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  1. #1

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    So one potential solution/step on the big travel of being able to improvise, I have heard is practicing guide tones. You should be able to visualize the 3rd and the 7th immediately on the fretboard in the position you're in to solo around the changes. Now I have a hard time doing this, so I take just one position, and play the 3rds through the tune, then 7ths. I practice this frequently, and I think it's helping. I just wonder, do you often do the samme? I guess this is an incremental journey, and the more you do it, the easier it gets. Also for other tunes. And a extra bonus is of course learning what notes are in chords


    When I asked my teacher for some tips to sound more "jazzy" he said, chromaticism dude. Especially around and between the 3rd and 7th. Thus I would imagine it being very important.

    I also transcribed Charlie Christian on Boy Meets Goy, and it's incredible how aware he is of the chord tones. He really signals the changes. It's like he uses a lot of arpeggios with chromaticism and diatonic tones. I would imagine he was very aware of where the 3rds and 7ths are, and from what I can see he often aimed for them.

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  3. #2

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    You have really put a lot of thought into your questions and in formulating your plan for being a fluent Jazz guitarist. Some of your questions remind me of the many questions I had. The folks on this forum were always able to give credible answers to me. Hopefully, you will continue to get your questions answered as well.

    Anyone can see you are really putting in a lot of effort to get there, and you have raised some topics and made points that I never considered. I have found them helpful.

  4. #3

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    I don’t actively practice them, but I absolutely know them and their location.

    its not a bad idea if you’re uncomfortable with them.


    one bit of advise.

    Just playing 7’s resolving to 3’s, well, it’s not super musical, and not really what you’ll be doing down the road. So instead try this,

    any time you’re on a ii V, play the ii arpeggio, d f a c, and resolve that c, to the B of the G7. It’s teaching you the same thing, but it’s a heck of a lot closer to what you’ll be doing down the road.

    good luck

  5. #4

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    Using guide tones is using good voice leading in your lines. It's not only 3rds and 7ths. A guide tone line could be connecting 5th of one chord to #9th of an altered chord then to the 6th of the next chord. Say, A -> A# -> A in the case of Dm GAlt C6. Any chord tone including extensions can be used especially if they are important melody notes.
    3rds and 7ths are the strongest defining tones but of course always using strongest possible and most textbook note choices would reduce their effect and get boring quickly.
    Ability to play melodically using only chord tones through a tune while connecting chord tones in variety of ways with ease is one of the initial steps of learning a tune. Once you can do that, you have an empty canvas and you can start thinking about what to paint
    You'll have a lot easier time coming up with good lines, working them through the changes if you can play and hear the chord tones.

  6. #5

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    Also don't worry about sounding jazzy. I made that mistake myself. Where it took me was aimless and incoherent bebop 8th note lines. I sounded like a bad Tal Farlow imitation (and still not nearly as fast). Instead focus on playing good sounding lines that follow the harmony and tell a story. You don't have to use a lot of notes.
    I think that's a faster way to get to eventually being able to play sophisticated jazz solos (if that's a goal), than trying to play what comes off as messy bebop imitation jazz solos and hope to clean them up over time.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 02-27-2019 at 07:27 PM.

  7. #6
    Ability to play melodically using only chord tones through a tune while connecting chord tones in variety of ways with ease is one of the initial steps of learning a tune. Once you can do that, you have an empty canvas and you can start thinking about what to paint
    You'll have a lot easier time coming up with good lines, working them through the changes if you can play and hear the chord tones.
    Could you explain how you do this? I have a hard time going past playing one guide note for each beat. I have done steady eight note practice with arpeggios also, which is very hard to do at a steady tempo, but it rarely uses any guide tone principal. It’s just resolving to nearest chord tone on the next chord.


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  8. #7

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    Barry Harris excersises for practicing major and dom scales include playing scales in intervals and triads with chromatic note from below the first note.

    This is essentially a guide/lead-tone practice.

    Actually I never heard clear definition of guide-tone in jazz... excep that someone said it is 3rd and 7th

    what is guide tone? In my opinion it is just the unstable tone going to a stable tone, leading or guiding into it. The idea of 3rd and 7th being guide tones cover it only separately and mosly related in my opinion with traditional classical harmony - which is ok. But in classical it s clearly connected with functions and it makes the whole thing a bit ... well ... bigger.... it workd on the level of cadences mostly... that means it works lon the level of the form.

    But I think in jazz it to some degree minimized to microsope level... and this is where the chromaticis idea comes from. Any chromatic note in respect to diatonic note (diatonicism is representes through inteval of chord in that case) - so any chromatic note becomes a guide tone... and this chromatic note in its turn can be diatonic fro previous harmony etc.

    In that sense what we have to practice more is melodic intevals playing... Barry's excercise is exactly about it, playing melodic guide tones... it is not decribed by vertical harmony but in that context mosly by linera intervalic tension...

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by znerken View Post
    Could you explain how you do this? I have a hard time going past playing one guide note for each beat. I have done steady eight note practice with arpeggios also, which is very hard to do at a steady tempo, but it rarely uses any guide tone principal. It’s just resolving to nearest chord tone on the next chord.


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    I simplify arpeggios to triads. Primary triads and triads from the thirds. Then I consider all inversions in adjacent string groups. Both in position and horizontally. The idea is to play over the tune chorus after chorus using only these triads and connecting them in various ways. Be mindful of which inversion you're using and what chord tones are you connecting. At least initially. After a while you'll start hearing other lines around the chord tones. Embellishments, chromatic connections, scale tones, anticipations, syncopation, omitting notes are all layered on top of these simple triads. They allow for rhythmic and melodic creativity.
    This should be done both with backing tracks/looped chords as well as with metronome. Both ways have useful things to offer. Looped chords help you hear your lines against the harmony, metronome (on 2 and 4) help you learn to keep track of the form yourself.
    Guide tones are just a special case of these chord tone lines. It's important to not to start embellishing too soon. Play over a tune for an hour or so chorus after chorus with just chord tones, before adding more stuff. That requires discipline.
    You can then explore other things using these triads. Add Barry Harris half notes, 5432 connections etc. You can also use triadic cells like 1235 patterns as themes and transpose them through the changes. Then develop the theme using other stuff that you can layer on top.
    Lots of ideas. But first stick with simple triads until your ears and fingers are very comfortable with that over the tune.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    I simplify arpeggios to triads. Primary triads and triads from the thirds. Then I consider all inversions in adjacent string groups. Both in position and horizontally. The idea is to play over the tune chorus after chorus using only these triads and connecting them in various ways. Be mindful of which inversion you're using and what chord tones are you connecting. At least initially. After a while you'll start hearing other lines around the chord tones. Embellishments, chromatic connections, scale tones, anticipations, syncopation, omitting notes are all layered on top of these simple triads. They allow for rhythmic and melodic creativity.
    This should be done both with backing tracks/looped chords as well as with metronome. Both ways have useful things to offer. Looped chords help you hear your lines against the harmony, metronome (on 2 and 4) help you learn to keep track of the form yourself.
    Guide tones are just a special case of these chord tone lines. It's important to not to start embellishing too soon. Play over a tune for an hour or so chorus after chorus with just chord tones, before adding more stuff. That requires discipline.
    You can then explore other things. Add Barry Harris half notes, 5432 connections etc. You can also use triadic cells like 1235 patters as themes and transpose them through the changes. Then develop the theme using other stuff that you can layer on top.
    Lots of ideas. But first stick with simple triads until your ears and fingers are very comfortable with that over the tune.

    Are we talking steady eight notes throughout? So arpeggio up and down, and as soon as the chord change, you change arpeggio?


    Like Jens does here, right?
    (6:55)

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by znerken View Post
    Are we talking steady eight notes throughout? So arpeggio up and down, and as soon as the chord change, you change arpeggio?
    Absolutely not. If you're not comfortable navigating this stuff on the fretboard don't start with 8th notes. Start with quarter notes or half notes if you need to. Worry about doing it with steady 8th notes much later.
    You can start with up and down but the idea is to be more free and melodic.

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    Absolutely not. If you're not comfortable navigating this stuff on the fretboard don't start with 8th notes. Start with quarter notes or half notes if you need to. Worry about doing it with steady 8th notes much later.
    I can get to eight notes after hours of practice, however I do guide tones with one note for each bar.


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  13. #12

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    The 3rd and 7th define a chord's quality, thus they are very strong harmony related melody notes to feature when improvising, when you feature them you are doing a good job of "making the changes". Thus they always sound really good, melodically. Barry Harris has his scale practice descend from them, the 7th partly for that reason. They are golden nuggets in your pools of notes. Great for starting on and weaving little melodies off of.
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  14. #13

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    Might be helpful to develop some independence between positions and fingerings - continuing to know where you are musically when fingering out of position, in the overlapping area between positions, or when taking a line through multiple positions (so rethinking positions not as fingerings but as musical references about which local fingerings connect musically rather than mechanically).

    A simple reference position may be defined by the octave tonics of scales and roots of chords, there are five of these positions, the numbers that describe them are simply the strings on which the tonic/roots are easily fingered in that position; going up the neck, they are:

    641 (the position where the tonic/root occurs on the 6, 4, and 1 strings)
    42 (the position just up the neck where they occur on the 4 and 2 strings)
    52
    53
    631
    641 (repeats up the neck)

    Notice the common connecting notes between adjacent positions (here in bold):

    641
    42
    52
    53
    631
    641

    Fingering in these reference positions mechanically informs you of where you are; once internalized you may shift your fingerings out of these positions and continue to musically know where you are (supporting the grasp of notes, intervals, scales, chord tones, extensions, and alterations, etc... works with everything).

    If you already are familiar with CAGED or 3NPS, this is really just a "roots/tonics only" view of the same thing... no baggage, just the basic minimum upon which everything else may be referenced (including CAGED and 3NPS). The idea is to move things away from mechanical playing into musical playing by knowing where you are musically wherever you are in any fingering...
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  15. #14

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    Learning where the guide tones of a tune are on the fret is important, yes.

    But I wouldn't treat practicing guide tones as a purely mechanical exercise.

    Once you get more confident navigating the neck, try to sing those guide tones.

    I sing guide tones against a drone to orient myself to the key center and how the harmony functions within the key center of the tune. I use chromatic solfedge to label my tones.

    Autumn Leaves:

    Cm7 F7 Bbmaj7 Ebmaj7 Am7b5 D7 Gm7

    Guide Tone Line starting with 3rd

    Eb Eb D D C C Bb

    Now we think of those tones in Gm with solfege

    Lay (b6) Lay (b6) So (5) So (5) Fa (4) Fa (4) Me (b3)

    This might be a little confusing if you're not used to chromatic solfege and thinking of the whole tune in one key center. I did this exercise a while back with Giant Steps and it drove most of JGF insane

    Specifically, it is more important to hear the guide tone lines rather than find them in position all over the fret board.

  16. #15

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    So yea... guide tones are just tones that guide, typically they are a guide to the harmony.

    This is where it gets more complicated.... what Harmony are you guiding.

    Melodic lines, chord tones that move, resolve... added chromatic notes, voiceleading.... whatever you choose to use.... are all from Harmony.
    They are just your choice of how to imply the harmony. Voice leading is not the harmony.... it is just a technique of implying the harmony. There are very common practice approaches ... but they are not the theory... they are a technique of performing etc...

    So when you decide what the harmony is... the chords are etc.... the guide tones are played to imply that harmony, the changes.

    That is like the 2nd step after you know or decide on what the Roots are.

    Using 3rds and 7ths is just one possibility, a basic arranging technique to imply the harmony.

    If you just play 7th chords and mute the roots and 5ths .... you'll have pretty standard 3rd and 7th guide tone lines. If you have musical organization with your comping.... how and why you use the chord voicings.... you choose to use, you end up with pretty common practice melodic voice leading. Just because a note moves by an octave along with the half or whole step movement doesn't mean it's wrong voice leading....

    So this is typically just a learning experience... getting your fret board and chord/note awareness together. Performing with just 3rds and 7ths or any other couple of notes comping or soloing.... is just an effect, a technique for creating whatever your playing. It's like playing triads, chord tones, arpeggios, scales... chords..... a means for helping you develop you solo... or with comping... a technique for you to use to help perform what your playing...

    If your comping... you decide on what style and feel you want to create... if your soloing.... again what your trying to develop.

  17. #16

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    3rds and 7ths are good notes, know where they are.
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  18. #17

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    s
    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop View Post
    3rds and 7ths are good notes, know where they are.
    ... and so are roots, 5ths and 9ths. Analyse the greats enough and you don't just hear 3rds and 7th being targeted. I don't even see the point in starting off with those unless you're playing lots of long notes. If you're playing 8ths, then there's plenty of room in every bar to explore the other juicy notes, the 9th, 11ths and 13ths (not to mention the fun non diatonic options).

    Really, phrasing and embellishment is more important than how many "butter" notes you can land. A great soloist can target roots and 5ths and make it sound hip.

  19. #18

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    When I took a lesson with Peter Bernstein a zillion years ago (2001), we talked a lot about starting on a chord tone, and finding an "almost" chromatic line through the changes; basically he would work on starting on a chord tone, then moving up or down (or staying on the tone) to the next note that worked over the next chord. He said he did this a lot to open up his ears of different counterlines and such.

    I think you can really hear this in Pete's playing and comping.

    To answer the original question, yes, I did work on playing guide tones, but more in the context of lines that make sense, as opposed to playing the 3rd of every change in stella by starlight or something.