Core Lessons

Welcome to the Core Lessons section for jazzguitarlegend.com.

Each lesson has been carefully constructed to cover the main fundamentals of jazz theory. You can learn one lesson per week or learn at your own pace. Please feel free to ask questions in the forum and share thoughts and progress with the community.

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Lesson 1: Major Scale CAGED method [CL1]

In this lesson we look at a basic foundational harmonic element – the Major Scale. The mathematical make up of the harmony in this scale provides us with a fundamental template over which all other harmonic material is given context, for example a scale with a flattened 3rd degree is…

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Lesson 2: Major Scale Variations – 1 and 3 NPS [CL2]

Continuing on with the major scale, we now look a common practical method for mapping scales onto the guitar neck (this may be applied to any scale – not just the major scale / 7 note scales). The idea here is to play 3 notes on each string and to complete two octaves over 5 strings. This is a…

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Lesson 3: Major Scale Variations 2 -One string and 4NPS [CL3]

Learning the major scale in many different forms is not only good mental and aural preparation for improvising – it is also necessary for understanding how harmony works on the guitar (as there are usually multiple ways of playing the same thing on a guitar!).   One String Scales: Play…

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Lesson 4: Major Mode 2 – Dorian [CL4]

The Dorian mode scale can be found by playing the second step of any major scale and continuing on till the second octave is reached. This minor flavoured sound has a different intervallic formula, scale degrees, sound and feel from the major scale, as follows: Remember that when we use the…

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Lesson 5: Major Mode 3 – Phrygian [CL5]

The Phrygian mode scale can be found by playing the third step of any major scale and continuing on till the second octave third step is reached. This sound has an intervallic formula, set of scale degrees, sound and feel that is quite different from both the major and Dorian…

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Lesson 6: Major Mode 4 – Lydian [CL6]

The Lydian mode scale can be found by playing the fourth step of any major scale and continuing on till the second octave fourth step is reached. This ‘major’ type sound has an intervallic formula and set of scale degrees as follows: Remember that when we use the terms ‘sharpened (#)’…

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Lesson 7: Major Mode 5: Mixolydian [CL7]

The Mixolydian mode scale can be found by playing the fifth step of any major scale and continuing on till the second octave fifth step is reached. This ‘major - dominant’ sound has an intervallic formula and set of scale degrees as follows: Remember that when we use the term ‘flattened’…

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Lesson 8: Major Mode 6 – Aeolian [CL8]

The Aeolian mode scale can be found by playing the sixth step of any major scale and continuing on till the second octave sixth step is reached. This ‘minor’ sound has an intervallic formula and set of scale degrees as follows: Remember that when we use the term ‘flattened’ scale…

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Lesson 9: Major Mode 7 – Locrian [CL9]

The Locrian mode scale can be found by playing the seventh step of any major scale and continuing on till the second octave seventh step is reached. This scale forms a ‘diminished’ triad when playing the tonic, 3rd and 5th and the sound has an intervallic formula and set of scale degrees as…

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Lesson 10: Basic Scale Patterns [CL10]

In this video we cover some of the different kinds of basic scalar patterns that can be applied to scales, in order to learn consecutive mathematical phrases that may, once practiced in, lead to more spontaneous musical ideas. In essence, patterns are formed from numbering and ordering a certain…

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Lesson 11: Triad and 7th chord arpeggio patterns [CL11]

In this video we look at triad and 7th chord arpeggios and how they can be practiced in a methodical form across the entire range of a scale. There are many reasons for practicing arpeggios: Intervallic knowledge, neck knowledge. Difficult for both left and right hands, therefore, technically…

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Lesson 12: The interval exercise – Diads [CL12]

In improvising, practicing patterns is invaluable because: They give the improviser a wider range of directional, intervallic and melodic variations in their vocab of known scales. They provide a solid method for learning, hearing and feeling complex musical patterns in terms of aural and…

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Lesson 13: The Triad [CL13]

The Triad can be thought of as a fundamental harmonic device that an improviser can use as both a soloing and comping tool. It is the platform from which we build the most simple, powerful chords in music. Understanding how triads are built is a crucial step in coming to terms with the harmonic…

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Lesson 14: Seventh Chords [CL14]

When exploring harmony using the Tertian system (stacked ‘3rd’ intervals), we find four triad possibilities. These are the: (*see lesson 13 on The Triad) The text in italics between each chord tone is the interval distance from one note to the next. Studying this intervallic set of…

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Lesson 15: Improvisation Concepts 1: Static Vamping [CL15]

One of the best ways of learning how to improvise freely and fluently with new scales is the ‘Static vamping’ method. There are many elements to this, not all of which may be taught in one lesson – so we will only cover the basics here. Definition: A ‘vamp’ is usually a single chord…

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Lesson 16: The Mode Exercise [CL16]

In this video we investigate the idea of playing chord changes – by way of a static bass note with inserted chord scales in the order they appear in the mode series (that is: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian). So in the example presented in 4/4 we have the pedal…

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Lesson 17: Playing the Changes [CL17]

As mentioned in the video, ‘Playing the Changes’ (or playing the basic chord tones, - 1, 3, 5, and 7 of the chord - which are the strongest melodic tones in a passage), is a hugely important concept in jazz music. Just learning scales by themselves will not necessarily create strong, melodic…

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Lesson 18: Bebop Scale [CL18]

As discussed in the core lesson, bebop scales are heptatonic (7 note) scales with an additional chromatic tone inserted between two existing scale tones. So without altering the function of the original scale (i.e. if it is major, it stays major), a new 8-note scale is created. The purpose of a…

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Lesson 19: Harmonic Rhythmic Matching [CL19]

This idea is a continuation of the ‘bebop scale concept’, in that an extra tone is taken from above (when ascending a scale) or below (when descending a scale) the tonic, to create a sequence of eight tones where the tonal gravity and rhythmic gravity are more in sync. This is particularly…

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Lesson 20: Rhythmic Subdivisions [CL20]

Basic subdivisions in 4/4 time: Semibreve (Whole Note) = 1 note at start of bar; on beat one. Minim (Half Note) = 2 notes played evenly on beats 1 and 3. Triplet Minim (Triplet Half – correctly called a Minim ‘Hemiola’ when written because in simple time minim and therefore triplet…

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Lesson 21: Major and Minor Arpeggios [CL21]

Arpeggios are chord tones played individually; the harmonic make up of arpeggios is commonly (but not exclusively): Major 3rds (a four semitone interval) or minor 3rds (a three semitone interval) or any combination of these in stacked succession. 3 notes (triad arpeggio), 4 notes (7th…

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Lesson 22: Broken Arpeggios [CL22]

Playing triads in broken form can add dimension and intervallic depth to your lines. At first I found these exercises difficult because the triad shapes I’d learned were usually played ascending or descending consecutively – both my left and right hands struggled with string skipping through…

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Lesson 23: Seventh Chord Arpeggios [CL23]

This video covers the seven true 7th chords (as in harmonised using tertian or 3rd’s based harmonic rules). Summarised with name, common symbol form and chord tones, these are: Although there are two common ways in which arpeggios might be practiced on the guitar (in some form of both root 5…

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Lesson 24: Swing Time Phrasing [CL24]

In this video we look at the idea of swing time, and cover a few important concepts to consider when practicing swung 8ths: The idea of straight 8ths verses triplet or swung 8ths (see below to understand this concept mathematically). You should be able to change between the two ‘feels’…

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Lesson 25: Common Jazz Progression 2-5-1-6 Major [CL25]

In jazz standards, many common progressions or harmonic cadences are used to move between song sections, for the purpose of modulating to another key or for ‘turning around’ from the end of a tune back to the beginning. The 2-5-1 (commonly written ‘ii-V7-I’ using Roman Numerals and…

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Lesson 26: Common jazz progressions 251 Minor [CL26]

Here we continue on with the study of common jazz turnarounds, this time using a minor key as the central resolution point (or tonic chord). We can draw this minor chord from the relative minor of any given major scale. In the example provided we have used the minor chord relative to C major,…

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Lesson 27: Guide Tones [CL27]

Guide tones are a jazz accompanist’s best friend – they give just enough of an idea of how a chord (or progression) sounds to the soloist / melodic instrument by outlining the basic 7th chord structure in this manner: See below for basic guide tone voicings in two positions (roots 5 and…

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Lesson 28: Pardido Alto [CL28]

The focus of this lesson is on the ‘Partido Alto’ rhythm (which I have seen spelled as Pardido Alto / Partito Alto in different texts). When written over two bars in ‘normal 4/4 time’ it appears thus: Or written in double time in 4/4 where two beats (or a minim / half note) = one beat…

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Lesson 29: Pentatonic Scales [CL29]

The pentatonic is a 5 note scale found in most western forms of pop music, blues, jazz, funk in melodies and popularly in guitar solos, being an easy shape to learn and play and to form melodic ideas from. It can be thought of in a few different ways from a construction perspective. You could…

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Lesson 30: Improvisation Concepts 2: Thematic Development [CL30]

This lesson continues on from the first improvisation video (lesson 15 on static vamping) in our core lesson series – which dealt with methods for learning how to play the basic sounds of one particular scale or grouping of notes. In this video, we deal more specifically with applying themes…

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Lesson 31: Secondary Dominants [CL31]

In any major scale and key centre there are seven triads we can construct by using tertian stacking (see triad chords). These are: If we insert the leading tone (VII) diminished triad on top of the V major triad we have built a dominant 7th chord, the sound most commonly used for…

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Lesson 32: Symmetrical Scales Diminished Half Whole [CL32]

The diminished half-whole (Dim H/W) scale contains 8 tones (octatonic), set in a symmetrically repeating pattern within each octave. There are a few different ways to practice this scale over one or two octaves. As always I would encourage you to learn it on one string only first, playing it very…

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Lesson 33: Symmetrical Scales Whole Tone Scale [CL33]

There are two wholetone scales – one that begins on the note C, and is identical to 5 other keys and one that begins on C# and is identical to 5 other tones, thus: Type 1: C = D = E = F# = Ab = Bb Type 2: C# = Eb = F = G = A = B For the purposes of this lesson I will call the first…

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Lesson 34: Walking Baseline [CL34]

When learning to walk a bassline and play chords at the same time, there are essentially 3 separate ideas happening. Firstly, there’s the bassline. Secondly, the chord set or progression. Lastly, there is the combining of these separate parts into a musical piece. The focus of this lesson is on…

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Lesson 35: Two Beat Changes [CL35]

Try these ideas when learning to improvise over fast paced, two beat, modulating (not of the same key) changes. Work through each concept at a slow tempo and increase speed gradually – grading yourself at each stage of practice (tempo wise) and recording yourself wherever possible. The focus of…

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Lesson 36: Melodic Minor Scale [CL36]

The melodic minor scale is popularly used as the harmonic blueprint for chords or even entire progressions in jazz compositions. It is also used as a harmonic improvising tool that extends beyond the harmonic capabilities of the major scale modes. It has a particular character that while…

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Lesson 37: Mode 2 Dorian Flat 9 [CL37]

To hear this scale, play any melodic minor parent scale from the second step and continue through to the 9th step. This one octave, seven note series of tones is the second mode of the melodic minor, referred to as the Dorian b9. I would consider it has more in common with the Phrygian scale, in…

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Lesson 38: Mode 3 Lydian Augmented Scale [CL38]

To hear this scale, play any melodic minor parent scale from the third step and continue through to the 10th step. This one octave, seven note series of tones is the third mode of the melodic minor, referred to as the Lydian Augmented scale. It contains the scale tones: 1 2 3 #4 #5 6 7 And…

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Lesson 39: Mode 4 Mixolydian Flat 6 Scale [CL39]

To hear this scale, play any melodic minor parent scale from the 4th step and continue through to the 11th step. This one octave, seven note series of tones is the fourth mode of the melodic minor, referred to as the Lydian Dominant scale. It contains the scale tones: 1 2 3 #4 5 6 b7 And the…

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Lesson 40: Mode 5 Mixolydian Flat 6 Scale [CL40]

To hear this scale, play any melodic minor parent scale from the 5th step and continue through to the 12th step. This one octave, seven note series of tones is the fifth mode of the melodic minor, referred to as the Mixolydian b6 scale. It contains the scale tones: 1 2 3 4 5 b6 b7 And the…

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Lesson 41: Mode 6 Locrian Sharp 9 [CL41]

To hear this scale, play any melodic minor parent scale from the sixth step and continue through to the 13th step. This one octave, seven note series of tones is the second mode of the melodic minor, referred to as the Locrian #9 scale. (Note – the Locrian scale as derived from the major scale,…

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Lesson 42: Mode 7 Altered Scale [CL42]

To hear this scale, play any melodic minor parent scale from the seventh step and continue through to the 14th step. This one octave, seven note series of tones is the second mode of the melodic minor, referred to as the ‘altered’ scale (because all the degrees except the tonic are‘altered’…

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Core Lesson 43: Jazz Lines over Standards Series. Chord Tones: Resolving towards the 3rd – ‘All of Me’ [CL 43]

In this lesson we focus on building lines that resolve towards the 3rd of each chord. To make this as easy to follow as is possible, I advise you to do the following steps: 1. Print off the attached PDF of the chords to ‘All of Me’ provided in the concert key of C, you may wish to make…

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Core Lesson 44: Jazz Lines over Standards Series: Chord Tones: Resolving towards the 5th – ‘Blue Bossa’ [CL 44]

In this lesson we focus on building lines that resolve towards the 5th of each chord. So again, as in the first video, I advise you to do the following steps: 1. Print off the attached PDF of the chords to ‘Blue Bossa’ provided in the concert key of Cmi, you may wish to make multiple…

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Core Lesson 45 Jazz Lines over Standards Series: Chord Tones: Resolving towards the 3rd – ‘Summertime’

In this lesson we focus on building lines that resolve towards the 7th of each chord. Again, as in the two prior related videos, I advise you to do the following steps: 1. Print off the attached PDF of the chords to ‘Summertime’ provided in the concert key of Dmi, you may wish to make…

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Lesson 46: Jazz Lines over Standards Series: Chord Tone Soloing – ‘Just Friends’ [CL46]

  In this lesson we build on the ideas developed in the first 3 related videos in this series. Our focus is on playing melodically using lines constructed mainly of chord tones (arpeggio). Again it is advisable that you: 1. Print off the attached PDF of the chords to ‘Just Friends’…

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Core Lesson 47 Jazz Lines over Standards Series: Chord Tone Soloing – ‘Green Dolphin Street’

In this lesson we take a different tack and work on building related ideas that carry similar themes, either harmonically, rhythmically or melodically. Again it is advisable that you: 1. Print off the attached PDF of the chords to ‘On Green Dolphin Street’ provided in the concert key of C…

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Core Lesson 49: Harmonic Minor Scale Mode 1: Aeolian #7 [CL49]

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Core Lesson 50: Harmonic Minor Scale Mode 2: Locrian #6 [CL50]

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Core Lesson 51: Harmonic Minor Scale Mode 3: Major Scale #5 [CL51]

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Core Lesson 52: Harmonic Minor Scale Mode 4: Dorian #11 [CL52]

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