It isn't an easy task to teach how to play jazz on guitar for beginners, mostly because of its complex nature, and requires the incorporation of advanced techniques, unique scales and chord progressions. It is almost always better to start off by learning blues, country or rock before diving into the jazz.
Jazz is an old genre of music that, like many other genres, has originated from the Blues, also at the end of the 19th century, and at the start of the early 20th century. Click here to learn more about the Blues music and how to play Blues on guitar.
Like the blues, jazz also was “invented” by the African-american people in the U.S, more specifically in New-Orleans. In the next paragraphs, we will be discussing what makes the jazz unique, its unique features, how and where you can learn to play it and master it on the guitar, and more. So get ready, and enjoy!
WHAT DISTINGUISHES THE JAZZ FROM THE OTHER STYLES AND MAKES IT UNIQUE?
The Jazz is unique in its nature, its structure, its chord progression, rhythm, and techniques.
The Jazz differentiates from other styles of music in many ways, among them:
- Improvisation is an important and integrated aspect to the genre.
- Polyrhythms – the simultaneous use of two or more conflicting rhythms, that are not necessarily connected to each other. Learn more here.
- Syncopation – basically this means the occurrence of a variety of rhythms inside a piece of music, that sounds “unexpected” or “off-beat”, but are actually deliberate and adds playfulness to the music and loosen up the “monotonic” nature of the original rhythm or beats. Example in the video below:
- The Swing and Swing Note – swing is a jazz-related term, which basically refers to the “feel” and interaction between the performers and the music they are playing, actions like tapping their feet, or nodding their head to the beats and rhythms, much like the word “groove” used to describe the “feel” and the connection to the music in the context of rock or funk music. In other words, the Jazz fills you with lots of energy and emotions and that is called, “the Swing”. You play the Jazz, you play the Swing, you feel the Swing.The Swing Note – or also called the “Shuffle Note“, is the practice of playing equally timed notes, as unequal timed notes, but you end up with the same time intervals so you don't go off-note or off-beat. For example, if you play five C notes one after another, with the same time interval between them, applying a “shuffle note” here would play like: C (longer than usual), C (shorter than usual), C (longer), C (shorter), C (longer), but eventually you end up on the same time.
Note: you write the notes here all totally equal, but you “perform” them with the shuffle.Example with a Blues shuffle: Blues_shuffle_in_E
Click here to learn more and for more examples.
- Jazz is “Technically” more difficult to play. In terms of solo, chords play, and music composition in general.
- And more …
LEARNING JAZZ ON THE GUITAR THROUGH COURSES ONLINE
So with the above brief overview of the jazz and its unique features, we can already understand that learning to play the jazz isn't as simple as taking a random jazz tabs sheet and learn to play it. A true jazz guitarist knows the chromatic scale very well, can improvise on it comfortably, can implement all the techniques we've talked about above, and simply knows how to bring the “swing” to his listeners.
Several online courses and guitar teaching programs provide a complete path to learning the jazz on the guitar. You can find the best of them in the Reviews section above under Guitar Lessons and Courses. These programs are 100% trusted and I have personally examined and approved.
I suggest looking at Jamplay for jazz learning, Matt Brown (a professional jazz guitarist) makes an excellent overview of the genre, and presents good examples and exercises to help you understand and play Jazz on the guitar:
NEVERTHELESS, AN EXERCISE AND AN EXAMPLE
Since we are all here already, I won't let you go like this without having a taste of what Jazz is, even if you are a beginner. We could try out different kinds of exercises, from solos to sweet licks, but the best introductory level example would be chords progression. A great example of this I were able to find in the Ultimate-Guitar website: click here.
And it goes like this:
As you can see here, the chords are all kind-of special, and nothing like the usual standard beginner chords we all used to, like the C Major chord or Dm chord, this is normal for Jazz, and this is why it is not like any other style of music, it does require good music theory understanding and good knowledge on the scales, to understand these chords and how they came about, and if you are to go into the more advanced exercises, then it is a MUST to know music theory, no doubt.
However, for the sake of this post, I want you for now to just try and play these chords, take any speed or rhythm that you want, start slowly and then develop speed gradually, and just “feel” the swing on your guitar, it won't be an easy exercise for a beginner, so take your time and try to learn from it, and “feel” the swing.
THREE LICKS THAT YOU CAN PLAY RIGHT NOW, AS A BEGINNER
A friend of mine from Sweden, that I've met on the internet through Google+ communities, is a well-established jazz guitarist and teacher named Thomas Berglund. I asked him if he would dedicate a free beginner jazz guitar lesson for Novice Guitar, and he has happily accepted my proposition.
The lesson is a video lesson, that includes three simple jazz licks for the beginner guitarist that you can learn and play right now, with reference notes and tabs for all the licks demonstrated in the video. It is a highly recommended lesson for any beginner jazz guitarist or enthusiast, and it's completely free. To find this cool lesson simply click here:
If you've enjoyed the chords and the licks presented in this article, and feel that jazz is for you, then you should definitely take a look at the online guitar teaching programs presented above for a more professional and structured learning path, and not count solely on yourself. Jazz is a sophisticated music genre
and requires to be approached with respect and open-mindedness, and if you choose to try learning it alone through various random Youtube videos and free “semi-courses”, you might find yourself lost within few months and extremely unmotivated to continue. Why take the risk when fulfilling your desire for the jazz guitar has never been easier, more accessible and cost-friendly than ever before? Check the programs that I've recommended and start learning today.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and has succeeded in giving you a little insight into the jazz music genre. Should you need any more information or guidance regarding the jazz or any other guitar related issue, do not hesitate to inform me by leaving a comment below, and I'll get back to you whenever I can.
Good luck and, enjoy the swing!