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GUITAR TIPS


JAZZ SOLOING


This is an enormous simplification, but in general:

Early jazz and swing jazz styles improvise in a melodic style, frequently embellishing or restating the melody. When you don’t know what else to do, you can’t go wrong playing the melody!

More modern jazz styles, from bebop to the present, more commonly use a harmonic approach, playing over the chord changes using motives and letting each phrase evolve from the previous one. Think of melodic arpeggios and also chromatically. You also use jazz bebop scales (both major and minor 3rds or both major and minor 7ths). Work on arpeggios and find rhythmic ways to use them. Remember to substitute up and down in thirds (i.e., Dm7= Fmaj7, Am7, Em7, Bm7b5 in scales and in arpeggios. Center melodies on upper chord tones (5, 7, 9) to keep tension "floating".

For all styles of soloing, learn to sing and play at the same time to develop phrasing and keep yourself real, especially with scales. Be very particular in copying your vocal phrasing and articulation; you can sing a solo easier than playing it usually, and with more natural phrasing. Rhythm is VERY important.

Build your solos: start small and sparse, but strong, and build in complexity (harmonically and rhythmically). They should develop naturally and end naturally as well. Wes Montgomery liked to play single notes, the, octaves, then chord solos, which is effective, although Django mixed them up all the time.

LEFT HAND WARMUP

Here’s my favorite warmup exercise for the left hand, hammer-ons and pull-offs. Stop when your hand is tired, and go slow!

  • ASCENDING SLURS (Hammer-ons)
    • The finger cocks back and “hammers” string from the knuckle joint.
    • Faster finger= louder slur; helps at first to back up the finger more.
    • Fingers stay curled at all times and pointed towards strings.
    • Tip joint points, knuckle joint does the work.
  • DESCENDING SLURS (Pull-offs)
    • Left hand fingertip plucks string down to sound the slur.
    • All fingers needed for the descending slur(s) must be on the string BEFORE the first note is plucked (90% of LH is preparation).
    • After playing slur, the left hand finger can touch on the next string (rest stroke) or clear it (free stroke).
    • Use a light finger pressure; the harder you push the harder it is!
  • GOALS AND REASONS TO PRACTICE SLURS
    • An ideal warmup.
    • Necessary technique in all musical styles.
    • Slurs are the fastest way to improve the left hand.
      • Develops finger independence.
      • Improves hand form and position.
      • Develops finger strength.
      • Improves left hand speed and accuracy.
      • Encourages a light left hand finger pressure.
      • Improves endurance, especially as touch lightens.
  • DIRECTIONS FOR SLUR STUDIES
    • Play each slur motion (i.e., 1--2) 8 times; as you improve, 4 x is fine.
    • Start on the 1st string at 5th fret, then move up the neck one fret at a time, and come down the neck to 1st position. Keep track of how far you get before getting tired and see if you improve over time.
    • Practice slowly, and STOP when your hand gets tired!
    • Pause briefly between repetitions and empty tension in your hands.
    • Practice with a metronome and concentrate on timing; avoid tendency of the slurred note to rush as finger velocity increases.
    • Make the slurred note the same volume as the picked note.
    • Speed is not important; eveness and volume are.
    • Play close (slightly over) the fret to minimize finger pressure.
    • Use the weight of your left arm to “pull” your fingers into the strings; keep left elbow away from body to balance arm. Right forearm keeps guitar in place by gravity but never locked or pushed into the guitar.
    • Practice on other strings also (basses are the hardest).
    • Play first exercise for several weeks before progessing.
    • 1-2= left hand index and middle finger


    • EXERCISE 1: 1--2 2--3 3--4 2--4 1--4 1--3 1--2

    • EXERCISE 2: 2--1 3--2 4--3 4--2 4--1 3--1 2--1

    • EXERCISE 3: 1-2-1 2-3-2 3-4-3 2-4-2 1-4-1 1-3-1 1-2-1

    • EXERCISE 4: 2-1-2 3-2-3 4-3-4 4-2-4 4-1-4 3-1-3 2-1-2

    • EXERCISE 1: 1--2 2--3 3--4 2--4 1--4 1--3 1--2

    • EXERCISE 2: 2--1 3--2 4--3 4--2 4--1 3--1 2--1

    • EXERCISE 3: 1-2-1 2-3-2 3-4-3 2-4-2 1-4-1 1-3-1 1-2-1

    • EXERCISE 4: 2-1-2 3-2-3 4-3-4 4-2-4 4-1-4 3-1-3 2-1-2



     

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