SIMPLE Tips for EASY Smooth Jazz Chords & Melody

Smooth Jazz combines a slightly more sophisticated harmony with pop style melody. 

On guitar we get to use some pretty cool chords and interesting melodic ideas to bring this style to the instrument. In this session we'll explore smooth jazz on guitar, by offering some tips for you on playing in the Smooth Jazz Style… 

SIMPLE Tips for EASY Smooth Jazz Chords and Melody


The Smooth Jazz Sound from Chord Progressions:
The color of sound that’s applied throughout Smooth Jazz chord progressions will tend to operate with more seventh and extended chord types compared to what we’ll find in most standard pop songs.

We’re going to start off by examining the chord changes that relate to a typical Pop progression and then we’ll convert it - using some unique chords; to have it become more of of a style of progression that we would find in the style of Smooth Jazz.

Key of D Minor Progression: (pop music - style)

D Minor Progression: (Smooth Jazz style)

Creating Melodies for Smooth Progressions:
The melodies used in Smooth Jazz will most commonly lean toward incorporating the sounds of the diatonic major or minor keys. But, it is also important to keep in mind that some artists (and some styles of Smooth Jazz) are different.

Smooth jazz composers could most definitely add in the sound of scale modes like; Dorian and Mixolydian, along with other scale types (that target specific chords), including the dominant V chord (when appearing within a Minor key center). Sometimes this can even include  more complex harmonic and melodic concepts such as, “altered chord harmonies.”

I’ve composed a fairly basic Smooth Jazz melody that you can study and you can learn, as an example progression. My example is in “D Minor,” and it applies mostly the diatonic “D Minor” scale with some chromatic passing tones mixed in to establish a jazzy sound.

Smooth Jazz Melodic Example:

click the image on each line to enlarge full-screen

The smooth Jazz style of composing is a style that a lot of guitar players enjoy. The genre is actually quite interesting musically because it incorporates some of the basic harmonies of Jazz music, but all the while, it also combines them with a much lighter melodic direction more commonly found in pop music.

Smooth jazz lines are melodic ideas that flow through the underlying chord progressions in a way that connects more with pop music than with jazz. But yet, the smooth Jazz sound is one that applies jazz ideas in a way that does not particularly sound like trad. Jazz. Especially when compared to traditional Jazz composers like Duke Ellington or Count Basie.

Smooth jazz is certainly different, and those differences are what ends up making this style so interesting to so many different musicians and guitar players.

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Also, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section. If you enjoyed this lesson, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more on YouTube. Thanks again and we'll catch up next week, for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



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