Jazz is often made more complicated than it needs to be. And whether you are setting out on a journey to explore Jazz guitar or just want a different sound to use in your solos, you can get incredible sounding Jazz licks with some very basic Bebop building blocks.
In this video, I am going to show you how to use 2 ingredients to create some great sound Jazz licks, as you will see, a process you can apply to pretty much any song or chord.
Most Important Bebop Ingredients
Voiceover Illustration of extras example 1 maybe with screen capture of writing it? play the line, then play the line slowly with chords on the chord change
A huge part of what makes a Jazz solo sound like Jazz is that the solo follows the chords and in that way spell out the different colors of what is going on in the harmony.
Like this line:
And with the chords, you hear how it connects
The simple way of following the harmony is just to use the arpeggios of the chords that you solo over so that what you play in your solo matches what is being played in the chords.
So the first ingredient is an arpeggio, like this Cmaj7 arpeggio:
Another important part of especially the Bebop sound is using chromatic phrases like:
And already combining arpeggios with chromatic phrases like these, you can quite easily make some very solid Jazz lines!
Let’s start with the Cmaj7:
A simple place to start is to play it as a triplet and add a leading note before the arpeggio. You can add more dense and complicated chromatic phrases which will give you some pretty advanced sounding lines, but that will come later in the video. This simple version is actually Bebop gold:
As you can tell, this already starts to sound like Bebop and it is something you can move around to pretty much any chord or arpeggio that you can think of, not only 7th chords, it also sounds beautiful on a for instance a m7(9) like this:
Right now, you are only using a single chromatic leading note before the arpeggio, so let’s add some more chromaticism by at the end of the arpeggio. For the Cmaj7 this gives you a lick that is a favorite of Charlie Parker and that I am pretty sure George Benson transcribed from him because he plays it all the time as well.
Really all that is happening here is that the arpeggio is followed by a chromatic phrase connecting the 7th to the 5th, which is just going down the scale and adding some leading notes.
Let’s look at how you can make this a bit longer with a chromatic enclosure
Getting More Serious
This example is using an Am7 arpeggio, and the melody leading into it is a short enclosure.
The formula for this first enclosure is diatonic above, chromatic below, so the target note is A and the note above that in the scale is a B. The chromatic note below is a G# This is a very useful way to create some chromatic movement and still have melodies that sound natural and make sense.
For an Am7 arpeggio that would give you this exercise:
At the end of the lick, you also have a chromatic enclosure like this.
The Arpeggio runs up to the 7th and from there moves down in half-steps to F which is then a part of an enclosure of the 5th of Am.
But you can do even more with some of the longer chromatic phrases like this:
“Real” Chromatic Enclosures
Adding a more extensive chromatic phrase like this is a great way to lead into the arpeggio and it makes the line more surprising and moving before really connecting to the chord, which is really what we use chromatic phrases for small bits of outside melody. In this example, the lick with a short enclosure around the 5th, before the last note, the 3rd, on the 1&
You can also use chromatic phrases like this on the high note of the arpeggio and that can give you some other great effects in the licks:
This example adds a leading note before the arpeggio and then tags it with a more extensive chromatic phrase to the last note. The way this is done then it adds a nice large 5th interval skip to the line.
Until now the chromatic phrases are before or after the phrase, but of course, you can also add them inside the arpeggio which will make the line be less obvious but still give it a natural flow.
Open Up The Arpeggio
This example is built around the Am7 arpeggio using leading notes for the root, and a short enclosure for the 3rd and the 5th.
But you can also get great sounds with longer chromatic phrases:
Now the next thing you can explore is to also use inversions of the arpeggios and get a completely new set of melodies:
Turning It Upside Down
Here you have an inversion of G7:
the lick is built around this descending G7 1st inversion:
First a leading note for the 7th and then a short enclosure of the 3rd before it skips up to the root.
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