Guitar Practice Week 7: Getting The Most From A Lick and a Cool Johnny Smith Pattern
This week I have been working on arranging tunes for major jazz recital, gaining new vocabulary, working on new tunes, and contining with topcs discussed in last week’s sesion to become a better jazz guitarist.
Having finally got a solid line up for my major rectital band, we had the first proper rehearsal last week and I couldnt have been more pleased with how things went. All the songs sounded great and flowed well together, we played a nice mix of burners, ballads, latin, and modern tunes.
Now that I’ve got a secure line up, I can concentrate on getting the songs tightly arranged and sounding good.
I have still being focusing on the two Metheny tunes for my minor recital ‘James’, and ‘Bright Size Life’ in the ways discussed in previous articles such as using open triad voicings to comp, hexatonic scales, playing with forward motion and playing the melodies in a lyrical and guitaristic fashion.
Click here to read my previous practice routine practice enteries.
Bebop Lick Analysis
Developing good bebop language is something every guitarist always works on. Besides my Metheny studies I have also been working on some more traditional language for some of the bop tunes in my major recital.
To mix things up I will show you how I break up a lick and explain how I extract the different parts to use in other ways.
The new lick I learnt is shown below, notice the use of the minor bebop scale in bar 1, the use of the b9 over the G7, and the 2 above, 1 below enclosure of the 3rd of the last chord.
The bebop scale pattern used in bar one is used by almost every jazz musician.
Whenever a b9 is added to a dominant 7th arpeggio in place of the root is also becomes a diminished chord.
Those who have read my b9 chords article will know that diminished chords are symmetrical, and it’s the same for the diminished arpeggios and scales.
The great thing about this is that you only need to learn one diminished arpeggio that can be moved around the neck to play in all positions of this guitar.
In the case of this lick the dominant 7th chord is G7, and over G7 4 diminished arpeggios can be used: Ab, B, D, and F.
Each of these arpeggios is a minor third apart, but when I am thinking of diminished arpeggios against the dominant chord, I like to think of all 4 starting on a different note of dominant 7b9 arpeggio.
For example Ab is the b9 of G7, B is the major 3rd, D is the 5th and F is the 7th.
Thinking of dominant 7thb9 chords is especially useful for improvising over the rhythm changes progression as illustrated in the article.
The lick below shows a Johnny Smith pattern that I transcribed from his solo of ‘What’s New’. Notice how the diminished shape is moved up across the fretboard.
While these horizontal lines aren’t too common, it’s great to have a few in your bag to mix things up a little.
The third and final part to this line that I will be talking about is the enclosure. Enclosures are a great way to add some bebop vocabulary to your playing and there’s a variety of them that jazz guitarists use, in this case it’s the ‘1 above, 2 below’ technique.
Besides being used in single improvisation this enclosure is uses in compositions, like Duke Ellington’s ‘Do Nothing til You Hear from Me’.
This technique can also be combined with other enclosures such as 2 notes above on a different arpeggio note. This lick starts by enclosing the third and finishes by enclosing the 7th with the second technique. Chromatic enclosures are a great way to spice up arpeggios. The example underneath the lick shows a C7 arpeggio (C, E, G, Bb) with the first enclosure technique applied, 1 above, 2 below.
Practice this and various other enclosure techniques to different arpeggios in all 12 keys, it’s a great way to add some spice to arpeggios. What do you think of this lick and my process of taking it apart? What have you been practicing this week? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.