Chord Tone Soloing Tutorial
Welcome to start of the improv series on the 12 Bar Blues. We are going to start this study of improvisation with the topic of chord tone soloing.
Chord tone soloing is the process of creating improvised lines exclusively with the primary tones of the chord which are 1, 3, 5 & 7. Chord tone soloing is the first step towards learning to improvise freely on the piano.
You might be thinking, "well wait a minute, 1, 3, 5 & 7 is just an arpeggio of the chord" and you are correct, it is, however, these tones play a very important part in building improvised lines and understanding the importance of them is essential in developing your ability to improvise.
Why is chord tone soloing such an important step in learning to improvise?
Well, all chord tones have a very stable sound. This is because you are playing directly within the harmony. The notes you are improvising with are the primary chord tones from the underlying harmony.
In contrast, the extensions 9, 11 & 13 are very colourful tones and the alterations such as b9, #9s, #11s and #5s can be used to add dissonance and tension to your lines.
If you have tried to improvise in the past, and you have found that your improvised lines begin to sound a bit lost and disjointed from the chords, then it’s very likely that you are not paying enough attention to chord tones.
Being able to visualize and identify these tones is incredibly important and if you analyse the solos of professional jazz musicians, you will see that chord tones play a very important role in their improvised lines.
12 Bar Blues Lesson Supplement File Type: pdf
“Straight No Chaser” – Jazz Blues Form File Type: pdf
The exercises in this lesson are not meant to sound like a true improvisation. The exercises are designed to get your familiar and accustomed to outlining the chord tones in your improvised lines.
After you have watched the next few lessons in this series, you will understand why this is such an important step to take. We will start off with some simple examples and we will build up the difficulty.
- Don't dismiss the early exercises as being too easy, if you can play them 100% accurately at tempo without making any mistakes, then move onto the next exercise, but do not skip any of them out because you think they are too simple.
Per vedere le lezioni successive devo iscrivermi al vostro corso?
Hi Vincenzo. Sì, è giusto. Accedere al corso ti dà accesso a oltre 100 lezioni, trascrizioni e tutte le altre risorse per l’apprendimento. Se hai altre domande, ti prego di inviarmi un’email 🙂 Cheers, Hayden
Hello, at what tempo would you consider proficient enough to move to the next exercise?
You should be able to master the quarter note exercise fairly quickly, but still start off at at 60-80 bpm and then gradually build up in increments of 5 bpm. The idea is that you can complete the exercise whilst thinking to yourself “this is easy” – without you having to have complete concentration in the exercise. Once you reach that point, you are ready to increase the tempo. Perhaps take the quarter note exercise to 120 bpm and then move onto 8th notes.
It’s also important to introduce interesting intervals and patterns… try not to just run up and down the arpeggio tones sequentially.
When you move onto 8th notes, you will find it much more difficult because you have effectively doubled the tempo as you need to play twice as many notes in each bar.
Start at 60 bpm or even slower and again gradually build up in increments of 5 bpm. Once you get to 80 bpm you should find this challenging. You can always move onto the other topics in the course but revisit these exercises to keep practicing this important area. Perhaps apply the same exercise to a jazz standard like Autumn Leaves.
Remember that the goal of these exercises is to familiarise yourself with where the chord tones are located so that you are comfortable outlining them in your lines. In the next lessons in this course we introduce triplets and swing 8th notes and then it will start to sound less like an exercise and more like a jazz solo.
And of course, you can then repeat the same exercise with swing 8th notes, triplets, and practice combining different note durations and rhythms.
Hope this helps and any other questions let me know 🙂
I am struggling with the “Guide tone” section. I have not been able to figure out the pattern. Pls help. I have managed to spot the notes by playing the video slow, however, the theory / science behind that is not at all clear to me.