Tag Archives: scale practice

3 Things You Want To Know In All Keys And Positions

When you play jazz you are improvising over chord progressions that move through different scales. And you need scale positions that you can connect and have an overview off in a way that makes it easy to improvise solos.

In this video, I am going to go over a basic way to practice and test your fretboard knowledge by taking progressions and use them to work on scale positions on the guitar neck. This will help you memorize the right information in the right context for when you want to improvise solos and will help you become freer when you play.

The 3 Levels

I am going to go over the exercises in 3 levels getting more and more difficult, but the exercises are essentially quite basic. This is about knowing essential chord progressions, scales, and arpeggios in a position and being able to improvise with them.

Working on this is not really something that belongs to every day practice for hours and hours, just go check this and find ways to work on this that also involve the repertoire you play.

2 Approaches

When you work on this type of exercise you can do this 2 ways: Staying in one position and going through all keys or choosing one key and going through all positions. Both are useful and you should try what works better for you.

Level 1 – 1 Position, Basic Scale and Chords

The idea is to work on knowing essential material for a position. If you improvise in G major, then the G major scale and the arpeggios for the basic cadence are essential to know. The same goes for the arpeggio from the 3rd of these chords.

For G major we have this scale position:

And the basic cadence is Am7 D7 Gmaj7.

These arpeggios are shown below:

And the arepggios from the 3rds of these chords would be

Am7: Cmaj7, D7: F#ø, Gmaj7 Bm7.

Once you know these arpeggios you should work on being able to make lines with them in this position on a II V I.

Two examples of this, one with the basic arps and one with the arpeggio from the 3rd are shown below:

Level 2 – Altered Dominant

A logical next step would be to alter the dominant, in this case D7.

Let’s first take a new position for G major:

And for the D7alt I am using an Ab7 and a Cø arpeggio.

Both are found in the D7 altered scale and contain the C and the F# really spelling out the D7 sound.

And the arpeggios from the 3rd (with Cø being the arpeggio from the 3rd of Ab7)

Improvising with these arpeggio sets could yield lines like these two:

Level 3 – Making it a complete Turnaround

The next thing to do is to add a secondary dominant for the II chord. This is one of the most common dominants to come across so it makes perfect sense to add this to the exercse.

First a new scale position:

For the E7alt I am doing the same thing as the D7alt which gives us a Bb7 and a Dø arpeggio.

And then the basic arpeggio positions:

The Arpeggio from the 3rd:

Get Your Changes Playing from Turnarounds to Giant Steps.

If you want to check out some more material on how to really nail changes and still play great lines then check out this lesson on using Target notes on Rhythm Changes:

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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

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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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