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LJS 68: How to Compose a Jazz Solo From Scratch

Welcome to episode 68 of the LJS Podcast where today we are asking talking about how to compose a jazz solo from scratch. Podcast host Brent Vaartstra composes a jazz solo live on the show and walks you through his process of building a jazz solo he would love to improvise. Listen in!

Listen to episode 68

[vc_cta h2=”Enjoy listening to this podcast?” h4=”If you get value from the LJS Podcast, help us out by leaving a rating and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast service. Thanks for your help!” shape=”square” add_button=”bottom” btn_title=”Rate and Review on iTunes” btn_style=”outline” btn_shape=”square” btn_color=”primary” btn_size=”lg” btn_i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-credit-card-alt” btn_add_icon=”true” btn_link=”|||” el_class=”podcast_call”][/vc_cta]It can be a really great practice to eliminate improvisation altogether and take the time to actually compose a solo. When you do this, you get the opportunity to imagine a solo that you would like to play.

It can help you develop a language of your own and affirm some of the jazz language you already know. The idea is not to play your solo verbatim when you improvise over a jazz standard, but that you take the time to intentionally play lines that you would like to internalize.

In this lesson Brent composes a solo over It Could Happen to You. Follow that link if you would like to follow along to a chord chart.

In this episode

  1. How composing a solo can be helpful for your improvisation.

  2. Brent walks you through his compositional process.

  3. The final product! Listen to the playback of the entire solo from start to finish.

Listen to Episode 67: How to Use Pentatonic Scales Over Any Chord

Mentioned in the show

Zero to Improv eBook

Our flagship eBook, Zero to Improv, is a book that teaches you how to become a great jazz improviser from the ground up. No stone is left un-turned. This isn’t your ordinary music book. Zero to Improv calls you to action! Packed full of improv and jazz theory lessons, you’ll start from the beginning and build up all of the skills and knowledge you need. Audio examples are included for all music notation.

Versions are available for C, Bb, Eb and Bass Clef instruments. Designed for all skill levels.

Challenge: Compose your own jazz solo, make a video and share it in the comments section below!

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."


  1. Appreciated the podcast. What software did you use? You were able to seamlessly add each new section of the solo without any gaps or hiccups.



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