Jazz Guitar Lessons
You will find in this section the latest jazz guitar lessons: methods, videos, PDFs, Tabs, transcriptions, licks, music theory, exercises, chord and scale diagrams, published on the blog and on the website. The content is regularly updated with fresh articles, so don't hesitate to subscribe to the newsletter.
The origin of the "so what chord" name would be due to its use by the jazz pianist Bill Evans in the modal tune "So what" by Miles Davis.
This is a cool and modern sounding chord voicing often used as an alternative to quartal voicings. It is built with a fourth chord on the bottom (3 perfect fourths stacked) and a major third added on the top.
This particular chord was originally played on a piano, but it is quite interesting to play it on the guitar to support rhythmically and harmonically a soloist over a modal tune.
This jazz guitar rhythm lesson with tabs and diagrams provides you some interesting ideas of comping inspired by McCoy Tyner's playing on "impressions" by John Coltrane.
"There Will Never Be Another You" is a popular song by Harry Warren (music) and Mack Gordon (lyrics). It is one of the most known jazz standards and an indispensable study for any jazz guitarist. This jazz guitar comping lesson provides you different chord voicings (drop 2, inverted, rootless and extended chords) on the top four strings of the guitar to comp over this jazz tune. By the way, it will also give you some new ideas to support harmonically a soloist. Indeed, you may even try to apply these chord voicings to the tunes you are used to playing.
What is Quartal Harmony?
To enrich and modernize the harmonization of a piece it is common to use fourth chords. They can replace some original chords to bring more melodic freedom into improvisation and more tension in harmony.
Since the late 1950s, harmony in fourths has played a very important role in the development of modern jazz. Musicians and composers have used a lot the quartal harmony.
Among them, the great American pianist McCoy Tyner, who, is a master in the art of playing quartal chords. Mike Stern, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Bill Evans and Kurt Rosewinkel have also used this technique.
In this lesson with tabs and shapes, we will see how to build chords in fourths, how to harmonize the major scale with and how to use them in comping.
The major II-V-I sequence is the most common chord progression used in jazz music but also in a whole number of styles of music as pop, rock, blues, country. This theoretical element is a must know for any guitarist who wants to learn the jazz language. The 2-5-1 progression is present in many jazz standards (Summertime, Autumn leaves, Blue bossa, All the things you are and many more), this is why it is very important to master it.
One of the fundamental theoretical elements to understand music is the harmonization of the major scale. Harmonizing scale is building chords with notes. For this, you have to stack thirds (It is also possible to harmonize the major scale in fourths).
If you are wondering why thirds and not seconds or sixths for example, the reason is mainly historical: our music today is based on harmony in thirds. Once you have read this lesson, you will be able to find the tonality of a song simply by looking at its chords, you will know which scale to play on which chord progressions.
What Are Guide Tones?
Guide tones are the notes in a chord which leads or gives 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.
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, arpeggios are great tools to improvise over chord changes and jazz standards.
Drop 2 chords are formed by dropping the second highest note of a four-note chord in close position down an octave.
What Does Voicing Means?
Voicing is the practice of regarding the individual notes of a chord as voices. There are several voicing techniques that can be used to rearrange the notes of a chord as drop 3 or drop 2-4 voicings.
Mastering triads on the guitar is necessary for any guitarist who wants to expand his fretboard and theory knowledge.
These chords are not really considered as jazz chords because of their basic sound, but they can be efficient tools for comping and chord soloing. Indeed, the strong point of these chords is the simplicity of learning and playing.
You will find in this guitar lesson 84 ways of playing major, minor, diminished, augmented triads using root and inverted voicings in close and open positions.
How Chords Are Built?
Chord formulas show all the notes which constitute a chord. They reveal the structure of chords. They provide a link between scales and arpeggios.
Knowing the structure of chords will help you find any chord position on the guitar when you only have the name.
Learning chord formulas will make it easier to understand the difference between many types of chords. Learning chord formulas is necessary for anyone who wants to expand their musical knowledge and increase their guitar playing skills.
When you want to play altered jazz guitar lines over a dominant 7th chord, there is an easy and efficient option that is to play a major triad starting on the #11 of the chord you want to improvise over. This way you highlight the b7, #11 and b9 and add tension to your playing.
Let's take an example with a II-V-I sequence in the key of C major. The progression is Dm7 | G7alt | CMaj7.
Tips and Tricks To Help You Practice Scales
When you want to master jazz language, one of the first things to do is to learn scales and modes. Any guitar student need to memorize the fingerings, the names and the composition of each scale.
It is important to make the difference between the main types of musical scales (major, minor, augmented, symmetric and diminished), important to know what scale works with a particular chord.
In the long run the practice of scales can be confusing and seems a never-ending. Here are some tricks and tips for practicing scales while developing your musical ear, your guitar technique and your theoretical knowledge.
Here are 15 important jazz guitar chord positions that every beginning jazz guitar student must know. They are grouped into five families :
- Major seventh chords (Maj7)
- Minor seventh (m7)
- Dominant 7th (7)
- Half diminished / minor seventh flat fifth (m7b5)
- Diminished 7th (dim7)
A new video is online on the youtube channel since yesterday. This is a compilation of the best jazz guitar solo transcriptions posted on the youtube channel since one year. This video lesson contains transcriptions of great jazzmen as John Scofield, Charlie Christian, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, Eric Gale. Here is the timeline:
Charlie Christian ( Benny's buggle) 00:00
Clifford Brown (Jordu) 01:23
Eric Gale (Too blue) 02:22
Grant Green (Grantstand) 02:59
Grant Green (Airegin) 04:00
Grant Green (N°1 Green street) 05:17
Jimmy Raney (Have you met miss Jones) 07:26
John Scofield (Wee) 07:56
Wes Montgomery (Full house) 08:50
Wes Montgomery (Full house) 09:42
Be jazz guitarist does not mean that you have to play only guitarist's solos. It's very important to transcribe lines of other instruments like sax, trumpet or piano for example. This way you will change your habits and you will play some jazz lines that maybe you would never have played before.
This lesson is about a Clifford Brown trumpet solo transcription in "Jordu". Clifford Brown was an American songwriter and jazz trumpet player. He composed two jazz pieces which have become standards, "Joy spring" and "Daahoud". He has collaborated with jazz players as Art Blakey and Lionel Hampton before forming his own group with the drummer, percussionist and composer Max Roach.
Jordu is a jazz standard written by Irvin "Duke" Jordan. He has been popularised by Clifford Brown and Max Roach quintet in the album that includes the two standards "Joy spring" and "Daahoud" .This is an AABA traditional jazz form in the key of C minor. Referring to the realbook the chord progression is :
D7 G7 | Cm | F7 Bb7 | EbM7
D7 G7 | Cm | Ab7 | G7
G7 C7 | F7 Bb7 | Eb7 Ab7 | Db7
F7 Bb7 | Eb7 Ab7 | Db7 Gb7 | G7
The transcription is focused on the A part only. This will allow you to understand how to improvise and which scale to play over two interesting jazz progressions :
- II7-V7-Im sequence (D7-G7-Cm) which is a minor II-V-I with a dominant 7th (V7) chord instead of the usual minor seventh flat ninth chord (II).
- II7-V7-IM sequence which is a major II-V-I with a dominant seventh (II7) chord instead of a minor seventh chord (II).
The first thing to do before starting exploring the twelve different scales shown in this lesson is to understand how to build a basic dominant 7th chord and what its role is.
What's a dominant 7 chord?
A Dominant 7th chords is made up of a root / tonic (1), a major third (3), a perfect fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7). It is one of the most versatile chords. It is considered as a major chord because of the major third (3).
Indeed, the 3rd tell us if the chord is minor or major. The minor seventh (b7) indicates whether the sound wants to move or not (resolve) to another chord. Usually dominant chords tend to resolve to a chord down a perfect fifth (or a chord up a perfect fourth).
C dominant 7th chord C E G Bb Intervals 1 3 5 b7 Related Arpeggio 1 3 5 b7