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Jazz Waltz – Rhythms, Chords and Soloing Studies

Though many jam session songs are in 4/4 time, jazz waltz tunes are essential learning for any serious jazz guitarist.

Providing variety in your set list, and moving your creativity into different grooves, jazz waltz tunes are fun and challenging to learn.

While many guitarists play a 3/4 tune from time to time, few dig as deep into jazz waltz tunes as they do 4/4 standards.

This leads to awkward moments on the bandstand, or at the very least, uninspired playing when someone calls a jazz waltz.

This lesson builds your confidence and opens up your creativity when jamming in the jazz waltz style.

By learning to comp, solo, walk bass lines, and play chord melodies in 3/4 time, you ensure you’re at your creative and technical best over any jazz waltz.

 

 

 

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Jazz Waltz Contents (Click to Skip Down)

 

 

 

 

What is a Jazz Waltz?

 

Before you dig into playing jazz waltz tunes, it’s good to have a definition of what a jazz waltz is.

The best way to think about a jazz waltz is:

 

Jazz waltz songs are jazz tunes played with a 3/4 time signature.

 

That’s basically it.

Now, it’s easy to define a jazz waltz, as it boils down to the time signature, but playing a jazz waltz style is difficult for many guitarists.

To give you an example of the difference between jazz waltz and 4/4 time, here’s the same chord progression in both styles.

The first example is a ii V I VI progression written in 4/4 time.

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 1

 

 

jazz waltz guitar 1

 

Now, here’s the same chord progression with a quarter-note rhythm written in a jazz waltz style.

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 2

 

 

jazz waltz guitar 2

 

Notice that the jazz waltz has one less beat in each bar, giving it a unique feel compared to the 4/4 example.

Play through each example above to give your hands and ears an introduction to the difference between 4/4 and 3/4 grooves.

When ready, move on to the next section, as you dig deep into jazz waltz comping and soloing patterns on guitar.

 

 

 

 

10 Essential Jazz Waltz Standards

 

One of the toughest parts when learning jazz waltz, is knowing which tunes to study.

There are a number of tunes to work on; each offering different challenges and enjoyment in their own right.

As well, because it takes time to properly learn any jazz standard, you want to ensure that you learn jazz waltzes that actually get played.

To help you choose the right jazz waltz tunes, here are 10 song that are essential study for any guitarist studying this style.

If you’re new to jazz waltz songs, start from the first tune on the list and move down from there.

Or, you can take an hour or so and listen to each tune before picking on that you really enjoy to study.

It doesn’t matter which jazz waltz you learn first, just that you have at least one jazz waltz tune on your repertoire list.

 

  1. Alice in Wonderland
  2. All Blues
  3. Bluesette
  4. Footprints
  5. My Favorite Things
  6. Someday My Prince Will Come
  7. Up Jumped Spring
  8. Waltz for Debby
  9. West Coast Blues
  10. Windows

 

Now that you know which 10 jazz waltz standards to learn, learn the melody, chords, and jazz soloing concepts for these tunes.

Don’t worry about learning all 10 tunes at once.

Instead, pick one tune and play the melody, chords, and solo over that tune before moving on to the next one on the list.

This ensures that you have a jazz waltz tune under your fingers to play at your next jam session or gig with confidence.

 

 

 

 

Jazz Waltz Rhythms and Comping Patterns

 

To begin your study of the jazz waltz style, you learn comping patterns and rhythms in 3/4 time.

Because you have one less beat in every bar, you need to adjust your comping rhythms to outline the changes, while keeping within the bar line.

Here are a number of essential jazz waltz rhythms that you can study and add to your comping vocabulary.

Each rhythm is written over a ii V I VI progression in the key of C major.

Start by learning each rhythm in that key and over those changes, before taking them to other keys and other chords in your studies.

If you already work on jazz waltz tunes, take these rhythms and apply them to any 3/4 jazz standard that you’re studying.

Lastly, each rhythm has a backing track to jam along with in your practice routine.

To explore these ideas further, check out my in-depth lesson “Essential Jazz Guitar Rhythms” as well as my eBook “Modern Time.”

 

 

 

Dotted Half Notes

 

The first comping rhythm is based on playing one chord per bar, which means playing dotted half notes in each measure.

When doing so, you mark each new chord in the progression and then hold that chord for the entire bar in your comping.

This is a great place to begin if you’re new to jazz waltz comping, and it provides a strong foundation to move on to more complex rhythms below.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 1

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 3

 

jazz waltz guitar 3

 

 

 

Half Note + Quarter Note

 

You now play two chords in each bar, by attacking the chord shape on the first and third beats of each measure.

When doing so, you play a half note followed by a quarter note in each bar.

Though it’s a small change from the previous rhythm, it takes time to nail the chords on beat three followed by the chord on beat one of the next bar.

If needed, slow this rhythm down, work it with a metronome, and then speed up the tempo from there when comfortable.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 1

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 4

 

jazz waltz guitar 5.1

 

 

 

 

 

Quarter Note + Half Note

 

You now reverse the rhythm from the previous example as you play a quarter note on beat one, followed by a half note on beat two, of each measure.

Once you can comfortably play this rhythm with the backing track, mix up the first three rhythms in your comping.

This gives you variety in your comping rhythms, but not too much that it takes away from your rhythmic control when comping over the changes.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 1

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 5

 

jazz waltz guitar 4

 

 

 

 

Quarter Notes

 

As well as playing quarter notes in 4/4 time, in the Freddie Green style, you can also play quarter notes in 3/4 time.

To take this rhythm further in your studies, accent each of the notes in any bar to work on your picking-hand control.

Here are the accents that you could practice with this quarter-note rhythm.

 

  • Accent beat 1
  • Accent beat 2
  • Accent beat 3
  • Accent beats 1 and 2
  • Accent beats 1 and 3
  • Accent beats 2 and 3

 

By working on accenting specific chords in a quarter-note rhythm, you bring a deeper sense of rhythmic control to your comping.

As well, accenting specific parts of the bar can help you develop your swing feel and sense of groove at the same time.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 1

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 6

 

jazz waltz guitar 5

 

 

 

 

Rest on Downbeat

 

As well as adding accents to your quarter-note rhythms in 3/4 time, you can add rests to each bar.

In this example, you place a rest on beat one of each bar, and comp the chords on beats two and three of each measure.

Make sure to use a metronome or backing track at first to ensure you place the rest on the right beat in your comping.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 1

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 7

 

 

 

jazz waltz guitar 6

 

 

Rest on Beat 2

 

You now place the rest on beat two of each bar, giving you a second variation when using quarter notes and rests in your comping patterns.

Once you can play this example, mix it up with the previous rhythm in order to practice switching rhythms in your jazz waltz comping exercises.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 1

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 8

 

jazz waltz guitar 7

 

 

 

Rest on Beat 3

 

The final quarter-note rhythm with rests places the rests on beat three of each bar.

Again, once you have this rhythm under your fingers, mix it together with other rhythms from this lesson.

Lastly, if you’re ready, take any of these rhythms and apply them to a full jazz waltz standard as you expand these ideas in your jazz guitar studies.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 1

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 9

 

jazz waltz guitar 8

 

 

 

Dotted Quarter Notes

 

The final comping rhythm uses dotted quarter notes, two in each bar, to outline the chord progression.

By doing so, you divide the bar in half, with each half getting a dotted chord note in your comping.

Though it seems easy on paper, playing dotted quarter notes in 3/4 time is difficult to get down when first studying this rhythm.

Take your time, go slow, use a metronome and count along if needed as you explore this jazz waltz comping rhythm.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 1

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 10

 

jazz waltz guitar 9

 

 

 

 

Footprints Chord Study

 

Now that you worked on jazz waltz comping patterns on their own, it’s time to take these ideas to a full jazz standard.

In this study, you learn to comp over Wayne Shorter’s tune “Footprints,” using rhythms that you’ve studied up to this point in the lesson.

Start by working the study four bars at a time, and count along if you need to in order to nail the rhythms in each phrase.

Once you can play the individual phrases perfectly, combine them to jam the study as a whole over the example track.

When you’re comfortable over the example track, put on the backing track and play the study over the changes on your own.

After that, put on the backing track and comp over Footprints on your own, using your own chord voicings and rhythms over the progression.

 

Footprints Backing Track Footprints Backing Track

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 11

 

jazz waltz guitar 10

 

jazz waltz guitar 10.1

 

 

 

Jazz Waltz Soloing Exercises

 

Along with learning how to comp over jazz waltz tunes, you want to explore soloing in 3/4 time in your practice routine.

As was the case with comping, soloing over jazz waltz tunes requires some adjustment on your part compared to 4/4 soloing lines.

Because you have one less beat per measure, you need to get used to working arpeggios, scales, triads, and licks in that new, smaller soloing space.

The material in this section helps you do just that.

By studying rhythmic and melodic variations for these commonly used soloing devices, you build your confidence with jazz waltz soloing in no time.

To begin, you work on applying arpeggio shapes to 3/4 time in a variety of directions over a ii V I VI progression in C major.

Because you only have three beats to work with, one-octave arpeggio shapes are going to be highly effective when soloing over jazz waltz tunes.

And that’s where you begin, working ascending arpeggios over the chord progression below.

To learn more about these shapes, check out my lesson “The Complete Guide to Guitar Arpeggios.”

 

 

 

Arpeggios Ascending

 

Once you can play these arpeggios as is over the backing track, experiment with them in your solos over the same track.

From there, take these shapes, and this one-octave arpeggio approach and rhythm, to other progressions and full tunes in your studies.

If you’re new to one-octave arpeggios, take your time and work on the key of C major before moving beyond that progression and key in your practice routine.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 2

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 13

 

jazz waltz guitar 11

 

 

 

Arpeggios Descending

 

Moving on, you now work on descending arpeggios over the same chord progression in 3/4 time.

Though it’s a small item on paper, reversing the ascending arpeggios you just learned, it’s tough to start on the top of an arpeggio shape and work down.

Take your time, go slow, and when you’re ready begin to improvise with these shapes over the backing track in your studies.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 2

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 14

 

 

jazz waltz guitar 12

 

 

Arpeggios Alternating 1

 

You now begin to mix ascending and descending arpeggios in your studies.

Here, you play the first arpeggio up followed by the second arpeggio down as you run through the ii V I VI chord changes.

Though you’re mixing two known shapes, this poses a challenge as you change direction with your arpeggios in each bar.

Take your time, and when you have the fingerings down from memory begin to solo with them over the backing track below.

From there, take this exercise to other keys and chord progressions that you’re working on in the woodshed.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 2

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 15

 

jazz waltz guitar 13

 

 

 

Arpeggios Alternating 2

 

The final arpeggio exercise alternates one down and one up as you play through the changes.

Again, if you get stuck with these alternating exercises not to worry, take your time, and come back to this exercise each day until it’s comfortable.

When you can play it through the changes from memory then put on the backing track and blow over the chords with these shapes.

Lastly, take this, and all arpeggio exercises, to any of the ten essential jazz waltz tunes that were listed at the start of this article.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 2

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 16

 

jazz waltz guitar 14

 

 

 

 

Scales Rhythm 1

 

Moving on to exploring scales in your studies, you need to explore various rhythms and directions as you bring scales to 3/4 progressions.

Because you have seven notes to work with, but a bar of 3/4 time only has 6th 8th-notes, you need to work in a triplet to hit each note within one measure.

In this first example, you place the triplet at the start of the bar and run 8th notes from there.

For now, work this ascending pattern only until you get the hang of it.

From there, you can skip down to the scale variations sections for other ways to work scales over chords in 3/4 time.

As well, when you get this example under your fingers, put on the backing track and solo over the ii V I VI changes using each scale from the example below.

The scales used in this, and every, example in this section are:

 

 

To learn more about scales, check out my extensive lesson “The Complete Guide to Jazz Guitar Scales.”

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 2

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 17

 

jazz waltz guitar 15

 

 

 

 

Scales Rhythm 2

 

In this next example, you place the triplet on the second beat of each bar as you run the scales over each change in the progression.

Once you can play this exercise, and solo with it over the backing track, combine this rhythm with the previous one in your lines.

Over time you can place the triplet on any beat in the bar.

But, for now, target a certain beat each time you want to use the triplet to ensure you get a well-rounded practice routine.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 2

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 18

 

jazz waltz guitar 16

 

 

 

Scales Rhythm 3

 

In this final scale rhythmic variation, you place the triplet on the 3rd beat of each measure.

Again, work this pattern with a metronome at first, and then solo over the backing track with these scales, and rhythm, in your lines.

You can also begin to mix the three rhythmic variations together in your technical and improvisational practice routine.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 2

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 19

 

jazz waltz guitar 17

 

 

 

Scales Variations

 

Now that you’ve worked these three rhythmic variations with the ascending scales, you can alter the melodic direction in your studies.

To begin, play every scale descending over the changes.

Though it’s a small change, just like with the arpeggio exercises, it’s difficult to visualize a scale shape from the top down.

So, take your time, work this new direction with a metronome and when ready, solo over the backing track with descending scale shapes.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 2

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 20

 

 

jazz waltz guitar 18

 

You now alternate one scale ascending and one scale descending as you begin to combine both directions in your practice routine.

Make sure to work this new pattern with a metronome and then solo with these shapes over the backing track as you expand the exercises in the woodshed.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 2

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 21

 

jazz waltz guitar 19

 

In this final scale variation, you play the first scale down and the second scale up over the ii V I VI progression in C major.

After you work these variations over the given progression, and given key, take them to other keys, other changes, and full tunes in your studies.

As well, make sure to practice soloing with these scales and not just run them over the changes with a metronome.

This ensures that you get a full workout, technical and improvisational, in your jazz waltz scale practicing.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 2

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 22

 

 

jazz waltz guitar 20

 

 

 

Triad Pairs Ascending

 

The final soloing concept you explore in this single-note section is triad pairs.

Triad pairs work great in 3/4 time, as combined two triads have 6 notes, the exact number of 8th notes in a bar of 3/4 time.

There are many different ways that you can apply two triads to the chords in a ii V I VI turnaround, so here are the ones you use in the following examples:

 

  • Dm7 – Dm + Em
  • G7 – F + G
  • Cmaj7 – C + Dm
  • A7b9 – A + Bb

 

When combined, these two triads outline six out of the seven notes in any diatonic scale for each chord.

This is the beauty of triad pairs; you take a small shape, the triad, and use it to outline the scale while not sounding like you’re simply running the scale.

To learn more about these concepts, check out my “The Complete Guide to Triads” and “The Complete Guide to Triad Pairs” lessons.

To begin, you ascend each triad over the given chord changes.

When this exercise is comfortable, solo over the backing track while using these shapes as your melodic inspiration.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 2

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 23

 

jazz waltz guitar 21

 

 

 

Triad Pairs Descending

 

As was the case with the arpeggio and scale exercises, you now reverse the previous exercise as you play each triad pair descending over the changes.

Again, this is tough to visualize, so take your time and work with a metronome.

After you get the hang of it, put on the backing track and bring these descending shapes to your lines over the changes.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 2

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 24

 

jazz waltz guitar 22

 

 

 

Triad Paris Alternating 1

 

The next variation features one triad played up and the next played down as you work your way through the chord progression.

This is tricky, to constantly be switching directions within one bar of music.

So, go slow, memorize the fingerings, and work with a metronome before taking this new variation to your soloing studies.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 2

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 25

 

jazz waltz guitar 23

 

 

 

Triad Pairs Alternating 2

 

The final triad pair exercise uses one triad down and then one triad up as you play through the chord progression.

Once you get these four variations under your fingers, begin to mix them together.

You can do this with your technical study, playing all four back to back with a metronome.

Or, you can do this with your soloing study, mixing all four variations into your lines over the backing track.

Lastly, don’t forget to apply these soloing variations to any jazz waltz tune you’re working on to take them to a real life, musical, situation.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 2

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 26

 

 

jazz waltz guitar 24

 

 

 

10 Jazz Waltz Licks

 

As well as studying arpeggio and scale patterns in 3/4 time, you can expand your jazz waltz soloing vocabulary by learning classic licks.

In this section, you learn 10 essential jazz waltz licks to expand your vocab and apply to your solos over 3/4 tunes.

Start by learning each lick as written along with the example track.

From there, take each lick to other keys in your studies.

When ready, alter these licks in your solos, by changing the rhythms, adding notes, and taking notes away, for example.

You can also work each lick at various tempos as you build your guitar technique at the same time as you expand your jazz waltz soloing chops.

To learn more about licks, check out my “141 Jazz Guitar Licks” lesson.

The first jazz waltz lick is a ii V I line in C major, which uses a few passing notes and a mostly steady 8th-note rhythm throughout the line.

The rhythm is broken up in the third bar as you use a quarter note and a triplet on the first two beats of that measure.

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 27

 

jazz waltz guitar 25

 

In this ii V I lick in Bb major, you delay the resolution of the V7 chord until the fourth bar of the phrase.

This is a common jazz soloing concept, delayed resolution, and is quite popular when playing in 3/4 time, due to the shorter bar length compared to 4/4 time.

The line might sound tense to your ears at first, especially bar 3, so take your time with this lick.

After you get it down, solo over a ii V I chord progression and apply the delayed resolution concept to your lines over those changes.

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 28

 

jazz waltz guitar 26

 

In this iii VI ii V lick in C major, you’re using the D harmonic minor scale to outline the A7 chord, as well as D melodic minor to outline the Dm7 chord.

These scale choices are commonly used over turnaround changes to build tension in your lines, and are worth exploring further in your melodic studies.

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 29

 

jazz waltz guitar 27

 

In this turnaround progression in G major, you use one rhythmic pattern that repeats over the entire line.

This rhythm is built by playing an 8th note followed by a quarter note, which combined are dotted quarter notes.

You used dotted quarter notes in your comping studies already, and here’s an example of how that rhythm is used in a soloing situation.

Breaking up longer rhythms, but keeping them grouped together as you see in this line, is a common way to use rhythmic durations in jazz guitar solos.

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 30

 

jazz waltz guitar 28

 

This next lick challenges you to play four notes in a three-beat measure.

When doing so, you have to keep the four quarter-notes in equal time as you play them over a 3/4 bar in the line.

Playing 4 quarter notes in a bar of 3/4 time is a common rhythmic device when playing in a jazz waltz style.

Give it a try and see how it fits, using the example track as a guide when first attempting this line in your studies.

After you get the hang of it, add this rhythm to your own lines as you expand upon this idea in your jazz guitar solos.

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 31

 

jazz waltz guitar 29

 

This ii V I jazz waltz lick in D minor begins with a two-note rhythmic idea, before branching off to other rhythms at the end of the line.

Using syncopation such as this, where you’re highlighting the upbeats of the bar, can be tricky to get under your fingers in 3/4 time.

Go slow, and work the first two bars on their own, counting along if needed, until you’re ready to put the whole lick together in your playing.

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 32

 

jazz waltz guitar 30

 

In this Pat Metheny inspired lick, you return to the 4 over 3 feel that you learned earlier in this section.

This lick takes that rhythm a step further as you play 8th notes on the last quarter note of each measure.

Again, because of the difficulty of this rhythm, go slow, play along with the example track, and then begin to apply this rhythmic grouping to your own solos.

To hear this rhythm in action, check out Pat’s solo on his tune “Question and Answer.”

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 33

 

jazz waltz guitar 31

 

As well as working on three and four-bar licks, you can study two-bar ii V I licks in the jazz waltz style.

This short ii V I lick in Eb major brings together three chords in a two-bar span, so you have little time to hit each chord in the line.

Outlining the chords with either 1.5 or 3 beats per chord is the main challenge when playing these shorter lines.

So, start with this sample lick, then put on a backing track and play over these shorter chord progressions in your studies.

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 34

 

jazz waltz guitar 32

 

In this short, two-bar ii V I jazz waltz lick, you use triplets and 16th notes to squeeze in a few extra notes during the phrase.

If you need to slow down this lick in your practicing to nail the rhythms, go for it.

Start slow, even at 40 bpm to begin, and then build up the speed from there as you become more comfortable with these faster rhythms in 3/4 time.

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 35

 

jazz waltz guitar 33

 

The final jazz waltz lick is a short two-bar phrase in E minor.

Notice how the line flows through the first two chords, and then uses a series of 3rd intervals to rise over the second measure.

Working two-bar ii V I’s in jazz waltz tunes can be tough, but these last three licks help you get started with these shorter progressions in your playing.

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 36

 

jazz waltz guitar 34

 

 

 

 

 

Bluesette Soloing Study

 

Now that you’ve worked on soloing over jazz waltz progressions, and learned ten classic jazz waltz licks, you’re ready to tackle a 3/4 tune in your studies.

The following soloing study features licks and patterns you’ve learned so far over the chord progression to the jazz standard “Bluesette.”

Take your time when learning this solo, working on two to four bars at a time.

From there, you can piece the study together as you work on it as a whole in your practice routine.

Once you can play the solo along with the sample track, work it over the backing track as you take it to the next step in your studies.

When ready, put on the Bluesette backing track and solo over the tune using the rhythms and melodic devices you studied earlier in this lesson.

 

Bluesette Backing Track Bluesette Backing Track

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 37

 

jazz waltz guitar 35

 

jazz waltz guitar 35.1

 

 

Jazz Waltz Bass Lines

 

As well as learning how to comp chords and solo in a jazz waltz style, you can expand your playing by adding jazz waltz bass lines to your repertoire.

When learning bass lines in a jazz waltz feel, you use the same concepts as 4/4 bass lines, but you have one less beat to work with in each bar.

Because of this, 3/4 bass lines are somewhat easier, you can use a root-chromatic-chromatic formula, and somewhat harder, you have less room to maneuver.

In this section, you break down four ways to approach jazz waltz bass lines, before taking these concepts to a tune study from there.

To begin, you work on applying the root note to the first beat of each measure.

Doing so solidifies the sound of the chord your on, helping to keep the chord progression in the ears of your band mates and audience members.

Here’s an example of the root notes played over a 2516 progression in C major.

Notice that you play the root notes on the bottom two strings, E and A, in order to keep a thick tone with each note.

This note placement remains the same as you progress through each exercise.

Once you get these root notes down, add chords on top of each bass note.

You don’t have to add chords to make this exercise effective, but it’s the next step to take if you want to push this, or any bass line exercise, further.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 3

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 39

 

jazz waltz guitar 36

 

Now that you have the root notes down, add in a chromatic approach note on to beat three of each bar.

When doing so, you approach the next root note from above or below that note.

Either way is fine, so use your ears to choose the right chromatic approach note for that moment in your playing.

Here’s an example of that same progression with approach notes into each root.

After you can play this example from memory, put on the backing track and make up your own bass line using the same formula.

Again, if you want an extra challenge you can add chord shapes on top of the root note in each measure.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 3

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 40

 

jazz waltz guitar 37

 

You now complete a full walking bass line over this chord progression by adding a diatonic note on beat two of each bar.

This diatonic note can be a chord tone or a scale tone, as long as it’s diatonic to the underlying chord the note will work.

Here’s an example of how to apply this concept to a jazz waltz walking bass line.

After you can play this line from memory, create your own bass lines using the same formula.

Even though you just add one note to the previous step, this walking bass line formula takes time to master.

So, take your time, and go slow with this approach as you develop it further in your studies.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 3

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 41

 

jazz waltz guitar 38

 

The final stage is to add a second chromatic approach note on beat two of each bar, in place of the diatonic note you used in the previous example.

When doing so, you have the following four options for beats two and three of any measure.

 

  • Two notes below.
  • Two notes above.
  • One note below and one above.
  • One note above and one below.

 

Each of these options gets you chromatically into the next root note, so you can use your ears and discretion to choose the right one for that musical moment.

Here’s an example of this concept as applied to a C major 2516 progression.

After you can play the example, put on the backing track and practice coming up with your own bass lines using this formula.

Though having one less beat, compared to 4/4 time, makes things tougher, this formula makes walking bass lines easier in a jazz waltz style.

 

2516 C Major Backing Track jazz waltz backing track 3

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 42

 

jazz waltz guitar 39

 

To learn about this concept further, please check out my in-depth lesson “How to Play Bass Lines for Jazz Guitar.”

 

 

 

 

Someday My Prince Will Come Bass Line Study

 

Now that you’ve worked on jazz waltz bass line fundamentals, you’re ready to take them to a full jazz standard.

In this study, you use the various approach notes to build a bass line over the jazz classic “Someday My Prince Will Come.”

Learn the study in sections, four or eight bars is cool, then piece those sections together to play the study as a whole.

Use the example track to play along with at first, and then when comfortable, play the bass line over the backing track.

After you can do that, work out your own bass line to Someday My Prince Will Come.

Start by writing a similar study, with different notes, and then create a bass line in real time over the backing track.

When you reach that level in your playing, adding bass lines to jazz waltz tunes opens up new avenues of exploration in your jazz waltz comping.

 

Someday My Prince Backing Track Someday My Prince Will Come Backing Track

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 43

 

jazz waltz guitar 40.1

 

jazz waltz guitar 40

 

 

 

 

Jazz Waltz Chord Melody

 

To finish your introduction to jazz waltz playing, you apply chord melody concepts to jazz waltz tunes.

When doing so, you follow the same principals as you would in 4/4 time, but now you have one less beat to work with each bar.

To add chords into your melody line in a jazz waltz style, use the following options:

 

  • Place the chords between melodic phrases.
  • Harmonize every note in the melody line.
  • Harmonize some notes and play others as single notes.

 

With these three options, you can create a chord melody arrangement of any jazz standard that you’re working on in the woodshed.

Now that you know the basics of jazz waltz chord melody, learn the example study below to take these ideas to the fretboard.

To study this concept further, check out my in-depth lesson “The Beginner’s Guide to Chord Melody.”

 

 

 

Look For the Silver Lining Chord Melody

 

To explore chord melody in a jazz waltz style, here’s an arrangement of “Look for the Silver Lining” to learn.

Now, if you know the tune already, you’re probably thinking:

 

“Hey, this tune isn’t a jazz waltz?”

 

And you’re right.

But, one of the popular ways to add a bit of flair to any 4/4 jazz tune is to arrange it in a jazz waltz style.

This means altering each bar to be played in 3/4 time as compared to the 4/4 time the tune is originally written in.

When doing so, notice that the rhythms of the melody have been altered to fit the new time signature, but everything else stays the same.

Playing 4/4 tunes is a jazz waltz style is a popular way to rearrange jazz standards, and it’s something to explore further in your own playing.

For the arrangement itself, learn it in four-bar phrases to begin.

From there, glue those phrases together as you learn to play the entire arrangement.

Work on playing it with the example track at first, then when you’re ready, play it with the backing track on your own.

To take things further, add chords, change chords, change the picking-hand technique, add licks, etc.

Personalize and expand upon the arrangement as you explore it more deeply in your jazz guitar practice routine.

 

Silver Lining Backing Track Silver Lining Backing Track

 

Click to Hear Jazz Waltz 44

 

jazz waltz guitar 41

 

jazz waltz guitar 41.1



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