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Chord Changes Archives

How To Play Through Difficult Tunes
Ask Damian Erskine

How To Play Through Difficult Tunes

This week, someone asked me how to play through "Giant Steps," so I made this video to break down my process. We'll dive into working through difficult sets of changes and talk about how to think about it.

Walking Bass Line Construction
Ask Damian Erskine

Walking Bass Line Construction

In this video, I’ll talk you through the basics of developing a walking bass line in addition to demonstrating a few approaches. There’s also a nice exercise at the end that’ll really challenge most of you as you explore new ways to navigate chord changes. Enjoy! Follow along with this chord chart I used in this lesson.

The Lightbulb Moment: One, Four, Five
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: One, Four, Five

“Hey, so we’re in G and it’s a one, four, five thing. Cool? Count it off.” Here we go again… Whether it’s a local blues jam, and evening hang at your friend’s garage-turned-music-room, or a gig where someone decides to deviate from the setlist, the notion of calling a “One, Four, Five” can leave us bass players a little high...

Should I Bother With Modes?
Ask Damian Erskine

Should I Bother With Modes?

Q: First of all thank you very much for your past reply to my question! Lately while working on improvisation and in particular on linear melody through changes, I started asking myself why I should bother with modes. For instance, if there’s a Fmin7 moving to an Amin7 chord and I want to think about those two chords as F...

Playing Outside the Harmony
Ask Damian Erskine

Playing Outside the Harmony

I often get the question about how to play “outside” the changes. There’s no easy answer to this, but I do have several tips to keep in mind. This week I made a video to dig into how to create tension and release by playing outside of the harmony.

What Scales Do I Use Over a Minor ii-V Progression?
Ask Damian Erskine

What Scales Do I Use Over a Minor ii-V Progression?

Q: I have a question about minor ii-V’s. In a major ii-V7-I progression, each chord is diatonic to the I chord. The ii chord is Dorian, the V chord is Mixolydian and it resolves to a Major tonic. In a minor ii-V, the 1 would be natural minor, which makes the ii chord Locrian (7th degree of the major scale)...

The Lightbulb Moment: Key Change!
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: Key Change!

There comes a time in every player’s life when we listen to a song and are able to identify a perfectly executed lift in tonal center. The energy heightens, the chorus takes on a slightly new character, and the band keeps grooving with a new sense of intention. This extraordinary moment can only be one thing: a key change. Take...

Getting Away from Playing the Root on Beat One
Ask Damian Erskine

Getting Away from Playing the Root on Beat One

Q: I play mostly jazz and am a pretty facile walker, but I’ve gotten into the habit of playing lines that almost invariably lead to the root being on the 1 (or the 3 if it’s a 2-chord measure in 4/4, etc.). While I am guessing that some of the folks I play with don’t mind the solid anchor, I...

Advanced Bass: Giant Steps Plays the Blues
Advanced Bass

Advanced Bass: Giant Steps Plays the Blues

“Giant Steps” is well known as a challenging workout for all aspiring jazz musicians to learn. In this lesson, we’ll cover how to superimpose “Coltrane Changes” over the first 4-bars of the Blues with a fingerboard friendly symmetrical pattern that will open doors – both harmonically and stylistically into the world of John Coltrane. Download the transcription for this lesson...

How to Reharmonize a Song
Ask Damian Erskine

How to Reharmonize a Song

Q: I’ve heard jazz musicians talk about “reharms”, which are just reharmonization of a song (or so I’m told). Can you explain how to “reharmonize” a song? A: There was a time where I was also mystified by whatever the process of reharmonizing a tune might be. I figured that it must require some deep, deep level of understanding of...

Advanced Bass: Playing over Minor II V Patterns
Advanced Bass

Advanced Bass: Playing over Minor II V Patterns

In this Advanced Bass lesson, we’re diving into the realm of playing over minor II V patterns. I’m including a solo etude along with two skill developing drills as we work step by step through a common chord progression. This lesson includes an easy to follow chart (PDF) detailing the specifics of this lesson providing you with a valuable resource...

Advanced Bass: Diminished II V Substitution
Advanced Bass

Advanced Bass: Diminished II V Substitution

A cool harmonic concept that bebop players have used for years is substituting dominant 7th chords – built in minor 3rds – over the V7 chord of the key. In this lesson, we’ll cover this concept to learn the possibilities of Diminished II V chord substitution over the II V I progression. Follow along with the video, and be sure...