Tag Archives: scale exercises

3 Scale exercises You Need To Know And Use

Any scale exercise is a melody. When you practice scale exercises you are practicing playing a lot of similar melodies that you want to have in your ears and in your fingers so you can use them when you improvise Jazz Solos. In Jazz, Scale exercises are a part of building vocabulary.

This video covers some great melodic structures that you can practice as scale exercises and add to your vocabulary. I find that them extremely useful and you will also hear them being used in a lot of especially more modern jazz solos by people ranging from Michael Brecker via Peter Bernstein to Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:32 Practice the things you need when You solo

0:50 Modern Jazz that’s 60 years old.

1:03 #1 Sus4 Triads

1:25 The Sound Of Rosenwinkel, Brecker and Mark Turner

1:32 Example Lick with Sus4 triads

1:49 Exercises

2:41 String-set Practice

3:34 #2 Quartal Arpeggios – Modal Jazz Sounds

3:52 Chords with Quartal Structures

4:08 Kurt’s solo on I’ll Remember April

4:34 3-Part Quartal Voicings and Sus Triads

5:12 Exercises with Quartal Arpeggios

5:58 Example Lick with Quartal Arpeggios – Chromatic Shifting

6:25 #3 Shell-Voicings – Mike Moreno and Pat Metheny

7:21 Exercises for Shell-voicings

8:15 Applying Shell-voicings

8:37 Example with Shell-voicings

8:41 Bonus: From Shells to open upper-structure triads

9:18 Spreat Triad Example

9:21 Arpeggios = Melodies

9:52 Like the video? Check out My Patreon Page 

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This Is How You Should Use Scale Exercises

If you want to play jazz and want to learn how to play jazz solos then you are probably also practicing scales and working on scale exercises.

In this lesson, I am going to go over a few scale exercises that you probably already know or at least should check out and then I am going to talk about how to connect them to chords and really use them to make music.

It is very important that you don’t just work on moving your fingers with exercises, you should always try to practice the things you need when you are playing.

Getting Started – Basic Scale Exercises

So first I am going to go over a few exercises and then I am going to relate this to a little simple music theory and show you how you can turn that into something you can make music with.

Let’s look at some of the fundamental things you check out in a scale, just playing the scale and playing thirds.

Lets take a Cmaj7 chord and this C major scale.

You want to play these two exercises because they are going to help you develop the technique to play the things that you can use in lines. Of course, you can use both 3rd intervals and scale runs in solos, but that is something I will save for another lesson.

The Mighty Triad – Powerful Melodic Structures

For most of this lesson, I am going to focus on how to practice and use triads because they are both flexible and powerful tools in soloing. But the process is really the same for all sorts of arpeggios.

There are a few great ways to practice triad arpeggios in the scales. First here is a basic version: play Diatonic Triads

But you can also give it more of a jazz sound already at the exercise level by adding leading notes both ascending

and descending:

Now we can start working on making some really great sounding licks with these exercises, but first, we need to figure out which triads will work over a Cmaj7.

Music Theory (just a little..)

Now, we have 7 triads in the scale. They don’t all sound that great on the chord, so first we need to find some that work.

The only note that sounds funny on the Cmaj7 is an F. I don’t like calling it an avoid note, but if we are looking for triads then that is not the greatest one to use.

We have all these triads: C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim,

C: C E G
Dm: D F A
Em: E G B
F: F A C
G: G B D
Am: A C E
Bdim: B D F

If we remove the triads that contain an F then we get these 4 triads C, Em, G, Am

These fit!

C: C E G (1, 3, 5)
Em: E G B (3, 5, 7)
G: G B D (5, 7, 9)
Am: A C E (13(6), 1, 3)

Now we can start making lines with these exercises and then I will show you another exercise that is great for creating solid melodies

Making Lines with the triads

The first example is using an Em triad and adding a leading note to the 5th:

Another way to work with the Em triad is to play the triad as a triplet to change up the rhythm:

You can also chain together triads as I am doing here with G major and Em triads:

Another Great Exercise

Since the triads work so well in licks it is also possible to change the order of the notes. Until now it was always 1 3 5 or 5 3 1 but if you practice other patterns you can really get some great melodies as well.

Here is a simple pattern that starts on the third: 3 1 5 pattern example

If I make some licks with this pattern then you get something like this:

Arpeggios and Pentatonics!

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The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

You probably already practice arpeggios, but chances are you can do it as a better Scale exercise than what you are doing now, and that is what I want to talk about in this video. Jazz Scale Exercises should be about giving you the material you can use in your solos and help you know and play the different arpeggios and melodies found in the scale.

When you improvise in Jazz then the lines or melodies that you play are related to the chords you are playing over and the solo follows the chord progression it is played over. One easy way to do this is to use the arpeggios of each chord.

You can use the arpeggio of the chord you are playing over, but in fact, there are more options than this and the exercise in this lesson will help you tie all of that together in one exercise.

Practicing Arpeggios in the Scale

The reason why it makes a lot of sense to practice diatonic arpeggios in a scale position is quite simple.

When you improvise a solo you are not only playing scales and then only arpeggios. The jazz lines you are making are a mix of the two. Therefore it is essential to have the arpeggios placed in a scale as notes that are important, and the rest are available.

Here is a C major scale in the 8th position

Playing the diatonic one-octave arpeggios through this scale position would give you this exercise:

Know the Scale!

Often when you learn Guitar in the beginning you rely mostly on the visual aspect of the instrument. Scales, Chords and Arpeggios are shapes that you can see on the fretboard.

This works really well for learning and remembering, but make sure that you also know what notes you are playing and what notes are in those chords and arpeggios. It will become very useful along the way.

For the exercises here above, it is a very good idea if you also play them while saying the notes or saying the names of the chord that you are arpeggiating. This will teach you the fretboard and the music theory on another level and also really attach it to what you play.

Using the arpeggios in your solos

It is not enough to just practice the scale exercise and then hope that your solos will suddenly magically include the arpeggios.

To show you how you can make some basic licks mixing scales and arpeggios here are a few ideas using a Cmaj7 arpeggio and chord.

The first one starts with the Cmaj arpeggio and then continues with a scale melody.

In the second example You can see how it is possible to mix scale notes into the arpeggio and also add a little chromaticism to more of a bebop sound.

Bebop Arpeggios!

This is a great variation on the exercise that also is really setting you up to play some bebop lines. Here you play the arpeggio as a triplet and insert a chromatic leading note in front of the root. This creates some energy and motion that then really brings out the target note that is the 7th of the arpeggio.

This exercise for the scale looks like this:

Make some Bebop Licks!

Using this way of playing arpeggios can be used in licks like this.

The first lick is using the Cmaj7 arpeggio in the lower octave and combining it with an intervallic melody in the2nd half of the bar.

The 2nd example is using the higher octave and adding a chromatic run between D and C before ending on G.

The Arpeggio from the 3rd

Until now I have only been talking about what how to use the basic Cmaj7 arpeggio over a Cmaj7 chord, but you can use more arpeggios.

The way to understand this is quite simple. You can use other arpeggios that contain notes that work well on the chord. The Arpeggio from the 3rd of a chord is usually a great option:

Cmaj7: C E G B – Em7: E G B D

So the two arpeggios share E G B and the Em7 is only adding the D on top of the Cmaj7 which is the 9th and a good note to add in there.

A few ways of playing an Em7 arpeggio in this position is shown here below:

Jazz Licks with an Em7 arpeggio on a Cmaj7 chord

You can use the Em7 arpeggio like this.

The first example is a basic “bebop Em7 arpeggio” that continues with a more modern sounding Quartal arpeggio from B.

The 2nd example is again focusing more on adding some chromatic ideas. Here the first half of the bar is a chromatic enclosure that is leading us to the first note of the Em7 arpeggio.

Putting all of this into a II V I lick

To give you and idea about how easy this is to generalize to a progression I have added this final example.

Take a look at the lick and see how I am using Fmaj7 on Dm7. Both Bø and G7 on the G7 and also both Em7 and Cmaj7 arpeggios on the Cmaj7.

It is easier than you think!

Use this approach in a Song!

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This Is How You Should Practice Every Scale Exercise

Most great Guitar Players mix a lot of different techniques when they are playing, and if that is the end goal then the scale exercises you do should also contain that element!

In this lesson I am going to go over some ways to take simple exercises and use them to combine legato, alternate picking and sweeping or economy picking.

Technique and Scale Exercises are for sound

For me it is in the end much more about having techniques so that I can play the music that I want to play and get it to sound right and having a flexible technique in terms of legato and picking is very useful for this.

Technique is there to help me play the Music that I want to play with The Phrasing and Sound I want to hear!

The exercises in this video is My take on how this works it is important to remember that the best solution is for you to 

Find YOUR way of combining different techniques
incorporate it into your practice routine and playing

Basic Scale Exercise and a few options

Example 1 is a C major scale in the 8th position played with a 3NPS fingering.

In the video I play it with alternate picking:

You can do this mixing with legato as well. Let’s do that like this: Down Up Hammer-on:

and of course you can also do Down Hammer-on UP:

 Technique priorities – what to choose

The way I think about this is no that it has to sound the same, different techniques sound slightly different and when I play I am going to use the technique that is playable or easy AND that sounds the best.

The goal is to use the different sounds and dynamics of the technique in our phrasing

So it doesn’t have to sound the same!

Actually you make choices on this already with the exercises.

Here’s the scale in 3rds with alternate picking:

And you can try to add as much legato as possible by doing this:

But somehow it’s nice to have one more picked note to get it to sound a little more natural:


With all of these exercises I am choosing the approach and techniques that I like and that fits to me, but of course this is different from person to person so you might find that other combinations work better for you. The important thing is to make sure you can play it in time and that you get the phrasing or sound that you like.

Adding Economy picking to the mix

Of course you can also work with sweeping or economy picking, When playing arpeggios this becomes very practical. For example with diatonic triads.

And we can combine all of it in an exercise like this with triads up one down the next 

It is up to your imagination and you get to challenge yourself and develop your ability to mix

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This Is How You Should Practice Every Scale Exercise – PDF

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From SCALE practice to JAZZ LICKS – Work towards Music!

If you don’t want to waste your time you want to make sure to turn everything you practice into material that you can use when you improvise.

We all practice scales and work on our technique by doing Scale Exercises, arpeggios, diatonic triads and patterns. In this video I want to show you how you can take your exercises and start turning them into jazz licks. 

The Diatonic Triads in a Scale Position

Let’s just start with an exercise that I am sure you already practice: Diatonic Triads. Here below I have written it out in the key of C major:

Turning this exercise into a II V I is shown here below where it is used on a II V I in C: Dm7, G7, Cmaj7:

I am using the descending version of the exercise above on the Dm7. It is then used with the triads of Dm, C and finally B dim. From here it continues with a G7 altered lick before resolving to C.

Diatonic Triads in Patterns

A great way to practice diatonic triads is to play them in a pattern so that you break up the order of the notes. In the example below I have written out the diatonic triads in a 3 1 5 pattern:

Using this type of exercise in a jazz lick is a great way to add some larger intervals to your lines.

The lick here below is using the F,G and Am triads over the Dm7. It then continues with a G7 altered line that is based on a Bmaj7(#5) arpeggio before it resolves to Cmaj7.

Triads along the neck

Another way to practice the triads is to play them on a string set along the neck. This is shown in a 2-1 fingering here below.

Turning this into a lick is easy. I am using the F,Em and Dm triads descending and then continue the triad idea on the G altered with Eb and F dim triads to resolve to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7. 

A good variation on this is to use Db and Eb triads on the G7. This idea is shown here below:

Changing the way we practice scales

In the previous examples I had to rely on scale exercises that are stepwise in nature, so the triads are played in stepwise order: C, Dm, Em etc. 

The problem with this is that If you use triads on a Dm7 chord then Dm, F and Am are fine, but Em and G are less strong and therefore difficult to use in a lick.

One way of getting around that is to look at how the Dm, F and Am are a 3rd apart in the scale. This means that we have can start working on practicing the triads in 3rds in the scale to get them together in the sets that work together. An example of how you can do this is shown here:

The lick below is using the triads like this, and they are played in a 5 1 3 patttern. The triads used then are Dm, F and Am which are all closely related to a Dm7.

Beyond the triads: Shell voicings

Of course you can apply this to any type of structure. In the example here below I am doing hte same type of exercise as example 7, but now using Shell Voicings.

Turning this into a lick is shown in example 10 where I use Fmaj7 and Am7 shell voicings on the Dm7. On the G7 I am also using a Db7 shell voicing and combining that with an AbmMaj7 arpeggio before resolving to C.

Putting it all together

As you can see in these example it is not only important to try to use the exercises you do, but it can also be a great idea to try to shape your exercises so that they are immediately easier to use when improvising or composing lines.

It makes a lot of sense to try to work a lot with 3rds because it reflects how we build chords and keep the triads closely related to the chord you want to use them on.

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From Scale exercises to Jazz Licks – Practice Music

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3 scale exercises you should know

There are so many ways to practice your scales, but some of them will really help you get some new tools to make more interesting lines. In this lesson I will go over three scale exercises and why you should practice them and how you can use them.

The Scale and the positions

I am going to only use one position of the C major scale in this lesson, and you should probably just start by going over it in one position as well.

If you really want to work on this you would need to check it out in the remaining 4-6 positions that you have for your major scales and other scales as well of course.

The scale is shown in example 1

3 scale execises you should know - ex 1

The scale exercises

The first exercise is to play the major scale in diatonic 6ths. THe 6th is the inverted interval of the 3rd (so C to E is a 3rd and E to C is a (minor) 6th) and since most of the harmony we are working with is 3rds based then this makes the 6th an easy interval to use in lines without sounding out there or intervallic. The examples later in this lesson will also show that.

3 scale execises you should know - ex 2

Playing diatonic arpeggios of triads or 7th chords are essential to understand the harmony that is contained in a scale or key. What we often forget is that especially the triad inversions are also very strong melodies, and practicing those in the scale will give you a much stronger overview of each note in the triads. It will also give you some very strong melodic structures to put to use in your lines.

3 scale execises you should know - ex 3

I have only shown the 1st inversion triads here, but you should also have a look at the 2nd inversion triads!

Stacks of 4ths are a very important part of the more modern jazz sound since they are connected to pentatonic scale sounds and suspended chords. Playing stacks of 4ths in the scale can prove a bit difficult, but will then also help develop several aspects of both right and left hand technique!

3 scale execises you should know - ex 4

The scale position that I’ve used is of course 3 notes per string (3 nps) and that makes the fingering very predictable and therefore easy to play, but in the end it is not too important what you use. There will also be pros and cons for strict postion, caged or 3nps systems in terms of fingerings and knowing all of them can be an advantage. As an example 3nps systems are quite stretchy and can be hard on your left hand in the lower positions.

Putting the exercises to use in lines

It is important to spend time using the things you practice in your scales to make music. Just improvising with whatever scale exercise you just did is not a very useful approach for most people, and you are often better of trying to sit down and come up with different ways of incorporating the material by composing lines.

The firs example is mainly using the 6th interval, but actually touches on the other two exercises as well. The line starts out with a 6th skip from the 5th to the 3rd on Dm7.  From there it ascends up a stack of 4ths and resolves that with a descending scale run. On the G7alt it is using a 6th drop both from Ab to B  and Eb to G to break up a scale line. It resolves to the 9 (D) of Cmaj7.

3 scale execises you should know - ex 5

The triad inversions are the base of the 2nd example where it starts out with a 1st inversion F major triad on the Dm7. The rest of the Dm7 line is an Fmaj7 arpeggio. On the G7alt the line consists of connecting two 1st inversion triads: Db and Abm. From there it resolves down to the 3rd of Cmaj7.

3 scale execises you should know - ex 6

Whenever I am using the 6th interval I am skipping between two chrod notes. In example 3 it is from the 3rd and up to the root. From there the line continues with the rest of a Dm7 arpeggio and then a descending scale line. On the G7alt the line is based on two stacks of 4ths from Eb and F  over the G chord from there the line resolves to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7.

3 scale execises you should know - ex 7

I hope you can use the exercises and the concept of applying them to your music to get some new lines and also to have a better command and udnerstanding of your scales.

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3 scale execises you should know

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