Applying Chords / Solo Ideas (Guitar Lesson)


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Matt Brown

Applying Chords / Solo Ideas

Now that you've learned the plethora of set I and set II voicings, you can apply them to a jazz 12 bar blues. Matt will also teach you some solo ideas over this lick.

Taught by Matt Brown in Jazz Guitar with Matt seriesLength: 32:47Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (10:31) Introduction This lesson will get you started on playing a jazz 12 bar blues. Before you begin to tackle this lesson, take some time to review the basic 12 bar blues. It is the basis for all that is discussed in lesson 4.

Essentially a jazz blues takes the original or basic 12-bar form, and adds some additional chords. Also, existing chords are frequently altered to add more color. These additions and alterations give the 12 bar blues the characteristic jazz/swing sound.

For the sake of comparison, let’s take a look at the chord changes for the basic 12 bar form and the jazz blues.

A. Basic 12 Bar Form
Bars 1-4: I7
Bars 5-6: IV7
Bars 7-8: I7
Bar 9: V7
Bar 10: IV7
Bar 12: I7
B. 12 Bar Jazz Blues
Bar 1: I7
Bar 2: IV7
Bars 3-4: I7
Bars 5-6: IV7
Bar 7: I7
Bar 8: VI7
Bar 9: ii7
Bar 10: V7
Bar 11: I7
Bar 12: V7

As you can see, the jazz version is much busier as a result of more frequent chord changes.

Bars 7-11 form what is called a turnback progression, or I VI ii V I. This is the second most common chord progression in jazz next to the turnaround.
C. Playing a Jazz 12 Bar Blues
I. All of the musical examples presented in this lesson are in the key of Bb. Keys that contain flats are the most common keys used in jazz composition. Although these keys are more difficult for guitarists and pianists to play in, they are far easier for horns. Since horns are the most prevalent melodic instruments in the jazz genre, most compositions are written in flat keys. The most common keys are Bb, Eb, F, Ab, and Db. Consequently, these keys should receive more practice time than key signatures that contain multiple sharps.

II. With the exception of the ii7 chord in bar 9, all of the chords in a jazz blues are written as Dom7. However, a plain old Dom7 chord is rarely played in the jazz genre. Lead sheets are written primarily in the interest of simplicity. When a jazz musician comes to a chord that is marked Dom7, it is implied that some sort of dominant chord is to be played. The choice of chord is up to the musician.

Here are the current options available for dominant chords. Review them if necessary:

Bb7, Bb9, Bb7(#9) Bb7(b9), Bb13, Bb7(#11), Bb7(#5)
At this point, figure out all the options you have for each chord within the 12 bar form. Then play through the form using the Freddie Green rhythm. Once you are comfortable with us, play through the form using the Charleston. Be sure to utilize all available chord options learned in previous lessons.
Chapter 2: (9:53) Melodies This scene will give you a quick introduction on how to properly interpret a jazz melody. More often than not the melody is referred to as the “head.” The head is usually played at the beginning of a tune. Then solo sections follow the head. Finally, after the solo sections, the tune ends with a final return to the head.

Transcriptions of jazz tunes are referred to as lead sheets. Lead sheets can be found in three different sources: The Real Book, Jazz Fake Books, and the Charlie Parker Omnibook. The first tune that will be looking at, “Buzzy” is taken from the latter.

Guidelines to Remember When Playing a Melody

1. Rhythms written on lead sheets are often not exact figures of how the melody should be phrased. Listen to several different recordings of the tune in order to hear how the melody should be phrased. Notes that are to be played legato or staccato are not indicated on a lead sheet. It is up to the performer to add these elements at his or her discretion.

The first bar of “Buzzy" provides a perfect example of this idea. Take a look at the “A” note in this measure. The “A” is written as a sustained quarter note. However, since the chord at the moment is Bb7, this “A” will clash with Ab, the seventh of Bb7. For this reason, the “A” in the melody should be shortened and played staccato.

Take a look at the lead sheets to some of your favorite tunes. Compare what is on the page to what is actually played on recordings. Analyze any discrepancies that you may find. Why did the performer choose to play the melody the way he/she did?

2. Lead sheets are not written specifically for guitarists. Consequently, no slurs will ever be written into a lead sheet. It is up to the individual performer to decide where hammer-ons and pull-offs should be added. Long phrases of consistent eighth notes will typically need some slurs added to achieve legato phrasing.

3. The guitar sounds an octave lower than how it is written. Consequently, the melody should be transposed up an octave if a guitarist did not write the tune. Always take note of who composed the tune. What instrument does he/she play? It is not wrong to play the melody as written. Just be aware of the fact that you are playing the melody an octave lower than it was originally intended.
Chapter 3: (12:20) Improvisational Techniques Regardless of the genre that you are playing, your improvised lines should be based around the resolution of chord tones. Typically chord tones will appear on strong beats. Passing tones fill the space between chord tones on the weak beats. Chromatic passing tones can be added between chord tones to create tension and extra color.

The most important resolution to highlight is the 7 to 3 resolution or the 3 to 7 resolution. What this means is that the 7th of a chord will typically resolve to the 3rd of the next chord and vice versa. Let’s take a look at the first two bars of a 12 bar blues to see how this works. The first two bars contain a Bb7 chord moving to Eb7. The 7th of Bb7 is Ab. This Ab resolves a half step down to the third of the following chord, G. G is the 3rd of Eb7. This half step chromatic resolution serves to outline the sound of the changing chords.

Another common resolution is the 9 to 5 resolution. This resolution is not quite as prevalent, and will consequently be discussed in a later lesson.

A. Tips for beginning to improvise over a new tune:
1. Begin by playing arpeggios of the chords in one position. If you are playing in the key of Bb, 5th position is a good starting point, since the arpeggios for Bb and Eb lay nicely on the guitar in this position.

2. Learn how to play the arpeggios for Bb7, Eb7, G7, CMI7, and F7 in this position. These arpeggio shapes are moveable patterns that can be transposed to different keys. Consequently, they should be memorized and put into weekly technical practice.

Begin the 12 bar blues by ascending up a Bb7 arpeggio. Once you arrive at Eb7, change directions, and continue with an Eb arpeggio. Continue this process through the end of the form. Start this process at a slow tempo and gradually work your way up to the tempo indicated on the lead sheet.

3. Once you are comfortable with this, play through the form using arpeggios in all practical positions.

4. Jazz improvisation is very dependent upon your ability to think quickly. The better you have these arpeggio patterns memorized across the neck, the better your improvisation will sound.
B. Scale Theory
Arpeggios are the basic building blocks of jazz improvisation, but how do you know which scales to use in order to create effective lines? The answer is actually quite simple. Due to the specific note orderings of scales, certain scales work better over certain chords.

Since we are currently discussing the 12 bar blues, let’s examine which scales will work over DOM7 and MI7 chords.
A. Dominant Chords
The Mixolydian mode is an excellent scale choice for dominant chords. The major 3rd and flat 7th of the chord align with the 3rd and 7th of the chord. Analyze each chord tone to see how it functions in the context of Bb7:

Bb Mixolydian: Bb (root), C (9th), D (3rd), Eb (11), F (5), G (6), Ab (b7), Bb (root)

All scale tones are consonant with Bb7 with the exception of the 4 or 11, Eb. The fourth is always considered to be a dissonant interval over chords that contain a major triad. It should be avoided on strong beats.

Note: Click the “Supplemental Content” tab for some Mixolydian scale patterns.
B. MI7 Chords
The Dorian mode is the best scale choice for MI7 chords. Take a look at how it works over CMI7.

C Dorian: C (root), D (9th), Eb (b3rd), F (4), G (5), A (6), Bb (b7), C (root) As you can see, the b3rd and b7 of the scale match up with these features of the scale.


Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


rpdrinnen1996rpdrinnen1996 replied on July 14th, 2015

Which edition of the CP Omnibook was that? the only blue one i came across was the one for c instruments, would it make a difference?

KennethJoKennethJo replied on November 23rd, 2014

hey matt a quick question about modes.. C dorian is B major scale right? but when we look at major intervals 1-1-1/2 etc wouldn't it makes C dorian as Bb major scale? Bb-C-C#-etc thanks before

kechelkechel replied on November 13th, 2014

Hello, THis lesson was fantastique . Thank you Matt, you explain really well Could you write down somewhere the title of the book you mentionned in the first lesson and the author and editor? Thanks, Also, I would like to informed the jam play team that i have 2 technical problems, Fist the progress mode fonctions during the lesson but when i go on the planning of all the lessons of the series it it's not registered so i don't know which ones i have been through unless i open the lesson. In other series it works and it is a very practical tool. Second problem: some lesson ( like this one) are quiet long and at the end of it, if you want to download the supplement material you have the surprise to find out that you have to re-log yourself in.! THis happens in every lesson and it's a bit annoying to logging at the end of each lesson. I would like to add that i do appreciate a lot the lessons, the best ones i have ever had, great teachers! Thanks Jam play!

exileiexilei replied on July 4th, 2014

Hi Matt, Was wondering why the Key Signature of the sheet music "Buzzy" was in the key of C rather than Bb. I thought that the correct way would have been to have Bb & Eb in the key signature rather than adding them to the individual notes. Is there a reason why it is done this way? Thanks

cadcocadco replied on November 20th, 2013

Hey Matt, Quick Question. How come you use a 9th chord with a major 3rd for the 6th chord? I thought the 6th chord of a key had a minor 3rd? thx

mattbrownmattbrown replied on November 25th, 2013

Hi! Yes, the vi chord (minor) is the chord that is diatonic to major key. In Jazz though, the VI chord will often be some sort of dominant chord if it resolves to the ii minor chord. Using a VI dominant chord creates a stronger pull to the ii chord. That's what is called a "secondary dominant" chord.

folkeranikafolkeranika replied on September 14th, 2014

Thanks for that answer... Explains it nice and easy!

gdelotto91gdelotto91 replied on November 8th, 2013

Hey matt, i was wondering what is the point of learning arpeggios when you end up using the scales to solo and improvise? or do you use both? oh and i noticed you have specific fingerings for the notes in the arpeggios in the supplemental content. do you highly recommend following it or ad lib?

mattbrownmattbrown replied on November 11th, 2013

Great question! Good jazz improvisation should include a fluid combination of arpeggio-based ideas, scalar ideas, and chromatic ideas. When, just practicing the arpeggio patterns, definitely follow the fingerings I provided. However, when improvising, use the left hand fingering that is most practical in terms of the lick you are playing. In other words, I think you'll find that as you do things like shift positions in the course of a solo, you'll find that the fingerings I teach might not be the most practical within the context of the idea you are playing.

gdelotto91gdelotto91 replied on November 13th, 2013

oh and I noticed you play Bflat13 for the Bflat7 chord in the 12 bar blues. how come you don't play the extensions when learning the dom7 arpeggios?

mattbrownmattbrown replied on November 14th, 2013

With this lesson, I just wanted to limit the arpeggios to seventh chords. By all means, practice minor ninth, major ninth, dominant ninth, altered dominant, etc. arpeggios. With dominant 13th chords, you have the following tones: root, third, fifth, flat seventh, ninth, and thirteenth...That's essentially just the Mixolydian mode with the 4th/11th omitted. So, a lot of 5 or 6 note arpeggios are also scales or are very close to scales. For example, an Am11 chord contains the same notes as the A minor pentatonic scale. An Am11 chord sometimes contains the 9th...If so, it contains the same notes as the A minor hextatonic scale...(A, B, C, D, E, B, A)...Anyway, all of that stuff is interesting to think about...

gdelotto91gdelotto91 replied on November 18th, 2013

i gotcha, thanks matt.

lsmdsllsmdsl replied on June 3rd, 2013

Great lessons Thanks. Will take a little time off to practice and memorize the chords. Mechanics are coming a bit slowly so any tips for fingering or memorizing the chords are welcomed.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on June 3rd, 2013

Hi! The best way to memorize chord voicings is to use them in a practical musical context. I recommend you get a copy of the Real Book if you don't already have it. Then, start playing some tunes. Plug in the voicings I've taught as you play through the chord progression.

pedroguitarpedroguitar replied on April 11th, 2013

section 2 of the lesson is unavailable!!

mattbrownmattbrown replied on April 12th, 2013

Hi there! I just tried playing the second scene, and it worked fine for me. You might just need to empty the cache of your browser (in the drop down for the name of the browser). Then, close the browser, re-open it and try again. That seems to fix these types of problems. If that does't work, please send an email to [email protected] Thanks and sorry for the trouble!

alex sousaalex sousa replied on September 2nd, 2012

Good lesson.

alex sousaalex sousa replied on September 2nd, 2012

Good lesson.

wadekwadek replied on February 12th, 2012

Matt, where can I find the arpeggio patterns referenced above?

mattbrownmattbrown replied on July 18th, 2012

Sorry Bunky! I accidentally hit "delete comment" instead of "respond". OOPS! sorry about that. Anyway, when playing a solo, you want to highlight the important chord tones in the progression. For example, if you're playing over an Am chord, you want to play off of the important notes in this chord - A, C, and E. Furthermore, you need to know what each note sounds like when played against the chord is well as the important extensions like the b7 (G) and 9th (B). What kind of vibe does each note create when played against the chord? If you're just playing patterns, you're not really playing music. You're just sort of rambling incoherently. When playing a solo, you're essentially just playing a melody. So, I think it's extremely important to study the components that make up a good melody - solid rhythmic structure, space between phrases, creating phrases that express complete thoughts, outlining the important chord tones in the progression, etc.

bunkybunky replied on July 25th, 2012

Matt, I reviewed your lessons on reading music just to make sure I wasn't missing anything. I found that I already new the material though the review was nice. I still support the use of patterns as a valid approach. I agree it is not enough to just play random notes from the patterns. When you combine the patterns with some experience your ear develops. Your ear will then lead you to the important notes based on sound you want, even if you don't know the note name. I agree that you should know the scale and note names. With out these you find the location for the patterns or communicate to other musicians.

bunkybunky replied on July 26th, 2012

Matt, I wish I could edit my posts. Please don't waste any time responding to my last post. I completed lesson 5 and it became apparent that I am using notes more than I thought. I also notice that your referencing patterns a lot.

bunkybunky replied on July 24th, 2012

Thanks Matt, Here is a follow up question. When you first here your going to play using an A minor scale, what is the visual (picture in your head) you associate with that. Is it the notes of the scale as in Am C..... or is it a pattern somewhere on the neck of the guitar.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on July 27th, 2012

If I'm just practicing scales though, I'm thinking in terms of where the correct notes are in that scale rather than just trying to "connect the dots" in a visual pattern...Hope this answers your question!

bunkybunky replied on July 29th, 2012

I agree completely with playing what is in your head, I do the same. Sometimes I loose track of what pattern I am using, but I am still choosing good phrases. I will try and play a bit more by the notes.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on July 30th, 2012

Cool! Yeah...I think the whole "losing track of the pattern" issue will go away with practice and experience. I still run into that problem when playing with more exotic scales that I'm not so familiar with. Just keep at it!

mattbrownmattbrown replied on July 27th, 2012

Really, I don't think in terms visual patterns at all when I'm improvising, but that's just me. After I play one phrase, I hear the next phrase that I'm going to play in my head. Then I just play it. It's a basically an ongoing process of singing something in my head and then playing it.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on February 13th, 2012

Hi! Did you check under the supplemental content tab? I put some minor seventh and dominant seventh arpeggio patterns in there. It's been several years since I've watched this lesson...If you're looking for something else, just let me know. thanks!

jpfanboyjpfanboy replied on November 30th, 2009

Thank you so much for putting the arpeggio pattern out, saved me alot of work! Jamplay rocks!!!!!!!

dash rendardash rendar replied on November 11th, 2009

Great lesson! I was just wondering... given traditional cadence and how chords are built on the notes of a scale, how come the chord in bar 8 of the jazz 12-bar blues is a VI7, rather than, say, a vi7 (i.e. dominant 7th, rather than minor 7th)? Or is that just ones of those idiosyncrasies that makes jazz more... jazzy?

mattbrownmattbrown replied on November 20th, 2009

You're exactly right. The vi7 chord is minor if we're talking about chords that are diatonic to the major tonality. In this case, a dominant VI7 chord is played since it creates a stronger pull towards the ii chord. For example, D7 is dominant in relation to Gm7.

mariemusicmariemusic replied on May 21st, 2009

i want like to see more scales...and less talk...thanks

john873john873 replied on September 15th, 2008

great lesson matt, nice to see some jazz lessons up on Jamplay!

Jazz Guitar with Matt

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

In this lesson set, Matt will teach you everything you need to know to fluently play jazz guitar.



Lesson 1

Intro to Jazz

Check out this lesson to learn some basic jazz theory & chord voicings.

Length: 31:36 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Voicings & Melodies

Learn some more advanced chord voicings as well as the Charleston rhythm.

Length: 19:13 Difficulty: 3.0 FREE
Lesson 3

Set II Voicings

Learn a handful of Set II voicings & round out your knowledge of the basic jazz chords.

Length: 27:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

Applying Chords / Solo Ideas

Apply the chords you've learned & experiment with some solo ideas.

Length: 32:47 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Scales and Chords Together

Learn which scales work with which jazz chord voicings.

Length: 43:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Circle of Fifths

Matt sheds some light on the circle of fifths.

Length: 28:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Proper Practicing

Learn how to get the most out of your time when practicing.

Length: 31:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

Proper Practicing Part 2

Here's the second installment of Matt's proper practicing lesson.

Length: 32:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Physicalities of Playing

Learn how to avoid carpal tunnel and other hand injuries by using proper technique.

Length: 46:19 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

All of Me

Matt Brown teaches the jazz standard "All of Me."

Length: 31:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

Lead and Scales

Matt Brown explains how to improvise over the changes to "All of Me."

Length: 7:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Estudio No. 1.

Matt Brown begins talking about solo arrangements in this lesson. He teaches Carcassi's "Estudio No. 1" as an introduction to this concept.

Length: 18:10 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 13

Reviewing the ii V I Progression

Matt Brown returns to his Jazz series with a review lesson. He applies the standard ii V I progression to the circle of fifths.

Length: 18:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Turnback Progression

In lesson 14, Matt discusses the turnback progression in the jazz style.

Length: 22:20 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 15

Set Three Voicings

Matt brown discusses and demonstrates the set three voicings used in jazz guitar.

Length: 25:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Jazz Solo Arrangement

In this lesson, Matt demonstrates how to practice jazz solo arrangements by taking a look at "Here's That Rainy Day."

Length: 35:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Expanding on the 12 Bar Blues

In lesson 17, Matt reviews and expands on the jazz version of the 12 bar blues form.

Length: 23:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Adding Voices

In this lesson, Matt adds to your voicing repertoire while playing the Charleston rhythm.

Length: 14:22 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Key of B Flat Major

Matt Brown talks about lead options when playing a blues in B flat major.

Length: 23:35 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Key of F

Matt Brown provides instruction and examples of playing jazz heads in the key of F. Once again, all examples follow the 12 bar blues form.

Length: 18:22 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 21

Jazz Heads in B Flat

Matt Brown takes another look at blues heads in the key of B flat. In this lesson, he covers a head by Thelonious Monk.

Length: 10:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 22

Tools for Solo Arrangements

Matt Brown takes a look at a solo arrangement and provides thoughts and tools necessary to complete this type of guitar playing.

Length: 23:13 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Introduction to Bossa Nova

Matt Brown starts breaking down the rhythmic tendencies and patterns to the Brazilian Bossa Nova style of playing.

Length: 17:56 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Lesson 24

Blue Bossa #1

In lesson 24 of his Jazz series, Matt takes a look at the melody to Blue Bossa.

Length: 9:12 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Lesson 25

Blue Bossa #2

Matt Brown takes a look at the available chord voicings for Blue Bossa.

Length: 10:39 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only

About Matt Brown View Full Biography Matt Brown began playing the guitar at the age of 11. "It was a rule in my family to learn and play an instrument for at least two years. I had been introduced to a lot of great music at the time by friends and their older siblings. I was really into bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins, so the decision to pick up the guitar came pretty easily."

Matt's musical training has always followed a very structured path. He began studying the guitar with Dayton, Ohio guitar great Danny Voris. I began learning scales, chords, and basic songs like any other guitarist. After breaking his left wrist after playing for only a year, Matt began to study music theory in great detail. I wanted to keep going with my lessons, but I obviously couldn't play at all. Danny basically gave me the equivalent of a freshman year music theory course in the span of two months. These months proved to have a huge impact on Brown's approach to the instrument.

Brown continued his music education at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He completed a degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 2002. While at Capital, he also studied jazz guitar and recording techniques in great detail. "I've never had any desire to perform jazz music. Its lack of relevance to modern culture has always turned me off. However, nothing will improve your chops more than studying this music."

Matt Brown currently resides in Dayton, Ohio. He teaches lessons locally as well as at Capital University's Community Music School. Matt's recent projects include writing and recording with his new, as of yet nameless band as well as the formation of a cover band called The Dirty Cunnies.

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Mike H.

"I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar!"
 

I am 66 years young and I still got it! I would have never known this if it had not been for Jamplay! I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar! Ha! I cannot express enough how great you're website is! It is for beginners and advanced pickers! I am an advanced picker and thought I had lost it but thanks to you all, I found it again! Even though I only play by ear, I have been a member a whopping whole two weeks now and have already got Brent's country shuffle and country blues down and of course with embellishments. Thank you all for your wonderful program!


Greg J.

"With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace"
 

I'm a fifty eight year old newbie who owns a guitar which has been sitting untouched in a corner for about seven years now. Last weekend I got inspired to pick it up and finally learn how to play after watching an amazing Spanish guitarist on TV. So, here I am. I'm starting at the beginning with Steve Eulberg and I couldn't be happier (except for the sore fingers :) Some day I'm going to play like Steve! I'm self employed with a hectic schedule. With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace, rewinding and replaying the videos until I get it. This is a very enjoyable diversion from my work yet I still feel like I'm accomplishing something worthwhile. Thanks a lot, Greg


Bill

"I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students."
 

I am commenting here to tell you and everyone at JamPlay that I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students. I truly enjoy learning to play the guitar on JamPlay.com. Yes, I said the words, ""enjoy learning."" It is by far the best deal for the money.



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