Top Secret Tool for Improv

hands-on jazz guitar jazz guitar improvisation Jan 28, 2021

Easy Parallel Motion Lines

Welcome to video number 2 of our Hands-On Jazz Guitar series. The goal of this series is to do some “hands-on” playing. Often, we intellectualize the process of learning jazz, so instead we will work on doing both: playing, and learning. The lesson comes in two forms, this blog post and and a video lesson from yours truly.

Today’s line can be found in our August 2015 issue of our Tune of The Month Club, “Summertime”. The line is played over a very common “two-five-one” chord progression, and makes use of a fun and useful concept called parallel motion. Before I explain the concept, let’s learn the line.

Download ALL of the licks here:
"Easy Parallel Motion Lines"
PDF (includes TAB)
Join our Community here.


Let's Play in Different Tempos!

Let us play the line at three different tempos -- 50%, then 80%, then 100% of the original tempo.  

Today’s idea centers around parallel shapes.

Look closely at the lick below. 


Although there are many more “flats” in block number two, there is one simple link between the two groups of 8th notes: They share the same shape. They are placed a semi-tone, or one fret, apart. 

The line is theoretically imperfect. It works simply because the two shapes are identical. It’s made even stronger because the shapes are parallel. Repetition of the idea gives our ears a chance to latch onto it.

If you’re looking to learn about the basics of jazz improvisation, take a close look at our course “Jazz improv 101”. You’ll find lots of ideas to get you started. You’ll also learn about some of the building blocks of this style of music!

Here are some examples

Now, here are three ways to refresh this idea for use in your playing. In Example A, I’ll invert the second block (block #2). For Example B, I invert the first block, Block #1, but leave the second alone. In example C, I made a simple change in direction to create a new resolution to the line.

See the notes below:

The second block is inverted …

Example A

 … and now the first block is inverted …


Example B

… and finally the original lick with a new resolution.


Example C

From our original idea, we now have a total of four ideas to use when improvising!

Now for the really fun part! It’s time to jump in and “wing it”. It’s really simple: You just need to play. You don’t even need to play these ideas -- although you can try! Your main goal here is to improvise. 

Finishing Up

Thanks for tuning to issue number two of Hands on Jazz Guitar. We had some fun using parallel shapes on the guitar. I’m always amazed at how one little line can give us so much material to work with. You don't have to stop here either. Make up your own new ideas, and put them to work!

Download ALL of the licks here:
"Easy Parallel Motion Lines"
PDF (includes TAB)
Join our Community here.


We love hearing from you! Please, ask us questions and give us feedback below! You’re welcome to subscribe to the YouTube Channel here, and share this post with anyone and everyone you think will like it. Finally, please continue your visit on the website with suggestions below. You’ll find lots more information and videos to help you learn jazz guitar!


**Note from the editor**This post was updated 11/02/2021. (updated feature image, high-res images and syntax and grammar fixes)



For intermediate guitarists ready to "crack the code" in jazz


Up Next: Browse More Free Lessons On the Blog ...

How to Improvise on Jazz Blues for Guitar

Five Chord Melody Tips and Stuff for Jazz Guitarists of ALL levels

Why We Need To Re-Think Jazz Performance

5 Tips for Avoiding Back Pain While Playing Your Guitar

The Chromatic Scale

Jazz Guitar Bios - Master List