Licks & transcriptions
This blog section contains lessons about jazz guitar licks and transcriptions.
In this lesson we will see how to use the minor pentatonic scale over a II-Valt-I sequence. The principle is simple, it consists to play three minor pentatonic scales spaced apart of 1 semitone one from the other. This way you will bring out interesting colors to your jazz lines.
- II chord: Play the minor pentatonic starting on the 5th degree of the II chord. This way you will highlight the fifth (5), the minor seventh (b7), the root (R), the ninth (9) and the eleventh (11) of the minor II chord. (Exemple for Cm7 play G- pentatonic).
- V chord : Play the minor pentatonic scale up a half step starting on the #9 of the V7alt chord (Ab-pentatonic over F7alt for example). Therefore, you will play the main altered tones of the V7alt namely #9, #11, b13, b7, b9.
- I chord : Play the minor pentatonic up a half step again starting on the 7th of the I maj7#11 (Example with A minor penta for Bbmaj7#11). Thus giving the 7, 9, 3, #11 and the thirteenth of the I chord.
This lesson is about a 12-bar blues in the key of Bb included two guitar transcriptions with tabs : a guitar walking bass line for the accompaniment and a guitar improvisation to solo over.
Note that this study is based on a common blues jazz progression but with a descending chromatic progression in bars 7 & 8 using three dominant 7th chords (Bb7, A7, Ab7) to approach G7 at the end of the bar 8.
Bb7 | Eb7 | Bb7 | % |
Eb7 | Edim7 | Bb7 A7 | Ab7 G7 |
C-7 | G7 | Bb7 G7 | C-7 F7 |
What are guide tones ? They are the notes in a chord which lead or give harmonic pull toward the next chord, these are an excellent way to study and absorb the sound of any chord progression. Guide tones are used to outline chord progressions in an improvisation. They are most of the time the 3rd and the 7th because this is what determines whether a chord is major, minor, or dominant.
By working on guide tones you’ll learn how to target important notes in each chord. This jazz guitar lesson explains how to solo over common jazz progressions using and connecting the guide tones.
Mastering arpeggios is inevitable for anyone who wants to improve its sense of improvisation and bring more musicality to its playing. Practicing and mastering them is a necessity for all jazz guitarists, these are great tools to improvise over chord changes or jazz standards.
What is an arpeggio ?
An arpeggio is a chord whose notes are played one by one, it is a chord played like a scale.
Why playing arpeggios ?
Playing them in your guitar solo will outline the harmony of the tune and give your improvisation a sense of direction, making your jazz lines more beautiful, more melodic, more interesting to listen to.
How to use arpeggios ?
The first rule is to play the arpeggio corresponding to its chord. For example, playing a D minor seventh arpeggio over a Dm7 chord or a G dominant 7th arpeggio over a G7 chord. You can also use them to add color to your solos by using substitutions (playing an arpeggio different from the chord). For example a Bm7b5 arpeggio over a G7 chord. This way you will highlight the 9th of G7. There are many possibilities, but this is not the aim of this lesson.
A new lesson has been recently published on the website. It's about 4 measures of the great Pat Martino's guitar improvisation on Sunny (Bobby Hebb), taken from the Umbria jazz live version with John Scofield. Sunny is a great tune to jam over; Pat Martino's solo ranks among his best. Repeating a short phrase like this is characteristic of Martino's approach to soloing. It creates structure and is a great way to create intensity and build energy.
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