there - I get many emails from people who are a little overwhelmed
with theory and harmony who say "I've been playing a good
long time but I still can't sound good playing over chord changes.
I just get stuck!"
There is a very simple answer to this and I pretty much tell everyone
the same thing. You must learn vocabulary! Too many people get
bogged down learning scales, modes and arpeggios. These things
are fine, trust me, you can't go wrong with them and the more
you know, the more you know, but they may not help you play through
chord changes. The reason is that nobody ever plays a scale from
root to root throughout a solo. Nobody plays an arpeggio from
top to toe as a solo for that matter. These things are fantastic
for you to get the sounds into your head. In order to play in
the key of G, we must know how the scale of G sounds and how those
scale notes relate to chords etc, but to simply practice a scale
up and down will never make you sound good in a solo situation.
then what the heck is vocabulary you ask? Well, it's everything
I'm going to show you in my video master class. I will show
you melodic lines ascending and descending in five positions,
you can use in a very practical sense. Yes they come from scales
and arpeggios but they are phrases you can utilize in many different
chordal situations. In other words, you are learning a language.
scales is a little like learning new words from a dictionary.
It's always good to know the definition of a word, but a clever
word on its own means nothing. Put 16 words together and you
have a phrase that means something. It's exactly the same in
jazz. A scale or arpeggio on its own means nothing. Arrange
those notes in a certain way and we now have a phrase, just
like in spoken language. And it is these phrases that we must
learning phrases again, is not the end either, because we must
be able to seamlessly tie different phrases together, just as
in spoken language. It must be seamless, so we can have a conversation
the question now becomes, "how can we seamlessly tie phrases
together without it sounding like we are simply pulling phrases
out of a hat. How can we sound conversational? In other words,
how can we become fluent improvisers?"
this is what we will discuss in depth.
are three resources that we need to draw from in order to really
tie phrases together and effortlessly be able to play music
over chord changes.
Vertical phrases, shapes and patterns
2) Horizontal scale movement
3) Visualizing chord tones and associating scale notes with
must continue to build a growing library of things to draw from.
To do this you must devour transcribed solos, and just as importantly,
transcribe solos yourself that peak your interest.
talk extensively about horizontal movement in my 'Play
What You Hear' program and you may be very familiar with
this if you are working through that course. Playing scales
horizontally on individual strings gets us out of the rut of
clichés. Now as I have mentioned, patterns are great,
and we are learning plenty, but you must be able to transition
between them fluently, and horizontal movement on individual
strings can help us do that. It can get us from point A to point
being able to visualize very clearly the chords we are playing
over the fretboard is extremely important. Not only that, being
able to associate scale notes and chord tones, in a visual sense,
relating them to any given chord at any one time will allow
us to target strong notes, and just as importantly, help us
avoid bad ones and perish the thought, wrong ones.
in this lesson I want to talk about how we might adopt new vocabulary
to our existing vocabulary. What I would also like to emphasize
is that we can say a great deal with very little. We don't need
to have a lifetime's supply of licks in order to say something
heartfelt, or even clever. The ticket is to deliver what you
know with passion and conviction. So let's jump in here and
look at some examples
this first example we are going to look at two phrases and seamlessly
work them together so they sound like one phrase.