As a guitar, electric bass, ukulele instructor at Long & McQuades, I have taught countless musicians how to play or improve their chops.
Jazz and blues are all about substitution. This is especially true in blues music where most tunes consist of the famous one four five, twelve bar progression. Chords, riffs, lick, etc are substituted to break up the repetition. Of course, there is nothing saying that you must do this, but with the same progression repeating over and over again, it can get quite boring for the musicians and the audience.
What I have done here is the same as in Part One. I have re-harmonized the basic blues progression with more intricate chords to give it a jazzy overhaul. I have transcribed all the variations in the key of G, the same as Part One. It is good practice to transpose the progressions to other keys. Most jazz is performed in flat keys. I suggest learning all the variations in the written key, then make the first transposition to G♭(one fret lower). Continue to A ♭, B♭, D♭, etc.
Part Two introduces altered chords. These are tricky to improvise over. If in doubt about what scales to use (I will address this in future lessons), stick with chord tones.
This is a standard blues progression in the key of G. This is the famous 'One, Four, Five' progression. This version contains 'the quick change', that is, the movement in the second measure is to the 'Four' chord (C7). C7 and G7 are not actually in the key of G Major, but blues players would take liberties here and call this out as the key of G.
I have transcribed this with a mixture of Root 5 and Root 6 barre chords.
Many blues and jazz players work with barres as opposed to open chords for a number of reasons. They are easier to transpose by simply moving the shapes to another fret, they are easier to mute by releasing the fret hand pressure, and quite a few of the altered chords have no open shapes.
The G Major in measure one from Progression One has been replaced by G Major Seven (GMaj7). The Major Seven chord is formed by adding a fourth note to the G Major triad. The triad is built on thirds. The root is G, a third above G is B and a third above B is D. All the notes are three Major scale steps away from each other.
Climbing up three more scale steps in the key of G Major yields F♯. This the the note that forms the Major Seventh from the Major chord. GMaj7 is a common substitution for G Major in blues and especially jazz. The Ionian mode (in this case the G Major Scale played from G to G), fits perfectly across this chord, because of the Major Seventh degree.
G Major Seventh
In measures two, five, six and ten Gm7 is substituted for C7. Once again, this is a normal substitution for a dominant seventh chord.
I have been asked in a previous post to explain this. Look at the structure of the minor seventh chord. It is very close to a dominate C9. In fact, the Gm7 chord could be renamed C9sus4/G. Lets look at the chord spellings:
Suspended Fourth F
The only note that forces a change on the chord (and the related G Major scale) is the F, the suspended fourth. Also, there is no Root C in C9sus4/G.
This version substitutes Major and minor sixth chords for the Major and minor seventh chords in Progression Two. The minor sixth chord is actually the dominant ninth chord with the fifth in the root. There is no suspended fourth in this chord. Lets compare the dominant ninth and minor sixth in terms of chord construction:
All the notes from Gm6 are the same as C9, which can replace the standard dominant seventh from the original progression (in this case, C7), anytime.
I have notated the last progressions with two measures per staff to allow for better spacing of the chords.
Measure one combines the Major seventh chord with the Major sixth. These chords substitute for the normal G Major chord. This is a very pleasant, consonant sound. When moving between the chords, hold the fourth finger. This will make the transition much easier.
Measure two moves from the minor seventh to the dominant seventh chord. Try employing different voicings for the C7. A Root 5 barre would place the root C on the fifth string, the same as it is with the open shape. In fact, you may want to try playing the notated open shape for the third beat, then moving to the Root 5 chord on the fourth beat.
In measure four, I have substituted the minor seventh for the first two beats. The Dm7 forms a G9sus4/D, the same as explained above for the Gm7-C9sus4/G. To find this substitution, play the minor seventh or minor sixth a fifth higher from the root of the dominant seventh chord. The G7 chord in beats two and three places the minor seventh degree (F) in two places in the chord, not the fourth string and an octave higher on the second string. This gives the chord more 'bite'.
In the turnaround, measures eleven and twelve, I have notated a very common chromatic movement. The diminished chords add that flavour with the ascending bass note from GMaj6 to G♯dim7, then the descending intervals on the fourth and second strings form Am7 to Adim7. This is a very cool sound!
This version is similar to Progression Four.
Most of the dominant chords have been substituted by the minor seventh to minor sixth change. The only exceptions are the G13 movement to G7 in measures four and eight. This voicing for the thirteenth chord is difficult to get to (with that fourth finger barre), but well worth the effort. If you play this fingerstyle by 'grabbing' the chords, you can leave the barre out. I have notated that shape in the next Progression Six.
The turnaround is a very common sound in jazz. In measure eleven, the minor seventh chord has been substituted for the Major seventh. This is another common use for the minor seventh chord, replacing the root chord (in this case, GMaj7), a third higher. The Bm7 can be respelled as a GMaj9/B. Lets take a look:
Major Seventh F♯
Major Ninth A
Major Seventh F♯
Once again, there is no root in the GMaj9/B.
I play this version fingerstyle. I have notated the chords exactly as played.
This is the first progression with an altered chord, the G7♯5. If you are jamming this with another player such as a keyboardist or another guitar player, they would have to know that this change is coming up. Obviously, you cannot have another player voicing a G7, G9 or G13 on top of this chord. The clash of the sharp fifth with the natural fifth would sound wrong.
The descending chromatic change on the second string from the E in G13 to the D♯ in G7♯5, to the D natural in Gm7 (occurring in measures four and five) is an excellent example of voice leading within chords.
In measure eight, the G13 to G7♯5 has been substituted with the movement from Bm7 to B♭m7. This is a complete change and sounds great moving into the Am7 in measure nine. As far as I know, there is no real theoretical explanation for this substitution, unless you treat this measure as one bar of G Major instead of trying o associate these chords (Bm7 and B♭m7) with the substituted dominant chords (G13 and G7♯5). Even at that, it is a stretch. As stated above, the Bm7 can be respelled as GMaj9/B, but the B♭m7 bears little resemblance to a G Major chord.
In the measure before this change, measure seven, I have notated different voicings for the Major seventh and Major sixth chords. These song great leading into measure eight.
Measures nine and ten would stay on the fifth (D7) in the original progression, instead of the normal movement from D7 to C7. There is much chromatic movement in jazz in both chord and melody work. The G♯7 leading into the turnaround is an excellent sound. Once again, the other players would have to know that this is coming up.
Lorne Hemmerling (author) from Oshawa on January 14, 2015:
Thanks so very much for the kind words, my friend!
Walter Holokai from Youngstown, Ohio on January 14, 2015:
Man! Thank you so much! It took some time to put that together and it came out beautiful! I am very impressed. You deserve your high rating. It is perhaps kismet that I would have seen this since I am about to embark on a guitar journey in the very near future where these exercises may become very helpful to me. Aloha!