Tag Archives: music theory

Diminished Chords – Beautiful Progressions and How To Use Them

The Diminished Chords are often causing a lot of people trouble, and that is a shame because there are so many amazing sounding progressions that use diminished chords and you can make beautiful chord progressions with them as well.

In this video, I am going to show you the two main categories of dim chords and how you can use diminished chords in some great sounding progressions.

It isn’t that difficult there are just a lot of people telling you to think stuff on dim chords that don’t fit with what you hear, and that is probably getting in your way.

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:27 The Two Types of dim chords

01:41 Dominant Diminished

02:16 Common Dominant Diminished Progressions

04:28 Subdominant Diminished

05:20 Resolving Diminished Problems

05:53 Common #IV dim progressions

07:32 Soloing over Diminished Chords

07:40 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

 

 

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How To Practice And Use Music Theory in Jazz

Music theory can help you learn faster and have more options. Here’s how you work on making that a part of your practice and playing!

I think Jazz is almost considered music theory turned into music by a lot of people, and mostly by people who don’t actually play Jazz. That’s, of course, not really true but at the same time it is really useful to learn some Music theory if you want to learn Jazz and it can really help you learn a lot faster and get much more out of the things that you practice and transcribe. But it is also important that you go about it in the right way so that it does not become a weird set of rules that stops you from using your ears.

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https://www.patreon.com/posts/how-to-practice-39959010

Content:

00:00 Intro

00:38 Exercises for time on the bus or on the train or maybe an App?

01:23 Useless Music Theory and Double Diminished #IV chords

02:32 Scales and Diatonic Chords

02:55 Easy in Major?

03:26 Tricky in Harmonic Minor?

04:51 The Other way around: Scales with a D7

06:08 Secondary II V’s for Diatonic Chords

06:32 Basic overview of Major

08:01 Finding them in a Song – “I Should Care”

08:54 Making it Easier to Analyze and hear Progressions

09:32 Transposing Songs

11:30 Connecting Theory to Your Ear

11:53 Transposing The Melody

14:12 Reharmonizing All The Things You Are

15:16 Analyzing solo phrases

 

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The Most Important Solo Tools For a Half Diminished Chord

I think many consider the half-diminished or m7b5 the most difficult chord to improvise over, but it is a very common sound in Jazz Standards so you do need to figure it out. I often people try to choose another scale and run up and down that without making any sense r really having anything to say, which isn’t really a solution either.

In this video, I am going to go over some solid solutions for this chord that can help you play better solos and have an easier time improvising over m7b5 chords and minor II V I’s in general, and they are surprisingly simple.

The m7b5 chord – Construction

Let’s first construct a m7b5 chord and look at how it fits in a minor II V I cadence. Then I will cover some of the things you can use when improvising including 7th chord arpeggios, triads, quartals and pentatonic scales. You can never have too many options when it comes to material to improvise with. I will also talk about why you don’t want to always use the locrian nat 2 scale.

Arpeggios and Scales I will cover:

  • 7th Chord Arpeggios
  • Triads
  • Quartal Arpeggios
  • Pentatonic Scales

This is pretty simple: Here is a Em7 chord: E G B D and the half-diminished or Em7b5 chord will then be: E G Bb D.

The chord symbol we use is either m7b5 or you use the symbol for diminished but then put a line through it to note that it is not a full diminished chord but a half-diminished chord.

This is one of the few places where my Danish heritage is extremely useful  for learning Jazz harmony since the letter ø is a part of the Danish alphabet and on my keyboard, so for once I have an unfair disadvantage!

Diminished vs Half-diminished

The difference between a diminished chord and a half-diminished chord is that the diminished chord has a diminished 7th which is enharmonic to a 6th, the half-diminished has a

So an E diminished would be E G Bb Db

where the half-diminished is E G Bb D

In this lesson, the m7b5 chord is the II chord in a minor II V I like this:


The m7b5 arpeggio

There is nothing wrong with the m7b5 arpeggio, you already know it and you are already using it. It can be a great idea to expand your options so you have a basic arpeggio melody like this:

But  an arpeggio is a bunch of notes that you can play in many ways, and this is certainly something you want to explore. Here is an example  with a little octave displacement like this:

Triad from the 3rd

If you look at an Eø and the notes in there Eø: E G Bb D then you could choose to not use the root and make some lines focusing on the top 3 notes: G Bb D which is a Gm triad.

For your comping the Gm triad might also prove a useful voicing to explore.


Maj7 from b5

On a m7b5 the arpeggio from the b5 is a great option to get the b5 and the 11th in a line. This arpeggio does contain the b9 which is considered an avoid note, but in this case it is hidden inside the arpeggio so you don’t naturally emphasize that note.

 

Magic Arpeggio

The Magic Arpeggio is a an altered version of the previous example, but now the b9 is changed in to the root so that you don’t have that problem.

Normal Bbmaj7: Bb D F A -> Bb D E A – Bb Magic Arpeggio

In the end it is more important that this arpeggio just sounds great I guess:

 

It’s funny how the magic arpeggio is not allowed to be called maj7b5, on my other video on half-diminished chords I had one guy ranting over the term “half-diminished” Which is weird to me because it is a pretty logical name if you know the theory.

Why not always Locrian #2?

Of course, it makes more sense to choose arpeggios and structures so that they don’t contain notes that don’t really sound good with the chord. At the same time, I think that with the m7b5 chords it has become a trend to use Locrian nat 2 because it does not have any avoid notes. There are a few problems with that:

1. You are better off worrying about what to play and find things that sound good, and not spend time on what you shouldn’t play
2. You should choose the scale so that it contains what you think sounds better in the context if that 9th is important then play that, but chances are that is not what you hear in the music.
3. It is not a good strategy to choose a scale so that it has no avoid-notes and you can run up and down it at random. That is not how you make music.

Quartals

If you are coming up short when looking for things to play over a chord then going over the quartal arpeggios in the scale is almost always a great idea.

The quartal arpeggios in the scale would be this on the middle string-set:

 

In this example I am using thequartal arpeggios from

Bb: Bb E A and A: A D G

 

 

Locrian Pentatonic

Another great resource to explore for a chord is finding some pentatonic scales that work. There a few that could work, and especially this one which is essentially a minor pentatonic with a b5:

Em pentatonic: E G A B D E
E Locrian pentatonic: E G A Bb D E

You could play that like this:

 

A line using this scale could be something like this:

 

What you want to notice is that I play the scale using 2 notes per string and then try to exploit that when I search for melodies. In a way that is using the strength of pentatonic scales.

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Diminished Scale – How To Make Beautiful Lines

The Diminished scale is a scale that you have probably heard of and you know that it is a symmetrical scale and most of the time when people talk about using it then you get all these patterns that repeat. But for, the problem was always that melodies with repeating patterns like that don’t sound that great. Some people can make that work, but I always wanted a different sound with strong melodies that were not that predictable.

In this video, I am going to show you how I improvise using the diminished scale and talk a little bit about how I never really practiced the scale but focused on something else.

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Content:

0:00 Intro

0:45 Basic: The Scale and How To Play It

1:07 F dim or G half-whole

1:55 II V I with a Dom7th(13,b9)

2:10 Symmetrical and that is great (and it sucks at the same time)

2:30 Finding Some Triads

3:14 What Colors Do You Get?

4:03 Practicing Melodies in the scale

4:25 Example Lick #1 – Triad Inversions

4:48 Example Lick #2 -G7(b9,#9,#11)

5:05 Triad Pairs – These are not all Triad Pairs

5:37 Improvisation Exercise with the 4 Triads

6:08 Minor Triads

6:43 Lick using Minor Triads

6:50 An Amazing Quartal Arpeggio (and a lick)

7:16 mMaj7 Shell-Voicings

8:01 Melodic Minor and Why It is Awesome!

8:14 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

More Great Concepts for Dominant Chords

The 3 Hidden Arpeggios in Melodic Minor

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How To Analyze Songs – Music Theory and Functional Harmony

Music Theory and Harmonic Analysis can be great tools when you want to learn jazz and figure out how to improvise over a chord progression. These videos help you get started understanding how to do that, understanding functional harmony, tonal centers, and the rich harmonic language found in Jazz standards.

The videos will give you examples of how to analyze songs and also how to choose scales from that analysis. You will learn a lot from analyzing the songs that you play.

Remember that it is more important to hear the changes and recognize the sound of the theory as it is to know the name, so working on the songs you already know well will really help you. A fancy name probably won’t.

Analyzing Jazz Standards – Understand what you play!

How To Analyze Chords and Progressions – This video uses the song There Will Never Be Another You as an example and discusses the progressions found in there.

All The Things You Are – Harmonic Analysis – All The Things You Are is a great Jazz standard that we all need to have in our repertoire. In this video I am going to go over a thorough All The Things You Are Harmonic Analysis.

Analyzing a Standard: All Of Me – This song is a great example of IV minor chords and secondary dominants

Analyzing a Standard – Stella By Starlight – Functional Harmony in Jazz – I guess Stella by Starlight is in many ways one of the most mysterious chord progressions among the jazz standards. At the same time, it is so beautiful that everybody just keeps at it until they can play it

General videos on Music Theory and Analysis

Jazz Scales! The 3 You Need to practice and How You apply them to Jazz Chords – Jazz Scales can seem like a million options that you all need to learn in all positions and all chords, but there is a way to approach this that is a little easier than trying to learn all jazz scales in all modes. After all the Dorian mode is not as important as the Major or Minor key.

This video has a PDF download of the overview of the analysis – Click Here 

5 Types of Chord Progressions You Need To Recognize and Be Able To Play – Harmonic Analysis – In this video, I will go over 5 types of progressions that if you can use to better understand the functional harmony that you find in a jazz standard.

Music Theory Is The Effective Way For You To Learn Faster – If you know you basic Music Theory well then you can easily start to add another level to how you analyze melodies and chord progressions which will help you work more focused and learn faster when you practice.

 

You can also go through the playlistson YouTube:

Analyzing a Jazz Standard – Harmonic analysis of Jazz Pieces

 

 

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Harmonic Minor Is Amazing On These 3 Chords

The Harmonic minor scale is a very distinct sound and it is one of the cornerstones in the songs we play. It is also just a beautiful color that you can add to your solos. In this video, I am going to show you how you can apply the harmonic minor scale to some chords and get some great sounds.

I sometimes see people comment that you don’t need the harmonic minor scale, I think this video will clearly show you why you don’t want to miss it.

I am going to apply it to 3 chords, and to have some chords that you can use we need to just check out the diatonic chords in harmonic minor.

A harmonic minor – What we use it for and why

A harmonic minor is: A B C D E F G# A

The diatonic 7th chords of A harmonic minor would be:

AmMaj7 Bø Cmaj7(#5) Dm7 E7 Fmaj7 G#dim

The 3 chords that I am going to focus on are the 3 last diatonic chords: E7, Fmaj7 and G#dim.

Two are extremely common and in a lot of songs and one is a very specific sound that is a great way to change things up a bit and a good introduction to poly chords.

One way to understand Harmonic minor is to see it as a minor scale that Is changed so that we have a dominant chord.

The A natural minor scale has these diatonic chords:

Am7 Bø Cmaj7 Dm7 Em7 Fmaj7 G7

A harmonic minor A B C D E F G# A has these diatonic chords:
AmMaj7 Bø Cmaj7(#5) Dm7 E7 Fmaj7 G#dim

You want to have a dominant chord to really hear that the piece is in A minor. This is the primary function for A harmonic minor

E7 – In Minor and in Major

In this scale we have an E7 with a b9 and a b13:

E G#B D F A C

You get this chord by stacking 3rds in the scale.

This gives us these E7 chords shown below. Of those three the E7(b9,11) is not that nice, but the E7(b9,b13) is a great description of how the dominant sounds.

And some of the arpeggios that work well for this chord would be:

Using E7 from harmonic minor

You can use the E7 in a minor II V I like this:

But it also works great in a major cadence as a surprising sound that quickly resolves back to the tonic:

G#dim – More than just A minor progressions

If you look at the A harmonic minor scale and the key of A minor then the G#dim is a dominant chord that wants to resolve to the tonic

Notice that I don’t use harmonic minor on the tonic chord, I am using melodic minor which is a more common tonic minor sound.

The “difficult” dim chord

But in Jazz we mostly come across subdominant diminished chords, and here the harmonic minor scale is also very useful. Mostly the diminished chord is then written as an Abdim chord like this in F major:

Am7 Abdim Gm7 C7 Fmaj7

The way you arrive at the A harmonic minor scale here is by altering the F major scale:

F major: F G A Bb C D E F

And if you want to fit the dim chord in there then we need an Ab(or G#) and a B:

F G# A B C D E F = A harmonic minor

An example of a line sounds like this:

Fmaj7(#9,#11) – Harmonic Minor Poly Chord

This chord is not very common, in fact I don’t think it is in any Jazz Standards I know. It is however a great different sound that you can use to play something surprising in a solo. Monk used this chord in Round Midnight and Wayne Shorter uses it in Speak No Evil.

This chord is in fact the diatonic chord on F in the scale:

A harmonic minor: A B C D E F G# A

Fmaj7(#9,#11) : F A C E G# B

You could look at this as being an E major triad over an F major triad.

The way you usually play this chord on guitar is like this where you leave out the 5th of the lower triad:

A line using this sound as a substitute for a tonic F major chord:

Melodic Minor – The Other Cornerstone

Harmonic minor is a cornerstone in tonal harmony and is what you want to use for a lot of essential chords in a key. Another very important and also very beautiful minor sound that sounds really great on especially tonic minor chords is melodic minor. If you want to check out this scale and how to use it then this video will really give you something to work with.

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Maj7 Chords

How To Use Maj7 Chords As Amazing Substitutions

Maj7 chords have a great open yet resolved sound, but even if they sound very much at rest you can easily use them in some very interesting chord substitution concepts.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the great sounding chord progressions you can make using maj7 chords in chord substitution, and later in the video, I am going to show you how changing one note in the voicing gives you a lot more beautiful sounds.

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Content:

0:00 Intro – Maj7 Chords for reharmonization

0:39 Tonal and Chromatic

0:50 bVImaj7 – Borrowing from minor in major

1:41 Using it on a few Jazz Standards

2:47 bIImaj7 – The Neapolitan Subdominant

4:01 Finding a scale for the chord

4:28 How to use it on a few Songs

6:09 Chromatic maj7 chords #1

6:54 Chromatic approach #2 

7:28 Maj7(b5) Chords (and a little disclaimer)

8:58 Maj7(b5) as an Altered dominant

9:48 Maj7(b5) as a Backdoor dominant

10:28 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page

Great Chord Sequences And How To Use Them In A Solo

There is a great way that you can create new lines over a chord progression which is a simple way of changing the chords and outline other chord sequences. This way you get more movement in the lines and another logic to the melody. And checking out a few of those options on basic progressions like a II V I or a static chord can add a lot of variation to your solos.

In this lesson, I am going to show you a few examples of this. Some are staying within the key and others add a few outside sounds, and later I will also show you how this works if you open up the rhythm a bit.

The Basic Chord Progression and Concept

To show you how this works, first we need to set up a key and a II V I to work with.

We have a basic II V I in G major: Am7 D7 Gmaj7 and often if I play these chords then I can also get away with these chords: Am7 Bm7 Cmaj7 D7 (see example 2 below)

Using this progression in a solo

If I do that in a solo in a really basic way then that sounds like this:

You can hear that the comping is just playing the II V I, but it still works and a freer solo line that still sounds like this: could be something like this:

As you can see I am still using the super-imposed chords (short rundown of the arps)

A Modal or Static Variation

You can hear that I am using the direction of the “alternative chord progression” to give the line a specific direction that works great, almost as a counter-point to the comping underneath.

And of course, the same concept used on a static Am7 chord works as well:

More Diatonic Reharmonizations

The previous example was moving up the scale, and there is a very easy way to use the same principle and move down through diatonic chords like this:

The Ab7 is there because it fits in the descending motion, but a D7 would work as well, of course.

Strong Triad lines

A good way to clearly use the descending movement on top of the standard harmony is to use basic triads like this:

Adding Chromatic Passing Chords

There are two obvious ways you can add a chromatic passing chord in this context, namely using a side-slip up or down.

The two examples below shows how that might sound:

And if you translate these into solo lines:

Example 10 using a Bbm7:

And example 11 using Abm7:

More Creative Rhythms and Polyrhythms

Until now the chord progressions have been used as if the chords are placed on the heavy beats of the bar. This is of course what you usually find with chord changes, but when you solo you can be a lot more open and have more fluid barlines.

These 3 examples have a more open approach to the rhythm and also make use of polyrhythms.

A loose Bbm side-slip

Example 12 is a more loose way to quickly insert a Bbm7 line (actually just a Db major triad) and here it almost sounds like an added Eb7 in the context.

The triad is introduced by moving up the preceding C major triad a half step.

Dotted Quarter note arpeggios

The example below uses the Am7 Bm7 Cmaj7 D7alt chord progression, but the melody uses a 3 8th note long melody for each of the chords.

Another great 3 8th-note grouping

Again triads are a fantastic resource to create melodies. This example is using the basic triads of the chords and spelling out the Cmaj7 Bm7 Am7 Ab7 chord progression. The last two beats are covered with a quartal arpeggio that is essentially an Ab7(13).

Level up your Jazz Lines with Bop Embellishments

Another great way to add more variation to your jazz vocabulary is to use more interesting phrasing:

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57 Ways To Play a Cmaj7 with a G in the melody

Exploring the Fretboard and the options you have for chords is a great exercise. This video takes one melody note and one chord and I go through 57 maj7 chords and show you how I come up with voicings, how I listen to harmony and think about the chords.

This video is a bit of an experiment, but exercises like this are very very useful for developing your fretboard knowledge, your taste in harmony and your understanding of chords and how they sound.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:46 Three Note Voicings (12)

3:47 The importance of exploring and experimenting in Practice

4:39 Spread Triad (9)

6:15 A Few Thoughts on Range and in which octave you put notes

6:54 Drop2 and Derived Voicings (13)

9:52 Drop3 Voicings(10)

12:10 Drop2&3 (5)

13:29 Drop2&4 Voicings (8)

15:36 Hear Voicings, understand chords better.

16:16 Weird Messiaen voicing

16:35 How you work with this and what you learn

16:59 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page.

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Triads – How To Use This Powerful Tool In Your Jazz Solos

Every arpeggio is a melody and Triads is a great very strong melodic building block you can use in your Jazz solos. In this lesson, I will show you:

You will learn how to:

  • Find Triads for Chords
  • Exercises to play them
  • How to use them as Odd-Note groupings, strong melodies and outside material

Let’s first look at how to find triads and then what to practice and how to use them going from diatonic to a little outside stuff as well.

The examples of lines using the triads are all on a static or modal Dm7.

Finding Triads – Analyzing Chords For Solo Material


This is really simple if you know a little theory. You only need to know the notes in the chords and the scale they are found diatonic to.

The basic way to look at this: II V I in C major – Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

The scale: is C major: C D E F G A B C

Dm7: D F A C

G7: G B D F

Cmaj7: C E G B

For each chord we can find a triad from the root, so Dm for Dm7 and from the 3rd of the chord. For the Dm7 that is F A C which spells out an F major triad.

By adding extensions and looking at the available triads you can construct this overview:

The available triads are:

Dm7: Dm, F, Am, C

G7: G, Bdim, Dm, F

Cmaj7: C,Em,G

What Should You Practice – Solid Triad Exercises

Now you can find the triads but you also need to be able to use them in your playing and for that, you need to have them as flexible sets of notes, so basically you want to be able to play triads in as many ways as possible.

You can try out these exercises, don’t focus on speed just on being able to play them in tempo with a good tone and technique, then you can use them in your playing.

Some of the triad exercises I play in the video are:

Diatonic triads

Triad arpeggios in Position

Across the neck (showing F major and G major triads)

Inversions on string sets

3-1-5 Pattern in the scale

Across the neck in a skipping pattern

You can check out more exercises in this Triads Lesson

or this lesson on a Blues Solo with only Triads

Making Lines – Using Triads In Solos

Whether it is Charlie Parker, Pat Metheny or Julian Lage, they all use triads as a part of their solo vocabulary. These 3 examples will give you some different ways to use them in solos.

Odd-note groupings and cascading triads

This lick starts with a chromatic enclosure and from the continues with cascading triads.

In this example, I use the F major, Am, and C major triads as 3-note groupings. The melody works because I am stacking the triads in 3rds to connect them.

Open-Voiced/Spread Triads

The 2nd lick is combining Dm, F major, and C major triads.

Dm in a standard root position followed by the open-voiced F major triad in bar 2, and finally the C major triad in 2nd inversion played in a pattern.

Outside Chromatic Triads

Another interesting way to use triads on a static chord is to use them as chromatic structures and approaches, similar to how you would use chromatic passing chords

In the example below you have the melody moving from Dm triad to Db major to C major triads.

An example of this in a Kurt Rosenwinkel solo on All or Nothing At All is shown below:

Kurt plays this at the beginning of his solo off the East Coast Love Affair album.

An equally powerful solo tool on Lady Bird

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