Jazz improvisation is the art of creating melodic lines spontaneously. It is traditionally inspired by a piece's rhythms, melody and harmony.
The goal of the jazz improviser is to invent lyrical, inspired melodic content within the boundaries of harmony.
In fact, great jazz solos are often outlining the chord changes effectively!
It's also good to know that jazz musicians sometimes play *OUT* on purpose. They can try to avoid the pre-determined key centers. It's seems that artistic expression cannot be boiled down to formulas after all!
Since this is an instructional website, I will focus on how to play effectively "IN" the changes...
I would like to share three of my favorite jazz improvisation "tools" with you.
The tools are explained in three pages + audio examples and should help you outline
chords clearly while improvising on the guitar.
Please listen to this audio (streaming mp3) while you check out this lesson.
I'll be walking you through the steps and explaining things a bit further than what's written out.
Feel free to pause the audio as you "puzzle things out" on your own instrument! (-:
Here's the AUDIO LESSON for Jazz Improv #2: Using Arpeggios
Arpeggios Are Vertical
Using arpeggios to outline chords is natural. Arpeggios are built of larger intervals (thirds or fourths) and are easy to hear.
The basic arpeggio is in fact a scale built in thirds. Let's look at the F dominant 7 chord :
See, the arpeggio is vertical
The chord, the scale and the arpeggio contain the same notes!
Applying the Arpeggios
The basic steps in arpeggios application are as follow :
--Pick a tune and learn exactly one arpeggio for each chord.
(Stick to the basic 4-note 1-3-5-7)
--Play arpeggios up and down through the tune "rubato" (no tempo).
--In strict tempo, play arpeggios up in quarter-notes and then play arpeggios up and down in eight-notes.
The first four bars of the blues in with arpeggios in eight-notes:
--It is possible to play from different arpeggio segments. Re-do the beginning and intermediate steps with 3-5-7-9 instead of 1-3-5-7.
You can also play with 5-7-9-11 and even 7-9-11-13 if you wish! Work on one segment at a time to "get" the concept and the sound.
And one last thing:
--Please read the "Advanced" section of the "Jazz Improvisation #1 : Scales" page. Adapt the "entire range" and the "small range" exercises for arpeggio playing. Work with different 4-note arpeggio segments.
That'll keep ya busy ...
Please keep in mind that arpeggios are only tools to develop genuine jazz improvisation. They will not make music for you... but they will help you hear through chord progressions.
When you are really "blowing", be in the moment and focus on the feel. Arpeggios are simply part of the grammar of jazz vocabulary, not your whole speech. They emotions you want to convey are above any rules!