An Introduction



Before starting this tutorial, please refer to the Essential Needs for this Lesson page. It will give you the links for the audio, staff notation, and tab for this lesson. It also includes a few links that will provide a number of resources regarding prerequisites for a lesson of this type.


This a little progression I came up with to organize some ideas around "some common sounds found in jazz music".

This isn't by any means an end-all jazz lesson, nor is it the greatest progression or solo. But, instead more of a ground up approach to many things you hear in jazz standards, big band, quartet, etc...jazz.

But also, terms you hear in lesson books, and especially discussion forums, about "you can play this scale over that chord, then this scale...", or even things as simple as "jazzer's play Dorian over Minor chords". While people are giving REALLY good information, not too many SHOW it by an example and explanation.

That's what I'm going to attempt to do.


I wrote this piece to start out with very basic concepts but to hit on MANY different items within the jazz context. As it progresses it's designed to ramp up into more colorful sounds with more movement.

How many times have you seen or heard the question: "What scale do I use to play jazz?". On their own, guitarists especially, musicians are drawn to "Modes" thinking they hold the answers. While there's a whole new world when you start exploring Modes, you'll find it doesn't give you that complete "jazz sound".

Constantly many players are concern about modes and trying to get "that jazz sound". Well, modes are VERY small part of it...unless your changing keys, or tonal centers. So, there are some bits on modes, but you'll see that they have very little to do with the "jazz sound", at least as far as one scale giving you all the sounds in jazz. "What scale do I use to play Jazz?" just doesn't really cut it like it does with the Blues Scale over the 12-Bar Blues Progression.

More of the "sounds of jazz" come from chords, extensions, alterations, arpeggios, substitutions,'s how you "color" the basic chords you're given. And then it's how, or what, you play over them.

So, tread on with patience.


In this tutorial I will try and show some uses of the common terms you hear when discussing jazz with seasoned players. Including: arps, scales, modes, whole-tone, diminished H-W Tone, Melodic Minor modes, Chromatics, chord comp'ing, substitutions, b5 substitutions, leading tones, lifting motifs from other songs, Call and Response, tags, and MORE!

Some of these things can even be looked at as fragments of many of the terms all at once. So, if you are going to "study it" it can get deep fast.

Even though there's a lot of free form wailing in jazz, it includes many if not all of those items listed above.

I'll take you through the progression and show/explain how many different attributes can be used throughout it,

Once you understand the chords I'll take you through some possible scales that can be used over all the chords.

Then, I'll try and give a play by play to what's going on measure by measure.

Jazz is an art form and analysis of it is NOT what goes on when playing it. And, I do not consider myself a "jazz player". I have played a LOT of jazz, but have only recently started studying it. But, I thought this would be a good way to taste some jazz concepts and help you incorporate them into you own playing.

Hope this is worth while to you.


NOTE you will need Power Tabs to view the score and hear the MIDI for this tutorial.