Tag Archives: Jens Larsen

Rootless Jazz Chords – This Is What You Want To Know

If you are getting into some of the rich sounding Jazz chords on the guitar and want to use that in your playing then one thing that can really add a lot more life and color to your chord playing is to start using rootless Jazz chords.

Playing Rootless Jazz chords in your chord melody, comping and chord soloing will give you 10x as many options and also really start to free you from thinking static grips and more work with playing progressions that flow into one another.

And it is pretty simple to get into…

Basic Example with Chords Already You Know

You probably already know these chords:

Making these chord voicings that you already know into rootless voicings is really simple:

Now you are probably asking what is the big deal? They are a little bit easier to play but for the rest it doesn’t really matter.

Advantages to Rootless Voicings

There are two advantages to using rootless voicings:

1 If you are in a band then you want to stay out of the way of the bass player, and constantly having the root in that register is often clashing with the bass player which is not so nice for you or the bass player.

2 You have a lot more freedom to improvise with the notes when you don’t have to play the root. I am going to give you a lot of examples of this in the video, but if we take the example from above then you could start working on changing the top note of the chords and get some really great sounding chord movements That’s what I am going to cover next.

Making Easy variations to the chords

In this example I am using other melody notes from the scale that are easy to add to the chord. The examples are all practical and pretty easy to play

But there is one note that is added in there which is the b9 which acts as a chromatic leading note in the G7 to the 5th of Cmaj7. This is another way to understand alterations on dominants.

And you can go a lot further than this by adding notes on the top string as well, which is now a lot easier:

And with this you can also start to make movement inside the chord and make the different voices move independently. That’s the next thing to explore

Voices not chord grips

Let’s try this with another set of chords that you probably already know:

This can be turned into this set of rootless voicings:

And a basic variation of this could be something like this:

Notice how I am again using a b13 as a chromatic leading note to go from E down to D on the Cmaj7.

Another thing to notice is that I am only playing the chord once and then moving the melody on top while the other notes are sustaining, this gives it more of a polyphonic or even orchestral sound.

And you can expand on this quite easily adding more movement in the voices, especially G7:

Chromatic inner-voices

The next thing to start experimenting with is adding chromatic movement in some of the lower voices not just moving the melody.

Here I am adding the melody C A# to lead to the B on G7 and a great chromatic movement from B to Bb to A moving the maj7th to the maj6th

Get a solid foundation in Rootless Jazz chords

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This Is How To Play The Chords When You Want To Learn The Song

We have a huge advantage as guitarists: We can play the chords of a song and hear how the harmony sounds. When you play a jazz standard that you want to learn then you want to keep Jazz Chords easy. There is no reason to make it harder than it is so building a strong foundation and really checking out how the basic harmony in moves and sounds is very important.

In this video, I am going to show you how to play voicings like that, and also give you some suggestions for how you can take this to the next level by adding a basic chord melody, extensions and colors, or playing walking bass and chords.

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Content:

0:00 Intro

0:41 What is a Shell-Voicing

1:58 How to Practice the Jazz Chords

3:02 Shell-Voicings on a Jazz Standard

4:59 Adding More Notes and Extensions

6:06 Chord Melody with Shell-voicings

7:25 Walking Bass and chords

8:18 Like the video?

Get Your Chord Skills Up a Few Levels

How To Make Jazz Blues Licks – The Best Ingredients

You know what a blues lick is and you are making your own jazz licks. But, there is also this great mix of the two: Jazz Blues, with bluesy licks for Jazz songs or sophisticated licks for a Blues solo. That is what this Jazz Blues Lesson is going to show you.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the things that you can add to your playing to get a great mix of these two sounds.

So I am going to cover some really effective phrasing and Melody tricks that are actually really easy to use and you probably already know but just never thought about, and this can really add a completely new dimension to your playing. When it comes to blues but also when it comes to playing on Jazz Standards where this also sound great.

Really this is about getting the notes and the melodies to sound bluesy.

Two Scales and a Chord

In this video, I am going to use a Bb7 chord and these two scales to mix Jazz and Blues

The Mighty (but short) Grace notes

A great phrasing technique for getting a blues sound in Jazz is using grace notes. In Jazz, that is the way we simulate string bends. When Jazz was invented then the guitars had thick strings, and little sustain especially because of the amps. There fore actually bending strings was not that effective and pretty hard.

An example of a lick with this could be this:

When you use grace notes as a a way of getting Jazz blues phrasing then usually the emphasis is on the chord tones, so an exercise like this one can be useful:

Another more blues sounding phrase with sliding grace notes could be something like this:

Blues Scale and Jazz Arpeggios

The grace notes work with any material you use, but you can also work with mixing the two different scale sounds. The example below starts with a “Jazz” approach using a Dø arpeggio, and then transitions into using the blues scale to end the phrase.

This example starts with the blues-scale and ends with arpeggio notes:


Good triplet rhythm & simple blues scale chord tone ending with a nice interval skip at the end and that is the next thing to talk about.

Bluesy Intervals!

Both regular Blues and Jazz Blues vocabulary are based on using shorter phrases and both have a similar way of using larger intervals in the lines.

The example here below is similar to the way you will find Wes Montgomery or Kenny Burrell might use larger intervals.

In this case the 3rd and the 7th of the chord.

ne of my biggest influences when it comes to blues was Stevie Ray Vaughan and I was always fascinated with how he used large intervals in his playing so well. In fact Wes Montgomery does as well.

Double stops –

The next concept is also one of my favorites from SRV but I am going to apply it more in a Jazz way similar to what Wes and Kenny Burrell do.

Pedal points like you hear in the example above are often chord tones, but Wes also used other notes in his solos (like No blues)

Another example of how you can use an interval as an easy chord to use for chord soloing. This is an example of a lot of double stops and also how you can use some chromaticism with them.

Really Digging into Jazz Blues

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Jazz Phrasing Techniques – How To Get A Better Jazz Flow

Jazz is a musical language, we talk about learning vocabulary and learning phrasing all the time. But I do see a lot of students only
practicing what notes to play and really missing out on how to learn to phrase so it sounds like jazz.

So let’s say that you can make a line like this one:

It sounds good, but it sounds a lot better if you play it like this:

That’s what I want to talk about in this lesson!

Listen for the phrasing and the techniques used

First I am going to give you some examples of the different techniques you can use and then I am going to go over how you can start using it in your own playing for arpeggios, jazz blues and making scale runs much more interesting.

In a way this is a video on legato technique, but it is really more about how you use it make better lines.

How does it make it sound better?

In the example below I am using a slide to move from the chromatic leading note to the root. This brings out the more interesting chromatic note that “doesn’t fit” and it makes the resolution more subtle.

At the end of the 1st bar you can see a 3 note grouping starting on G. The pull-off gives the G an accent which sits well in the groove. The next phrase is the same phrase that is move down a half step and executed in the same way. This shifts the 3-note group but also ties together the line across the two chords.

The trill on beat 3 of the 2nd bar is also a way to add movement in the 8th note line.

More rhythm, more phrasing!

The example here below uses some of the same techniques but is a lot less dense.

The G# leading note is sliding up to the A, again using the concept of bringing out the “interesting” chromatic note and not the resolution. This is also what happens at the end of the line going to G.

The pull-off in the triplet is here more functioning as a way to make the melody more playable.

How do you get this into your own playing

For you to start working with this type of phrasing and techniques you should start looking at the lines you make and spot how you can add to the phrasing.

Example 4a here below is a really basic Gm7:

This can be embellished with a leading note as shown in 4b which makes it sound a lot better:

Adding Dynamics to spice it up

Legato is a great way to add some dynamics and make a lick less monotonous.

Try playing this line:

Instead of playing this by picking each note and make it pretty even you can add a lot of life to it and get it to sound a lot better:

A key ingredient of Jazz Blues

Using grace notes and slides are really what makes Blues work in Jazz lines. Try to listen to these two ways of playing the same melody, first with and then with out the embellishing phrasing:

And without:

Leading notes to arpeggios

A great and easy way to add some interesting phrasing is to use leading notes. This works especially well with arpeggios as shown in the example below, where I am adding an F# in front of the Gm7 arpeggio.

Keep it practical

If you want to practice this then you could explore exercises like this one. Notice how I am using slides in some places and hammer-ons in others. It really just depends on what is easier to use in each case.

Making your scale runs more fun to play

Scale runs can quickly become boring. In this section you have two licks with scale runs and I will shouw you how to make add some more movement with simple embellishments.

Example 7 has a scale run in the 1st half of the bar. This is turned into a triplet rhythm with a slide and hammer on/pull-off. What really helps here is also that the direction now changes within the run so it is less predictable.

Example 8a and 8b use a similar approach for the first part of the bar. Here the scale run also introduces a larger interval from D up to the G on beat 3.

Build your own phrasing!

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Jazz Chords – 5 Exercises You Need To Know About

Playing Jazz Chords is a huge chunk of what you do when we play Jazz on the guitar. It is what we need for comping, chord melody arrangements and, chord solos.

Learning new chord voicings and especially learning to use new chord voicings can be very difficult and often a lot of time is wasted just playing inversions and exercises when that is not how you would playing the chords if you are playing a piece of music.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:43 The Strategy

1:17 #1 Inversions

2:52 #2 Diatonic Chords

4:57 #3 Turnarounds or Short Basic Progressions

6:35 #4 Composing Comping Melodies -Step-wise melodies and making music

7:58 #5 Making Music With The Chords

8:41 #6 Bonus exercise

9:13 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

Use the Voicings on Jazz Standards!

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How To Listen To Your Solos And Really Learn Something

You are practice playing jazz guitar solos because you want to get better at it, and you probably also discovered that it really helps to record yourself and listen to how the solo sounds because you don’t really have time to listen if you are playing the guitar.

But what do you listen for, and how do you figure out what to improve your jazz guitar skills? In this video, I am going over some of the things you can learn from recording your own solos.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:17 Recording Your Solos – But what to learn from them?

0:52 Get the most out of your practice (also the easy things)

1:18 It is Hard to listen to Your Own Playing

1:49 Ear-training (but not just chords and scales)

2:48 Lost in the Zoom – Don’t only check out details

3:46 What to listen for and work on

4:34 Things for the list of stuff to check out

6:48 Do you record your own solos?

7:14 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page

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The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

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How To Learn Drop 2 Jazz Chords The Right Way

Drop 2 voicings are often made into this mysterious thing that is hard to practice and learn. Something that you have to spend months practicing to get into your playing and be able to use.

That is of course not true and in this video, I am going to show you some of the simple things you can practice, how to remember the chords and how you start using it in your playing.

It is about staying practical!

3 Types of Drop2 voicings

For this lesson I am using the song, Solar known as a Miles Davis Tune but it is actually written by Chuck Wayne.

First I am going to go over some voicings that we need to play the song. It really is just 2 sets of 4 voicings on the top strings and then a dim chord.

Then I am going to use those voicings to play through Solar and embellish the basic comping and show you how you can add to it yourself.

I will talk about why we use some voicings and explain it from a music theory point of view, but also a more visual description that really helps understanding and remembering the voicings.

Basic Set of Drop 2 Voicings

The m6 is a very useful voicing for three types of chords:

First we need a m6 voicing, that will also work as a m7b5 and a dom7 chord:

The m7 chord can be used for m7 but also maj7 chords:

The Voicings would be these:

Putting it to use on a Song

This first example of how to use the drop 2 voicings is using one voicing per chord. Everything is kept simple and I am using the same voicing sets for the II V I’s in F and Eb major.

The II V I in Db is a little different because I want to move closer to where I will play the Dø.

This is about reusing as much as possible and playing music with only a few voicings. That way we have something to build from.

Progessions as building blocks, not chords

It is extremely important to start thinking in progressions more than single chords. If you do that then you can sum up a song in a few blocks where it might be twice or three times as many chords.

That is also what is clear in how I think in II V I progressions and treat them as one thing, more than separate chords.

Adding Melody – Making Music

The next step is to use the same chord voicings but now I am also using different top-note melodies to have some melody and variation in the comping.

From Chords to Musical Statements

The important part of adding more melodies and thinking more like a melody is that it is easier to comp in a way that responds and supports whoever you are playing chords for. Developing this skill is so essential, and it is important to remember that comping should be a piece of music, not just some chords on a groove.

Expanding What You can Play

Now that there are some melodic options and you probably have one voicing in your system then you can start adding voicings by using the surrounding inversions. An example of how that might work is shown below:

Putting Drop2 chords to use

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Jazz Chord Magic On Take The A Train – This Is How To Use Triads

Triads and triad based chords are fantastic jazz voicings! In this lesson, I am going to show you how you can get started with some triad voicings from what you already know and then go over 5 levels of how you can play some great sounding comping ideas using these voicings.

This is something I use all the time myself, and if you check out the Chord solos of Joe Pass he is also using this all the time.

Take The A-Train – Basic set of chords

Let’s start with taking the A-part on Take The A-train and play that with a set of chords that you already know:

Triad-based voicings

If we play these without the root then you have these voicings:

Converting the Jazz voicings and doing great things

I am going to show you two important things about these voicings:

#1 There are more melody options. You can change the top note and give us some options:

#2 All the voicings are triads

Cmaj7 without C is E G B = Em

D7 without D is F# A C = F#dim

Dm7 without D is F A C = F major

G7(b9) without G is (in this voicing) F Ab B = F dim

A7(b9) without A is Gdim = G Bb C#

Top-Note Melodies and Some Jazz Rhythm

First, you should look at the chords and find another melody note for each one. (this is powerful because you can make start making riffs and making things sound a lot more interesting.

Using Inversions of the triads

Since all the voicings are triads then you can also use the inversions of these triads. If you use the inversions as well then you have some options similar to this:

Chromatic melodies & Inner-voice movement

Of course, it is possible to use movement in the other voices, not only the melody. In fact, that is what I am doing on the D7 above.

The example below takes that a bit further.

I am also using some chromatic movement in the melodies most clearly in the top note melodies on the D7 and G7 chords, and in the inner voice melody on the Cmaj7.

Altering the voicings for more modern jazz sounds

And beyond changing the top note you can also experiment with changing notes inside the chord and in that way create some new voicings.

In the example below on the D7, you will see one such voicing. The first voicing on G7 is a similar construction.

How to make music when comping

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

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The Wrong Way To Practice Something New

When you practice Jazz Guitar, then the most fun part of practicing is to work on new things you can add to your playing and enjoy using it while playing music. But often the way you start working on new material actually also stops you from getting it into your playing, and that is what I want to discuss in this video, and of course, give you a few easy ways to fix it.

Other useful articles on Practicing and Learning

This is a Good 10-minute Practice Routine

Avoid Long Practice Plans – This is what you should focus on

Jazz Practice Routine How To Find The Perfect Balance

Content

0:00 Intro

0:30 Setting Yourself up to Fail?

1:20 Using it in a Solo

1:51 The Solo

2:42 Analyzing the solo

5:55 Using it on a Single Chord

6:25 Cmaj7

7:00 Am7

7:50 Bb7(#11) (or E7 altered?)

9:04 Like the Videos? Check out my Patreon page.

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Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

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Freedom on The Fretboard – Great Exercises

Of course, you want to play the guitar and be completely free to find whatever lick or melody wherever you are playing on the neck. That is the goal of knowing the fretboard.

And you need to have a solid overview so that you can use it while you improvising.
In this video, I am going to show you a strategy and some of the best exercises to develop that.

Content

0:00 Intro

0:26 Jazz as a Language and You can use that

1:02 onlyapesappreciateheavymetal

1:45 Charlie Parker Lick 

2:27 Side-note using a Finnish Sentence 

3:24 Exercises you probably already know

3:38 Basic Scale overview

4:22 Adding Harmony

4:46 Really Understanding How To Play Arpeggios

6:08 Moving Around Real Music

8:44 Important point about All Positions and All Options

9:22 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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

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