I really love jazz and want to learn it but it just seems so complex... What I mean is that I usually learn styles of music by transcribing songs and 'decoding' them to see what they're playing but in jazz guitar theres just so many notes and to transcribe a full 3 minute song takes hours and is almost impossible to remember them all.
What would be the best way to learn? Is there certain websites or places to go, or is transcribing one of the main ways to learn that is just something you have to push through and do like any other type of music?
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Thread: How do you learn jazz guitar?
02-21-2019, 06:30 AM #1Guest
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- Feb 2019
How do you learn jazz guitar?
02-22-2019, 01:39 PM #2
Different kinds of "Jazz" may require a different approach. What kind of Jazz do you wish to play?
Many here will say that despite your preferences, you should really become au fait with the bop language, as it's Jazz's lingua franca. If you want to know how to approach the Bop language, but you're coming from a blues/rock/pop/folk/classical background the very first thing you should get your head around is that scales are not the key to the kingdom like they are for other styles of music.
Improvising Bop is challenging because there are many shifts of key centres, so you can't just play as though it's just one key centre for the whole tune (unless it's a vamp). Instead, learn to embellish chord tones (see the lessons section of this forum). Best way to do this is to first learn all the basic 7th chord types in at least 5 positions. Start with drop 2 using the middle 4 strings. You can work through the other types later on if you want to get stuck into improvising single line solos. Once you have a handle on these chords, learn the arpeggios, again for each chord type and in each position. For a lot of students, this can be a years work! And you are still just developing basic fundamentals you absolutely need to know, so the sooner the better!
Then the fun stuff begins, you learn to embellish chord tones, both diatonically and chromatically. There are dozens of ways to do this, but you need to choose a few you like and practice them thoroughly. You will find the chord tones in many of these devices are landing on down beats (with some cool exceptions). This is the sound of Jazz. When you improvise against a tune without the backing chords, you should still be able to hear the harmony changing in each bar or 2. People will suggest you start with landing lots of 3rd and 7th (guide tones), but there's no reason why you can't target all the chord tones. In fact, I'd strongly suggest arpeggios up to the 9th but emitting the root. 3 - 9 arps are simple substitutions (e.g., Bm7b5 instead of G7 produces a rootless G9). This is still considered a basic starting point and introduces you to another fun part, substitutions, which is really what it's all about! So instead of the boring Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7, you play: Fmaj7 - Bm7b5 - Em7. The bass still plays D - G - C so it comes out Fmaj9 - Dm9 - Cmaj9. (Way cooler, but still bland for the experienced Jazz ear).
This is another couple of years of solid work before you even need to worry about tritone subs or modes of Melodic Minor. As for tunes to apply your new chops against, start with a Jazz Blues and basic Rhythm Changes (look that up if you don't know what that means). Google beginner Jazz tunes for lists of easy tunes to begin with. Listen to lots of famous versions of these tunes, choose your favourite and try to figure out whats going on. Analyse the solos and see how they connect to the underlying chords, and try to figure out the rhythm of the comping (the rhythm guitar or piano). Better to get good a just a small handful of tunes, ignore people who say you need to learn 100's of tunes. Later on you may wish to, but you don't have to (you may wish to compose your own tunes).
Most importantly, stop looking for short cuts, or "the book" that spells it all out. Sorry, there is no such thing - never was. Jazz education got all weird in the 70's and became something that made money for Universities and book publishers. Because of this you will be totally overwhelmed and confused with all the different methods or advice around (especially on the internet). IGNORE IT, IT"S JUST NOISE.
All the above is a few years work, after which your tastes will have developed and will guide you to what you'd like to do from there (Gypsy Jazz? Swing? BeBop? Modal? Latin Jazz ? Post Bop? Fusion? Jazz Rock? Modern Jazz?). You could easily teach yourself through all these stages of your development, but if you can afford it you will progress better with a good teacher who can play the styles you really like (stay away from teachers who play styles you don't like!!!).
Lastly, and probably above all, you have to listen to a ton of Jazz every week. This is how you develop your personal taste, which will be very individual. For example, I'm quite certain there is no one else in the world that shares all my tastes in Jazz. There are things I loathe that many here love, and vice versa. That is good, we should all be unique with out tastes, and it should come out in our playing.
Oh yeah, you often hear this cliche "it's not about the destination, it's about the journey". In other words you need to be very comfortable with the idea that you will never be as good as you want to be, and it will take much, much longer to sound reasonable than you ever imagined. But instead of that being a bummer, it turns out to be the thing you live for!. Yup, it's life long addiction.
Just sign right here...
02-22-2019, 02:03 PM #3
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- Aug 2014
1) Learn these chords on your guitar in multiple keys (see attached PDF) These will get you started.
2) Pick one jazz standard you like and have a desire to learn
3) Find a lead sheet for the tune
4) Learn and memorize the chords
5) Learn and memorize the melody in multiple positions on the fingerboard
6) Identify and write down where the sevenths and thirds of each chord are
7) Tie in those 3rds and 7ths using arpeggios and chromatic lines
8) Listen to other musician's (not just guitar players) version of the tune you picked
9) Pick another tune
11) Enjoy pursuing your new hobby for the rest of your life
02-22-2019, 02:33 PM #4
Go to the lessons section on this site."As for me, all I know is that I know nothing." - Socrates
“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” - Alan Wilson Watts
02-22-2019, 02:56 PM #5
Never get long-winded and use technical terms when talking to an absolute beginner.
Go to the lessons on this site. There's also a free e-book.
Free Jazz Guitar Lessons | Learn How To Play Jazz Guitar
04-15-2019, 02:34 PM #6
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- Aug 2018
The quickest, easiest way to learn jazz guitar is to pick up the Jazz Guitar Fakebook. In a matter of minutes you can be playing jazz standards, learning sophisticated chords and sounding surprisingly good. After a week working through this book, you could use it as a rhythm accompanist on a jazz gig.
The previous suggestions in this thread for learning jazz guitar are good, but they will take years to master. Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take that route. But if you just want to dive in immediately to the jazz guitar world, give this Fakebook a try.
04-15-2019, 03:32 PM #7
Transcribing can mean a few different things:
- it may be listening and writing it in standard notation (clefs, key signature, notes on the staff)
Sometimes when someone says they are transcribing a tune what they mean is they are capturing "all the notes" of a specific perhaps famous or well known particular recording of a performance or studio session. In that case they really are transcribing "all the notes" and will be using standard music notation. Most often "all the notes" are all the ones played by a particular instrument - maybe even only those of the solo.
- it may be listening and writing a lead sheet (just chords and maybe the melody line)
Sometimes one transcribes a song in order to prepare to be able to play it and the main thing of interest is the song form and the harmonic changes (chords), and melody line. The intent is not to absolutely reproduce a particular performance of the song but be able to play one's own performance of the song... meaning they may make their own versions of the voicing and rhythm of the chords, their own personal version of the song. Much less detail needs to be captured and if it is just the chords and melody line, your really making a lead sheet, which of what you find in the fake books.
- it may be something even more schematic and abbreviated (just chord changes of the parts of the form with an indication of the sequence of those parts that comprise the whole form)
Sometimes people that have played a long time may only need to know a couple of things before playing a new song because certain parts of famous songs actually have names that are used among musicians to describe other songs' same progression structures and song form - knowing the key they may be good to go.
- it may be just listening and figuring it out directly on the guitar (not writing anything, just internalizing and remembering)
Figuring out songs by ear at the instrument can be pretty brutal and exhausting in the early years. The main advantage to doing it "the hard way" is that when you discover something by figuring it out yourself, it is kind of imprinted within you and you don't forget it. This is similar to the way that it is virtually impossible to forget a song you composed yourself. When you figure out a song by ear, there is a sense that you are sort of composing it within yourself as you grasp it. If you try transcribing by ear, you may need to pace yourself by working until you learn something, then stopping and picking it up later."Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."
04-16-2019, 11:14 AM #8
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- Aug 2013
While it's true there are no shortcuts, your progress is entirely a function of how much work you put into it. If you're focused, you can memorize the required arpeggios and the five "families" of chords and their inversions and extensions in a month or two. If you practice only sporadically or relapse into pentatonic scales over blues, you'll never get there.
A guitar teacher - one that you enjoy working with -- is probably the fastest route. (I looked at the Jazz Guitar Fakebook. Everyone has to start learning tunes from somewhere, but the chord voicings look nothing like a jazz chart. I'd be wary of learning beginner harmony from that.)
Learning to play jazz music may be a lifetime pursuit, but once you get some basics nailed down you can start playing tunes and quickly add new concepts and techniques to your playing.
04-16-2019, 01:50 PM #9
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- Aug 2018
I have dozens of jazz guitar books and — if I had to choose — would trade them all for this fake book.
Last edited by DaveRoberts; 04-16-2019 at 02:16 PM.