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In this series of videos I cover Jazz Piano Improvisation techniques. I'll explain, from start to finish, how you can learn to improvise over a jazz song and sound professional.
This Jazz Piano Tutorial is about guide tones. What they are and how to use them and why them are important. This is an important improvisation technique when playing 'inside'. Targeting Guide Tones creates a strong and professional sounding solo.
Essentially, guide tones are the 3rd and the 7th of a chord. They are the key notes that give that chord its character. When improvising or writing a melody, it's important (at least to begin with) to focus on the guide tones. This makes your improvisation or melody sounds strong and pleasant and professional.
For a cycle/circle of fifths (from the song Autumn leaves), the guide tones are as follows:
Chord | Am7 | D7 | GMaj7 | CMaj7 | F#m7b5 | B7 | Em7
3rd | C |F# | B | E | A | D | G#
7th |G |C | F | B | E | A | D
Notice that each passing chord keep one guide tone the same as the previous chord. This is what makes the cycle of fifths chord progression so useful and nice sounding.
When improvising, you can also focus on any altered or extended notes within a chord. This too can create a great sound when improvising.
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