and later demonstrating how that can be used in a solo.

The Scale and some arpeggios

For the theory part of this lesson I’ll use the C minor pentatonic scale as shown here:

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 1

I assume that you are familiar with the notes in the scale : C Eb F G Bb

Let’s have a look at what triads we can pull out of the scale, if you try to build a major or minor triad from each of the notes in the scale you find that these 2 triads are the only possibilities:

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 2

Finding them is quite simple, For each note in the scale you look whether they have f.ex a minor 3rd, so that is only possible for C and G, and for G we can’t make a triad because we don’t have a fifth(D) in the scale.

In last weeks lesson I was talking about: Sus4 Triads as Upper Structures and you can in the same way as I described above find three of those in the scale: Csus4, Fsus4 and Bbsus4.

As I talked about in the lesson on the Sus4 triads they are connected to quartal harmony, and this lesson: Diatonic chords of the Pentatonic Scale Will show you how pentatonic chords and quartal harmony are very closely related.

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 3

So now we have 5 different triads that we can use to make lines with, and don’t remember that you can also use their inversions and use them as Open Triads in your lines so that is in fact a vast amount of structures to play with.

The lines

Our goal is of course to make pentatonic lines that sound less “standard pentatonic” so that we can combine the fact that we are using a scale we know very well with some structures in the scale that we might not very often use.

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 4

The first example is the 1st 4 bars of the song Night and Day. On the Abmaj7 I am using C minor pentatonic and playing a Csus4 triad followed by an Eb major triad. The scale choice for the G7al is Db maor or Bb minor pentatonic. On that I am first playing a Db major triad in a sequence followed by a Bb minor triad before it resolves to the fifth(G) of Cmaj7.

The second example is a II V I in G major. Here I am using Am pentatonic over the Am7 and Fm (or Ab major) pentatonic over the D7alt.

The first part of the line is just an Am triad melody until the 3 of the bar. It is followed by a Dsus4 root position triad. On the D7 it descends down an Ab major triad followed by an ascending Bbsus4 triad that resolves to the fifth(D) of Gmaj7

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 5

The last example is a II V I in D major. On the E minor I am (again) using the pentatonic scale of the root of the chord, and the A7alt is using a C minor (or Eb major)  pentatonic scale. The Em line is the combination of first a G major triad in a pattern and then a descending Asus4 triad. On the A7alt the line is constructed by first an Fsus4 arpeggio followed by a Csus4 arpeggio before it resolves to the 9(E) of Dmaj.

Pentatonics part 3 - Arpeggios and Melodic ideas - ex 6

I hope you can use some of the ideas I covered in this lesson to make up new lines with pentatonic scales. This approach can also serve as a bridge towards using different arpeggios over chords in major or melodic minor situations, so in that way it might be a gateway to more jazz approaches when soloing.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here for later study:

Pentatonics part 3 – Arpeggios and Melodic ideas

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

 

Lydian Mode

I’ve had a lot of requests for a lesson on the lydian mode, so I thought I’d finally try to honour that. I’ll try to give you some melodic and harmonic tools to make it easier to make lines that has that sound. The lessons also contains some examples of how you can use them in a II V I as a surprising sound on the I chord.

The Lydian mode

Let’s first shortly look at what the Lydian Mode is. If you play a Maj7th chord as if it is a IV chord in a major scale you have pretty much the same as the normal major or ionian sounds, but you also have the #4 or #11 in the sound. If we look at that in the key of C this means that we play it using the  G major scale that gives us this build up of the chord:

C E G B D F# A

The main feature being the F# in the chord.

You should note that I am considering the Lydian sound something that is connected to one chord, in this case a Cmaj7(#11). I don’t see it as a key or really think it makes too much sense to think of a songs as being in D lydian etc.

For this lesson I’ll try to keep my examples around this position of the G major scale:

Lydian Mode ex 2

 

Lydian Maj7th chords

Let’s first check some chord voicings since it often makes things a lot clearer if you know what the sound of a lydian chord is in whatever context you want to use it. Most of the time on guitar we leave the 5th out when playing the #11, so in essence you get a Maj7b5 chord. I have another lesson on Maj7b5 chords and how you can use them which you might want to check: Maj7b5 Chords and Arpeggios – a powerful tool for superimposition. But here are a few chord voicings that are useful:

Lydian Mode ex 1

When you start to insert these chords into songs you might come across places where it won’t work in the context, not so much that the chord don’t sound good by itself, but more because it doesn’t work with what just happened or will happen in the progression. Mostly because it makes it sound like the chords coming after it or just before it.

 Lydian melodic ideas

The trick to get the lydian sound in you lines is in my experience mostly about emphasizing the #11 but not lose the sound of the chord, so what we need are a few melodic devices that helps with that. The way I am going to go about that is to find some structures that contain the base of the chord: 3rd and 7th (E and B in this case) and the #11 (F#) .

The first example is in fact just summing up those 3 notes B E F# which gives us a Bsus4 triad to make lines with. Sus triads are great devices if you check out Mark Turner you’ll hear them often used in his playing.

Lydian Mode ex 3

The II V I line is quite basic: Over the Dm7 I used an FMaj7 arpeggio and a G7 arpeggio over the G7 chord. On the Cmaj7 the first half of the bar is playing the Bsus4 triad from F# to B and from there it descends down the scale to an F#

Another fairly obvious structure to use is of course the Maj7b5 arpeggio (C E F# B), which many don’t check out because it is not strictly a diatonic arpeggio in any scale.

Lydian Mode ex 4

The Dm7 part of the line is an Am triad, and on the G7alt I am infact playing a scale fragment from the C harmonic minor scale. The Cmaj7(#11) line starts out with a  Cmaj7b5 drop2 voicing played as an arpeggio. After that the line continues scalewise down until it ends on an E.

If we extend the B E F# and add a D and an A we have the B minor pentatonic scale which also is a solid device we can put to use for lydian sounding lines:

Lydian Mode ex 5

The Dm7 line is a scale run from F to C. On the G7 it is an Bbm7 or Db6 arpeggio. The Cmaj7 line is first a pentatonic scale pattern similar to playing the scale in diatonic thirds. After that the line ends on a B.

If you want to download the examples for later study I have them here as a PDF:

Lydian Mode

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Tritone Substitution

Tritone substitution is a good way to add some new ideas to your II V I lines. It is very closely related to using altered dominants, but the fact that you think another chord will also give you some new melodic ideas. In this lesson I’ll try to briefly explain how it works and also what scales and arpeggios to use before I put that to use in some examples.

Tritone Substitution – Scales and Arpeggios

Let’s first look at what a tritone substitution is, in this lesson I’ll do my examples in the key of G major, though it works just as well in minor of course.

The easy way to look at this is to notice that with shell voicings for dominants (see 3rd bar of example 1) you can change the root but keep the rest of the chord, so the 3rd and 7th of a dominant chord are shared between two roots a tritone substitution. In this example that shows that the tritone substitution of D7 is Ab7, and if you play through example 1 you can hear how it will work in the II V I cadence. You will also probably notice that it is not that effective if the dominant does not resolve to a I chord.

Tritone Substitution - ex 1

So now we have a new option for a chord and a way to place it in a tonal context. The next thing we need to look at is which scales we can use when improvising over it. In example 2 I’ve listed first the key of G major and then the Eb Mel minor and Db Major scale. THe G major scale is mostly there for a reference to the key and not for the Ab7 chord. If you’ve checked out my lesson: Melodic Minor – Lydian Dominants You could observe that the Ab7 is a dom 7th chord that does not resolve a 4th up (or 5th down) so in that way it is a lydian dominant and you can use Eb melodic minor over it. That is the 2nd scale in example 2. Another option would be to just observe that Ab7 is the dominant in Db Major and therefore we can use that scale over it. This is the 3rd scale in example 2.

Tritone Substitution - ex 2

Now we have the scales let’s just quickly go over a few arpeggios. In example 3 I basically move up in diatonic 3rds and list the arpeggio for each note, which is the first way you should look for arpeggios over a chord in any scale, then you need to evaluate each note and try to deal with avoid notes as landing notes when you use the arpeggios. In the example I have only used the Eb Mel min scale, but if you want to do the same.

Tritone Substitution - ex 3

 Example lines with Tritone Substitutions

The first example line is a fairly basic line just to show what the sound of the Ab7 chord can already do in the line. The Am7 line is an Em7 arpeggio (arpeggio from the 5th of Am) followed by a scale run. On the Ab7 I first play a pattern of the Ab7 arpeggio and then another scale run ending with a chromatic encirclement of the 5th(D) of Gmaj7 where it resolves.

Tritone Substitution - ex 4

In the 2nd example I am using the Ab7 chord as if it is from the Db major scale. Which gives us a Db in the scale which is a bit further away from the G major tonality. On the Am7 chord the line is a melodic sequence of a Cmaj7 arpeggio which sort of changes into an Em pentatonic scale run. On the Ab7 I first play a Ebm7 arpeggio and then run down the scale before resolving to the 3rd (B) of Gmaj7.

Tritone Substitution - ex 5

The 3rd example again using the Eb minor melodic on the Ab7 chord. The line over the Am7 is constructed by first an Em7 shell voicing and then an Am7 triad in 1st inversion. On the Ab7 I first play a pattern of the GbMaj7(#5) arpeggio and then descend through a Cm7b5 arpeggio before resolving to the 5th (D) of Gmaj7.

Tritone Substitution - ex 6

If you want to download the examples for later study I have them here as a PDF:

Tritone Substitution

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

 

Across the Fretboard

This lesson will try to give you a strategy and a way to make exercises that should give you more freedom to move freely over the neck of the guitar when you improvise. How long the road to achieve that is depends on how far you are with knowing the notes of the neck, the scales or the chords.

What you need to know in advance

So since I can’t start completely from scratch and I chose to focus more on how you connect the positions and get more of an overview of what notes and arpeggios are found in each one of them there are a few things that you need to know first that I won’t spend too much time on.

The neck covered in major, harmonic minor and melodic minor: fingering positions. That can be caged or 3 notes per string or strict positions. This is a physical or visual way to approach the scales.

Know the notes of the scales and the diatonic chords: So you need to know each note in each fingering and you need to know that in all keys, you also need to know what chords there are on what degree of the scale. Here are a few ways to check and/or get this better:

Try to play the scale on each string. So you need to know for each string what are the notes of this scale on that string and you need to know what the notes are and where they are found on that string.

Across the Fretboard ex 1

Try to play diatonic arps in one position one for each string.

Across the Fretboard ex 2

Try to play triads on a set of strings. This exercise is letting you practice the notes at one of the frets and also what arpeggios are found in the scale for each one of these notes. It is also a welcome change from just playing all the diatonic arpeggios.

Another good exercise that helps getting an overview of the arpeggios and the notes in the scale and in the different positions is to play triads (or any other arpeggio type) on one set of strings up the neck.

Across the Fretboard ex 3

Make sure to do this exercise in a tempo where you can see each arpeggio in one of the scale fingerings you have so that you can add up the visual information of the triad and the scale. Seeing shapes within the scale positions is a very useful thing!

If you would like me to make more lessons on some of the above subjects you should let me know!

 Technical exercises

If you want to improvise then it can be very useful to practice open ended exercises, so exercises that use things you already know but you need to fit them in on the spot and make choices while playing.

Practicing scales and scale exercises from the lowest to the highest note of the instrument like this can be such an exercise if you try not to learn a certain pattern by heart.

Across the Fretboard ex 4

You’ll notice I don’t play ascending and descending the same. To me it is important to keep pushing yourself to find new ways to move in the scale, so I deliberately try to avoid this. At the same time you can probably also see that I am moving from one position to the next along the way using different bits of the position before moving on. That tends to be the most effecient way to play like this.

Here’s a how I’d suggest you approach this: Practice all keys, each key from the lowest to the highest note on the neck. For each key do another scale exercise, 3rds, diatonic triads 7th chords, shell voicings etc etc. Keep you brain and ear working while playing don’t just run up and down the scale. Make sure to change the other exercise (3rds, arps etc) for each scale so that you don’t just repeat the same exercise. The thing that you practice is to have the overview of the neck not only the arpeggios and the key.

Here’s an example of how you might play the Bb major scale in 3rds

Across the Fretboard ex 5

One way I often extend these exercises is to practice the scales or arps through a progression so a Coltrane cycle or a II Valt I progression. This will help you get even closer to the point where you improvise across the neck.

Improvising exercises

The main idea here is to take something you’re improvising on and force yourself to move around, essentially it can be anything, a chord, a turnaround or a whole  song.

In the beginning you might have to start out rubato or keeping it very simple, just to get used to it, but as you progress you should be able to play quite fluently in time while improvising and moving position in the phrases and in between while still sounding coherent.

Exercise 1: Try to move up and down the neck while improvising on a Bbmaj7 chord. You’ll probably find out if you have spots that you don’t know well enough and you are practicing trying to make melodies that are making sense and are in several positions.

Exercise 2: Try to move up and down the neck while improvising on a Gmaj7, E7alt Am7 D7alt turnaround. This is the same as exercise 1, only now you also have to know some melodic minor scales and another chord sound in the key (in this case the 2nd degree, Am7)

I have spend quite a lot of time on especially exercise 2 since it also is a good way to come up with  new melodies for me. Once I started working on it like this is was very fast getting a lot easier to play in most positions on any progression and still make sense.

You can download the examples here:

Across the Fretboard

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Minor Blues Comping

In this lesson I will go through what a minor blues is in Jazz and show some chords so that you can play through it and improvise while doing so. It is also a demonstration of how to apply the material from my lessons on Quartal harmony and Triads

The Minor Blues Progression

All the examples I am working on in this lesson are based on a minor blues in the key of C. You can see the basic progression in example 1 here:

Minor Blues Comping - ex 1

You’ll probably notice that it is very similar to the major blues progression, but that there are a few differences:  There is no IV chord in bar 2, and the ending cadence is not a IIm7b5 V (Dm7b5 G7)but uses a tritone dominant of the V (Ab7 G7). The reason for the dominant might very well be that that chord includes the blue note in the key of C (F#) and it is also a fairly normal progression in minor. In general there are fewer cadences and the structure is a little more basic. I don’t actually know why, but I think it has to do with the fact that the minor blues became popular in a period of jazz where modal playing was being explored more than playing over functional harmony and therefore players preferred to have one chord for longer periods. Of course that is just a theory..

A few voicings for each chord

In example two I run demonstrate a few voicings for each chord that are placed on the neck so that it should be fairly easy tro make melodies with them.

Minor Blues Comping - ex 2

On the Cm7 chord. I chose to use a Cm7 Dorian sound, since the modal aspect of the minor blues lends itself very well to that. You can of course also approach it from a melodic minor angel, but that will be for another lesson. The voicings I chose over the Cm7 are all quartal harmony or derived from that. If you want to check more on that you can look at this lesson: Jazz Chord Essentials: 3 part Quartal Harmony

The C7alt voicings are from the Db melodic minor scale. You might notice that I am using Stacks of 4ths, triads and drop2 voicings on it. In the end you want to mix up all the different kind of voicings that you study, this is a good example of it.

I use triads and drop2 voicings to play the Fm7. This is mostly because I want to stay in the same register and place on the neck so that it is easier to make a logical connection between the chords on the C and on the F, and the quartal voicings for F are easier to play somewhere else.

Both the Ab7(#11) and G7alt are constructed from a shell voicing with different notes above it. The Ab7 chord is a lydian dominant which you can read more about here: Lydian dominants. Basically the Ab7 is the tritone substitute of D7, and the scale that you use to take extensions from is Eb melodic minor. The G7alt is in the same way constructed by adding notes from the G altered scale (which is the same notes as Ab melodic minor)  this gives you G7 with extensions like b5, b13 and b9.

Minor Blues etude

In this last example I am playing an etude that I wrote as an example of how I might comp through a chorus on a C minor blues.

Minor Blues Comping - ex 3

The first 3 bars are essential small rhythmical motives with stacks of fourths, here the focus is more on creating rhythmical movement than melodical movement.  That’s why the chords are repeated and often not sustained. On the first Cm7 chord I added the root, something that works well as a sort of resolution, playing a heavy root or even power chord on the one of a four bar period. McCoy Tyner did this very often and is something that I associate with the style of that period.

On the C7alt I play a stack of 4ths followed by a Bbdim triad which resolves to the Fm9 which is anticipated on the 4& in bar 4. I play an Fm11 and an Fm9 to get back to the Cm7 stack of 4ths in bar 7. The movement in bar 7-9 is an example of more emphazis on the melody than on the rhythm since the chords are being played sustained, on the beat and with a clear direction towards the Ab7(b5) on the 1 of bar 9. Then in bar 9-10 the rhythm becomes more important and the chords shorter  moving from Ab7 to G7. The last two chords are both sustained and I include the root to get the McCoy effect that I mentioned earlier.

I hope you can use the material I presented here to make up your own comping patterns and hopefully some perspective on how to use some of the material I have gone over in previous lessons.

You can as always download the pdf of the examples here:

Minor Blues Comping

If you want to check out an example for comping on an F blues I wrote a lesson with two choruses using different types of voicings. It is available for sale in my store: F Blues Comping Etude #1

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Fusion lesson for Coffee Break Grooves

Coffee Break Grooves asked me to make a short lesson explaining some of the lines I use in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyLV_Ic2qwM#t=14

And here’s the video:

http://youtu.be/LuErDGDCdoo

If you want to download the examples you can grab the pdf here:

Coffee Break Grooves – Cm Fusion Track Lesson

Hope you like it!

Pentatonics part 2 – II V progressions

In this lesson I want to demonstrate how you can use different pentatonic scales on a major II V, what kind of sounds and melodies it gives you and how I use that in solo lines.

The Scales

All the examples in this lesson are made on this II V I in Bb Major. Since I already made this lesson on what scales you can use over the I chord: Pentatonics Part 1 – Maj7 Chords I am not going to spend too much time on that.

I am also assuming that you have checked out pentatonic scales in different positions and keys, so I won’t go into that part of the technique involved.

Pentatonics part 2 - II V progressions - ex 1

In a major scale you have 3 diatonic minor pentatonic scales (You can try to build them if this is news to you, that’s a really good exercise for theory and getting an overview of the scales). The scales are on the II, III and VI degree of the scale, so in Bb that gives us C minor, D minor adn G minor pentatonic.

For the II chord in the progression I have chosen these two scales: C minor and G minor. C minor is fairly obvious since it is the Cm7 arpeggio with an added 11. The G minor scale is the same notes as the C minor except it has a D instead of an Eb.

Pentatonics part 2 - II V progressions - ex 2

You can also use the Dminor pentatonic scale on a Cm7 chord, but in this progression where the chords are moving quite fast and has a direction the A in the D minor scale is not so easy to use and I have therefore decided to omit it. In a modal situation where you have a Cm sound for a longer period of time it can work fine.

The V chord has 2 obvious options in the C minor pentatonic and the D minor pentatonic. The C min yields a sort of a F7sus4 sound, but it will work on a normal F7 as well. D minor pentatonic is also F major pentatonic so that will for that reason work just fine. I have omitted the Gm scale because it does not contain the A and the Eb which is the core of the F7 in this example.

Pentatonics part 2 - II V progressions - ex 3

T he third option, Abm pentatonic works as an F7alt sound. F7 altered is F# or Gb melodic minor and the only pentatonic scale contained in that is Ab pentatonic. Which also happens to be the major pentatonic scale of B, the tritone substitution of F.

Putting it all together

Part of what I find useful about using pentatonic scales like this is that the melodies you get when you improvise with them are not the typical hardbop vocabulary consisiting almost only of 2nds and 3rds. In that way it is a nice change from other ways to come up with lines.
Pentatonics part 2 - II V progressions - ex 4

The first example is using the Cm pentatonic on the Cm7 chord and the Dm7 on the F7 chord.

On the Cm it starts with an Eb major triad and moves on to a stack of 4ths, which is infact also a Diatonic chord of the Pentatonic Scale. On the F7 I play a melody which is almost a sequence of 4 notes in the scale before resolving to the 5th(F) of Bb.

Pentatonics part 2 - II V progressions - ex 5

In the 2nd example the Cm line is pretty much a run down the C minor pentatonic. On the F7alt it is first an Abm7 arpeggio followed by a four note scale run resolving to the 5th of BbMaj7. The Cm7 line and the last part of the F7 alt line is a good example of how a pentatonic scale run in this context  will work as a melody because it is not placed in it’s “normal” surroundings.

Pentatonics part 2 - II V progressions - ex 6

 

A very nice “counterpoint” trick you can apply to a II V I with pentatonics is that you can have chromatically ascending scales over the chords which sound like they are somehow resolving down. In this case you’d get the following scales: Cm7 (Gm) F7alt (Abm) Bbmaj7 (Am). I use this kind of thinking often when I am trying to use pentatonics because you can often make scales move in other ways than the chord and it can be a good effect in the melody.

It opens up with a stack of fourths which (to me) has sort of an Allan Holdworth flavour to it, maybe because of the string skipping and wide intervals. It then descends down the scale. On the F7alt I am again using the Abm pentatonic. The line starts with an Abm7 arpeggio and then moves on to a Gbsus triad. The Abm is resolved to an Am pentatonic line on the BbMaj7. The first part of that line is a standard “thirds” exercise in the pentatonic scale followed by an Am7 arpeggio before it ends on a D.

I hope you can use some of the ideas that I went through here to make your own lines, and maybe get some more mileage out of some lines you thought you’d stopped using.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here:

Pentatonics part 2 – II V progressions

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.