Tag Archives: jens larsen arpeggios

3 Things To Get Right For Great Guitar Technique

There are two types of guitar players, which one are you: Do you like to practice exercises, and develop your technique or do you hate scales and think that the devil invented the metronome? When it comes to developing your technique then I don’t think there is a correct or best way to go about it, and maybe you never need to practice scales or exercises at all., but what is anyway important is that you figure out what works the best for you! And I think You want to regularly go over what you spend your practice time on and figure out if you should change something.

My Philosophy

For any exercise or type of practice that you do then you learn a lot in the beginning but after some time it isn’t really getting you any further.

So you also need to know when to move on and look for a new way to level up your playing.

RIght now, I am looking at how to change a part of my practice routine, so I thought I’d go over what I do, what I am changing, and discuss what a practice routine should look like.

And I will mention one thing that I don’t work on at all which I probably should. I tend to think of the skills you work on in a routine like this as split up in 3 main areas: Technique, Knowledge, and Music, I’ll explain the 3 areas along the way and as you will see, most of the exercises will  improve skills in more than one of those areas.

Let’s start with some exercises that I feel I need to change:

`Pure Technique

The first exercises are mostly about warming up, technique, basic coordination, just to get the fingers moving. This is purely technique, in terms of the 3 areas.

It’s for getting my fingers to work in the morning , I have this exercise that I got from a Tomo Fujita video EXAMPLE,

and an exercise that I got from one of Rotems videos.

The exercises are simple and about technique and control, and this segment of my practice routine only takes a few minutes. This is probably the first video I have ever made where it makes sense to have a Venn diagram, but I think that is a good way to illustrate how the exercises work. Since I am looking for new things to practice then let me know if you have suggestions for similar exercises that could replace these. For me, it is good to spend time on pure technique stuff like this, but it has never been something that was a big part of my routine. You’ll see why when I get to some of the rhythm exercises, and also how I practice scales.

I used to follow this up with playing arpeggios over the entire neck, both 7th chords and triads but right now I took that out and instead, I spend 20-30 minutes practicing a song, while first playing with the metronome on 2&4, then on 2 and then on 2 every other bar or something similar. That’s a fun exercise to do, and great for internalizing tempos and working on playing music, so it is moving a bit away from technique and also adding music and knowledge to the mix. Until now that has been a nice way to get my fingers and brain started in the morning since I usually start practicing around 6:00 am. The next exercise is a mix of technique and rhythm.

Rhythm, Subdivision, and Control

Maybe it’s just me, but most of what I want to achieve with doing these exercises is to be able to play the notes I want to play and to play them in time. That is what I usually end up caring about, and this is a great exercise for that. It is a variation on something I saw David Beebee do in a video, and recently I came across an Oz Noy video where he talks about the same thing: Practicing a scale or some melodic fragment in one tempo but changing the subdivisions. I do this in two different ways: A looped fragment that I take through different subdivisions

 

and a scale fragment that I do the same with but where it doesn’t fit in the subdivisions nicely so that you have to change in places that might not fit the scale fragment.

 

I work on this both with picking and with legato, and it is a great way to get used to feeling, hearing and playing different subdivisions.

Subdivisions are incredibly important for a lot of things, especially locking in with the groove but also being able to play double time where you are playing a different subdivision than what is played by the rest of the band, and this exercise helps you develop that.

The easy way to start is to have a phrase that “fits”, in this case, a 5-note phrase, like an arpeggio with an extra note. I vary the phrase from day to day to keep it a bit open. With each subdivision, I  play 2 bars, quarter notes, 8th notes, then to 8th note triplets, 16ths, 16th triplets, and finally 32nds. Then you go stepwise back down to quarter notes. It’s a great way to push your technique a bit and a good way to work on rhythm.

Technique, Knowledge, and…

Practicing scales is where the strong connection to knowledge is. I have one important rule for practicing scales, and my approach also means that I am always changing things up, because the focus is more on flexibility, fretboard overview, and vocabulary than on speed.

I try to combine everything in scale practice, and the rule is that you ONLY practice things that you want to play in solos,  but what does that mean? This is sort of coming from the idea that you focus on practicing the things that you are using in your solo lines. Similar to what Wes Montgomery told Joe Diorio

And you get a similar way of looking at things if you check out how Barry Harris suggests practicing, which is, I think, where I got it from.  I am not sure Wes was practicing scales at all, and maybe he only practiced soloing on songs,  but this is my take on that. What I consider knowledge in this context is having an overview of what useful structures are in the scale, how they sound, and how to play them. In that respect, there is an ear-training and fretboard component to the knowledge as well.

Through the years, I have done different variations of this way of practicing, both over or across the neck free of positions or like I am doing right now all positions in one key. It’s pretty simple:

Set the metronome, play the scale in all positions, take an exercise, and move that through all positions or up the neck if you are practicing like that.

metronome one step higher, Next key, and repeat.

But the important part here is, of course, the exercise part, and I’ll get to the ear-training aspect later.

What is the exercise? The exercise can be anything you want, or more precisely, anything you realize you want to use in a solo. I do a lot of variations with

triads

triad inversions

7th chord arpeggios

different Bebop arpeggio tricks

quartal arpeggios

and, of course, you can add leading notes and enclosures to this.

arpeggios with leading notes.

You want to make sure that you keep changing it up,  trying different things in the different keys, and using small phrases that you use in your solos.

The goal is to learn to hear those structures, be flexible with them so you can improvise, and ensure you are not stuck in certain keys or positions. This can be a great way to help get new vocabulary into your playing, and you start thinking of lines made from these flexible building blocks that you can take through a scale.

Not a lot of thinking and theory?

If you are not used to playing diatonic triads or other structures then it might sound like some complicated math to figure out, but that is probably more something you do when you are working on theory than when you are practicing. The way I find myself doing this is more based on hearing melodies, diatonic triads are a pretty predictable melody if you play it through a scale, and you will most likely hear if you are playing wrong notes, trusting a bit in your ability to hear how it moves through a scale makes it a lot easier. Just imagine or sing the melody and then try to play it, it is probably easier than you think, and there is also another advantage.

Exercises That Combine Everything

Working on learning solos by ear teaches you a lot, both in terms of ear training, vocabulary, phrasing, and timing but for me the biggest part of the learning is not figuring out what is being played or analyzing it. It is playing it.  That was always how that went for me, and one of my biggest regrets with my study was actually that I didn’t get a good pair of speakers or headphones and a decent CD player until the last year because that would have made this part of my study a LOT easier and therefore also a lot better. Having a boom box with muddy speakers where going back and forth on a CD was almost impossible was in hindsight a massive handicap. When I check out solos I mostly rip the audio and use Transcribe! because that is so nice for going back and forth and you can save a file so that you start exactly at the beginning of the solo right away. Super practical. I wish I had something that worked as well with Spotify on my phone, but I can’t find anything that works.

In the last few months I have made it a part of my daily routine to work on solos, and the emphasis is more on playing along than on figuring out, so I don’t mind that it takes a long time, and once I have the solo figured out then I keep playing it to get it into my system. That is a lot more fun than it sounds. Another thing that is maybe also worth mentioning is that I don’t analyze the solos that much, I am just playing them as melodies. With that, I am of course not saying that you should not analyze them, but I do think that there is something to be said for just trying to reproduce the phrasing, the lines, and the timing. It is the part of your practice where you try to get it all to work together at the same time. Playing Kreutzer etudes and Bach is also useful for this, but of course, that doesn’t help you with timing and phrasing in the same way.

There is one thing that I am not working on at the moment, and I rarely worked on this in any kind of systematic way.

The Missing Element

In this video, I am talking about technique, scales, coordination, and all sorts of stuff, but I didn’t include anything on chords which may be a mistake. I do spend time playing chords especially, in the warm-up jam section, but I don’t have a set of exercises that I work with for chords. Probably in part because I always play chords most of the time when I am working. But what would you suggest as solid chord exercises?

Digging into the chords!

Even if I do not practice inversions or diatonic chords as exercises every day then that doesn’t mean that I don’t work on comping. Chords are such a huge part of what you do when you play Jazz, not only comping but also chord melody and chord solos. and some solid exercises will help you develop those skills and make you a lot more free and creative with chords.  You can check those out in this video, which will give you some good ideas for enjoying the fantastic world that is Jazz chords and Jazz harmony. Learn Jazz, Make Music

3 Basic Jazz Chord Exercises That Will Change Your Playing in 2024

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The Basic Music Theory You Need As A Jazz Beginner

Having the basics down in music theory is an incredibly powerful tool. If you are playing Jazz then interpreting chord symbols can be very difficult and if you have a solid basic overview of what notes are in there, you can find other ways to play the chord and add notes and fills to it, the things that make it a lot more fun to play!

That’s what I want to show you in this video because an overview like that is going to stop you from sounding like a Pat Metheny Clone, and instead of learning a single Jazz lick, you can figure out how it works and turn it into a recipe for 1000s of Jazz licks. There’s a chance you know a lot of this, but then you can use this as a checklist to see if you have it all under control!

The Most Important Scale For Jazz

The place to start is the scale that you need the most: The Major scale.

I assume you are already somewhat familiar with the but to keep it simple let’s use the C major scale:

The important thing to remember is that a major scale is constructed by a series of whole and half steps, and that recipe is:

On guitar you have a shortcut which is a physical solution where you are just moving a shape around,  that means that if you play a C major scale then you can turn that into an D major scale by just playing the same shape but start on the note D,

but that also means that you don’t really know what notes in there anymore, and when you play songs then it is very practical to know that the next chord is the IV chord in the key and that is THIS note in the scale, so here’s how you can start figuring out the notes in a scale.

I am going to show you this using D major as an example, but it works for any note can think of. It is just about using sharps and flats You need to remember or write down the row of intervals that make up the major scale:

For D major you can write out the notes from D to D . You can then go through the scale and make sure that the intervals fit and then correct that:

D to E is fine, but E to F is a half-step which should be a whole-step, so you turn the F into F#.

Now F# to G is a half-step so that is fine, G to A, and A to B are both whole steps

but B to C should be a whole-step as well

and again you turn the C into a C# to fix that and then you have D major

The next thing to do when you know what notes in the scale is to map that onto any scale position: just start on the root, play the scale, and say notes – in that way this is as much about connecting the things that you know on the neck, because that is where it is useful!

Dmajor:

That is the basic construction of the major scale, but what you need is to link this to chords because when you are playing a song then it looks like this:

The Strongest 3 Notes In The World

The Strongest Chord we have isn’t a Jazz chord which would be a chord with at least a 7th, The strongest chord only has 3 notes and it is, of course, the triad.

 

The basic construction of a triad is a stack of 3rds, so for C then

C major is 1 3 5 – C E G which is really just 1 3 and 5 out of the major scale:

 

C minor  would be 1 b3 5 C Eb G and the difference is the distance between the two first notes: C to E is a major 3rd

and C to Eb is a minor 3rd

Like this, you can also construct a diminished triad which is: 1 b3 b5 in C that would be C Eb Gb and you can create an augmented triad which is a major triad with an augmented 5th: C E G#

Those are the 4 basic triads, but you probably also want to know these 3:

Sus4 where the 3rd is replaced with the 4th:

Sus2 where the 3rd is replaced with the 2nd:

If you check then sus2 and sus4 are actually inversions of each other, so they are the same structure.

Another triad that is maybe less common in songs but very common in chord structures is major b5:

But right now, this is all just structures without any context, and while it is nice to know then the best way to know this is to place them in a scale.

The Strongest 3 Notes In The World, In The Scale

As I mentioned then chords are created by stacking 3rds, and actually that is easy to do in a scale so to construct the diatonic harmony and place the triads in a context . That tells you which triads go together.

Start with the C major scale:

and we can put 3rds on top using the notes in the scale to get first a row of diatonic 3rd intervals

and then these triads which is another useful row to remember, just like the intervals:

It is incredibly useful to know what triads go together, and as you will see later it is a huge help in finding more arpeggios you can use when improvising over a chord, which means more melodies that you can use in your solos

You can do this with any scale, and you should certainly know the triads of the major scale by heart, so this order:

It is also important to figure this out for Harmonic and Melodic minor which will give you examples of the other triads, you’ll see later.

Enough with the triads for now, let’s get to some Jazz chords!

The First Group of Beautiful 4-Note Jazz Chords!

In Jazz, we don’t work with triads as the basic chords so often, even though we still play triads in solos all the time.

The basic chord type is the 7th chord, but constructing the 7th chords is now super easy, barely an inconvienience: You just add another diatonic 3rd to the triads!

So these:

Become these:

Again the order of chord types is really useful to know, so for a major scale it is maj7, m7, m7, maj7, dom7th, m7, ø

And as you can see you there are 4 chord types in the scale:

The reason that I construct chords in scales is because that added context really tells you a lot about what is going on in the music:

If you take this lick:

As you can see that if over the over a G7 then you can use a Bø arpeggio which is the diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of G7, so we are combining the knowledge of the chord with the diatonic harmony.

You can also see that the Em triad sounds great on Cmaj7, but that is just because an E minor triad, E G B, is a Cmaj7, C E G B without a C.

And the same thing applies to chords:

If you play II V I that sounds like this:

Here I am using an Fmaj7 chord, which is giving me the Dm7(9) sound:

and a Bø Chord for a G7(b9) before moving down to Cmaj7, so the diatonic chords become a part of how you learn things, and you cna use the same stuff for a lot of things, it is very efficient.

Of course, at some point you have done that so many times that you will just know what the notes of Dm7 is and that the arpeggio from the 3rd is Fmaj7, but being able to figure it out is a necessary step, and knowing it like this is, of course, a lot better than just having a diagram that you are moving around without knowing what is going on.

The Rest of The Beautiful 4-Note Jazz Chords!

As I said, there are more chord types than just the 4 I already covered.

To find some of those then let’s try to build chords in Harmonic minor, because that should give us some more. To keep it easy, A harmonic minor:

To get you more comfortable with the process then we can start with the triads

A B C D E F G# A

Then you have:

Am Bdim Caug Dm E F G#dim

And once you add a 7th to this then you get:

Notice that the G#dim has a diminished 7th from G# to F, that sometimes a bit confusing because it is the same interval as a 6th

And to immediately show you how useful this is, in the II V I in C I used the arpeggio from the 3rd of G7, and you do the same here and use a G#dim over an E7 because it is almost the same notes and they are from the same scale:

and, that is an great way to play an E7(b9) resolving to Am,

Working on this is something that can really speed up your learning process, because if you start practicing diatonic triads or arpeggios while also being aware of what triad or arpeggio you are playing then you

  • Have a better overview of the harmony and the scale
  • See the shapes you need for soloing on the fretboard
  • Figure out what is being played in Jazz solos so you can get that into your own playing.

All stuff that makes it easier to learn and play Jazz, but it probably isn’t going to be useful if you don’t learn any songs that you can use it on. Learning songs become a lot easier if you understand the harmony, and I talk about that in this video covering how I use Functional harmony but also how Barry Harris and Pat Martino have shortcuts that are opposite of each other, but it will all help you learn and remember songs. ! It doesn’t have to be difficult to learn songs. Check that out

If you start to figure this out for the different keys and practice diatonic arpeggios while also being aware of triad or arpeggio you are playing then you start to connect all of this and that will help you:

  • Know the scale and the diatonic harmony
  • See the shapes on the fretboard
  • Understand how the chords move

You can figure out what is being played in Jazz solos

And, all of these skills are important things that will speed up your learning process, but it probably isn’t  going to be very useful if you don’t learn songs and also learn to understand how the harmony works and that you can check out by watching this video which covers how I use functional harmony for that, but also how Barry Harris and Pat Martino think about chords and make things easier! Learning and remembering jazz songs doesn’t have to be difficult!

How The Pros Think About Chord Progressions (and you probably don’t)

How The Pros Think About Chord Progressions (and you probably don’t)

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7 Ways To Make Arpeggios Sound Great In A Solo

It is difficult to combine scales and arpeggios and most of us struggle with arpeggios into music and to make it something that we really make music within our Jazz Guitar Solos. In this video, I am going to take you through a challenge, and you are going to figure out if there techniques for making lines or licks, that you don’t know or use. You can keep score and see if there is anything you want to add to your playing or develop further. So the focus is not really on learning new arpeggios but learning how to use them in your playing.

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Content:

0:00 Intro

0:41 The Challenge

0:56 Making Lines and Inventing Names

1:10 #1 Adding Scale notes

1:45 #2 Using Related Arpeggios

2:02 Knowing A lot of Arpeggios is always good

2:21 Finding Related Arpeggios

3:55 #3 Chaining Arpeggios

5:00 #4 Cascades 

6:00 #5 Passing Chords as Arpeggios

6:56 #6 Octave-displacement

7:28 Analyzing the example

7:49 Example 2 

8:16 #7 Voice-leading

9:29 How Many Points did you get?

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How To Use Arpeggios In Jazz – Important Skills

Like everybody else, you are trying to play jazz and improvise solos, but it is difficult not to sound mechanical or robotic because you can really only choose between playing either a scale or an arpeggio which makes your solo boring. You need to learn how to use arpeggios in your solo lines in a more creative way!

In this video, I am going to give you 4 different ways to create melodies with arpeggios that you can add to your vocabulary and really change up how your solos sound.

In fact, with these techniques, you can take any chord and make a lick over that using diatonic arpeggios.

The Arpeggio and How To Practice Them

First, let’s look at a simple way to learn and think about arpeggios in the context of the scale then I will get into how you use this to make lines.

When you play jazz lines then the chords often change very often so it makes sense to mostly use arpeggios in one octave.

That means that you can get a lot out of practicing arpeggios in the scale as diatonic arpeggios in an exercise like this.

First the scale :

and then these arpeggios:

I have another lesson where I talk about this and how to use it that you can check it out here: The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

Now let’s get to using scale notes, arpeggio patterns and chromaticism to make some great jazz lines with arpeggios.

1 Adding Diatonic notes

The easiest way to create strong melodies with arpeggios is to mix them with the scale tones.

If you take a Cmaj7 arpeggio and then add scale notes between the chord tones then you can make lines like this:

The way you should practice and work with this is probably more spending time figuring out how to make your own lines than practicing the exercises.

2 Arpeggio patterns

The next place to explore is to start playing the notes of the arpeggio in a different order. Below are a few examples of how you can do this:

If you use this in a lick then it could be something like example 6 and 7:

3 Chromatic notes

Another great feature is to use chromatic leading notes in an arpeggio. As an exercise you can add a chromatic leading note before every note in the arpeggio as shown in example 8:

Making lines with this and some of the previous concepts would give you something like these examples:

4 Inversions and Octave Displacement

Arpeggios can be inverted and you can also use octave displacement to create some very solid melodies that also contain larger intervals.

Doing exercises like this is really good for getting flexible with arpeggios, but you can also just take out one and work with that.

Octave displacement is another way to break up the direction of a melody. The idea is to have a melody is moving in one direction and then move a part of the melody an octave up or down. You can find an explanation of it in this lesson in Jazz Lick #4: Jazz Licks on a Maj7 chord – How To Sound Like Bebop

Some examples of licks on a Cmaj7 using Octave displacement and inversions are shown here below:

If you want to explore more things you can do with arpeggios and take it more into a bebop direction then check out 3 Easy Bebop Licks – How To Sound Like Jazz

Want to learn how to use this on a song?

Or check out the Easy Jazz Standards Bundle with this lesson at a reduced price:

Easy Jazz Standards Solo Bundle

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