Tag Archives: Jens Larsen

Bebop Magic – One Of The Best And Most Difficult Things About Jazz

One essential part of Bebop lines and melodies that you need to check out is octave displacement. It is a simple technique, but you need to understand how to use it if you want to really nail the Bebop sound. That is what I want to show in this Jazz Guitar Lesson.

One of the great typical or cliché phrases in Bebop sounds like this:

and actually, that is just a way of playing this line which sounds about 5% as interesting:

I am sure you want your solos to sound like the first phrase, I know I do…

The difference between those two is that in the middle of the first example then the melody moves up an octave in a way that sounds both beautiful and interesting. This is mostly referred to as octave displacement, and you can use this for a lot of great things, and that is what I want to talk about in this video.

What is Octave Displacement

This technique or way of making melodies is called a few things, mostly it is referred to as Octave displacement, but you will also hear, among others, Barry Harris call some of them pivot arpeggios and different ways of looking at them will give you different ideas for using it, as you will see later in the video.

The concept is fairly simple, if you have a scale melody then you can move a part of the melody an octave, just like you saw above:

And you can do this in other places as well:

Another variation could be this:

But here the skip is placed so that the high note is on the beat, and that works but are not as catchy as the other one in terms of phrasing.

But of course, you can also use this on arpeggios to get some really beautiful melodic interval skips in your lines.

I was always drawn to licks like this when I was beginning to learn Jazz, and I was trying really hard to make lines that had larger intervals, but they always sounded unnatural and weird, not like the Pat Martino or Charlie Parker lines that I was transcribing and checking out. It wasn’t really until I went to a Barry Harris workshop that I started to understand how this worked and got some tools to start to incorporate it into my playing.

Pivot Arpeggios

A great way to make your lines less one-directional (B-roll) and add some great twists and turns is to use this on arpeggios.

The concept is pretty simple, instead of playing an ascending arpeggio like this:

Here I am playing first a chromatic enclosure and then the Bø, so the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord, over a G7 and resolving this to the Cmaj7.

If you turn into the Bø arpeggio into a pivot arpeggio then you get an example like this:

Here you play the B and then you move down the rest an octave to get a nice descending 6th interval.

Strategies For Making Better Lines

And of course, you can extend this to other chords as well and use it to make your lines more interesting with a few adjustments.

Look at this fairly basic Bop-line:

We have an Fmaj7 arpeggio on Dm7, so the arpeggio from the 3rd, then a chromatic enclosure to take us to G7 where the line is built around a G7 arpeggio and a scale run G7b9 sound, and finally an Em7 arpeggio on Cmaj7, so again the diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord.

This is all pretty solid but you can add pivot arpeggios to this fairly easily like this:

Here I am moving the first note of the Fmaj7 arpeggio up an octave, and later also making the Em7 a pivot arpeggio

But you can also apply this to the G7 bar:

Now the G7 arpeggio in the beginning of the G7 bar is turned into a pivot arpeggio, and you can see that the pivot technique also often works on inversions of an arpeggio since the G7 arpeggio is in fact an inversion with the 3rd as the lowest note.

Displacing David Baker – Aiming for a single note

This is a very specific example, but it I find that there are so many great lines to get from this that it should be included, and you can also add some nice chromatic things with this.

You, of course, already know the David Baker Lick, in part thanks to David Baker but probably also thanks to Adam Neely:

Using this lick with octave displacement can give you not only some of my favourites but also some Charlie Parker and George Benson favourites, (whoever you feel is more important as an influence 🙂)

Let’s look at one way to understand the construction because actually, it is just a scale run with some passing notes.

Clearly, the G, Gb , F is scale melody with a Gb leading note. E to D is also clearly step-wise. So only the A is a bit odd, but you may know how Barry Harris talks about adding “half-steps” between notes that are already a half step apart. His concept is that in that case, you can use any note as a “half-step” and here we are using the A. So in that respect the lick is a scale run with two added “half-steps”, the Gb and the A

And that A is a great candidate for octave displacement, like this:

This already sounds great and is something you will find in a lot of George Benson and Grant Green lines, but you can also add an extra leading note:

Which sounds amazing, and you can make it a short turn as well, something that I have found with Doug Raney:

Just to give you an impression of how this can be put to use you can check out this II V I lick:

In this lick, I am using the octave displaced licks on the Dm7 chord and on the Cmaj7 chord.

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Chord Melody – 5 Beautiful Methods You Want To Know

Chord Melody and Jazz Harmony are beautiful things to explore. In this collaboration with the incredible Rotem Sivan, he shows us how to go over 5 levels of harmonizing the Jazz standard “All The Things You Are”, from a basic beautiful 2-note approach to counterpoint and reharmonization.

 

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7 Easy Jazz Standards In Minor You Need To Know

Most Jazz songs are in a major or a minor key, and Minor songs are a great place to learn several things that you need in Major as well, so it is a good idea to really dig into studying some minor songs.

In this video, I am going to go over 7 songs that are in a minor key that you want to have in your repertoire because knowing them will improve your playing.

I don’t know if you ever thought about it, but most Jazz standards are in a major key. Some pretend to be in minor but then turn out to be in major. I don’t want to single anyone out, How Deep Is The Ocean, You’d Be So Nice To Go Home to, What Is This Thing Called Love.

Anyway… The first song you probably already know, but maybe a few of the other ones will be a surprise, and later in the video, I will also talk about why So What is not on the list.

#1 Autumn Leaves

Probably one of the most well-known Jazz standards, and even though the old Berklee Realbook has it in Em, then the most common one in Jazz is G minor.

A little fun trivia is that the Miles Davis “riff” is actually also a part of the original arrangement with that clear m6 sound.

Lesson on Autumn Leaves as a Chord Melody: Easy Chord Melody on Autumn Leaves

What do you learn?

When you are working on Autumn Leaves then you are working on the two main cadences, the major tonic and the minor tonic cadences (highlight in sheet music). It is also a great place to explore how to play tonic minor since you really have the melodic minor sound in both the melody and the arrangement with the Gm6 riff.

#2 Blue Bossa

Another famous and simple song that is often among the first 3 tunes that you learn is Blue Bossa. Mainly because it is a short 16-bar form and has really basic harmony in the key of C minor only taking a short detour to Db major, which you could describe as a cadence for the Neapolitan subdominant, even though the melody maybe suggests otherwise.

Learn Blue Bossa: Blue Bossa Getting Started Soloing

Famous Versions

There are quite a few famous versions of this song to check out beyond the original recording by Joe Henderson. Especially George Benson and Pat Martino’s interpretations are worth checking out!

#3 Bernie’s Tune

I think this is maybe the least known tune in this list. It was actually difficult to find songs that are in a minor key and also not too difficult, but this song is really pretty simple and covers some basic chords in the key that you want to master, especially the tonic minor and the tritone substitute of the V of V. The chords are also lasting a little longer so you have a bit of space to develop your vocabulary and really get into those melodic minor sounds and how beautiful they are.

The melody of this song is also based on a great swinging riff using 3/4 on top of 4/4. Lots of stuff to learn from this one.

Lesson on Bernie’s Tune: Getting Started With Melodic Minor on a Jazz Standard

#4 Softly As In A Morning Sunrise

This is in a way a minor version of Rhythm Changes, mainly because the A-parts are built around a minor turnaround, which is of course the most important progression in the key. It is usually played in the key of C minor.

There are many fantastic versions of this song, both Jim Hall and Emily Remler are important Jazz guitar versions to check out. Emily Remler also includes a beautiful reharmonization of the melody going away from the minor turnaround, but still going back to the usual progression later in the solo.

The bridge is a short trip to the relative major: Eb and then with a few diminished chords back to Cm.

Lesson on Emily Remlers Solo: Emily Remler on Softly as in a morning sunrise

#5 Minor Blues

The Minor blues is really the re-invention of the 12 bar blues of the Hardbop era. The most famous examples are probably Coltrane’s Mr. PC and Equinox, but of course, there are other great examples out there. Mr. PC and Equinox are great examples of the extreme range of tempos that you play blues in with one being very fast and the other very slow.

While the minor blues is a great progression to check out how to use different minor sounds, so really dig into melodic minor or Dorian and it is also a great exercise in playing the most common variation to the minor II V which uses a tritone substitution for the V of V instead of the II chord

Minor Blues Lesson: Using Minor Blues to learn Melodic Minor

Similar to Bernie’s tune this is a great progression to explore tonic melodic minor, Lydian dominants, and altered dominants (high light or call out)

#6 Summertime

Gershwin’s Summertime is a beautiful song that is actually a bit modal in the sound. It is a great example of a short-form song that still manages to get around the tonic, subdominant, dominant and relative major. It is also a good vehicle for other meters like Jonathan Kreisberg’s amazing 5/4 version of the song, also an awesome example of dynamic solo guitar performance.

And what many people don’t realize is that Wes Montgomery’s song Four on Six is in fact written on this chord progression with some common reharmonizations.

Lesson on Wes’ Four on Six: How To Make Simple Sound Amazing – Wes Montgommery

#7 Solar

In a way this is a Parker Blues version of the minor blues. It is actually also a Bebop composition written by Chuck Wayne and then later stolen by Miles Davis, who we all know as the composer, and even has a bit of the melody on his tombstone.

Solar is a great song to study because it has a melody that is quite clearly using tonic minor and also a lot of typical bebop movement with a long series of “how high the moon II V I” meaning that the tonic chord becomes a m7 to become the II in a II V going down a whole-step.

The famous recordings of this song would probably be Pat Metheny trio and Brad Mehldau trio both are amazing! A great composition on these changes is Jerry Bergonzi’s On Again Off Again with some interesting shifting melodic minor scales by Mick Goodrick in his solo. He also recorded it with John Abercrombie on a later album.

Chord solo lesson on Solar: Easy Chord Solo Exercise

Honorable Mentions

As I already said, most Jazz standards are in minor, and I actually asked a few colleagues about suggestions for this list and didn’t really get something that I thought was easy and famous enough. Maybe it was because they were both bass players?

Some of the songs that are very common, and in a minor key that is maybe not precisely easy would be Alone Together, Beautiful Love, Angel Eyes and You Don’t know what love is. They are all worth checking out because even if they are not exactly what I consider easy

Alone Together

Beautiful Love

Angel Eyes

You Don’t Know What Love Is.

Please let me know if you have other suggestions for easy songs in a minor key! It is always great to have suggestions for songs!

Why No “So What”?

So why isn’t So What on the list? I get the question “what about So What” very often on my 10 easy standards video, and I understand why that would seem to fit both there and also here, it is a song with very few chords for a jazz song. But to me, it is more logical to have a list of songs where studying one will help the other, and So What is a completely different type of sound and song than these. In fact, it is not really in a traditional key. There are no cadences or really moving harmony, so in that way, it is something else.

That does not mean that it is not a good song, that I don’t like it or that it won’t be useful to study, but, to me, it is something else and not anymore related to these songs than it is to How High The Moon.

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The Best Triad Exercises – How To Get The Essentials Right

Working on triad exercises is a great way to get more things you can play in your solos, but is also a great way to build your overview of the fretboard and open up how you move from one position to the next in a solo.

In this lesson, I am going to show you 5 triad exercises that were very useful for me and that will develop your playing, fretboard overview, and your technique.

#1 Diatonic Triads – Most Important Triad Exercise

Whatever you want to learn or get better at in Music, a good strategy is to also keep in mind what context you will use it in, and somehow include that in the exercise. It is never really enough to just be able to play something, there is always more going on. To link the triads to scales, positions and inversion then I am going to cover some horizontal, vertical, and diagonal connections that are very useful.

Diatonic Triads

The first place I would suggest that you start working on triads is to practice the diatonic triads in whatever scale positions you are used to.

This is a great way to start seeing those patterns within the scale, and you can use the triad as a part of a lick and easily connect it to other things like 7th chord arpeggios and scale runs.

With knowing these then it is of course also really useful to know what triads you are playing so that you know

  • The Diatonic Harmony of the Scale
  • What Triads are available and will work over other chords

This is the most basic way to practice the triads, but once you work on this I would recommend that you try to also explore the inversions.

Creating Inversions of the triads

Creating inversions of a triad is fairly simple. You have one root position and then 2 inversions. You can create the inversions by moving up the lowest note an octave.

So C major root position: C E G, move up the C one octave and then play from E, G, C  once more now the G is the lowest note: G C E

Taking this through the scale and keeping track of the triad is a great exercise and sounds like this:

Diatonic 1st inversion triads

Another great thing to explore is to play the notes in a pattern to get a different melody out of the triads already when they are technical exercises. This pattern which goes 3rd, root, 5th is a solid melody in solos as well, plus it is easy to play.

Diatonic Triads in 315

Technique For Diatonic Triads

When you are playing these exercises then you can use several techniques. It is not really important and depends more on how you play. I would start with alternate picking, but in the end, adding in economy and legato is a good idea, just make sure to listen to how it sounds, your choices can change the dynamics in the triads and maybe accent something that you don’t want to.

#2 Diatonic Triads Along The Neck

Let’s look at moving up and down the neck to start bridging the gap between positions

Diatonic Triads of C major on the A,D and G string set

Again you want to be aware of the chords you play, and also check out the other string sets like the next on D,G and B

Diatonic Triads of C major on the G,D and B string set

And with these, you can also work on the inversion of course. Here are the 2nd inversion triads along the neck on the top string set:

2nd Inversion Diatonic Triads of C major on the top string set

A Fantastic Alternate Picking Exercise

Working on these one-note-per-string triads is a great way to become more precise and efficient for your right hand when it comes to alternate picking. It is the type of thing that you will see in exercises by Steve Morse and also have jaw-dropping examples of in Bluegrass.

You can of course also work on different economy picking strategies, but maybe that is something for another lesson (once you have practiced your alternate picking a bit more)

#3 Inversions Along The Neck

The next level for your fretboard overview is to start working on inversions of a single chord along the neck. One way to do that could be on a single string set:

C major inversions on A,D, and G string set

And of course, you can do this on other string sets as well.

C major inversions on D, G and B string set

This is great to develop your fretboard knowledge and really know the triads. A good mental exercise is to play the triad inversions and then see the scale around it for each inversion, really linking up the triad and the scale.

#4 Turning Inversions into Vertical Triads

The inversions are a great way to play the triads as flexible groups of notes around the neck, but you can also turn them into a gateway to seeing entire positions of the triad by linking inversions from string set to string set (play inversions horizontally to show the gradually reveal the triad position)

This way of looking at a triad position is useful because it is not just a large block that you run through without thinking. Something that is often an issue with scale and arpeggio positions.

You can make the connection as chords or play them as an inversion exercise

An exercise like this is really about linking all the information so that you have an easier time remembering and using it in solos. Now you have linked the triads across the neck both in a vertical and horizontal way, let’s add a diagonal approach as well.

#5 Repeating Cell-Shapes

If you look at the way the first root position C major triad looked at the beginning of the lesson;

then that is a pattern that is taking up two strings, and the way the guitar works, a pattern like this is easy to move across the fretboard by moving it up an octave and playing the exact same pattern.

And this works for any type of triad and its inversions

EXAMPLE 2nd inversion triad cell

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The 3 Bebop Licks You Need To Know

Obviously, you are not going to learn to play Bebop by just studying 3 licks, but if you want to add that sound to your playing and mix in some bebop in your solos then this is not a bad place to start. And you want to make sure that you know these if you want to play Jazz.

Bebop – Learning The Language

Having the right vocabulary for a style of music is really what determines whether you can play that music or not, and I clearly remember when I was starting out playing Jazz. I transcribed solos, practiced scales and arpeggios, and then I tried to improvise jazz solos

And I quickly became aware that even though I knew the changes and the song then my solos did not really sound like Jazz. They were just a lot of the right notes.

What helped me, and what will probably also help you is learning licks and also start to make your own licks with the same type of melodies, so studying licks is not just learning them, it is learning how to write certain types of melodies. That is what learning vocabulary is really about.

#1 Triplet Arpeggios

This first one, you probably heard me mention before, and it is really the closest thing I know to instant bebop: Playing arpeggios as triplets with a leading note.

And this way of playing arpeggios is a part of so many classic bebop licks like this Parker line:

And it works for other chords as well:

It is a great way to add a little variation to an 8th note line, and the faster notes really adds some energy or excitement to your solo.

 

The way you, of course, practice this is to play this pattern through the scale as diatonic arpeggios and then start writing licks with them, and there are so many things you can work on:

You can combine two arpeggios:

Here I am using Em7 and Cmaj7 over the Cmaj7 chord, both solid choices for that chord.

Another option is to follow a triplet arpeggio with some chromatic leading notes:

Small Building blocks, not massive licks

As you can tell, I am presenting these licks as building blocks, and that is really because that is how they will be most useful to you and help you develop your own language. As I mentioned in the intro, my experience is that making your own licks and getting those to sound like bebop is one of the best ways to learn to play bebop, and also pretty much how Barry Harris teaches it. I will return to this a little later in the video and also explain why I don’t like Bebop scales.

#2 Honeysuckle Rose

This lick is called honeysuckle rose because it is the main motif in the Fats Waller song Honeysuckle Rose, but it is also an extremely common way to play arpeggios in Bebop, and it is one of the most melodic ways to add large intervals to your 8th note lines which can stop your solos from sounding very very boring.

This is really just a way to play an inversion of an arpeggio, it is also called octave-displacement. You start on the root and then play the arpeggio, but after the root, you move everything down an octave which gives you a beautiful skip from the root down to the 3rd and a natural way back up through the arpeggio.

Parker, Grant Green, and George Benson do this all the time in their solos. (examples?)

And you can make so many great lines with this melody as well by adding some simple scale melodies

Or some chromatic enclosures:

In fact, the topic of octave displacement is maybe worth an entire video? Let me know in the comments if you are interested in a video on that.

Bebop is a form of composition

The most important goal with studying this or any Jazz stuff, is to be melodic, to play strong Bebop lines that really flow and avoid having strange fragments next to each other that don’t make any sense.

As you can tell, I think you will learn more about making strong bebop lines by practicing to compose lines, and that is simply because composing lines is like improvising them, except you can go back and figure out how to make the line sound even better.

In that way, you are really working on building your vocabulary of strong lines and you are also practicing putting them together in the perfect way.

By working on constructing lines and you are giving your imagination and ears time to really listen to the sound of what you are practicing and you are making sure that you can fit the different pieces together in lines with it suddenly changing because you are skipping and playing something that does not sound melodic.

#3 David Baker Lick

This phrase is probably most famous from David Baker’s books on Bebop and a symbol of people studying bebop, but it is of course also a common and useful phrase to have in your vocabulary.

This is a phrase for a V or a II chord, so I have decided to write it out as a G7 lick, not on Cmaj7.

This lick is a construction of some chromaticism and a nice interval skip that sounds very melodic. The first part is moving from the G to the F with a Gb inbetween and then it skips up to an A and down a 4th to end with E and D.

This lick is a great building block both on the G7 and on the Dm7. If you use it on the Dm7 then you get something like this:

The line starts with an Fmaj7 arpeggio, the arpeggio from the 3rd of Dm7, and then a scale run with a leading note from the Dm into the G7 and then essentially just playing the lick and adding an E that then naturally sounds like a resolution to Cmaj7.

It also works really well on the Dm7.

The first part is just the David Baker lick, followed by an enclosure to take us to the 3rd of G7. Here I play the entire Bø arpeggio and run down the scale using a chromatic passing note to resolve smoothly to the 3rd of Cmaj7.

Why I don’t Like Bebop Scales

I often get asked to make lessons on Bebop scales, and while I don’t think anybody died from checking out some Bebop scales, I do think that the way people are asked to practice and use them is really just helping them play very predictable step-wise lines that are also very boring, and to me, that is the opposite of what I think is great about Bebop and everything you don’t want to learn.

You want to learn to play great surprising lines with melodic twists and turns and practicing to play chord tones on the beat and leading notes on off beats is not what that is about. I still suspect that there was more money made with Bebop scales than there were with Bebop.

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How To Make 4 Chord Vamps That Sound Great

Whether you need chord progressions for your own song or an intro for a song you are learning, you want to be able to come up with chord progressions that sound great, natural, and are not too boring, and messing around with harmony to make beautiful chord progressions is one of the most fun and creative things to do in music.

That is what I am going to talk about in this lesson.

Creating 4-chord Vamps with Subdominant Chords

The chords are supposed to loop, so we can start by choosing two chords and then fill in more chords between them.

For most of this video, I will focus on progressions going from a I or tonic chord, to a IV or subdominant chord.

Mostly because there is more variation possible and they are a little overlooked. Then we can take the basic 2-chord vamps and look at different ways to add chords and get more movement.

So let’s first check out these 2-chord options that already sound great and then turn some of those into more complicated vamps. Already here you might get some good ideas, but you can go a lot further.

#1 Cmaj7 Fm6 – IVm

#2 Cmaj7 Bb7 – bVII backdoor dominant

#3 Cmaj7 Dbmaj7 – bII Neapolitan Subdominant

#4 Cmaj7 Abmaj7 – bVImaj7

#5 Cmaj7 F#dim/C #IVdim

#6 Cmaj7 Ab7 – #IV double diminished – German Augmented 6th chord

 

 

These already sound great, so the next thing is to add a little more movement to them to make them more like a story in different phases.

Making More Interesting Chord Progressions

The trick to creating these progressions is to get them to make sense by adding chords that move in a logical way. I am not using any exact science or strict rules, so you can use any type of system that sounds natural to you. Most of the time you will see me add chords based on common progressions like a standard I VI II V turnaround, step-wise movement or moving in 4ths.

Diatonic Chords

When I am making the chord progressions I keep in mind this is in the key of C major, so I am in general pulling from C major and C minor, which gives me these diatonic chords to use:

Cmaj7 Dm7 Em7 Fmaj7 G7 Am7 Bø

Cm7 Dø Ebmaj7 Fm7 Gm7 Abmaj7 Bb7

CmMaj7 Dø Ebmaj7(#5) Fm7 G7 Abmaj7 Bdim

CmMaj7 Dm7 Ebmaj7(#5) F7 G7 Aø Bø

And besides that you can add secondary dominants everywhere you want, so if you have a Dm7 you can add an A7(b9) to lead to it, but also an Eb7 before an Abmaj7 (the bVI in minor).

You can check out more about secondary in the video I am linking in the description.

Turnaround with some step-wise surprises

#1 Cmaj7 Fm6 → Cmaj7 Am7 G7sus4 Fm6

Going to Am7 is coming out of a standard turnaround, and from there it is step-wise movement. You might want to notice that G7sus4 is F/G Which makes it very close to F Fm, so IV to IVm in C but with a different bass note. That is really just helping it make sense on another level.

Backdoor dominant and a secondary dominant

#2 Cmaj7 Bb7 →Cmaj7 C7/E Fm7 Bb7

With a dominant chord, you can often add a II chord in front of it to make it a II V. In this case with the Fm7, that also gives you the option of having a secondary dominant which is C7/E.

Another nice way to tie everything together is to have a pedal-point in the harmony, so a note that stays the same through all the chords. In this example, I have a G in the melody of all the chords to get that effect.

bVImaj7 is underrated

#3a Cmaj7 Abmaj7 → Cmaj7 Bb7 Am7 Abmaj7

In this example, I am using step-wise motion to go from Cmaj7 to Abmaj7. You can do this in a few ways, but this one was the nicest with the Bb7.

Instead of using stepwise motion, you can also turn it into a row of secondary dominants like this:

#3b Cmaj7 Abmaj7 → Cmaj7 Bb7 Eb7 Abmaj7

Which is a pretty different sound but certainly works as a progression that moves forward.

Composing With Chord Progressions

Coming up with chord progressions is about composing and improvising with chords so the best way to do this is to just mess around a lot and try to find new ways. There are many ways to get inspiration, but probably one of the strongest is to know and analyze a lot of songs. The advantage here is that if you learn songs you not only know the progression but also really have an idea about how it sounds, and you can always mess around with it.

Another great exercise is to harmonize or re-harmonize melodies to explore what is possible with the chords and how you can use different chords to go from A to B.

 

#IVdim: Neutral and spicy

The #IV is an uncomfortable chord for a lot of people, but it is a really beautiful sound. Here are two examples that work really well and also both use a C pedal point. The second one is a bit out and dark, but also beautiful.

#4a Cmaj7 F#dim/C → Cmaj7 C7 F/C F#dim/C

This is really just a basic C C7 F F#dim “gospel or country” progression with a C in the bass, but it certainly works. A great example of what you learn from checking out songs like St Thomas or Rhythm Changes.

The next one is a bit weird,

#4b Cmaj7 F#dim/C → Cmaj7 Eb7/C Abmaj7/C F#dim/C

Folk inspired Minor Chords (and a double diminished inversion)

The IVm and Vm chords together have a real folk sound which can be really beautiful and it works great here in combination with the Ab7 which has the heaviest name: (Hans Groiner).

You will also see the double diminished #IV chord referred to as the German Augmented Sixth chord.

#5 Cmaj7 Ab7 → Cmaj7 Fm7 Gm7 Ab7

To me calling it a double dim #IV tells me how it sounds, that’s why I use that. I don’t really have any association with that with German augmented chord, but that is most likely just me.

Another reason for using Subdominant chords

The progressions in this video are pretty natural sounding and will loop very well. If you plan to make songs with the same chords looping for a longer period of time, then it makes sense to not be too specific about the key. Being vague becomes a way to make it not too predictable. This is actually something you can see in a lot of pop music where you even have long discussions and articles about the key of pieces.

Using the subdominant chords makes these progressions less “predictable” and clear than a standard V I. Similar to the effect you have in Radiohead’s Creep, which is almost example 1. Another way to keep it a little more vague is to play fewer notes, so sticking to triads can be useful too.

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3 Things That Make You Sound Better Comping A Jazz Blues

When comping sounds great then it is actually not because of the chords you are playing. It is more about all the other things that you do with them that makes it work. Things like rhythm, chord movement, and melodies. This video will l help you get started developing your comping so that you don’t get stuck just playing chords and wondering why it doesn’t really work.

#1 The Easy Guitar Trick for Chords

One of the main things that you need to include in anything you play is tension and release. That is the way you make things interesting to listen to and keep people listening.

In this case, this is something that you can add to your comping in a very easy way on guitar, and it sounds both natural and pretty hip. But

 

at the beginning of this example, I am just using the basic 3rd and 7th voicings on the chord but as you can see this works just as well with chords with more extensions.

The principle is really simple; you create tension by moving the chord up or down a half step and then resolve the tension by moving back.

And this works great for the 3rd and 7th shells but is equally useful for larger chord voicings.

Let’s have a look at how you can use tension and release in a different way to make things flow a lot better

Comping in a band

One of the things that I learned a lot from with comping was focusing on being together with the drummer, so really trying to play clear ideas and react to what was happening especially on the snare so that it really becomes like a single instrument backing up the soloist! Of course, this doesn’t really work with a backing track as I use in this video.

#2 Give It Direction and Energy

One of the things that I love about Bebop is how the solo lines flow through the changes and are always moving towards the next chord.

And this is actually built into the harmony, so the chord progressions are really pushing forward which is not always what we focus on when playing the chords.

But it is really useful to always think ahead and try to work on ways to move to the next chord. There are 3 things you can use to get that forward motion.

In the first bar, I am using a melody that is ending clearly on the Eb7 which is helping things to move along.

The next two bars are setting up a rhythm and then in bar 4 playing the 3& really creates tension that wants to resolve on the next downbeat which pulls us to the Eb7

Bar 6 is first a bit of movement with the Edim chord and then a chromatic passing chord on beat 4 that resolves back into Bb7 and in that way adds energy and tension.

So I am using:

  • Melody
  • Rhythm
  • Chromatic Passing Chords

to create a comp that is moving forward, and working on these things with the forward motion in mind can help you get that into your playing.

#3 The Most Important Rhythm To Learn

Jazz is about rhythm, and If you think about it you probably already know that the rhythms that are important are the syncopated rhythms, the off-beats.

One way of really using this in your comping is to work on playing anticipated chords, something often associated with Red Garland, the piano player in the 1st Miles Davis Quintet

Practicing to use this in your comping is something you can do by only focusing on that by setting a metronome to 2&4 and play a vamp, like this:

And once you are familiar with this exercise then you can start to work on using it on the Blues like this

Rhythm is probably the strongest ingredient in comping, or in Jazz in general, and this last exercise is also the one that will improve your comping the most.

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Jazz Beginner Mistakes – How To Learn Scales

When I started playing Jazz then I came from improvising mostly with the pentatonic scale, playing phrases, and licks in the scale without really worrying about what I was playing and especially what notes.

Once I got interested in Jazz, in fact, mostly in Charlie Parker solos, then I realized that I needed to use 7 note scales, and that was a lot more tricky to get to sound right and especially to get to sound like great jazz lines

Just practicing the scale, up and down doesn’t teach you how to do that and there is a much better way to practice the scales, one that helps you learn to play Jazz faster and sound in the right way.

Which Scales Do You Need?

First, you need to figure out which scales you need.

Playing Jazz is associated with scales, and often also with a lot of scales with a lot of fancy names. But when you start then you are better off not drowning yourself in different scales, simply because it is more work to learn to use a scale than to learn to play it. Just start with the major scale, and if you are new to major scales then start in a single position

You can add to it later and knowing the scale well in one position will help you learn the others as well. Starting with 5 or 7 positions in one go and trying to be able to play and improvise in them all is not as efficient in the beginning, and you might get overwhelmed and lose the overview, and getting an overview is why you practice scales in the first place.

If you practice in the way that I outline later in this video, then learning other scales and being able to use them will become a lot easier because you can leverage what you already know.

CAGED, 3NPS, Berklee doesn’t matter

A discussion that sometimes appears at this point is what type of scale system should I use, and there are quite a few, CAGED, 3NPS, and Berklee being the big 3. This can sometimes lead to heated discussions, but In the end, it doesn’t matter too much, do what feels more natural to you, you can even change along the way.

Basic Exercises

How do you start? The first thing is to practice the scale, for example, this position of C major:

Try to play it slowly, evenly with alternate picking. Connect the notes, because otherwise, you are going to sound choppy when you have to play faster

Be aware of the notes you play, so first the root

You can even practice the scale while saying the notes you are playing.

The first technical exercise that you should do in the scale beyond playing it is to play it in 3rds.

Scale in 3rds

The reason for this is that when you play Jazz then you are using the notes of the chord, and chords are built in 3rds so you are preparing yourself for learning the diatonic arpeggios, triads, and 7th chords that are found in the scale.

What Do You Need To Play Jazz

What do you need to play jazz phrases? If you look at this fairly typical jazz lick

Jazz Lick – chromaticism arpeggio

Then you can see that it uses a 7th chord arpeggio, Cmaj7, and some chromaticism mixed in with scale notes.

Beyond practicing the scale itself then the things you want to practice are the things you need in your solo. Arpeggios seem like a very useful candidate, to begin with.

The Arpeggios Are In The Scales

When I was first taught arpeggios the I was told to practice them as separate positions. In that way, learn them as independent things, not connecting them to scales or anything else.

A few years later, when I was in a Barry Harris masterclass in the Hague, I learned from Barry Harris that I should know how to play the diatonic arpeggios of the scales, and he talked about how to use them.

If you practice the arpeggios like that you get something like this:

Diatonic Arpeggios

If you know how to play this exercise then you have material that you can use on a lot of chords that you come across in C major, and you see the arpeggios together with the other notes that you have available when you solo. It is already connected to the rest of the material you can use.

II V I lick with diatonic arpeggios

For me, this was really a gamechanger, when you connect the arpeggio to the scale like this it is much easier to play the arpeggio with an extra scale note and also to see how the notes move from one chord to the next, which makes it a lot easier to make strong lines that outline the chords. But there is a lot more you can get out of it, as you will see later in the video. (highlight voice-leading in a lick, overlay lick while talking)

Another thing that is worth noting is that most of the time when you come across arpeggios in Jazz solos, then they are one-octave arpeggios in the middle of a line or even with scale notes in between, so practicing them like this is much more efficient and closer to how you use them in Jazz. As you can see in this transcription (Parker solo transcription?)

How To Practice and Use Them

You can practice the arpeggios from each note in the scale like this (example 4) and again you want to play them cleanly, equal in volume, not too fast, and connecting the notes as much as possible. Another way of practicing them that is useful is to practice up one and down the next

This is actually a bit easier because you don’t have the large interval skip from one arpeggio to the next. In general, you want to practice different things to build flexibility and work towards being free when you improvise, so coming up with variations is something that will help you with that.

If you start thinking of the scales and the exercises like this, then you want to find out what you want to use in a solo and then practice that in your scales so that you learn all the useful variations building a vocabulary you can use in solos.

From Arpeggios to Lines

There are many ways that you can use these arpeggios, to get started it makes sense to just play the arpeggios on a chord progression

Example 7 (no backing)

To turn this into something you can use in a solo then you can use the notes around the arpeggios and add some nice rhythms as well.

For the Dm7, this is the arpeggio:

And you can turn that into a more interesting line by adding the E in between the first two notes:

In this way you can start to work on making lines like this:

Here I am using the Dm7 phrase, a triplet on the G7, and also adding an A to the Cmaj7 arpeggio.

The Mighty Triad

Another obvious one is to also check out the diatonic triads which as you will see we can easily connect to the chords and also are great for creating super-strong lines.

Going over the triads in the scale gives you an exercise like this:

And finding triads to use with a chord is very easy:

If you look at a Dm7 then that is D F A C

Here we already have two triads: Dm: D F A and F major F A C.

For the G7: G B D F – G B D and B diminished and Cmaj7: C major and Em

And using these to make lines could sound like this:

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The Most Important Melodic Minor Modes In One Song

Melodic minor is a beautiful and important sound in Jazz which you want to have in your vocabulary, but it can be a little difficult to internalize the melodic minor modes and really hear melodies with them so that you can use it in your solos.

In this video, I am going to show you a song that is pretty easy to learn that will teach you the 3 most important sounds you need melodic minor for. Don’t forget that practicing to use the scale in real music is the best way to make it a part of your playing

The Song

The song that I am talking about is the standard Bernie’s Tune, a basic AABA song, usually in Dm and with a bridge that is in Bb major. It is most famous from the recordings of Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, but it was written by the jazz pianist Bernie Miller.

The song is not that difficult and the theme is a great swinging melody using 3/4 phrases over the 4/4 meter.

 

Analyzing The Song

Analyzing The Song is pretty easy. In fact, it is really just a minor version of a very common song, but I will return to that later.

The song is in Dm (tonic chords) and it has a II V cadences to Dm at the end of the A-part. The Bb7 is a tritone substitute of E7 so that is a sub for the dominant of the dominant. The chord has an E in the melody so this is very clearly a Lydian dominant.

The bridge is just a few turnarounds in Bb major and a II V back to Dm.

Let’s have a look at where you can put melodic minor to use!

Tonic Minor – The Richest Minor Sound

The m6 and mMaj7 chords are used for the tonic minor sound. This is probably the best place to start when learning to use the melodic minor.

Since this is the sound of the root of the scale then it is easier to hear and get into your playing.

In this case for Dm, we have

D E F G A B C# D

And the diatonic arpeggios in the scale would be:

DmMaj7 Em7 Fmaj7(#5) G7 A7 Bø C#ø

For this chord then you can get a lot out of the basic diatonic arpeggios which is a little more tricky with the other sounds.

The arpeggios you can use would: DmMaj7, Fmaj7(#5), and Bø where Bø is, of course, the same note set as Dm6:

Bø: B D F A -> Dm6: D F A B

DmMaj7 could sound something like:

Fmaj7(#5) is the diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of D, this sounds like>

and The Bø you could put to use like this:

Lydian Dominant

The next chord in the song is a Bb7 which here works as a tritone substitute for the dominant of the dominant, so Bb7 as a substitute for E7, the dominant of A7. And this chord is what makes it a minor version of a famous song in major, but I will get to that in a bit.

The scale that goes with this chord is F melodic minor, and there are some diatonic arpeggios that work well:

FmMaj7 Gm7 Abmaj7(#5) Bb7 C7 Dø Eø FmMaj7

Here the obvious options would be Bb7 and Dø

Bb7:

Dø:

They both sound great, but the arpeggio nails the Bb7 without really getting the #11 in there, and you can construct other arpeggios that really nail the sound of the chord with the #11 as well and there is a really easy way to do that.

Creating Arpeggios That Nail The Lydian Dominant Sound

This is pretty simple because all you need to do is to take the Bb7 arpeggio(play) and then replace the F with an E, which gives you a Bb7(b5) arpeggio

Bb7: Bb D F Ab → Bb D E Ab = Bb7(b5)

And for the Dø the same thing works, but now you get an arpeggio that is not really related to D and is more likely an E7(#5) arpeggio

Dø: D F Ab C → D E Ab C = E Ab C D = E7(#5)

With these you can make lines like this:

Bb7(b5) 

E7(#5):

 

Where to use Lydian Dominants

Lydian Dominants are mostly used to dominant chords that don’t really resolve. There are a few places where the use is maybe more habit than anything else.

Tritone substitutes: Bb7 A7 Dm7

Backdoor dominants: Fmaj7 Bb7 Cmaj7

V of V in major: Bb7 Bbm7 Eb7 Abmaj7

The Altered Dominant

The Altered Chord is the final sound melodic minor sound that fits the song. This can be used on the A7, and A7 altered is Bb melodic minor:

Bb C C# Eb F G A Bb, here it is written out with a C# instead of a Db because we are using it on an A7 chord.

The diatonic chords:

BbmMaj7 Cm7 C#maj7(#5) Eb7 F7 Gø Aø BbmMaj7

Here the two main arpeggios that gives you the sound of the chord (C# and G) and some alterations are

Gø which gives you 3rd, b9, 7th and b13 :

Eb7 which is b5 7th b9 3rd:

The Gø is a little easier to use and sounds a little less harsh because it has the b13 (F) rather than the b5: Eb

Does It Really Fit?

With the Tonic minor and the Lydian Dominant, there are quite a few standards that clearly use those sounds, but that is less clear with the Altered dominant. In most songs, the sound on the dominant of a minor key is coming from the harmonic minor scale. This is also the case with Bernie’s tune which has an A7 arpeggio. The A7 arpeggio has an E which is a note that is not in the altered scale.

The altered dominant is really more of a reharmonization.

The Jazz Guitar Roadmap

My online course is a series of lessons set up so that you start at the beginning and work towards playing solos and making lines.

✅ An organized approach for practicing and learning Jazz Guitar

✅ How to get you started playing solos that sound like Jazz

✅ What you need and how you start coming up with Jazz lines

But don’t take my word for it:

“This is by far the best  Course out there for anyone wanting to get into Jazz Guitar and overwhelmed by the amount of study material available. Jens Larsen has a way of providing you with what you need at the level you are at and you will be amazed at how much improvement you will see both in your playing and understanding of Jazz Guitar and associated Jazz vocabulary.

Thanks, Jens and I look forward to a follow up course if possible!”
– Ger Leahy

Get an invitation to check it out here: http://bit.ly/JazzGtRm

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Jazz Blues – You Need To Know Triads!

If you had any doubt, why Triads are amazing in your solos then you just check out this video and see how strong melodies you can create and how many options you have when you solo on a jazz blues. Trust me, you will never regret practicing diatonic triads and inversions.

A triad is easy to learn and great for melodies, just listen to Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik or Metallica’s One.

We can practice many things, but the great thing about triads is that they make very solid melodies so you can easily use them and sound great in a lot of places, as you will hear in this video.

The Solo – Triads only

Let’s first check out how a solo chorus only using triads sound and then I will show you what triads go where and how to find them for different chords.

When you only play super-imposed triads it often sounds quite modern, but of course, Charlie Parker and Wes used triads as well, so it is also a part of more traditional bop vocabulary

F7 and Bb7 – The Magic of Diatonic Triads

The first phrase on the F7 is an A diminished triad. When it comes to choosing triads then the easiest way to search is to look at the scale in thirds.

F7 is the dominant in Bb major, so if you have that scale in thirds:

Bb D F A C Eb G Bb

The F7 is arpeggio is then:  Bb D F A C Eb G A Bb

And the top part of that is A diminished A C Eb

In this way, we can filter out possible candidates by choosing triads that have common notes with F7.

Bb major doesn’t work, but Dm, is good, F and Adim are part of the arpeggio, and Cm is also a fine option, as you will see later. You can get away with Eb major as well because the Eb is a strong note on F7.

Dm, F, Adim, Cm, Eb

The same process on Bb7: Bb7 is the dominant in Eb major

Eb G Bb D F Ab C Eb

Gives us:

Gm, Bb, Ddim, Fm, Ab.

Here I am using Bb major on the Bb7.

The next bar uses a Cm triad on F7, which fits with what I already showed you.

Now that it is clear what is available on the regular dominants then let’s have a look at the Altered dominant and later the dominants from the diminished scale.

Next, we have an F7 altered which for many is a difficult chord to solo over, but Triads can actually work as a type of Shortcut.

Thoughts on Practicing Triads

The most important way to practice triads is to learn them in the scales you use, so working on diatonic triads is extremely useful, and if you want to take it to the next level then playing the inversions through scales is also a great exercise.

Altered Dominant Triads

F7 altered is the same as Gb melodic minor. Soloing over an altered dominant can be tricky, but as you can see here the triads help you make stronger melodies that still really connect to the chord.

The theory is a little bit less clear, but still not rocket science:

The Scale in 3rds: Gb A Db F Ab Cb Eb Gb (I am writing A because it is an F7 chord)

The Gbm triad is b9, 3, b13

A augmented triad: A Db F works as well

Db is not that strong without an A, it almost sounds like an Fm chord and a little close to the Bb7.

F dim is not that strong, we really miss the A and the Eb.

Abm has the Eb so that works.

Cb or B major works really well, that is the triad of the tritone sub B7

Ebdim is an F7b9 so that works as well

So we have: Gbm, Aaug, Abm, Cb, Edim

This is a bit context-sensitive so you can probably get other triads to work as well, but for now, I am going for the “easy” choices that sound fairly obvious.

The Altered Shortcut

The line in the solo is using Cb and Gbm triads to create a very logical melody. And in general, that is something you can use with the altered dominant: The triads resolve up and down in half steps:

F7alt: Bb7: Gbm Fm

Aaug Bb:

Abm Gm:

Cb B:

Ebdim Ddim:

And you could make similar lists for resolving to other chords like Bbmaj7 or Bbm6.

Diminished Chords and Some Great Triad Options

The Bdim in bar 6 has a lot of triad options.

The arpeggio itself has 4 diminished triads: B D F Ab

Which gives us B D F, D F Ab , F Ab B, Ab D F

The scale I would use here is C harmonic minor, and a great triad in that to use would be the G major triad, which is what I use here.

The G triad is used to lead back to the Adim on the F7.

Minor II V I trick

The Aø D7alt is the minor II V to the Gm7, the II chord.

A great really simple way to make lines on this progression with triads is to use the same triad, first in major and then in minor.

That is what I am doing here: On the Aø you see the major triad from the b5: Eb major, and on the D7alt that becomes an Ebm triad, which fits because D7 altered is Eb melodic minor.

Let’s have a look at being symmetric without sounding symmetric with the diminished scale.

Dominant With Diminished Scale

On the C7, I am using one of the best ways to play melodic lines over a dominant using the diminished scale: Making melodies with the 4 major triads.

For the C7 that gives us C, Eb, Gb and A major.

In this case, I am using A and Gb major to really bring across the C7(13b9) and C7(b5).

When you improvise with these triads then it is easy to not sound symmetric: Don’t play symmetrical melodies, which is how I approach this line playing different melodies and inversions with the triads.

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