Nigel Price Mas­ter­class

In the sec­ond in­stal­ment of our Nigel Price video tu­to­ri­als, Dario Cortese in­ves­ti­gates the jazz vir­tu­oso’s sin­gle-note play­ing – and we meet ‘the arpeg­gia­tor’!

Guitar Techniques - - LESSON: JAZZ -

the main aim of this ar­ti­cle is to shed some light on the think­ing that Nigel, along with many other jazz mu­si­cians, uses when it comes to choos­ing what notes to play while im­pro­vis­ing over chord changes – prob­a­bly most gui­tarists’ big­gest chal­lenge with jazz.

Im­pro­vis­ing is a huge topic and it’s be­yond the aim of this ar­ti­cle to cover all as­pects of it. What we’ll cover here is sim­ply what notes Nigel chooses to play over each chord. Just as we did in last is­sue’s fea­ture, we kept ev­ery­thing in the key of c ma­jor and c mi­nor so you can re­ally grasp the con­cepts with­out deal­ing with dif­fi­cult key sig­na­tures. We also kept the same chord se­quences so ev­ery­thing is played over a II-V-I-VI pro­gres­sion.

So what ac­tu­ally is the fun­da­men­tal knowl­edge re­quired to be able to freely im­pro­vise us­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate notes over any chord pro­gres­sion? Nigel says: “It’s all about know­ing the chord tones, the arpeg­gios.” the rea­son he says this is that most of what we play re­lies in one way or another on the arpeg­gios of the chords. ev­ery phrase or lick starts, ends or some­how em­pha­sises one or more chord tone. this doesn’t mean that we can only play arpeg­gios. that would be in­cred­i­bly bor­ing! chord tones can be seen as the land­marks that al­low us to high­light the har­mony and the sin­gle-note lines are just the ways to con­nect them. to give an anal­ogy: it’s like go­ing for a trip know­ing the places we’d like to stop by: our favourite ho­tels, res­tau­rant, venues, etc. What is left for us to de­cide is how to get there but, luck­ily, this can be done at the very last mo­ment. We don’t need to plan it ahead.

So where do we start? Nigel sug­gests we prac­tise what many might know as ‘the arpeg­gia­tor’ ex­er­cise. the arpeg­gia­tor is not Robocop’s cousin, but it’s a very use­ful ex­er­cise that has been around for many years. there are many vari­a­tions of it so it can be adapted to what­ever level of abil­ity one is at.

Nigel demon­strates the ba­sic ‘arpeg­gia­tor’ in ex­am­ples 1 and 5. this con­sists in play­ing the ba­sic chord tones of the chord pro­gres­sion. In ex­am­ple 2 and 6 Nigel adds some in­ter­est­ing notes (eg #5, b5, #9) to the arpeg­gios. In ex­am­ples 3, 4, 7 and 8 he demon­strates how the ‘arpeg­gia­tor’ is used in real im­pro­vi­sa­tion. To fin­ish this ar­ti­cle we asked Nigel to turn up the heat so we could switch the fo­cus onto his flaw­less tech­nique. In Ex­am­ple 9 you’ll find a burn­ing solo with some great lines and another demon­stra­tion of the im­por­tance of arpeg­gios.

check in again next month when we’ll be treated to a full im­pro­vised solo by this very spe­cial gui­tarist.

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