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Jazz Guitar Lessons: Multi-String And Multi-Note Improvisation

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a lot of instruments play jazz
saxophone and trumpet, flute.
You can't play more than one note at once.
But, as guitarists, we can play many
notes up to six at the same time.
And I don't want to neglect the fact
that a lot of great jazz guitar players
do a lot of stuff with one or
more note at a time.
So I wanna talk about using double
stops that means two notes at a time.
And all the different variations of those
triple stops, even, and then, of course,
you know, the very octave sound
that Wes Montgomery made so famous.
I want to get into all of that.
So, let's just out of tempo just show you
some of the things that I
might do with double stops.
Double stops means two notes at a time.
For example,
a lot of times a double stop can be used
simply as a little blues inference.
Like let's say I'm play that,
our simple blues
You might hear, somebody go
that's just a little double stop.
So it's a dominant seventh chord,
B flat seven.
I'm just taking the fifth and the seventh
making a little two chord thing out of it.
Double stuff and I kind of slide into it
And than I went
I just went down the scale in thirds.
So, that's, that's kinda like
a common sound that you'd heard.
You might hear it here.
See what I did there.
I went from the third of the fifth and
the seventh.
And then I went to the,
the four and the one together.
And hammered of the, the nice bluesy
sharp 4 chord on the blues scale.
That's something,
you hear a lot of stuff like that.
But the other thing you can do is, you can
actually play the lines in double stops.
Sometimes it can sound,
dare I say, a little corny.
So I wanna, I don't wanna do it too much.
But you know.
You can play a little line.
This would,
this would just be an example of thirds.
Maybe let's say I'm playing a blues.
at the end of a line.
I'm walk up,
kinda walking up to the four chord,
and I'll just do it in thirds,
So what I'm doing is taking the top note,
Going a third below it,
the last one is a chromatic approach.
going a third below it and
just adding that note,
and you go back down,
that's a nice sound
and often times, if I'm playing on a chord
progression, I'll be playing single lines
and then I'll challenge myself and
I'll say,.
The next four bars, I'm gonna play
in thirds to see if I can do it.
Now that's kind of
complicated, what I just did.
But you could just take a, a,
a little three-note pattern into it.
Very simple.
Just try to use that sound.
Make it, make it musical.
Slide into it.
Don't just play it
you know, a straight thing.
Try to make it sound soulful and
bluesy when you do it.
And I do the same thing
with other intervals, too.
Those are thirds.
A big one, is.
Sixth, for example.
I love what John Scofield does
with that sound.
You hear him use it a lot.
Sometimes he'll throw in
a little three-note chord,
and, and, you know,
throw some sixth in there.
And sometimes you'll mix it up
with other intervals same thing.
Take the melody that you're playing
That's D,
That's a B flat seven chord.
I'm gonna do that real slow.
I'm putting a 6th below
each note of this melody.
So if you're.
Down in the sixth.
With a little grease on that last note.
Right, sometimes even fifths
are a cool thing to use,
when I do that I usually pick one set of
strings and slide it around because it's.
It's hard to change strings with that.
I'm not saying not to do it.
You should try to do that.
But you could just put your
hand in a fifth there or here.
And slide it around and
play maybe just a blues lick even
Same thing with fourths.
Cool sound.
It's not always such a great sound.
Try it, I mean you, you can,
you can give it a whirl.
It's not something that
you hear very often.
Multi String & Multi Note Improv Part 2.
So now, we've led up to the biggie,
the octaves.
Wes Montgomery found this sound, and, and
made it his signature sound in one way.
I just love it,
I love the way octaves sound, and
I love to try to play solos in octaves.
So I don't do it a lot, you know,
but I, I reserve it for
times I feel it's gonna really add
something special to a solo or a song.
there's several ways to play octaves on
the guitar.
Um,and I'll talk about
the right hand technique and
also the left hand technique.
Left hand first let's take for example D
use that for
our tonal center for now, okay?
Okay, well the most common way to play
an octave is you put your first
finger on the D on the fifth string.
And find the octave above it
which is on the seventh fret.
Then you play it with
your first finger and
your third finger 'cause then
you're right in position.
You're not going out of position.
You wouldn't want to do it
with your second finger,
because it just creates an awkward
space between your two fingers there.
So a nice,
nice easy way to do it is to just use the
finger that falls naturally on that fret.
Let's just play the scale in octaves
Now, you notice something,
when I went to the next string,
I was no longer using these two fingers,
and my fingers were wider apart.
Why is that?
Well, when you get to the D string, and
you need an octave, if you put your
fingers in that same position
it's not octave, it's a 7th.
So you have to go to your pinky
and that's because of that wonderful third
relationship between the G and
the B string.
So let's review that
that's all
on the, between the A string and
the G string.
All like the original position I discussed
But when I moved to the D to the B string
Now I have to have my pinky involved,
see that?
Let's do that transition a few times
and le, let's continue up.
Now because that 3rd has developed here,
it stays a 3rd relationship
between that string, the whole, the rest
of the strings and, and the high E.
So the pinky stays involved
all the way to the end
So to sum up, if we go down
Those are all 4ths, so
the relationship stays
the same between those two fingers
When we change to the octave that's
between the sixth string and
the fourth string,
it's still this position.
And the fifth string
and the G string as well.
But as soon as we cross over that B string
you're in the pinky spread.
All right.
Now let's real carefully
do up the octave
in octaves
And than I'll descend so
you can see that it stays the same
One more time, let's do that.
D scale in octaves
switch to the pinky
Stay in the pinky all the way up
Switch back
stay in that position all the way down.
Now, as I say, when I slide into a note
I call it, you know,
adding a little grease to something.
Doing that with octaves might
take a little bit of practice, so
I want you to do that to
when you practice octaves.
Sometimes throw in, let's say,
every time you get to the 3rd and
the 7th degree arbitrarily.
We're gonna put some
grease on it
Fun, right?
Now, when you get into octaves,
you're gonna wanna take
that concept, and put it into
practice playing across a song.
Before we get into that, I do wanna
tell you, I've been playing the whole
thing with my thumb, a la Wes
To do that,
you do have to mute the other string.
So as you do this
you'll see that
I'm muting the string below my first
finger with the tip of my first finger
See that
I'm muting the string in between this
octave and this octave with
the underneath part of my first finger.
So I'm using two blocks with
the first finger so far
And then of course this is ringing out.
The fat part of my finger below
where I'm playing the high octave.
is muting the B string,
right there
And the high E is being blocked by
this first knuckle on my first finger.
It's kinda complicated, actually
get used to doing it, and
you don't think about it.
But you have to mute this.
So take your time and really
'cause you get a really nice tone when you
brush your thumb across all the strings
Now when I go up tot his string you'll see
that I'm laying this finger across [LAUGH]
the neck a little bit.
Because I'm no longer close enough to
the low string to mute it with my first
finger, right?
So when I cross over to this position
where the pinky is involved, like there.
The pinky is gonna mute the top string
automatically, 'cause it's, kinda,
laying there anyway, right?
That gets blocked off.
The bottom of this finger is blocking the,
the G string in between the two strings
But, in order to get
nothing on the low strings,
I bring my unused middle finger here and
just lightly lay it on these two strings.
And that's something that
I've developed myself.
By doing it.
Basically, by doing it.
Because if I go like this,
it don't sound good.
So I have, over the years,
through trial and
figured out how to mute the strings.
Luckily, you've got Uncle Chuck here,
to tell you how to do it.
Okay, so, and then, the same thing over
here, when you're doing it on the,
between the G and the E string.
Lay this finger across and
it'll mute the other strings
You can brush all the way
across the strings and
not get any noise
Down here basically the first
finger on the low string is muting
everything across the top.
And then, I'm using the fat
part of this finger behind
the note
On the octave note [SOUND]
to mute the G string
So the top two there.
This string is being muted by the fat
part of my first finger
So take a real
slow ride
Play through it, play through it as many
times as you can to really get the feeling
of how to mute it and
how to get the nice sound to come out.
All right now a couple
of other things about
You can't play an octave this way,
you can go behind the octave note,
instead of, instead of going
up the fret board this way
You can go back,
you have to cross more strings to do it.
So instead of just one string in between
the two
now there's two strings in two.
For that reason
this one doesn't get used as much
you have to mute quite a few strings
to use it.
Same thing here
and this one is really
between the sixth string, it, it could,
pulls you all the way across the neck here
The B string makes it a little bit closer,
down here it's really wide
It's really not a comfortable
position to use.
If you find, hey, I like that better, and
you're really doing some
great stuff with it.
Send it in on a video.
I really want to check that out.
I'm not saying you can't.
But I'm just saying I'm much more
comfortable playing in the other
Multi String & Multi Note Improv Part 3.
One last thing.
Right hand.
All this time,
I've been doing the thumb to get the
octave sound because that's the sound I
associate with octaves because of Wes,
doesn't mean you can't do it with a pick.
You can do it.
The only thing you have to
realize is that you're brushing
off quite a few strings when you do it.
[SOUND] So you get quite a bit
of [SOUND] string noise.
You hear that?
Now, you may want that,
that could add some character.
When I do that,
I just wanna make you aware.
[SOUND] I kinda go way back on the pick
and use [SOUND] a lot of the pick across,
all the way across the pick so
that it's as smooth as possible.
So almost like the surface of your thumb,
you get,
I get as much surface
of the pick as I can.
I'm kinda brushing it across the whole
surface of the bottom part of the pick.
Remember, I use the fat part of the pick,
so I have more surface than
if I was using that part.
That would be a lot sharper.
This is a real,
moment where you see the benefit of
using the back part of the pick.
Last thing, you don't have to
brush across all the strings.
You can use two fingers.
You can just pick out the octaves,
I do quite a bit of that.
So I'm pinching between the two
strings that have the octave.
And it sounds pretty neat and clean.
You don't get any brushing at all.
So try that too.
Try pinching the, using [SOUND] of,
the finger method.
[SOUND] Sometimes I'll
even use my third finger.
Let's do a scale like that.
Put that grease note in it.
There's something really
great that you can do,
if you use that kind of
right hand technique.
That picking instead of strumming.
Which is,
you can go between the two octaves.
You can do a little roll.
You can do that with your thumb too,
but it doesn't quite sound the same.
[LAUGH] When the saints
come marching in.
So, you know, that's one benefit and
then you can actually play
rhythmic stuff too with it.
I use it a lot for triplets and 16ths.
Check this out.
If, if the lick is When
the Saints Go Marching In, and
I wanna do it in triplets.
You hear that?
I'm going between the first finger and
the octave.
Watch that again.
sometimes I'll go straight
up the scale like that.
It's a cool sound, right?
Descending, you can pull off.
Give it a real smooth slide down.
You hear that?
I'm not picking that one.
You probably heard me
do that on some of my records.
Secrets revealed.
I want to add one thing
about the the octaves.
Everything I've done so far with
octaves has been a one octave spread.
Mister Montgomery, old Wes actually
did some stuff with double octaves.
Mostly with you know,
a full space in between the very lowest
[SOUND] note [SOUND] and
two octaves up to the top note.
It's a pretty cool sound.
Listen to that.
His famous on Bumpin on Sunset
used that sound.
You know,
It's a great sound, I love that sound.
And you can even, I don't know
if Wes actually did this or not.
And by the way, to do that, you really
have to, to use the pinch method,
because [SOUND] to try to mute
all those notes in between.
Ain't gonna work.
So just pinch the two outside
strings [SOUND] right.
Now that's really the only way you can
do it, between the low E and the high
E string because I mean you could go
but why?
You could use your nose,
I could use that sometimes.
I don't suggest that.
You can develop a real callous here,
that's not very pretty.
But anyway, we, we do have this, sound,
I wrote a whole song on my latest CD,
on silhouette, the title track is,
you know, based on that.
The whole intro is like this.
Available on iTunes.
Please go and order it.
So it's a great sound, the double octave.
It's not really practical for
playing solos too much.
You can see, I kinda have to struggle
to play anything even
a little bit fast with it.
With a good sound for
composition and for just momentary
blues licks and stuff, it's,
it's a pretty awesome sound.
That's the double octave,
and, let's move on to some other,
multi-note improvisation.