Jazz Guitar Tip: Improvise with a Familiar Chord Progression

When improvising, it is important to be able to outline the harmony of a song with single-note lines

When improvising, it is important to be able to outline the harmony of a song with single-note lines. We can start to work on improvising through a progression by creating lines that are found, for the most part, within a familiar chord shape, like the common Cm7 chord voicing in Example 1. Keep that shape in mind as you look at Examples 2 and 3, which illustrate the arpeggio and chord scale respectively.

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Try to think of these examples as “filling out” the basic sound of the Cm7, and notice that each note of the original chord shape is represented.

Excerpted from Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Essentials.

Sean McGowan
Sean McGowan

Sean McGowan's work focuses on jazz, fingerstyle, composition, and injury prevention for musicians. He is a professor of music at the University of Colorado Denver and has authored several instructional books.

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