Lesson 1: From Metal to Jazz in 10 minutes.

I have 10 minutes to jot down what happened in my first lesson with my newfound tutor which was this past Sunday – essentially an intro session and a chance for us to size each other up – from his perspective to see what I was capable of so he could ascertain what to teach me, and from mine to see whether we’d ‘click’ – getting a teacher is a long term investment and you have to be happy with what you’re putting your time and money into. Was I happy? We shall see.

My new teacher is a super nice guy and extremely experienced. He’s a working Jazz musician who plays gigs 7 nights a week and has done so for countless years (I went to see him playing with his combo last Friday and I was very impressed).  We spent the first 20 minutes or so just talking about music and he gave me a potted history of Jazz in context which I found very useful.

We talked about artists I listened to and I was happy to recite my influences – Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page, Megadeth, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Allan Holdsworth (as close to Jazz as I could get) and a whole host of other hard rock, metal and shred guitar players.  ‘Hmmm…’ he said. I could tell from his furrowed brow that this did not bode too well.

He then asked me to start playing something. I played a brilliant shred solo (albeit with a clean tone from his board) on my beautiful Gibson Les Paul (the Jazziest guitar I have)  with 64th notes whizzing up and down the neck, sweep picking my ass off, two-handed tapping, squealy harmonics and even hitting the occasional outlining chord tone as I tried to be as Jazz as possible. He then said ‘great – do you know any songs, or just licks?’

‘Uh, no… none. Well, I know some Slayer songs…’ I replied. ‘You know, stuff like Dead Skin Mask or Angel of Death.

‘Hmm.’ An extra line spontaneously appeared in his forehead. ‘Have you heard of any of those well known Jazz songs such as Georgia on my Mind  or Blue Moon?’

‘Nope.’

‘Know any Frank Sinatra?’ he enquired hopefully.

‘I heard the song My Way before.’

‘That’s not really his Jazz stuff… how about…’  …he then rattled off about half a dozen song titles. I hadn’t heard of any of them. Clearly I had some offline research I had to do – I had to start learning songs – Jazz standards as he called them which were the popular songs of the day in the 40s and 50s and had survived till present due to their melodies, lyrics, all-round catchiness or maybe had some quirky and interesting (from a Jazzers POV) musical uniqueness that made them stand out. Later he gave me the chord chart for Blue Moon for me to take home.

Other stuff I learned:

  1. There is an efficient way to traverse and learn the neck of the guitar using what he calls static and transitional geometric patterns (not new to me actually) but more on this later .
  2. The dominant to tonic is a strong resolution because:
    1. the V7 contains the tritone interval which is dissonant which is resolved to a perfect 4th when we move to I.
    2. The V7 contains a leading tone (semi-tone below the tonic) which wants to move up a half step to the tonic.
    3. Basswise, the V7 contains (let’s say in the key of G) the D root note which sounds especially pleasing going down a 5th or up a 4th to the G.
  3. There’s something called a secondary dominant, which I think is conversion of any minor chord to a dominant 7th, e.g. in key of G, conversion of Bm7 to B7 then moving to relative minor of Em.
  4. There are various strategies for improvising over a chord change, for example:
    1. Playing arpeggios (fragments or broken chords) then linear (scalar licks that end on a chord tone of the next chord on the 1 beat of the next measure)
    2. Playing the chord on measure 1 followed by arpeggio fragment or scalar lick moving to full chord of next chord in next bar, etc.
    3. Starting to think across bars by playing a lick, ending on a chord tone of the chord in the next bar on the 1 beat, then playing the chord on the 2 beat. Easier with an example which  I will post soon.
  5. 1 octave arpeggios and knowing how to connect these are much more useful than knowing 6 string multi-octave sweep-picked shred monsters that go from the lowest note to the highest with a bliiiiiiiipppp noise and a tapped high note (I felt a little rap across the knuckles here and regretted my choice of the high speed 3 octave shred arpeggios I’d demonstrated earlier).

Anyway – to cut a long story short (this post is already way to long and in all probability few readers will have made it this far) the homework he gave me was to record a I vi ii V progression in G (GM7, Em7, Am7, D7) and the play over it using strategies from above. Results in next post.

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2 Responses to “Lesson 1: From Metal to Jazz in 10 minutes.”

  1. […] You can read the rest of this blog post by going to the original source, here […]

  2. To me metal is jazz just a lot faster and a lot of times more planned out.

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