Jazz guitar soloing is a sophisticated sound that tracks melodic statements directly into chord tones. This two-part lesson explores how to perform lead phrases in the style of jazz guitar. Part one explains the popular chord harmonies in jazz. Part two gets into the details of how to play lead lines that will target chord tones.
POPULAR JAZZ CHORD HARMONY:
In this lesson we will examine a popular group of popular jazz chord changes that are often referred to as the; “I, VI, II, V.”
This chord progression is not only popular in jazz, it can also be found applied in classical music. Plus, this harmony is easily interchangeable with another similar chord progression, known of as the; “I, VI, IV, V.”
This chord harmony is commonly applied across Jazz. For example, pieces such as, “Blue Moon,” as well as, “Heart and Soul,” use these types of chord progression cycling. The sound of this progressions popularity peaked in the 1950’s and early 1960’s with doo-wop music.
WHAT IS CHORD TONE TARGETING?:
In order to play the perfect notes, and at the same time create a jazzy musical feel, the art of targeting into “specific” chord tones, (of each chord being performed across every measure), is an excellent skill to practice and eventually develop.
However, when it comes to practicing this skill, players quickly realize that it is not a simple task by any means. And, to accomplish it, the guitarist must devote a great deal of time and effort in order to achieve quality results that will prove successful.
In order to develop this technique, guitar players need to learn the notes of their scales, the chords that are involved, as well as, the arpeggios that are necessary to cover each chord all over the fingerboard.
It is also crucial that guitar players know and completely understand the geometry of a key’s diatonic intervals as well.
When we play a chord, the notes form a “geometrical map,” on the fingerboard. One of my G.I.T. instructors, Steve Dudas, often referred to those chord maps as a guitar players, “Chord Sandwiches.”
Thinking in terms of “Chord Sandwiches,” offers a guitar player the opportunity to learn the intervals on the neck in a much deeper way. Plus, this approach can benefit a player by knowing notes more clearly.
In the long run, this helps a guitarist hear and perform smoother more melodic lines. The end result is a more expertly crafted melody that targets into the exact tones of every chord.
EXAMPLE: “D” Major 7th chord
The notes found in a “Dmaj7” chord are, “D, F#, A, C#.”
To cover this type of sound, a Jazz player would seldom play into the root, of “D.” And, this also holds true for the fifth, (A). These tones, while considered strong chord tones, tend to be thought of as somewhat bland and generic.
However, targeting into the 3rd and the 7th chord tones (F# and C#), can come across as sounding far more sophisticated. Those chord tones are part of the chords quality defining tones and they end up offering the improviser a unique color of sound upon resolution.
Make a study of the melody outlined in the tab charts, (the download link is given below).
If you would like to look into further concepts surrounding this topic, then be sure to check out Part Two of this two part lesson.
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