Tony Oreshko jazz and gypsy jazz guitar


by Tony Oreshko
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Jazz Soloing - Lesson 1


Most guitar players with some experience of soloing in blues, rock or pop songs may be familiar with something called the Pentatonic Scale, or the Blues Scale. This is a simple scale pattern that you can use throughout a song for soloing.

Jazz players also use scales, but I'm going to start this section on soloing by showing you how to use something called an arpeggio. If you want your soloing to start sounding more jazzy then arpeggios are a good way of doing this.

Understanding Arpeggios

So, what is an arpeggio? Well, if you take the different notes that make up a chord and then simply play the notes one after another rather than all at the same time you have an arpeggio.

Here's an example of a Bm7b5 chord, and then a Bm7b5 arpeggio, first played slow then a little faster. Just click on the chord shape on the left, and then on the arpeggio diagram on the right to compare how they sound:

Bm7b5 Chord and Arpeggio>

             Bm7b5 chord diagram                           Bm7b5 arpeggio diagram

Repeated Notes

You may be able to see from the two diagrams that the arpeggio contains all the notes of the chord shape, plus some extra notes. These extra notes are just repeated chord notes. They were missed out of the chord because it's impossible to play them all at once.

Arpeggios Played Over Chords

Because an arpeggio contains all the notes of its chord, it therefore sounds good to solo over a chord using its arpeggio. So you can use a Bm7b5 arpeggio to solo over a Bm7b5 chord. Great - but the chances are you won't come across Bm7b5 chords all that often. However this arpeggio is a very versatile chap. I'll now show you the interesting things you can do with it!

Using Substitution

Because of the marvels of chord substitution, this Bm7b5 arpeggio can also be used for soloing on top of a G7 chord. By using a Bm7b5 over a G7 chord we end up with a very jazzy G9 sound. The best way to think of it is as an alias: Bm7b5 aka (also known as) G9 arpeggio.

Counting 6 Steps

To work out these aliases we just count 6 steps through the musical alphabet. Here's what I mean: We started with a Bm7b5 arpeggio, so we take the root note, B. We now count up 6 inclusive from B:

B - C - D - E - F - G

You'll see G is 6 steps above B. This means Bm7b5 is equal to G9

Listen to the following soundclips. In the first one you'll hear a G7 chord followed by the Bm7b5 (alias G9) arpeggio, just to give you an idea of how the arpeggio and chord sounds work together:

G7 chord followed by Bm7b5 arpeggio   G7 with Bm7b5 (alias G9) arpeggio

In the next one you'll hear a very short improvised solo over a G7 chord. It is based entirely on the Bm7b5 (alias G9) arpeggio. Notice how the notes of the arpeggio can be played in any order and with different timings to create lots of different solo ideas:

Bm7b5 arpeggio solo over G7 chord   Soloing example

N.B. I'll supply the tab for this solo example if anyone asks

To recap, we've looked at a Bm7b5 arpeggio and learnt that we can use it to solo over a Bm7b5 chord. But we discovered that the same arpeggio can also be called G9, and can be used for soloing over a G7 chord. By playing around with the order of the notes in the arpeggio it can be used to build many different solos and licks.

Hope you've managed to follow this lesson and get some useful ideas from it. In the next lesson I'll show you how to use this arpeggio pattern to play a jazzy 12 bar blues solo.

Tony Oreshko

Go to Jazz Soloing Lesson 2

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