A 6 Step Guide to Playing Over Changes

Here’s Your Guide to Playing Over Changes

Have you ever struggled with playing over changes or staying in form within songs you’re improvising? In this video/guide, I cover the most basic things you can do with anysong to improve your skills. By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to play roots, thirds, triads, and seventh chords over the Bb Blues jazz form.

1. Playing the Roots

The first step in playing over changes is to become familiar with the root notes of the chords in the song or progression you are working on. The root is the foundation of a chord, and it is important to have a solid understanding of it in order to build upon it. One way to practice this is by saying the names of the bars out loud as you play through the song, in order to keep an awareness of the harmonic pulse and rhythm. This will also help you to stay in form within the song, as you will be able to anticipate the changes and respond to them more easily.

2. Adding the Thirds

Once you are comfortable playing the roots, it is time to move on to adding the thirds. The third of a chord is what gives it its tonality, whether it is major or minor. By playing the thirds in addition to the roots, you will gain a deeper understanding of the chords and be able to create more expressive solos. Try playing the roots and thirds together, in both the major and minor tonalities, to get a sense of how they sound in relation to each other.

3. Playing the Triads

The next step is to add the fifth of the chord, and play the whole triad (1, 3, 5). This involves stacking thirds, so you will need to have a good understanding of how the roots and thirds sound together. Playing the triads will give you a fuller sound, and will allow you to create more complex melodies and harmonies.

4. Adding the Seventh

The fourth step is to add the seventh of the chord. The seventh adds a new level of complexity and sound, and it can be used to create tension and dissonance in your solos. Try playing the roots, thirds, fifths, and sevenths of the chords together, and experiment with different ways of combining them.

5. Playing Up an Octave

In this step, you will take all the above steps to next level by playing all the above steps (roots, thirds, triads, sevenths) up an octave. This can be challenging as it requires more finger dexterity, but it is a great way to improve your skills and make your solos more interesting. It can be difficult at first, so take it slow and be patient with yourself

6. Voice Leading the Triads

The final step is to try voice leading the triads within a set. Voice leading refers to the movement of chords and notes in a melody, and it is an important aspect of playing over changes. By moving the triads to different inversions, you can create smooth and expressive solos that are harmonically correct.

Try voice leading the triads by moving from the root position to the first inversion, then to the second inversion, and so on. In conclusion, playing over changes and staying in form within songs can be a challenging task for any musician, but by following these simple steps you can greatly improve your skills and take your playing to the next level.

Remember to practice regularly, and to always keep in mind the harmonic pulse and rhythm. The more you practice, the more natural it will become.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and come up with your own unique variations on these examples. The Bb Blues jazz form is a common one, but the same principles can be applied to any song or chord progression you learn in the future. The key is to have a solid understanding of the basics, and then build upon it with experimentation and creativity.