Joined: 14 Sep 2004 Posts: 65 Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Posted: Sun Dec 26, 2004 12:27 am Post subject: Autumn Leaves
Well, on my quest to become a better jazz guitarist, It's obvious that I'd start learning changes. Sooooo, one of the first standards I've started working on is Autumn Leaves. I know the progression, but I'm really stuck in a rut with getting my soloing over the chord changes to sound good. Having viewed the fretboard in scalular patterns for so long it seems kind of hard to adapt to what my teacher keeps telling me, as vague as it might be "Learn the chords". All I'm doing right now is basically playing the corresponding scale to the chord (IE: the first chord in this key of autumn leaves is Cm7 - C Dorian, F7 (#9, b9) etc - F Mixolydian, etc. ) I know there are many, many other things to do, and I see that with the Dominant 7ths I could play some altered scale (incorporating the #9 and b9s I guess) and with the 7b9 I could use some sort of melodic minor. But other than that, I'm really stumped.
Sorry if this sounds kind of confusing, but I know you jazz gurus out there have most likely had your time with this particular standard, and I was just wondering what you guys do over these chords. Thanks. _________________ http://www.soundclick.com/bands/9/noiseepidemicmusic.htm
Hey man! We've all been there, trust me. A good thing to try might be to focus on just playing chord tones--rather than scales--over the changes. Don't just arpeggiate...try to see how many ways you can tie the chord tones together. Look for common tones and/or guide tones between successive chords, and focus on those.
For instance, compare the Cm7 to the F7: C Eb G Bb and F A C Eb. There's two common tones (C and Eb) and one guide tone (Bb down to A). So if your last note over Cm7 happens to be, say, Bb, just move that down to the A over the F7 and you nail the change. It sounds simple in concept, and in fact it is, but it takes a bit of practice to put into action.
The common misconception about playing jazz is that it's all about playing X scale to get such and such alterations over such and such chord. While eventually you need to be more familiar with all of those options, the main idea behind jazz isn't notes, it's rhythm. Jazz is very rhythmically based (it started as dance music, after all), so your focal point (at least at this stage in the game) should be more towards the rhythmic aspect of phrasing rather than the harmonic aspect. Practice on your time feel--set the metronome to click on beats 2 and 4 and work on making a smooth, natural, laid-back swing feel. You'll find that as long as your rhythm and time are rock-solid, you can play pretty basic in terms of harmony, and it will still sound interesting and fresh. Then, after you're comfortable with simple harmony, as you gradually introduce more complex harmonic ideas into your rhythmic brew...things really start happening!
I guess the point I'm trying to make here is to not worry so much about the advanced harmonic stuff just yet. That will come in time. For now, just work on being rock-solid in your time and rhythmic feel. Rhythm is something that ALWAYS has room for improvement, no matter who you are. And don't forget to listen to lots of jazz!
Posted: Fri Jan 28, 2005 6:12 am Post subject: Know your Major And Minor Arpeggios
I think I can add a few more pointers to get you going as well. I have been playing Jazz Guitar for over 15 years now and while there are MANY different ways to learn how to improvise, I have found the arpeggio route is the easiest to learn and create your own licks from. A lot of the jazz guitar masters (Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Kenny Burrell) were absolute masters at utilizing arpeggios in their improvisation. The first response is a great way to really get to know how to improvise over the changes. You should also learn how to play over the G chordal scale. Since Autumn Leaves is in G, you'd construct the G chordal scale in triads first:
D7 (I know I said triads but the 5th is the dominant chord of the scale, you really need to learn how to react to this sound)
Learn how to play these triads REALLY well. Construct 3 octave arpeggios for each type of triad all over the neck. We aren't after speed here...just your ability to "see" each triad over the span of the entire neck. Now the first 2 chord changes in Autumn Leaves is Am-D7-G. Try playing the arpeggios for each of these chords starting on the 6th string up and down the neck---> Am will be in 5th position (I leave the heavy lifting for you to figure out a A minor triad shape that starts on the 6th string/5th fret). Play R-b3-5-b3 pattern....next move to 9th position and play a D7 arpeggio (starts on the 6th string with your second finger)...Play a similar pattern R-3-5-R....Finally play a G major pattern starting on 6th string...2nd position starting with your 3rd finger...The idea is to be able to react to each chord "out of time" by strumming the chord...playing the arpeggio....then going to the next chord in the sequence....If you do this REALLY slow, you will begin to hear each chord and your hand will shift to the corresponding pattern on the neck.....This gets the "ear-brain" connectiong going....when you've done all you can do with Autumn Leaves, move onto another tune that has fairly predictable chord movements (don't tackle Giant Steps just yet)..look at How High The Moon or Moonlight In Vermont or I'll Remember April or Misty....Don't get so hung up on modes and scales....I have found most beginners think that really knowing how to play modes and scales makes you a better player......My response to most students that come my way with this mindset is explaining that this makes as much sense as thinking a chef will be a world class chef because he has a GREAT paring knife and really knows how to cut fruit very well Sure, that skill may come in handy but in and of itself, it's not going to make you a monster player!
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