TIM LERCH Video Masterclass
In the final instalment of his video masterclass series, Tim Lerch presents more great ideas for a 12-bar jazz-blues. With Milton Mermikides.
In the final instalment of this three-part series, Tim offers up more ideas for a 12 bar blues. Milton Mermikides is your guide.
Welcome to the final part of Tim Lerch’s video masterclass series. Tim is a Seattle-based jazz and blues guitarist and a fantastic player and teacher. In this series Tim has presented many excellent harmonic ideas in the context of a 12-bar jazz blues, so do check out the first two parts as they are a great foundation in this style of playing and you’ll want to be secure with the basic 12-bars jazz-blues form when going through this month’s lesson. The progression is presented in below, although be aware that this basic harmonic skeleton is often elaborated and varied in performance, as we will continue to see. We’ll call it Fig 1. Bb7 Eb7 Bb7
| | | | Eb7 Bb7 | Edim7| | (G7) |
Bb7 Cm7 | F7 | G7 | Cm7 F7 | In this lesson Tim plays over two choruses of the sequence (Example 1), then goes on to explain many of the concepts used (Examples 2-6). Finally he plays an outro solo (Ex 7), which is a freer improvisation using concepts from all three instalments in the series.
The main concept today is that of walking basslines. These are really effective on the guitar when combined with upper chords (played either hybrid or fingerstyle). In order to create an interesting walking bassline on the guitar, you have to know how to choose alternatives to the root chord. Tim’s four approaches offer countless opportunities.
1) Inversions. A 7th chord contains four unique notes and any one of these can be in
Bb7 Bb9 the bass. So for example (or etc.) can
Bb7/D Bb7/F be voiced as (first inversion),
Bb7/Ab (second inversion) or (third inversion). See chord boxes opposite.
2) Diatonic substitution. This is the use of a chord from the same key in place of your basic
Bb, chord. For example in the key of the chords Cm7 and Dm7 are formed on the 2nd and 3rd degrees respectively. This usually happens on the ‘weaker’ beats (2, 4 and sometimes 3). So
Bb7 Bb7-Cm7-Dm7, for, say, you can play which creates a satisfying bassline but doesn’t ‘break’ the harmony.
3) Passing diminished chords. Diminished 7th chords have harmonic stability, and a tendency to resolve upwards or downwards by a semitone, so they can be used to approach any chord. For example, these first three
Bb7 devices can turn into a nice ascending
Bb7-Cm7-C#dim7-Bb/D. figure of Diminished 7ths also have the property that they can be shifted up or down in minor 3rds while maintaining their chord quality (inversions are the same shape). Take a look at bar 6 of Example 1, where music is created when an b3rd Edim7 is shifted up a to Gdim7 (identical to Gdim7/G Edim7/G).
4) Chromatic approach. Finally, any chord can be approached by any chord of the same type from a semitone above or below. This ‘parallel’ motion is challenging on the piano, but great on the guitar where you simply approach a chord from a fret above or below.
Tim uses these approaches in Examples 1-6, while the outro solo combines these concepts with some from GT257 and 258 - creative fuel for your jazz-blues playing. Thanks to Tim for sharing his knowledge, passion and unique musical insight.
Tim Lerch: ideas for a 12-bar blues
Tim Lerch creates a masterful blend of classy jazz and moody bluesiness