Tag Archives: Technical exercises

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.

Turnarounds part 1 – I VI II V

In this lesson I want to talk about the I VI II V turnaround and what you can play over it and how you can practice it. The lesson will give you some exercises and suggestions to make strong melodiclines using diatonic arpeggios and target notes.

The Turnaround

Turnarounds are progressions that are used a lot in standards like Rhythm Changes and Ain’t Misbehavin, The Touch of Your Lips and so on. For that reason alone it’s well worth checking out.

I am going to start a series of lessons on different variations of turnarounds which should include a good portion of most sorts of jazz harmony. It should take us from standard turnarounds and gradually closer to John Coltranes Giant Steps cycle, which can be seen as derived from turnarounds too.

Because turnarounds are so common they are also a good place to start when practicing playing over faster moving changes. By faster moving changes I mean 2 chords per bar which is something that already in medium tempos can be hard to navigate in a musical way, and play something that makes sense melodically. If you have 2 chords per bar and improvise in 8th notes then you have to make a melody with 4 notes from one chord and 4 from the next, this can be quite tricky at times.

In this lesson I am going to work on a turnaround in Bb major. Which is this chord progression:

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 1

I am in this lesson using Harmonic minor on the dominant 7th chords. This is something you can also check out in this lesson:  Harmonic Minor Dominant Lines

So in this lesson we have these scales:

For the Bbmaj7 and Cm7 chords:

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 2

Since G7(b9) is a dominant resolving to Cm7 it is best to consider it an auxiliary dominant and use C harmonic minor:

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 3

 

And for the variation I chose to do consider the F7(b9) a chord that is borrowed from Bb minor and use Bb harmonic minor over that too.Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 4

Raw materials for lines

The main part of the lines I make on a progression like this are made up of the arpeggios of the chord and the arpeggios found on the 3rd of the chord, so for BbMaj, I have that arpeggio and the arpeggio from D which is a Dm7 arpeggio. I use other things too but these two are probably the most important to know, and the you can of course use them in inversions and as shell voicings and triads too, as you’ll notice in my examples.

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 6

So now we have two arpeggios and a scale for each chord in the turnaround and can begin to start practicing lines on it.

Practicing and composing lines on the I VI II V

When you first try to make lines on the progression you probably need to be concerned with two things: Have clear target notes so that when you play that note on the 1 or the 3 you can hear the chord change clearly, and you need to approach it in a way where you practice playing towards the target note. Playing towards the target note is going to make the flow of your lines much moe logical and will help you make stronger lines whenever you improvise.

To give you some examples of how I might compose lines on this turnaround I wrote this small exercise:

Turnarounds part 1 - I VI II V - ex 7

You’ll notice that I am trying to just use basic ideas and movements and keep it quite simple, mostly because it is better to stick to the basics when starting to work on a progression like this. We can always add the fireworks later.

The first bar is using first the Bb triad and then the B dim arpeggio over the Bbmaj7 and G7(b9). In the second bar the lines is first a bit of the Cm7 arpeggio and then chromatically leading up to the 3rd(A) of F7. In bar 3 the Bbmaj line is a descending “Coltrane pattern” or Bb major pentatonic scale, depending on what you prefer calling that. On the G7 the line is again the B dim, but this time ascending. The Cm7 is a scale fragment from the C minor pentatonic scale followed by an inversion of a F7(#5) arpeggio.

The 5th and 6th bar are not using the same target note strategy to make the melody, but instead using arpeggios and voice leading to creat a coherent line. The first part on the BbMaj7 chord is a Dm7 arpeggio which is then altered to a Bdim inversion over the G7 by introducing an Ab and a B. Over the Cm7 the whole thing shifts up to an Eb Maj7 arpeggio which continues up to a C dim triad over the F7. Over the final turnaround the Bbmaj7 line is again a Dm7 arpeggio but this time in a pattern. The line on the G7 is a descending scale fragment from the C harmonic minor scale. The line continues through a descending Ebmaj7 arpeggio in inversion which then is encircling the A of an A dim inversion over the F7. This arpeggio resolves to a D.

I hope you can use the material and the strategies to become more at home over changes like this turnaround. I will make a few different lessons on different sorts of turnarounds which should help categorizing the progression and splitting songs up in bigger parts so that they are both easier to play and easier to remember.

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

Turnarounds part 1 – I VI II V

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.

 

 

 

Drop 2 voicing charts, 1st batch

I have added 4 reference charts of Drop2 voicings in the PDF download section of my website:

PDF downloads and charts

Each chart shows the 4 inversions of the chord for each of the 3 string sets both as individual chords and together on the neck.

Drop2 voicings

Feel free to let me know if you have any requests or comments!

You can do so by connecting with me via YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter, or sent me an e-mail. Then you will also stay up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Open Triads in Solos

In this lesson I want to give you a few exercises and show how I use open voiced triads in my solos. The sound of open voiced triads is often associated with Eric Johnson and Steve Morse but is a fairly common device in Jazz and Rock. Hopefully this lesson will give you some insight and a way to incorporate it in your own playing.

The lesson is based around a basic  II V I in F major as shown here:

Open Triads in Solos - example 1

In some of the examples I decided to also use a dominant from the diminished scale, and not only the altered scale. Especially because triads are really great melodic material when using the diminished scale.

The Exercises

The first basic exercise is to practice playing the open voiced triad in inversions. Here’s the Bb Major and G minor triads.

Open Triads in Solos - example 2

Open Triads in Solos - example 3

As I mentioned in the video and also in the lesson: Open triads for jazz chords there are more ways to play the same triads and you might find that in some contexts it is easier to use something else than what I have put in these 2 exercises, but these are the ones I use for this exercise and sometimes I’ll use something else if that works better in other situations.

The next exercise is to play the triads through a major scale. In this case the F major scale. I most of the time practice arpeggios and other things in a scale or tonal context since that is where you have to put it to use.

This exercise is not that useful in a position so I wrote it out across the neck from low to high. This is also a very useful approach to practicing for building an overview of the neck and also to help you connecting the different positions.

Open Triads in Solos - example 4

You might want to try taking the other inversions through the scale as well.

The lines

Before I start going through the lines I just want to explain how I chose triads for each of the chords. The process is fairly simple as it is just picking triads out of the stacked thirds that make up the chords and add some extensions to get a few more triads.

 

I have chosen to show the C7alt using the same trick as in Diatonic Arpeggios – Superimposing arpeggios and altered chords, so the triads are chosen by looking at the tritone substitution of C7, Gb7. In the video I also briefly explain how I come by the triads in the diminished scale.

Open Triads in Solos - example 5

In this lesson I tried to write the lines a bit further so that it also shows some of the melodies I might use on the I chord.

Open Triads in Solos - example 6

The first line is build by using a Bb major open voiced triad that continues into a Gm arpeggio. For the dominant I string together an Eaugmented triad and an inversion of the Gb7 arpeggio. The line on the Fmaj7 is a stack of fourths from G and then an Asus4 triad. The Asus4 works well over Fmaj7 because it is 3(A), 13(D) and 7(E) of the chord.

 

Open Triads in Solos - example 7

In the 2nd example I start with a Dm7 arpeggio over the Gm7 chord which resolves to the 3rd of the Gm on the 3rd beat. On the C7 the first part is a Gb open voiced triad followed by a Dbminor triad. on the Fmaj7 I first play a Gsus4 arpeggio and then a pentatonic 3 note per string idea that in this case turns out to be an Aminor triad resolving to the 13 of F.

Open Triads in Solos - example 8

I chain the Gm7 and the Dm7 arpeggios over the Gm7 chord in example 3. The line over the C7 is an Bbdim open triad, followed by an Eb major triad. As you might see from the notes being played I am usin gthe diminished scale over the C7. On the Fmaj7 I play an D7sus4 arpeggio, but I guess you could argue that it is also an Am pentatonic line.

Open Triads in Solos - example 9

The coltrane minor pattern opens up the fourth example and it continues into an open voiced F major triad. The C7 line is again usin gthe diminished sound and is an E diminished arpeggio followed by an open A triad. The line resolves to the 7th of F and then the melody continues to the 9th(G) of F.

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

Open Triads in Solos

I hope that you liked the lesson, and can use some of this information to make your own lines with using open triad 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.

 

 

Quartal Harmony in Solos

As I promised in earlier lessons, here is my take on putting the chords I talked about in the 3 part quartal harmony lesson and the one on diatonic chords of the pentatonic scale to use in improvisation.

In this lesson I want to demonstrate how I use it in solos by going through some technical exercises and some lines I wrote using quartal harmony.

I am going to demonstrate a few exercises and then give you a few examples and of lines and how I constructed them. In this lesson I am only going to be concerned with the 3 note variation of these chords, since that is the one that is the easiest to put to use.

All my lines and exercises are going to be related to a II Valt I in Bb so we need to check out the Bb major scale and the F7 altered / F# melodic minor scale before we start working on making lines.

Exercises

First let’s just talk a bit about what you might practice to prepare for making lines with stacks of 4ths arpeggios in them. Here are the chords for the Bb major scale on two sets of strings. I’d suggest you practice them both as chords and as arpeggios to get technically prepared for using them in improvisations.

Quartal Harmony in Solos ex 1

As you might already see we can’t really name the chords in the way we are used to with diatonic chords and triads. You chose them by looking at the notes they contain and how that relates to the chord you are playing them over. This can be a bit heavy if you are not used to think like that, but is actually a very useful skill for “the thinking improviser”. It will also help you to analyze transcriptions and identify what s being played.

In my examples I chose the arpeggios for the Cm7 chord on the criteria that I don’t want it to contain an A, because I want to save that note for the F7. That is a choice, and not even a route that I always take myself, but for now it makes the lines easier to hear.

Since we don’t often make solo lines by only moving up and down a string, but more often make use of positions, it can be very handy to also try to play some scale positions in diatonic stacks of 4ths like the one I have written out here below:

Quartal Harmony in Solos ex 2

Playing stacked 4ths requires a lot of string changing for the right hand which is a bit difficult and for the left hand you need to bar with different fingers to be able to play the them which can also be a bit demanding. Frank Gambale has a few good left hand exercises for this in one of his books. As for the right hand I generally alternate pick the arpeggios as you can see in the video, mostly because I like the sound of that sort of picking better than sweeps or economy when I play these arpeggios.

Here are the chords for the F altered/F# melodic minor scale.

Quartal Harmony in Solos ex 3

 

I’d suggest you also try to arpegiate these chords and play F# melodic minor in diatonic stacks of 4ths in the way that I did it with the Bb major scale.

II V I lines with stacked 4ths

Here’s the first example of a line on the II Valt I in Bb major:

Quartal Harmony in Solos ex 4

 

If I break down the construction of the line it is an EbMaj7 shell voicings followed by an stack of 4ths beginning on G. Then on the F7alt I am playing the Coltrane 4 note pattern, and following that up with a stack of 4ths on the A in F#melodic minor. I resolve the high Ab to the major 7 of Bb.

Quartal Harmony in Solos ex 5

 

The 2nd example is first chaining to stack of 4th arpeggios on the Cm7, one from F and one from D. Then I play a sort of cliché F#m melody which is followed by an F#mMaj7 arpeggio that resolves to F the 5th of Bb major.

Quartal Harmony in Solos ex 6

The 3rd example is beginning with an Ebmajor 7th arpeggio that is then followed by a stack of 4ths from c. On the F7 altered I have made a melody using two stacks a whole step apart: one from Eb and on from Db. This pair is a useful tool when making lines and when playing chords in my experience.

Quartal Harmony in Solos ex 7

I start with a Cm9 arpeggio which I then follow with a stack of fourths played descending from C to D. This arpeggio I then can shift up a half step to fit it on the F7 chrod and then I lead that into an Ebm7 shell voicing which with a few notes from the scale is resolved to the 9 of the Bb.

You can download the examples in pdf format here:

Quartal Harmony in Solos

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.

 

Pentatonics part 1 – Maj7 Chords

We all know and use pentatonic scale a lot, they are practical and easy on guitar, and it is one of the first scales we learn. Here’s how I approach using a few different pentatonic scales when improvising over a major 7th chord.

In the lesson I wrote all examples on a Cmaj7 chord. Selecting which scales work over a chord is to some degree a personal choice. I have chosen to say that I would not include a scale which has something that I would consider an avoid note like F, Bb, C# etc. This limits the options quite a lot but on the other hand if you pick out 5 notes to use over a chord then why pick 1 or 2 that don’t work witht the chord.

How to practice using the scales

When you start improvising with pentatonics over chords like this I’d suggest  you make sure that you know the scale in all positions. Learn a bunch of exercises in the scales, since they will end up helping you come up with and play melodies that are not just runing up and down the scale. In this lesson is an example of one: Diatonic chords in pentatonic scales

Try not to play your usual licks, if you start playing the solo of Back In Black over a Cmajor7 chord you are using E minor pentatonic, but probably not hearing the C chord anymore. If you start by just playing each note over a backing track or loop, and make some new melodies then you keep the sound of the chord in the process, and that is very important since you have to hear melodies in the pentatonic scale over the chord. Later when you have the sound a bit more in your ear you can start to adapt the lines you already know, and a lot of Angus’ stuff is great and will work fine 🙂

A minor / C major Pentatonic

The most basic choice of scale is of course the C major pentatonic (or A minor since most of us probably think more in minor than major roots). If you break this scale down over a C major root : A C D E G will be 6 1 9 3 5 so basically a C major triad with a 6 and a 9. You might notice that the fact that there is no 7 in the scale will make it work for dominant chords as well.

To this scale is mostly associated with a very pure major sound, like country or some of the simpler latin genres. I always try to have some sort of association with the sound of a scale when played over a chord since it makes it easier for me to make lines when I have (however abstract and personal) an idea how it sounds.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 1

Here’s an example of a line using the A minor pentatonic scale over a Cmaj7 chord:

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 2

The line is constructed from a 4 note scale fragment which is also often referred to as a Coltrane pattern. The 2nd part of the line is an Asus4triad  arpeggio in inversion.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 3

 

The 2nd line is to some degree highlighting how it is a very “major sounding” scale. The line opens with a C Major triad and then a sort of pedal point idea using G as a pedal under a simple melody.

E minor / G major Pentatonic

My sound association with the E minor pentatonic scale is a bit odd in that it is sort of a “core” C major sound: If you remove the two notes from the C major scale that I usually don’t emphasize on a Cmaj7: F and C, then you have the E minor pentatonic scale. If you spell out what the notes E G A B D would be related to C you get: 3, 5, 13, 7 and 9. All good notes to land on and to use on the chord in a jazz context.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 4

The first line that I made using the E minor pentatonic scale starts off with a stack of fourths from B to A and then continues with a sort of “inversion” of an E minor 7 arpeggio.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 5

 

In the 2nd line I start of with a fragment from the exercise I mentioned in Diatonic chords in pentatonic scales and go on with a E7sus4 like arpeggio.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 6

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B minor / D major Pentatonic

The B minor pentatonic scale is a collection of notes that all work well on Cmaj7, the only difference is that the 5th (G) is not in the scale but the #11 (F#) is. A B minor pentatonic scale is B D E F# A which is 7 9 3 #11 and 13 in relation to a C.  The inclusion of the #11 makes it less suitable in some contexts.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 7

In the first line I start of with the minor version of the Coltrane pattern and follow it up with the “diatonic thirds” exercise before it sustains on an E.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 8

The last line is first an E sus triad followed by a short melody around the F#.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 9

 

You can download the examples in pdf format here:

Pentatonics part 1 – Maj7 Chords

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.

 

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.

Jazz Chord Survival Kit

In this lesson I want to give you a few exercises that should make it possible for you to go through a jazz standard without too much trouble. We often spend too much time working on details and forget to apply it to songs and hear how it works in contexts so this is a tutorial about how to play a standard and a few suggestions for songs to check out when you know the exercises.

Diatonic Chords

Not surprisingly when playing jazz standards it makes sense to start with some diatonic chords. I have made to exercises with the diatonic chords of Bb and F major. Having those in your fingers and knowing what chords they are is a good starting point and will make it possible for you to play through songs without the rest of this lesson. Since most people relate the chord to the root and most of the time this is place on the 5th and 6th string I have the Bb voicings with the root on the 5th string and the F major voicings with the root on the 6th string.Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 1

You might recognize the type of voicing I am using here as a Drop2 voicings

Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 2

If you are familiar with different kind of voicings you might recognize these voicings as Drop3 voicings.

The voicings that we now have both have the chord part on the B, G and D strings and the root on the 5th and 6th strings. This allows the voicings to have ok voiceleading most of the time without us having to worry too much about it since that requires more knowledge of the notes in the chord and how they move in harmony.

II V progressions

If you see a lead sheet for a jazz standard for the first time it is quite likely that you will be overwhelmed by the amount of chords that are in there. For that reason it is very practical if not essential to learn to view groups of chords as one thing rather than each chord by itself, since that makes it a lot easier to remember the song by heart, and in the end also analyze or understanding the song while playing it. That is the reason why I have made the next 4 exercises. One of the most common two chord progressions in jazz is a II V.

A II V is a minor 7th chord moving up a 4th or down a 5th to dominant 7th chord like this:

Dm7 G7

The reason why I am not including the I chord, ie II V I is that very often the II V is resolving differently so it is handy to just pair those two for now.

The II V voicings that I can build with the voicings in the first two exercises are pretty ok,  but by adding a bit of extensions I can make them easier to play and transition better from one to the other so here’s an exercise where I let the II V resolve to another II V etc.Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 3

And here is a similar version starting on the 5th string:Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 4

Minor II V cadences

Since we are already busy with recognizing II V cadences in major it seems logical to add the minor variation of this too. Same idea as the major counterpart. We add some extensions, and in this case alterations to the dominant to make it easier to play and make the II V move more smooth from II to V.Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 5

The m7b5 chord is probably one of the most hated voicings by beginning students and it is a bit difficult and takes some practice, but there is really no way around them..

Here’s the set with the root of the II chord on the 5th string:Jazz Chord Survival Kit - ex 6

 Diminished Chords

The only chord that we miss now is a diminished chord, since they are not present in the II V or in the diatonic chord sequence or in the II V’s

 

So now you have most basic chords covered and should be able to get through most standards without too much trouble.

The examples in the this lesson are also available as a downloadable PDF here: Jazz Chord Survival Kit

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 Blues Comping

Here’s a short lesson I made to give you the tools to play the chords for a Jazz Blues in Bb and a few directions on how to learn to approach playing chords in a jazz context.

The main difference between Jazz and most other styles of music is that almost everything that is being played both as accompaniment and as solo is for a very big part improvised and related to what is happening in the music at the time. This means that you have to approach playing chords the same way you would playing fills behind a soloist, so you need to be able to play the chord in several different ways to make up melodies and sounds that fits the music.

A 12 Bar Jazz Blues

First let’s have a look at the harmony of a Bb jazz blues, think of songs like Tenor Madness, Straight No Chaser and Trane’s Blues. As you can see in the example the 12 bar blues is very similar to what you are probably familiar with in a standard 12 Blues in Rock, Soul etc. Except for a few II V’s and possibly a dim chord it’s excatly the same. If you listen to Charlie Parker playing blues you can also clearly hear that it was a style that he knew very well, this was one of the things I liked about him when I first heard his playing.

Example 1 is written out with standard full chords so that if you play it you should be able to hear how the progression sounds.
Bb Blues comping - ex 1

Scales with chords

In this lesson I am only concerned with improvising with the top note melody, not so much the color of the chord or the rhythm. In order to be able to improvise a top note melody for each chord we need different versions of each chord each with another top note. In example 2 I have made some simple ways to do that with on or two versions of each chord. I tried to get 5 notes per chord and make it easy to play.

Bb Blues comping - ex 2

In order to practice playing the chords and making melodies that last across several chords I suggest you try to first compose and later improvise simple exercises like the one I’ve written out here.
Bb Blues comping - ex 3

Once you can do this on a blues you should probably try to do the same thing with a standard or something similar. From there it can be a good exercise to start to harmonize the melody of a standard, but that is for another lesson I guess.

Here’s a link to the pdf with the examples: Jazz Blues Comping

If you want to check out an example for comping on an F blues I wrote a lesson with two choruses using different types of voicings. It is available for sale in my store: F Blues Comping Etude #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.