The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #51

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    Hi OP, I am also a novice. Reading this forum has not done much for my chops. Getting out into the world and playing at jam sessions, however, has greatly accelerated my development (or at least my motivation in preparation for future development).

    As rlrhett alludes to, people have different goals or mean different things when they say "learn jazz guitar". Hence you get different advice. Some people think solo chord melody a la Joe Pass "Virtuoso" is the acme of jazz guitar. Others may be inspired most by Wes Montgomery's quartet work, or Pat Metheny's fusion lines, etc. For me personally it was helpful to know that I do not love bebop (gasp, shock). Rather I prefer to listen to (and ideally someday to play) lines that are more out of the hard bop or modal eras / styles. Until I clarified that in my own mind I was really struggling with where to go and how to get there. If you are interested in building and performing rubato solo guitar arrangements of jazz standards (which seems to be what people mean when they say chord melody) then that might narrow down the skills you need to learn - X technical skills, Y arranging skills, Z understanding of harmonic/melodic jazz vocabulary... etc. And it may lead to discoveries that simplify the task.

    One thing is that you should consider video lessons. I take Zoom lessons from Christian Miller who posted in this thread, for example.

    Regarding intuitive fretboard knowledge, I'm having some success following this approach:

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I used to play with a reed player from the Midwest. He'd be about 80-85 now, just to provide some context.

    He said that when he was learning jazz as a teen it was taught entirely by ear. If he didn't know the tune, you could hear him wait until he heard the next chord and then continue his solo. He could read too. But, he did not know the notes in a Cmaj triad.

    He said that this was the way everybody he knew back then learned.

    I'm not clear if or how he used internal language. The only hint I recall was once, when I played a whole tone line in a solo, I heard him say "whole tone". So, he knew some language.
    its also possible to know theory and not use it. I know tons of theory that never surfaces in my actual playing. Theory is intellectual, musical performance including improvisation is embodied.

  4. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by stylo
    .....For me personally it was helpful to know that I do not love bebop (gasp, shock). Rather I prefer to listen to (and ideally someday to play) lines that are more out of the hard bop or modal eras / styles....
    I would be very surprised if Christian didn't explain that Hard Bop and even Modal styles were invented by guys who had a Bebop background. If you take the Bebop out of Hard Bop, then it's just Blues...

  5. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpnblues
    I'm sure you hear a lot of this from newbs like myself. I'm not a newcomer to guitar. I've been playing guitar 60+ years, professionally, semiprofessionally, and now as a serious hobbyist. My musical background for the last 25 years or so is bluegrass and jump blues/swing...jazzy blues and blues-y jazz.

    I've decided to get more serious with my jazz playing and with learning theory. It's like I've started learning guitar from scratch. I've played by ear 99% of the time during my musical "career." Thus, I have a really good ear for picking things up. However, playing by ear will only take you so far when it comes to playing jazz. I can improvise over a 2-5-1 progression "fairly" well. But I have a long way to go to really be good at it.

    I'm mostly interested in chord melody playing as there aren't any jazz bands or combos within several hours driving distance from my home. I'm progressing just OK and it's going very slowly. Thus my frustration. I've purchased instructional materials from Truefire and this website (JGO) and I'm very, very, slowly progressing. Both, the materials and instructors are great. I've learned almost all the jazz chords. I can play through the root 5 and root 6 arpeggios albeit slowly. I haven't started with the jazz scales yet. I have learned parts or all of "How Great Thou Art", "Avalon", "Satin Doll", and "L'il Darlin"...chord melody style.

    Although I've learned almost all the basic jazz chords I'm struggling with what to do with them after learning them. I'm trying to plug in the 17 chords I've learned but I'm having difficulty getting them to fit into a song. I'm also having difficulty with the general vocabulary, language, and jargon of jazz. I guess that's where theory comes in?

    I'm feeling really overwhelmed by all that I have to learn just to get off the starting blocks. I'm hoping that soon I'll have some "ah hah" or epiphany moments. I can usually hear a 9th chord, major 7th, dom 7th, min 7th, 7th flat 5, dim 7th, 6th string root, 5th string root, and distinguish them all by ear. I do have some difficulty knowing where to play them on the fretboard.

    I'm embarrassed to say I have not memorized the notes of the fretboard. That's something I'm trying to learn right now. I know them on the 1st and 6th strings but have to stop and figure them out for the other strings. If someone points to and asks what note that is I can tell you but I have to figure it out in relation to the other strings. That pretty much sums up where I am in my jazz journey.

    Anyway, I'm open to any suggestions and recommendations you might have. I know an instructor would be very helpful but I would have to do that online as there are no jazz guitar instructors within a 100+ mile radius of my home. Thank you in advance for your help.
    Hi Junpnblues,

    I teach Jazz Guitar Lessons as well as Workshops over Zoom. Let me know if you are interested and I can cater something to suit your needs.

    Workshops


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  6. #55

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    I'm also novice. The trouble with chord-melody seems to be having a bass-harm-melody line but only one attention..
    ... with an instrument that makes the fingers to lock when the best idea comes.
    Hi Emanresu

    I teach Jazz Guitar Lessons as well as Workshops over Zoom. Let me know if you are interested and I can cater something to suit your needs.

    Workshops


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  7. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    its also possible to know theory and not use it. I know tons of theory that never surfaces in my actual playing. Theory is intellectual, musical performance including improvisation is embodied.
    Some of it is terminology. Once I can hear it and find it on the guitar, it stops being theory. Or something like that.

  8. #57

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    You'll hear lots of different things, obviously.
    Maybe you'll hear one perspective that happens to click for you, so with that hope here is my take.

    By the way I'm trying to get into more bluegrass now. I can hang at a jam playing jazz standards, but I can barely survive one fiddle tune! If you can play bluegrass and blues you are off to a great start.

    Personally, I would say "jazz playing and learning theory" are two entirely separate things. If you can play by ear, you can play jazz by ear.

    To me, chords are the trickiest thing to hear. Like 5 or 6 notes at once, and really dense harmonies, that's hard. So try using something like this:



    This is a great transcription (with TAB) of a relatively easy chord melody by the master himself, Wes Montgomery. To be clear, this is still learning by ear, just cheating off the TAB when the sound/grip of a new chord might be just out of reach.

    There's a weird thing where people treat jazz like it's NOT music. Like you can't just sit down with a recording you like and learn to play along to it.

    There are only really three places on the neck to play each chord, that's because each chord is fundamentally a triad, made up of only 3 notes. As some others have said here, all the extensions and extra stuff is not necessary, and not helpful at first. I guarantee you Wes Montgomery and many other greats did not know the names to the chords they played. (My teacher, who attended Berklee in the 70s, told me a story about a lesson with Lenny Breau where Breau could not name the chords he was playing.)

    This Herb Ellis lesson video is the best way of looking at chords on guitar that I have ever found.



    The main "technical" thing I would do is kind memorize the "white notes" on the A string (C major scale notes). It's like a phone number: 2 3 5 7 8 10 12. Then you can play any chord with root on E string or A string.

    Every chord is either Maj(7), Min(7), or Dom(7). Ignore the other stuff and play through tunes using those shapes.

    It can be overwhelming when you get on the internet. Nobody 60 years ago when jazz was (in my opinion) at a peak was worried about all this internet stuff. That was invented to sell to people in universities. It's fundamentally a folk music like the other genres you play. There was also some very exciting composition happening after about 1960 (Giant Steps, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, etc.). That stuff is hard for all of us to play. That's a whole different kind of problem solving, and not where anyone should start.

  9. #58
    Epiphany!!! I had a great practice session yesterday. Things are starting to come together. From the 17+ jazz chords I learned, I was able to put together the necessary chords for a decent, believable, version of "Autumn Leaves" in G. What a great feeling?!! I'm off and running. No bass lines yet. However, I've "assembled" not only "Autumn Leaves" but "Satin Doll" and "How Great Thou Art." I've also been working on "Lil Darlin" and "Avalon." Using my ears I've been able to hear individual tones of chords, construct or modify them, and apply those tones to the chords and song.

    I still feel awkward in my novice like musical descriptions but, as times goes on and as I learn more, that will correct itself. I've gone from frustrated and discouraged to really excited about my progress. I'm using the version of learning the fretboard that stylo posted (Thank you, stylo). I'm trying to pay attention to the names of the chords I'm playing and progressions.

    My ears have helped me much more than I realized they would. Good ears are especially useful in determining what chords and lead lines "fit," what sounds right, and what doesn't. I'm also working on arpeggios and will soon start working on scales.

    I'm also working on improvising and playing over chord changes. I find improvising easier than learning chord melody and perhaps even a little more fun. With improvisation I hear lead lines and phrasing in my head, sing them, and find it on the guitar. I've done that with bluegrass music for the last 12 years. Again, my ears help with that. But I really love any aspect of playing jazz.

    Anyway, just thought I'd share my excitement. I'm actually playing jazz! Something I've wanted to learn to do since I was a teen many decades ago. Well, gotta go practice. Will be back later.

  10. #59

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    Charles Lloyd:

    “What keeps me younger than springtime is that I’m still learning, I’m still growing. I’ve got experience, but I’ve got a beginner’s mind, and that’s a blessing.”

  11. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett
    Poor OP. Reminds me of the parable of the blind men describing an elephant. It is long like a snake! No, it has the wings of a bat! No, it is thick like a tree trunk!

    But I’ll add my half blind perspective:

    I wish music was about playing with other people, but no one I know has the time or energy for anything as “stupid” as playing music. Sounds like the OP has the same issue.

    Much of jazz guitar education, and much of the advice here, is about playing a steaming solo backed up by a bass player, drummer, and an intrusive pianist. After years of trying to learn from what is typically taught for jazz guitar I finally came to the conclusion that solo guitar, even jazz solo guitar, is closer to classical guitar than traditional jazz.

    My advice? Learn solo arrangements of the tunes you like note for note. Perform them to your family and friends, or just for your own pleasure. In parallel, and at your leisure, learn some theory that will help you understand how the arrangements were composed. As you learn the theory, start making your own arrangements that you learn note for note.

    The way this becomes “jazz” is to someday be so proficient in arranging for solo guitar that you start being able to spontaneously modify arrangement as you play, or even spontaneously create arrangements from a melody. But you have to walk before you run, and spontaneous arranging for solo guitar is being able to run a hurdles race while juggling a cat, a chainsaw, and a flaming torch.




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    Good advice.

  12. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett
    Poor OP. Reminds me of the parable of the blind men describing an elephant. It is long like a snake! No, it has the wings of a bat! No, it is thick like a tree trunk!

    But I’ll add my half blind perspective:

    I wish music was about playing with other people, but no one I know has the time or energy for anything as “stupid” as playing music. Sounds like the OP has the same issue.

    Much of jazz guitar education, and much of the advice here, is about playing a steaming solo backed up by a bass player, drummer, and an intrusive pianist. After years of trying to learn from what is typically taught for jazz guitar I finally came to the conclusion that solo guitar, even jazz solo guitar, is closer to classical guitar than traditional jazz.


    My advice? Learn solo arrangements of the tunes you like note for note. Perform them to your family and friends, or just for your own pleasure. In parallel, and at your leisure, learn some theory that will help you understand how the arrangements were composed. As you learn the theory, start making your own arrangements that you learn note for note.

    The way this becomes “jazz” is to someday be so proficient in arranging for solo guitar that you start being able to spontaneously modify arrangement as you play, or even spontaneously create arrangements from a melody. But you have to walk before you run, and spontaneous arranging for solo guitar is being able to run a hurdles race while juggling a cat, a chainsaw, and a flaming torch.




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    This state of affairs can be so true for many of us who opted for a career outside music and then moved on with our lives, especially as we get older and moving toward retirement. In my experience so far, we seem to isolate as we get older, not hanging out with friends to jam with as we may have when we were much younger and single.

    Your comment about most jazz education seeming to be preparing the player to play with other musicians seems to match my observation too, and I am glad to read another person here saying this.

    I would recommend to the OP to consider Robert Conti's chord melody materials in particular because these will set you up to be making your own arrangements right away. When you start with Chord Melody Assembly Line, you will quickly develop a vocabulary of chords that allow you to harmonize any melody note with major chords, minor chords, dominant chords, diminished chords, and augmented chords. These are all movable chord forms, so you learn the forms and move them around as needed. None of these chords involves large stretches or gymnastics, so they are easy to play and move from one to another and they don't sacrifice sophistication.

    So once you finished that book and DVD, you can open a fakebook to any tune and voice chords under any melody note.

    Next, after doing that for a while, you move on to "The Formula", a book and two DVDs. Here, you learn how to use different chords under the melody each time you play it, so you never have to play it the same way twice. This is when you start moving toward being able to spontaneously arrange as rlrhett alludes to.

    However, the way Conti presents the material, you are moving from one block chord to the next and harmonizing every melody note with a chord. The reason for this is that he is eliminating everything so you can focus on learning to put a chord under a melody note and then being able to put any chord under a melody note.

    It will then be up to you to explore ways of breaking up the chords to add texture and that sort of thing. This is where rlrhett's advice: "Learn solo arrangements of the tunes you like note for note." can get into your hands ways of doing this. By the time you start doing this, you have solidly in your hands a decent chord vocabulary and how to use it, so now you are focusing on how to add movement and get away from the block chord under every melody note idea.

    Later, you might be interested in Conti's book on Intros, Endings, and Turn-arounds if you want to add these to your arrangements. Here is the link to this series of book/DVDs:

    Source Code DVD Series Archives • RobertConti.com

    The thing is, that taking this route, you are playing tunes all through the learning process and you only need to learn just a couple of somebody else's arrangement by rote to get the feel for making the tunes flow by breaking up chords and such. My problem is that I just don't have enough interest in learning somebody else's arrangement by rote and then becoming a sort of jukebox repeating somebody else's work verbatim every time I play. So for me, what I am suggesting is one way to avoid that as much as possible. I am not criticizing rlrhett's post at all, since it is excellent advice all the way through. Instead, I am adding my own ideas and suggesting a slightly different path that is based on my own way of doing things. We all find our own path eventually.

    Some other ideas that are equally good and come from other directions:

    - https://barrygreenevideolessons.vhx.tv/ (Barry Greene has lots of great video lessons teaching chord melody)

    - DVDs/downloadable guitar lessons (Jake is all about chord melody and has downloadable video lessons)

    Btween all the suggestions in this thread, the OP has lots to keep him busy for life.

    Tony