This is a public version of the members-only Multi-Style Cello with Mike Block, at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of Multi-Style Cello with Mike Block.
Join Now

Rhythmic & Chordal Playing
30 Day Challenge
«Prev of Next»

Cello Lessons: Jazz Improvisation: Using Guide Tones

Lesson Video Exchanges () submit video Submit a Video Lesson Study Materials () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials
information below
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Backing Tracks +
Written Materials +







+Rhythmic & Chordal Playing

Additional Materials +
resource information below Close
Collaborations for
resource information below Close
Submit a video for   

This video lesson is available only to members of
Multi-Style Cello with Mike Block.

Join Now

information below Close
Course Description

This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Multi-Style Cello with Mike Block. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Cello Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
A fundamental way that melodies
are constructed is around guide tones.
What do I mean by guide tones?
Well, a guide tone is sort of like a
primary note around which other notes can
be connected to, or
sort of improvising around.
So some of the best guide tones to use are
gonna be just our standard chord tones,
the root, third, fifth,
and seventh of all of the chords
in the Autumn Leaves progression.
So the first thing we need to
do is identify these notes.
You should feel pretty comfortable
with these chords by now
as you've been arpeggiating through them.
I would highly recommend you to do
that right now if you haven't yet.
But once you start to
arpeggiate through the chords,
we're gonna want to isolate
the individual chord tones.
So let me show you.
If I wanted to the isolate the root of
the Autumn Leaves' chords, that's actually
gonna be pretty easy because the roots are
the big names of the chords in each bar.
So we have A,
D, G, C,
F-sharp, B, E.
Those are all the roots in the A section,
Once you identify the roots for the guide
tones, now we're gonna try and start
improvising connections between them.
That's how we make melodies,
is by connecting these guide tones, okay?
So with the backing track, I'm just gonna
demonstrate the A section of this tune.
I'm gonna play just holding the roots,
holding the guide tones,
the first time through the A section.
And then in the B section, I'm gonna
improvise connections between them.
And you'll hear that it starts
to sound like nice music.
Now I'll improvise
Okay, do you
hear those guide tones
in the improvisation
that I just did?
You should say, yes.
I was landing on the roots of every chord,
on the downbeat.
This is a really great way to start to be
able to create melodies that are gonna
work in the harmonies.
Now, we wanna be able to do this for
every chord tone.
So I'm gonna do the same exercise on the
third, the fifth and the seventh, okay?
I'm actually gonna go all the way
through the tune on the third, and
then I'll improvise the connections
the second time through.
This actually might sound familiar
to you because the actual
melody of Autumn Leaves is built on
guide tones that are all thirds.
See if you can still hear them on
the downbeats.
what it can
sound like
to improvise
between these
However, this is gonna be pretty fast, so
the first step is to just identify the
third in each chord, and just hold them.
Just hold the chord tones as many
times as it takes to get bored of it.
We talked about this with
improvising around the melody.
You wanna get so
bored of holding thirds through a quarter
progression that you have no choice but to
improvise interesting connections between
them just to keep yourself interested.
So this is a slow process that you're
gonna wanna start with
the metronome maybe at 50.
And I don't have a backing track for
you that's quite that slow, but
you can get some software that can help
you hear the full harmonies if you wish.
But even without that, you can do a lot of
good work just with the simple metronome.
And you can work yourself up
to this performance tempo
that these backing tracks are at.
I wanna show you maybe just
a little bit of the fifth and
seventh before I let you
explore this on your own.
I just want to show you what the fifth
will sound like in the A section
of the tune.
Even though we're using the same scale,
basically E natural minor,
through all of this improvisation,
by landing on these different chord tones,
our improvisations will truly have
different feelings to them, okay?
So this is what the fifth feels like.
[SOUND] Just holding the fifth.
improvise connections.
And so
You can apply that to
the rest of the tune.
Let's just do the A section
with the sevenths, as well.
those sevenths
are great.
Now, those are really
characteristic notes.
The sevenths and the thirds have
possibly the most bang for your buck.
Try all of these chord tones slowly with
the metronome, just seeing if you can
keep track of which chord tone you are on
as you go through the chord progression.
And then eventually in many, many moons
you can try it with the backing track, and
then you will be ready to create many,
many, many beautiful melodies.