Tag Archives: practice method

Rhythm exercise on a Jazz Blues

Most students learning jazz are working on the harmony and the scales and trying to hit the right notes. This is of course very important but often you find yourself realizing that you need to develop your rhythms so that you don’t only play endless streams of 8th note lines.

In this lesson I am going to go over one exercise that you can do to help develop more rhythms and quickly get them into your playing.

 

The exercise

If you are trying to learn a new arpeggio or a scale you are not immediately going to try to play it all over the neck in the middle of a tune. You are more likely making smaller goals so that you first learn the arpeggio in one position, maybe only one octave and then later more positions while trying to make lines with it and using it over easy progressions.

The same approach can also be applied to a rhythm. To make it easy to learn we take one rhythm at a time. Learn the rhythm, practice making lines with it over one chord and then try to play with that rhythm through a simple F blues.

The 1st rhythm

The first rhythm, shown in exampe 1 is a really simple 3 note pattern. The first thing you want to try is to just play the rhythm on the guitar. Once that feels comfortable you can expand it so that you start working on making melodies with the rhythm. Start with one chord and take it from there. If you need to slow down or even to stop between phrases that is ok, it is part of the process.

Rhythm exercise on a Jazz Blues ex 1

Once you have the rhythm under control and can easily play it and can make lines over a chord in time with this rhythm you can take it through a progression that you are familiar with.

In example 2 I have written out an improvised chorus over an F blues that I played using the rhythm. You can hear the solo in the video.

Rhythm exercise on a Jazz Blues ex 2

Of course the next step after being able to play through the F blues with this rhythm is to try to open up so that you don’t use the rhythm all the time but still try to use it and get it to sit well in the rest of your melodic ideas.

The 2nd Rhythm

The same of course goes for this second rhythm, so first get comfortable with playing the rhythm and working on making lines over one chord at a time.

Rhythm exercise on a Jazz Blues ex 3

When first taking it through the blues it can be a good idea to play one bar and then take a break to hear the melody that you play in the next bar so that they are somehow related. This is of course not only useful for playing with this exercise but is soemthing you might want to work on in general to get better at playing solos that have a larger context and is not only a bunch of notes strung together over some chords.

In example 4 I have written out the chorus I improvised with this rhythm.

Rhythm exercise on a Jazz Blues ex 4

To demonstrate how you could take the two rhythms and try to use them more loosely in a blues I improvised a chorus where I am using the rhythms but not so strictly, so that they are allowed to melt into the rest of the solo in a natural way.

Rhythm exercise on a Jazz Blues ex 5

In my experience this a very direct and easy way to work on rhythms and also to not only work on an aspect of your playing but also still work on making music at the same time which is why I use this approach with a lot of different topics when I practice and when I teach.

I hope you can use this exercise to develop your rhythms and rhythmical ideas.

If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf here:

Rhythm exercise on a Jazz Blues

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make thme fit what you want to hear.

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Rhythm Changes – Part 1

In this series I am going to start working on some approaches for improvising over Rhythm Changes. In this first lesson we are going to keep it very basic and lay a foundation that can be expanded in later lessons and also help you deal with this many chords in a high tempo.

Rhythm Changes

The rhythm changes progression is infact the chords of the Gerschwin standard “I got rhythm”. SInce the late swing era it has been used as a chord progression that a lot of new melodies have been written on. It has almost the same status as the 12 bar blues as a form and language that one has to master as a Jazz Player.

Rhythm changes is a 32 bar AABA form where each part is 8 bars. The bridge is a chain of dominants leading back to the tonic, and the A part is a series of turnarounds and a short visit to the 4th degree. In this lesson I am only going to work on the A part, and especially show how to deal with the many chords while soloing and still be able to make some music.

You probably know the A part as this progression.

Rhythm Changes - part 1 - ex 1

The Trick

The key to negotiating this many chords in a high tempo is to simplify the progression so that only the essential chord movements remain. In this case that means that I VI becomes just I and II V becomes just V. If you think this you are still playing the basic harmonic movement of the song and you have a bit more space to breathe while doing so.

The reduced progression would look like this.

Rhythm Changes - part 1 - ex 2

As you can see I already added the arpeggios in the example. All arpeggios are in the 6th position which is a good place to start for a Bb rhythm change in terms of having fairly simple arpeggio and scale fingerings.

The idea of simplifying the progression is not new, I have heard this from several teacher one of them being Barry Harris, and if you check out descriptions of Parker you will find examples of him doing exactly that while playing on this type of progression.

To practice the arpeggios and make sure that you really know them in and out, I suggest you try to play them over the progression as I’ve written out in example 2 above here, but also that you work on connecting them in the way I’ve written out in Example 3. The idea is that you startthe 1st arpeggio and when you played a bar of 8th notes you change to the note in the next arpeggio that is the closest to the one you are one now. This way you not only practice the arpeggios, but also how to think ahead and have an overview of how the next arpeggio looks before you play it.

Rhythm Changes - part 1 - ex 3

Adding the rest of the scale

Since the Bbmaj7 and the F7 arpeggios have two common notes (F and A) it is a bit difficult more difficult to improvise clearly through the progression only using the arpeggios, because it is harder to pick a note to play that makes it easy to hear the chord change. In my lesson on soloing over a blues the difference between the chords is bigger and this is a lot easier.

That said it is still worth while to do this and work on it since it is going to develop you ability to make clear melodies in situations like that with diatonic harmony, and most tunes are tonal so this applies to most songs. I give an example of a solo only using arpeggios in the video.

To make this a bit simpler I chose to here alos add the rest of the scale, so that we have seven notes to use instead of just the four notes of the arpeggios.

Since this lesson is on rhythm changes which is a bit more complex progression than a 12 bar blues I assume that you already know the scales and the basic arpeggios, otherwise you can check out and download charts here: Arpeggios and Scale charts

One way to practice the scales on the progression is to play them from root to seventh for each chord, that fits nicely in the bar and makes it easy to turn our simplified progression into a scale exercise. This is by the way an approach that I learned from American Jazz Pianist Barry Harris, you should check him out! His workshops are very good and he is the real deal when it comes to bebop!

Rhythm Changes - part 1 - ex 4

So now that we have some scales and arpeggios to use on our progression we can start looking at some of the lines you can make with that.

A Rhythm changes solo

In the video I play the solo that is written out in example 5. This is an improvistaion on the first 2 A’s in a rhythm changes form. As I explain in the video I had first written an example, but later decided that it would be better and more realistic if I improvised one and transcribed it, which is what I then did, and what you see under this.

Rhythm Changes - part 1 - ex 5

The lines are for the most part using the arpeggios and a few times also using some of the scale notes as diatonic passing notes. For the first 2 bar phrase I am using the motif of a third, on the Bb, the major 3rd and the root and on developing this on the F7 using first the 5th and 3rd and then later the root. The line then continues to use the root and 7th to create some tension that is resolved to the 3rd(D) of Bb on the 4 and.

The same idea of introducing a motif on the Bb and resolving it on the F7 is used in the next two bars, again using Bb and D over the Bb chord and then using the root and 3rd on the F7. The character of the melodies that I make has more of an emphasis on rhythm, which is natural since we don’t have too many extensions or alterations to use.

In bar 5 and 6 the introduction of the Ab on the Bb7 makes it easy to hear that chord, and just making lines with the arpeggio of this chord in this context gives it a nice bluesy flavour. The line on the Ebmaj7 is simply the arpeggio played descending from the root to the 3rd.

The last two bars for the first A are first a Bbmaj7 arpeggio played as a triplet, and on the F7 the line is more C minor like, since we use a G and D along with the C and Eb.

The second A has a melody for the first two bars which is almost a sort of cascading arpeggio idea. First on the Bb from the 5th to the root via the 7th and then on the F from the 5th to the root before it resolves to the low 3rd on the Bb on the 4 and.

I leave out the any further melodies on the Bb and have a syncopated melody on the F7 which also uses a D as a diatonic passing note. The melodic idea here is to se syncopation to develop tension before this is resolved on the Bb7.

THe Bb7 line is a straight arpeggio idea that emphasizes the 3rd(D) and the 7th(Ab), which signals that we are moving to the 4th degree.

The line on the Ebmaj7 is much more scale based and consists of two encircling movements, of first the F and then on the D, delaying the resolution to the D so that it is used to mark the transition to the Bb.

The final line is a riff like melodic idea just thinking Bb, In a real improvisation on a complete chorus I might add more here to lead into the Bridge, but since I don’t have a bridge in this example I mad a sort of ending phrase. If you check out especially Parker themes on rhythm changes they often have a phrase like this at the end of the 2nd and 3rd A part.

I hope that you can use the ideas and exercises from this lesson to get better at playing rhythm changes solos and feel less stressed out by the tempo.

You can of course also download a PDF of the examples and the solo here:

Rhythm Changes – part 1

You can also check out the rhythm changes lesson I made what includes 2 full choruses, 1 using this approach and one chorus using more chords. It’s available here: http://jenslarsen.nl/product/rhythm-changes-solo-etude-1/ 

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make thme fit what you want to hear.

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Turnarounds part 3 – I bIII7 II Valt

The 3rd lesson in my series on turnaround is about how you deal with tritone substitution and altered dominants. I’ll try to give you an idea about what scales and arpeggios to play, and in the Etude I’ll also try to give demonstrate how I use it, notes to aim for and other useful tips.

The Turnaround

The main turnaround that this lesson is about is the first 2 bars of example 1, where the IV is replaced by a  tritonesubstitution: Db7. If you are familiar with my lessons on altered dominants and tritone substitution you will know that the progression is almost identical to the one shown in the next line where I use G7 instead of Db7, the same holds for the F7 which could be replaced by a B7.

Turnarounds part 3 - I bIII7 II Valt ex 1

Let’s first go over the scales: Since the progression as a whole is in the key of Bb we use the Bb major scale on the Bbmaj7 chord and the Cm7 chord.

Turnarounds part 3 - I bIII7 II Valt ex 2

For the Db7: A tritone substitution is approached as an Lydian Dominant, so that would make the root of the chord the 4th degree in a melodic minor scale. That means that we get Ab melodic minor. You should notice that Ab melodic minor is the same as G altered too.Turnarounds part 3 - I bIII7 II Valt ex 3

The same is true for the F7alt: F# melodic minor, and it could be seen as B lydian dominant too.

Turnarounds part 3 - I bIII7 II Valt ex 4

Now that we have scales for all the chords we can chose a few arpeggios for each one. For the Bbmaj7, Db7 and Cm7 chords I am using the arpeggio of the chord it self and an arpeggio that is a diatonic 3rd above or below the root of the chord. This is because that way this arpeggios will have a lot of common notes with the chord and fit it very well.

For the F7 we have the issue that the diatonic chord in the scale is an Fm7b5 which is not that useful or strong on an F7. The way I chose to fix this was to use the diatonic arps of the tritone substitute (B7, the 2nd arpeggio) and the 3rd of B7 (Ebm7b5). Those both contain both 3rd and 7th so that they convey the sound of the F7 really well.

Turnarounds part 3 - I bIII7 II Valt ex 5

The Etude

In my experience you learn more from sitting down and trying to work on writing strong lines than just copying other peoples lines, so you should consider trying to analyze the things that I do in this etude and use them in you own lines. That way you really train your ear and your taste, two very important aspects of improvising.

Turnarounds part 3 - I bIII7 II Valt ex 6

The first turnaround is simply starting with a Bb major triad and the works up the scale to hit the Ab on the Db7. On the Db7 the line consists of an Abm triad which is a good upperstructure for that chord (try playing a Db7(9) chord). On the Cm7 the melody descends down an Ebmaj7 arpeggio and continues down an GbmMaj7 arpeggio on the F7alt.

I often use the “Coltrane” patter in fast moving progressions like this. In the 2nd turnaround the melody on the Bb is an F major Coltrane pattern: F G A C which works very well with a Bbmaj7. On the Db7 it continues with a smal scale run that leads in to the Cm7 arpeggio in inversion over the Cm7. The line on the F7alt is really a sort of F# minor cliche melody that  is a minor version of the Coltrane pattern, relative to F# it is 1,2,b3 and 5. Here it’s played descending.

The Gb of the F7alt resolves nicely to an F on the next Bbmaj chord. The melody continues up a Dm7 arpeggio in inversion. The Db7 line is using a Bmaj7 shell voicing arpeggiated with in a melodic way. The idea on the Cm7 and F7 is connected by using the Coltrane minor pattern on the Cm7 (1,b3,4,5) and then continuing with that idea using the B major Coltrane pattern on the F7. This is a good example how the interchanging between altered dominant and tritone substitute can give you some melodic ideas that you would maybe not otherwise arrive at.

On the last turnaround the Bbmaj7 line is a Dm triad which is followed by an Ab minor triad on the Db7. This time the Ab minor triad is played so that it resolves to the 5th of Cm7. On the Cm7 it is first ascending up an Ebmaj7 arp in inversion and then resolves down an Ebm7b5 on the F7alt and finally ending on the 3rd(D) of Bb.

As always you can download the examples I used as a pdf here:

Turnarounds part 3 – I bIII7 II Valt

I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop2 voicings – Part 2

In this lesson I want to continue with exploring the Drop2 voicings that I introduced in the 1st part: Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings – Part 1. Mainly I want to talk about how you make voicings with extensions and what sort of voicings you end up with.

Adding extensions to chords

Let’s look at how we can add more colors to the voicings we already have and a few tricks that will help you use and expand what you already know.

So far we’ve been concerned with the basic chords so Am7 was simply root, third, fifth and seventh, but as I explained in the first lesson you can use Am9 or Am11 instead of Am7. Instead of making 5 or more note voicings we can use these rules to exapand the sounds:

  • 9th (or b9 or #9) can replace the root
  • 13th, b13th, b5, #5 can replace the 5th
  • 6th can replace the 7th
  • 4th or 2nd can replace the 3rd

This means that if we want to make an Am9 voicing you take the Am7 voicing and change A to B. You might notice that this means that you’ll be playing the notes B C E G which is a Cmaj7, so you can use Maj7 voicings to play minor 9 voicings. If you use the same approach to D7, you have D F# A C and that becomes E F# A C which is F#m7(b5). On Gmaj7 you have G B D F# and get  A B D F# which is Bm7.

These are vocings you already know, but you still need to get used to thinking of them as another type of chord. While playing you don’t have time to think of a voicing as a Bm7 inversion when the chord is a Gmaj7.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 1

To get used to how the chords sound with 9s I have made II V I cadences in all positions:

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 2

You’ll notice that I prefer just using the “category” Chord symbols Am7 even though I am playing the 9th. Think of it as part of the process of not having a one to one combination from chord symbol to voicing, something you probably already had to abandon with several ways to play a C or a G chord.

In example 3 I employ some more of the rules I listed above to make some more common voicings.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 3

One of the ways I’d suggest you work on this is that you experiment with the voicings in a context, so that you can hear what they sound like. Learning inversions up and down the neck out of context is probably not very useful, and often you will not be practicing associating the voicing with the chord you need to use it for.

Example 4 is demonstrating a few variations of how a Gmaj7 chord can be played using Maj7, 9ths and 6th chords.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 4

To give an example of how this works on a song I made a demonstration of it on the first 16 bars of Autumn Leaves. You could go check out how it compares with the exercise in the first lesson.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Drop 2 voicings part 2 ex 5

In the etude you’ll notice that I used mostly 9 chords through out. I did not add a 9 to the Am7b5 because I think the natural 9  does not fit the context here (it is of course possible, but I’d consider it a departure from the song). On the D7 I added a b9 since that is the most natural sound for a dominant resolving to a minor chord. I chose to use Gm6 and Gm6/9 on the tonic minor chords because I think that is a beautiful sound and it is often done in jazz.

I hope you can use the exercises to expand your Drop2 voicing repertoire and come up with some nice new chord voicings for the music you play.

In the 3rd lesson on Drop2 voicings I will talk more about alterations and give some examples of some more modern or advanced sounding harmonic choices.

Check out how I use Drop2 voicings in this 3 chorus transcription/lesson:

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Jazz Chord Essentials – Drop 2 voicings part 2

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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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I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio

This lesson came about from a conversation I had on twitter. I wanted to try to demonstrate how it is more important to be able to use simple arpeggios and other structures than knowing a lot of exotic scales or arpeggios. Because the good a lot of goods melodies can be made with very simple structures. This is why I took one arpeggio and used that in 10 II V I licks.

The Arpeggio

So as I mentioned the point of this is to demonstrate how you can put a fairly basic structure like a Gm7 arpeggio over a Gm7 chord to use and make a lot of melodies without substitutions or exotic scales. What I set out to do was to use this arpeggio in 10 II V I licks in F and not repeat myself. Here’s the arpeggio:

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - the arp

The II V I licks

The first line is trying to show a very basic way of using the root position arpeggio in a line. The Gm7 transitions into the C7 with a chromatic approach of the third of C(E). From there it continues in a melody mae with the Em7b5 arpeggio before it with a chromatic passing note resolves to the 3rd of F(A).

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 1

In the 2nd line the arpeggio is played in a sequence and from the 7th is linked to a descending Dm7 arpeggio. On the C7 I used the altered scale and the line is based around a Bbm7b5 arpeggio with some diatonic passing notes. You can filter out the Bbm7b5 by looking at the notes on the beat. It resolves via the #9 and b9 of C to the 5th of F(C).

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 2

The 3rd example is using a descending Gm7 arpeggio from the 3rd and continues with a Bb major “Coltrane” pattern. The whole line on the Gm7 is contained in the Gm pentatonic scale. On the C7alt chord the line is using the Ebm pentatonic scale and basically repeating the pattern on the Gm7, before resolving to the 5th of F(C).

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 3

Now that we have had both ascending, descending and a sequence of the Gm7 arpeggio the 4th example is using a more freely moving melody with the arpeggio. The line moves from the 5th via the 7th and down to the root. From there it ascends up the sale and continues into a C7alt line that is based on a DbmMaj9 arpeggio. As you probably know Dbm Melodic is the same scale as C7 altered. The altered line is resolved via a smalle scale run with a chromatic passing note, and ends on the 5th(C) of F.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 4

In example 5 a similar melody is made with the Gm arpeggio, this time using it as a Gm7 shell voicing and then down the arpeggio to the 3rd(Bb). From there the melody skips up a major 7th to an A and descends down the scale. On the dominant the line is first two 3rds in the altered scale and then a line around the Dbm triad that resolves to the 5th of F.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 5

Example 6 demonstrates a very common way to use arpeggios in bebop is to place a chromatic leading note before the root and play the arpeggio as an 8th note triplet with the 7th as target. From there the line descends down the scale which somehow resolves the tension of the fast moving triplet. On the dominant the line is build around a sequence of the Gb7 dominant arpeggio that resolves to the 5th(C) of F.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 6

The 7th example is using the basic four note arpeggio descending from 7th to root. This is followed by a Dsus4 triad arpeggio which then moves to a a very clean sounding mixolydian line over the C7, consisting of two scale runs. The line resolves to the 7th(E) of Fmaj7.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 7

In example 8 the Gm7 line emphasizes the Bb major triad for the first part of the bar, but after that it is a descending Gm7 arpeggio ending in an encircling of the 3rd(E) of C7. On the C7 the line is using the diminished scale. First a C7 arpeggio and then an Amajor triad, which together spells out a C7(13b9) sound.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 8

Using an arpeggio is not only just playing the notes of the arpeggio, it can also be a emphasizing those notes within another melody. Example 9 is doing just that where it starts whith a scale run from G to D with the arpeggio notes on beats 1 to 3. The melody on the C7 is made using the triad pair Gb and Ab diatonic to the C7alt scale.This way of using two triads with no common notes to make lines is something I plan to make lessons on in the future. It can   be used quite effectively to make some nice lines. In this example the line is using Ab, Gb and then two notes of an Ab triad before resolving to the 5th of F.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 9

The final example is starting out with a sequence in the higher octave of the arpeggio. After that it is strictly descending from the 5th to the 3rd an octave lower. The line on the C7alt is infact the exact same movement but then with a Gb7 arpeggio, which is the tritone sub of C7. The line resolves to the 5th of Fmaj7.

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio - ex 10

I hope that by demonstrating a few different approaches for making melodies with the Gm7 arpeggio you get some new ideas to expand your own vocabulary. Working on stuff like this is for me often a good way to get some new melodic ideas. I think it’s possible that I get more from lifting concepts like these of a transcription than actually studying the solo that is transcribed.

As always you can download the examples as a PDF here:

How to make 10 II V I licks with a Gm7 arpeggio

I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines – Part 1

In this lesson I’ll discuss a few strategies for adding chords to your solo lines and give you some exercises and ideas to help you practice and figuring out how and when to add chords to your solo lines.

I’ve never really had any lessons on this and have sort of worked it out along the way while improvising so I had to look analyze this and try to remember how I worked on it to try to make some exercises and guidelines for learning this.

Why do we add chords to solos.

  1. To clarify the harmonic sound of a melody note by adding the sound of the chord it’s played over. It gives us the ability to play harmonically vague because we can make the notes sound like the extension of the chord.
  2. Add an extra layer that fills up spaces, so you can use the chords to clarify the harmony between the lines and also convey the groove that is being played under the solo.
  3. Give certain notes an accent within a melody by making them the top note of a chord.

How to practice

In this lesson I’ll be using an Am7 in the key of G major, what is also called A dorian and give you some exercises and ideas to help you practice adding chords and figuring out how and when to add chords to your solo lines.

When I was listening to how I place the chords I realized that for me the chords are mostly  at the end of lines because if they are at the beginning you probably have to mute them right away. If they are at the end of a line they can help reinforce the last note (and maybe the previous melody)

If you get used to knowing where the line you’re playing ends (the target note) then you’ll have an easier time being ready to put a chord under it. I already made a lesson on target notes that you can check out to get better at this.

THe first exercise is a demonstration of how you can put Am7 chords under the notes in A dorian around the 5th position. When you try to play like this you are probably better of not restricting yourself too rigidly to positions. I’ve started with the E on the D string, if you try to harmonize lower notes than that it might get too muddy.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 1

As you can see I us fewer notes the lower the melody this is also to get clear voicings since it can be difficult to get clarity with dense low voicings. The higher the melody is the more notes you can fit under it, but you should of course keep the voicings so easy to play that you can easily add them to the solo, so big stretches and huge voicings are often not too practical.

Another observation I made about my own playing is that I very often add the chord after the line has ended. This is probably for two reasons, it takes away the risk of the melody disappearing in the chord because the top note does not get enough emphasis. The other reason is that if you add the chord afterwards it gives a little more of the feeling that the chords are independent of the melody and therefore more polyhponic.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 2

When you start practicing you should probably just start in rubato and try to add a chord in the way it is done in example 2 at the end of the phrase. Then once that is starting to work try to play lines in a slow tempo and try to always add a chord at the end of the line.

Make sure to record yourself and check that the melody is clear when you start playing chords. The point is to use chords to empasize the solo line, not the other way around (in this lesson anyway…)

Solo Lines with chords

The first example is a fairly straight forward Am7 line. First an Am7 shell voicing as arpeggio and then an Em pentatonic descending scale fragment ending on the 13(F#) that is then harmonized as an Am7(13) chord. Here the chord on the last note makes the somewhat unclear extension clear as n Am7(13) chord and not a D7 or Gmaj7 resolution.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 3

In the 2nd example the chords are used more as accents, so they are there not only there to support the harmonic picture but also to add weight to some of the notes in the melody. The first movement is a scale run from D, via E to B where the first and the last note of the run is harmonized with an Am7(11) and Am9 respectibely. After that the line is resolved with another Am9 chord on the and of 4. This way of harmonizing the low 9 on an Am chord is something I find my self doing quite often.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 4

For the 3rd example I wanted to demonstrate a bit more of how you might add chords in a way that really emphasizes the 2 layes present in the solo. The first bar is quite straight forward. The A is harmonized with an Am triad and followed by a scale run down to the E which is harmonized as a major 3rd interval. In the 2nd bar I am using a part of the 2nd exercise to add chords right after the melody notes and then finally resolve to an Am7(11) chord on the and of 4.

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines - Part 1 - Ex 5

I hope that you can use the exercises and examples I made here to get started with using Adding chords to your solos. As always you will probably learn more from making you own lines than just copying mine, and you probably need to make your own versions of the voicing exercises too so that they fit the type of chords that you are used to working with.

Download a pdf of the examples for later study here:

Adding Chords to Single Note Lines – Part 1

I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

Motif Exercises – F Jazz Blues

Creating melodies that connect and make sense across several chords and scales is a skill that you need to master if you want to be able to make solos that keep the listeners attention and is experineced as musical. In this lesson I am going to have a look at an important tool in achieving this skill: Motifs.

Once you can make your way throught the changes of a tune you are probably going to have to start working making the solo more of a coherent whole, which is a big part of what the listener will experience as a musical solo. Motifs and making variations on motifs is a fundamental tool that keeps the listeners attention by playing something that is recognize and at the same time by making variations is developed and sound surprising. If you want to hear examples of how this is used try to lesson to Beethoven’s 5th symphony, Gary Moore’s Still Got The Blues or practically any Keith Jarret solo.

I’ve chosen to use an F blues as a progression for this lesson because it’s a very common progression where you can harmonically do quite a lot to demonstrate what is needed and how it works.

Moving Motifs in a progression

There are a few ways we can work a motif over a progression. One way to do so is to transpose it so if a motiv start on the 5th of the first chord we’ll transpose it so that it is the 5th of the next chord where we play it. The melodies that we get when doing this are following the harmony in parallel and sometimes it works, but often it does not sound too great.

Another more useful way to move motifs is to keep them as close to the original and only change the notes that need to change to fit the next place in the harmony. This approach will in general sound a little less like an exercise in harmony and create a more varied melody.

The first skill we need to work on is probably to over see the notes of a melodic fragment and then to be able to alter notes to fit on other chords. In example 1 I have done this with a simple F major line. The example is quite simple and sounds a bit exercise like, but is still a good demonstration of how you could move this motif around an F Blues.

Motif Exercises - F Jazz Blues ex 1

As you can see the first 4 bars keeps the motif: First F major, then F minor over the Bb7, back to major and then an F#m as an F7 altered. In the second line it is againg the Fm version over the Bb7 which then gets an added blue note over the Bdim. After that it returns to F7, and becomes an F# dim like line over the D7(b9). On the Gm7 it is in fact the original motif transposed a whole step, and the C7alt is an F# major line. Then back to F and the final C7 line is a variation from the diminished scale.

There are not really any rules, you need to practice doing this so that it fits the chords, so sometimes that means moving the whole motif, sometimes you only change a single note. It is also a matter of taste as to how much it has to sound like the chord or just be a melodic statement of course. In Example 1 I think I managed to really spell out the harmony though.

Developing the motif

Once you can move a motif like this through the changes you probably need to work on ways to vary it so that you can get to the point where you actually create music without sounding like an exercise. There are numerous ways of molding a melodic statement, and maybe later I am going to go into a few more ways in detail. In this lesson I am going to give 3 fairly simple ways to work with it and a few more in the final example.

When you’re working on this it is probably useful to stick with the same chord in the beginning. In Example 2 I have taken the F statement from example 1 and then make variations by changing the 2nd note of the melody. When played one after the other it becomes clear how this will work as a way of creating melodies with this method:

Motif Exercises - F Jazz Blues ex 2

Another way is to change the order of the notes. In example 3 I am changing the ending of the line a few times. The fact that I change the ending works well because now when you listen you first hear a part of the statement that you already know, and then it ends in a new way everytime.
Motif Exercises - F Jazz Blues ex 3

The 3rd way to make variation is to change the rhythm of the original melody. Again a very powerful tool that is a very good way to get surprising melodies out of a single statement. In example 4 I am not really changing the rhythm, only putting the melody on another part of the bar. There are of course a lot of other ways to change the rhythm. There are a few in the last example.

Motif Exercises - F Jazz Blues ex 4

Putting it all together

Now that we talked a bit about how we can move a motif through changes and a few ways to vary the melodies you should be able to make solos not too far from example 5.

Motif Exercises - F Jazz Blues ex 5

The first bar is the original statement from the Example 1 again. In Bar 2 it is moved to the Fm version that fits the Bb7 very well. It is also moved to another part of the bar. The third time is back in F major with another ending. The F7alt motif has a doubled note which also yields a new rhythm. On the Bb7 I added an F as an upbeat and the Bdim version has two notes doubled. The F7 is back to the original and the D7 is again the original altered to fit a G harmonic minor scale (which is what is being used over that D7). On The Gm7 I am doubling the entire motif and playing it twice (crossing the barline into the C7) This moves the placement of the F# line that is used over the C7alt. In the last two I return to the original and use the C7(13b9) version as I do in example 1 (this is afterall a composed example).

I hope you can use the examples and guidelines that I presented here to start using motifs in your own solo and that it will help you get closer to really create new music and not just play what you already know in your solos.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here for later study:

Motif Exercises – F Jazz Blues

If you want to check out an example solo that I wrote with three choruses on an F blues only using the arpeggio notes I have one available for sale in my store: F Jazz Blues Etude 1 – Basic Arpeggios

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Tritone Substitution

Tritone substitution is a good way to add some new ideas to your II V I lines. It is very closely related to using altered dominants, but the fact that you think another chord will also give you some new melodic ideas. In this lesson I’ll try to briefly explain how it works and also what scales and arpeggios to use before I put that to use in some examples.

Tritone Substitution – Scales and Arpeggios

Let’s first look at what a tritone substitution is, in this lesson I’ll do my examples in the key of G major, though it works just as well in minor of course.

The easy way to look at this is to notice that with shell voicings for dominants (see 3rd bar of example 1) you can change the root but keep the rest of the chord, so the 3rd and 7th of a dominant chord are shared between two roots a tritone substitution. In this example that shows that the tritone substitution of D7 is Ab7, and if you play through example 1 you can hear how it will work in the II V I cadence. You will also probably notice that it is not that effective if the dominant does not resolve to a I chord.

Tritone Substitution - ex 1

So now we have a new option for a chord and a way to place it in a tonal context. The next thing we need to look at is which scales we can use when improvising over it. In example 2 I’ve listed first the key of G major and then the Eb Mel minor and Db Major scale. THe G major scale is mostly there for a reference to the key and not for the Ab7 chord. If you’ve checked out my lesson: Melodic Minor – Lydian Dominants You could observe that the Ab7 is a dom 7th chord that does not resolve a 4th up (or 5th down) so in that way it is a lydian dominant and you can use Eb melodic minor over it. That is the 2nd scale in example 2. Another option would be to just observe that Ab7 is the dominant in Db Major and therefore we can use that scale over it. This is the 3rd scale in example 2.

Tritone Substitution - ex 2

Now we have the scales let’s just quickly go over a few arpeggios. In example 3 I basically move up in diatonic 3rds and list the arpeggio for each note, which is the first way you should look for arpeggios over a chord in any scale, then you need to evaluate each note and try to deal with avoid notes as landing notes when you use the arpeggios. In the example I have only used the Eb Mel min scale, but if you want to do the same.

Tritone Substitution - ex 3

 Example lines with Tritone Substitutions

The first example line is a fairly basic line just to show what the sound of the Ab7 chord can already do in the line. The Am7 line is an Em7 arpeggio (arpeggio from the 5th of Am) followed by a scale run. On the Ab7 I first play a pattern of the Ab7 arpeggio and then another scale run ending with a chromatic encirclement of the 5th(D) of Gmaj7 where it resolves.

Tritone Substitution - ex 4

In the 2nd example I am using the Ab7 chord as if it is from the Db major scale. Which gives us a Db in the scale which is a bit further away from the G major tonality. On the Am7 chord the line is a melodic sequence of a Cmaj7 arpeggio which sort of changes into an Em pentatonic scale run. On the Ab7 I first play a Ebm7 arpeggio and then run down the scale before resolving to the 3rd (B) of Gmaj7.

Tritone Substitution - ex 5

The 3rd example again using the Eb minor melodic on the Ab7 chord. The line over the Am7 is constructed by first an Em7 shell voicing and then an Am7 triad in 1st inversion. On the Ab7 I first play a pattern of the GbMaj7(#5) arpeggio and then descend through a Cm7b5 arpeggio before resolving to the 5th (D) of Gmaj7.

Tritone Substitution - ex 6

If you want to download the examples for later study I have them here as a PDF:

Tritone Substitution

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

 

 

Minor II V I Cadences

In this lesson I want to give some insight into how I approach soloing over minor cadences. The lesson is built around 4 examples over a II V I in Dm. Em7b5 A7 Dm6/9 and I’ll explain what I use on the different chords and how I use it.

The Cadence

A minor II V I consist of a IIm7b5, a dominant and a minor tonic. In the case of D minor a cadence might look like this:

Minor II V I Cadences - ex 1

For this progression you’d typically play D natural minor or F major over the Em7b5 chord, D harmonic minor, Spanish Dominant (or one of the many other names for this scale) over the A7 and D melodic minor over the Dm6/9.

One of the things that many students find difficult in with the minor II V I in the beginning is probably that you need to change scale for more or less every chord. While there is not really a way around that, I find it helps to focus more on the chord than on the scale and think from that. In that way there are fewer notes to worry about than a complete scale where it is harder to keep the overview.

For the dominant there are more options than D harmonic minor, but that is the most natural in this context so I decided only to use that in this lesson. I have also chosen not to  make a line on the tonic chord. If you want to check out how to construct lines over tonic chords using melodic minor you can read this lesson: Melodic Minor – An Introduction

The scale charts are available as downloads on my site here: Pdf downloads and charts. The D minor harmonic that I am using is mostly this position though:

Minor II V I Cadences - ex 2

Minor II V I lines

Here are the 4 examples of lines to give you an idea of some of the arpeggios and melodic patterns I use when making lines like this. I have in this lesson tried to add a bit more rhythm to the lines instead of straight 8th note stuff. It is probably because I am always busy with harmony and notes that I don’t add too much rhythm to the examples, but I thought it fitted this quite well.

Minor II V I Cadences - ex 3In line no 1 the Em7b5 part is composed of a sequence of the Em7b5 arpeggio. I use arpeggio sequences quite often, mostly not for longer periods, since there isn’t room and also because it gets tedious very very fast, but I find it very useful to practice so that you don’t always just run up and down the arpeggio. I then encircle the 3rd of A. The arpeggio over the A7 is a diminished 7th arpeggio in inversion. In D harmonic minor the diatonic arpeggio on C# (the third of A7) is a C# dim arpeggio and I use that really a lot on dominants (This is probably something I took from Parker btw)  I resolve the arpeggio to the 5th of Dm.

Minor II V I Cadences - ex 4Line 2 begins with the Bbmaj7 arpeggio over the Em7b5. This is an arpeggio I use like that really a lot, since it starts with the b5 it is quite clear in the sound. You might notice that I very often use arpeggios with a leading note and then a triplet. That way of playing arpeggios is also quite Parkerish (as in Charlie Parker) and I recommend doing that with all your diatonic arps once in a while it is good practice and a useful thing to be able to do. On the A7 I am again using the diminished arpeggio this time starting on E and ending the line with a chromatic encircling of the 3rd of Dm.

Minor II V I Cadences - ex 5The third line is using a Gm7 arpeggio in a sequence before going in to the C# diminished and resolving to the 3rd of Dm. The Gm7 is quite good to use on the Em7b5, but often you have to be a bit careful with landing on the F, which does not sound so good if it is emphasized. In the Bbmaj7 arpeggio the F is in the middle of the  arpeggio which somehow makes it easier to use (in my experience anyway..)

The last example is again using the Em7b5 arpeggio but this time in an inversion. On the A7 I am using another good device: the C# augmented triad (diatonically it is actually an F triad, but it sounds like C# to me somehow). I then continue with a typical bebop approach of the 5th of Dm.

Minor II V I Cadences - ex 6

You can download the examples in pdf format here:

Minor II V I Cadences

I hope that you liked the lesson, and can use some of this information to make your own lines on minor II V I progressions.

If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Jazz Chord Essentials – 3 part Quartal Harmony

In this lesson I want to demonstrate how I use quartal harmony when I am playing in both modal and moving harmony. I also want to give some ways to practice these voicings and put them to use in those situations.

 

Quartal Harmony

What is Quartal harmony. The chords that w e use are for the most part derived from stacks of thirds as I described in these lessons: diatonic arpeggios, jazz chord essentials – triads. Quartal harmony is derived from stacks of 4ths giving other note groupings as seen in Example 1.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 part Quartal Harmony Ex 1

 

Since we get different note groups but still want to use them in situations that we define from a stack of thirds (like a Cmaj7 or Dm7) We need to figure out how to apply them.

The voicings and some exercises

The first thing to check out is the voicings themselves. Here is a harmonized major scale on the 2 top sets of strings.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 part Quartal Harmony Ex 2

Once you can play them I suggest you try to play with them over a pedal, so that you have an idea of how each of those voicings sound in a modal context and you can start building up a vocabulary of melodies that you can play. In the beginning you can do this over the basic chords II V and I, but as a pedal so a vamp consisting of a Dm chord, on for G7 and one for Cmaj7, as I demonstrate in the video.

In order to start playing over changes we need to be able to play chords found in the melodic minor scale, so here’s a harmonization of the Ab melodic minor scale, which is also the scale we need to play G7alt:

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 part Quartal Harmony Ex 3

For this scale it is also useful to check out how the voicings sound on a G7alt, Db lydian domininant or AbmMaj7 pedal point.

Examples for chord progressions

I chose to apply the voicings to a II Valt I in C because it it is an easy key and a vert common progression. Here are some examples:

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 part Quartal Harmony Ex 4

 

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 part Quartal Harmony Ex 5

 

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 part Quartal Harmony Ex 6

 

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 part Quartal Harmony Ex 7

 

 

In the video I break down each example a bit more and add some more info on how I made them and how I see them.

As always you can download the examples as a pdf here:

Jazz Chord Essentials – 3 part Quartal Harmony

I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.