Thomas Berglund
Thomas Berglund
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Jazz fusion guitar lines from John Scofield & Mike Stern

In this lesson there are two great guitarists lines I´m playing, discuss and analyze. The guitarists are John Scofield and Mike Stern. When studying it´s good to learn from the licks and lines. If you just play them and don´t think so much from where they´re coming they will be in your lick library but you don´t know why. If you instead learn the lines and then analyzes from which scale and how they work in context you also learn from the licks and lines. Then you can use them in other contexts with the same ideas but with your own way of playing them and that´s a thing to have in mind according to licks and lines, to make them your own. Tips is to change the rhythm a little bit or put them in another context so if the lick is to a certain chord, play the lick with the same idea but to another kind of chord.

I´ll explain everything about the lines in the video lesson and you have also an explanation in the text to the scores/tabs below.

John Scofield Lines

These lines are from the song "So you say" from the album Blue Matter released 1986.

The key in this part of the solo is F major (Ionian) and it´s just a part of the solo. I´ll recommend to listen to the whole solo when it´s a great one.

John Scofield Lines_From So you say1a

The first four bars is built on a rhythmic motif that´s in the 1st and and 3rd bars. The 3rd bar motif is similar to the 1st bar but with other tones played that´s called sequence playing or playing with rhythmic motifs. It´s much used in improvisation and if you listen carefully to melodies you can hear rhythmic motifs everywhere in all kind of music.

John Scofield Lines_From So you say1b

Next four bars is played in the F major scale (Ionian) but if you look at the chords you have the A7 chord here and also the G7 chord in the 8 bars vamp. These chords are outside the key that´s F major. Scofield use mostly the F major, F major pentatonic and even the F minor pentatonic scale in this part of the solo but you can also use the chord tones to the G7 and the A7 chord. If you listen to live clips with Scofield you can hear him doing that as well.

He´s also using a lots of legato playing that´s doing he´s playing even more expressive and flowing.

John Scofield Lines_From So you say1c

The bars above is played in the F minor pentatonic scale with some bendings. When playing bluesy lines like this you actually breaking the rules when the key is major and you´re playing the minor third and in a major scale there´s a major 7th but the minor 7th is played. We have used our ears to these tones and that´s why this phrase works great. I´ll also say that rules are made to be broken so…

John Scofield Lines_From So you say1d.

The last four bars is a longer phrase and Scofield is using the D minor blues scale to the A7 chord here and again he´s breaking the rules but with very good choice of tones. He´s playing the D minor blues scale because of the D minor chord that´s coming in the next bar. On the D minor chord he´s playing a B tone that will creates a dorian sound. In the last two bars he´s using the F major scale and the last tone is a bluesy minor 7th in the key of F.

Mike Stern lines

The Mike Stern lines are from the song "Little shoes" from the album Upside Downside released 1986.

The lines starts in the key of Eb major (Ionian) and modulate to E minor aeolian. This is from the starting of the solo and Stern will then release his energy and creates a stunning solo that I really recommend listen to.

Mike Stern Lines_From Little Shoes1a

The thing with Mike Sterns playing is among other things he´s rock energy mixed with the jazzy thinking of scales and tones. The first phrases he´s doing some bendings to certain tones as to the Abmaj7 chord when he´s bending up to the major 7th tone. Very sweet. Then he´s doing a bending phrase inside the Gm7 chord that´s also sounding really nice.

Mike Stern Lines_From Little Shoes1b

In the bars above the song is modulate to the E minor aeolian key with the Am7 and the D7b9 chord. He´s just playing the scale tones with a little drill in the end of the phrase and it sounds just great.

Mike Stern Lines_From Little Shoes1c

Mike Stern Lines_From Little Shoes1d

The last two phrases are similar rhythmic motifs with a little difference in the rhythm and the tones and he´s using the E minor aeolian scale and finish the phrases with typical Mike Stern bendings.

These two guitarists are masters in improvisation and in these soloing parts they show the ability to have a goal and go there, meaning they want the phrase to end on a certain tone and also succeed in getting there. They have also this rock/blues energy in their playing mixed with the jazz scale thinking that creates theirs special sound.

I really like and have been inspired by these guitarists and I still learn things listen to them but I try to do these things to my own and I really recommend you to do the same otherwise it´s not you who´s playing. The conclusion when learning other musicians solos must be to learn from the phrases not learn and play them exactly the same in your own playing.

Good luck!

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Joseph Lopez
@josephlopez   4 years ago
very nice lesson! I found very interesting how you explore the harmony and phrasing behind the lines of these great guitarists -but in a relatively simple harmonic context so we can get a glimpse of how they construct their solos and learn from them.