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LJS 122: How to Use Target Notes to Create Melodic Jazz Lines (Feat. Jens Larsen)

Welcome to episode 122 of the LJS Podcast where today we are joined by special guest Jens Larsen to talk about using target notes to create melodic jazz lines. Jens is a pro jazz guitarist, teacher, and he lays down his tips on how to bring out the chord tones in your jazz solos and use them to make real melodies. Listen in!

Listen to episode 122

I remember when I was first starting out playing jazz and how I struggled to get my solos to sound the way I wanted them to. There was just something about them that wasn’t working.

It wasn’t long before I realized that the missing element was that I wasn’t outlining the chord changes. I wasn’t hitting those money notes that defined one chord from another. And then further than that, I wasn’t connecting them in a melodic way.

On today’s episode, I have on special guest jazz guitarist, teacher, and YouTuber, Jens Larsen. He addresses this exact issue with a concept called target tones.

Target tones are notes that you choose from each chord within a chord progression that helps define each chord uniquely.

Here’s what we cover in this episode:

1. How Jens Larsen got started as a musician.

2. The main things Jens thinks aspiring jazz musicians should be working on.

3. Target notes: what they are and which ones to choose.

4. How to connected target notes together in the context of a I-VI-ii-V progression.

Jens and I have a special challenge for you today. Take what you learned in this episode and pick your own target notes over a I-VI-ii-V chord progression. Then connect them together and compose your own jazz line.

Post what you came up with in the comments sections below. Upload a clip to YouTube or Soundcloud and copy and paste the URL.

Important Links

Jens Larsen’s YouTube Channel

Joe Pass Guitar Style

Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


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