How are jazz guitarists and musicians like us supposed to improvise and compose melodic, lyrical ideas that transcend playing scales, regurgitating memorized riffs, sweeping through arpeggios, and outlining changes with chord tones when the only approaches being taught in jazz improvisation are scales, riffs, arpeggios, and outlining changes with chord tones?
That is the question...
We are a self-paced study group made up of a diverse and international group of musicians who are all dedicated to freeing ourselves from being stuck sounding like we're running scales, modes, chord tones, and riffs when we're improvising. We seek to learn to freely improvise lyrical, melodic phrases that are respectful of the chords without being imprisoned by them, and to understand how to develop lush, colorful, moving harmony beyond the bounds of drop chords.
It's a great question. In just a minute I will link you to a short demo video so you can actually hear melodic triads in action and what they do. But the basic idea is built on the belief that all great melody is made up of resolution notes and tension notes. This is true of melody regardless of genre (bebop, modern jazz, gypsy jazz, pop, blues, rock, classical, etc). If the music is tonal, it's using melodic tension and resolution.
We believe that the triad is the perfect starting point for playing music as it naturally and organically creates an organized set of the most stable and resolved notes which we can then manipulate to create drama and tension in our melodies and harmonies. Once you watch the demo video below and hear melodic triads in use, I'll be able to walk you through what you're hearing and how you can use triads to improvise melody by taking advantage of melodic tension and resolution.
The bulk of this method came from a year I spent studying and playing with the crazy talented and brilliant vibraphonist, Stefon Harris. He truly opened my mind to the potential and power hiding within simple triads and to the depth possible when we understand the relationship between harmony and melody.
After studying with him at the piano for about a year, I began feeling frustrated. It seemed so unfair that I could build all of these incredible, lush, and complex harmonies on the piano using triads and very simple harmonic techniques... but I couldn't access any of these sounds on the fretboard. And the only conversation about harmony on the guitar that was happening was about whether we should use drop 2 voicings or drop 3. I felt that there had to be a way to bridge the divide between the way I was starting to see harmony on the piano vs the conventional approach to harmony that I saw being taught for the guitar.
So I decided to do something about it. I spent the next year dreaming up ways of translating all of these piano ideas onto the fretboard and turned this exploration into my master's thesis, which I called Reimagining the Fretboard: A New Approach to Harmonic Development on the Guitar.
As I started making sense of how to achieve Bill Evans-style pianistic harmony on the fretboard, I then began exploring how to translate the melodic elements over as well. Eventually I started mixing in elements and ideas from my other teachers (John Scofield, Peter Bernstein, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Brad Shepik, and others) and my own approach started to form. At first, it was just a road map that I used. A "scientific method" that I followed during my own practice time. As I began to understand what it was capable of, I then started using it as a teaching tool when working with my private students.
As I started sharing my ideas with more people, I was constantly being asked if there were books or DVDs I could recommend where musicians could go to learn more about the way I use triads. Since I didn't learn these ideas from a book, I had no resources to recommend. So instead, I decided to start this online study group.
"You have "doors" for me. And I need to go through them... I really believe that you are helping profoundly to assist in unlocking music for us."
"Melodic triads is an amazing approach for me to really dig into the jazz field. I was a scale runner before I studied this concept. But once I learned the melodic triad concept my solo playing sounds more musical and less robotic. Also I think it is the best way to learn the Bill Evans and Jim Hall style of playing. It's really unique and helps me understand music more like a pianist. I highly recommend the melodic triad concept for people who want to study jazz guitar."
"Technical stuff such as sequences, scale practice, shape systems... there are so many books out there. But I really like that [Jordan] puts it on a much more phenomenological area of expertise, so you get to understand what sound means, emotionally. To me that's much better than all of these books and methods you find all over the internet. This is much more personal and to the core of what music is. [Jordan] really helped me open up a new world, and we're continuing to explore that. I can highly recommend Jordan."
"After years of studying with many of the jazz legends of our time, Jordan has taken all the knowledge he has acquired, reduced it to its essence, and developed it into his own personal system of approaching improvisation. I find his method absolutely refreshing and so much closer to how the great improvisers are thinking and practicing than the traditional chord/scale, university approach to teaching improvisation. It's given me a whole new and fresh outlook on how to hear things and what to practice. So many free resources here to take advantage of with the option to subscribe if you want to go even deeper into his world. Highly recommend checking his stuff out."
Click here to read more testimonials and watch video of our members playing and practicing with melodic triads.
The best way to learn any new topic in music is to begin with listening. Once we hear a concept in action, it's easier to understand it and talk about it.
Click here to watch a short video demonstrating what melodic triads are and what kinds of melodic and harmonic sounds we can create with them.
If you have already watched our demo video and gone through all of our free intro materials and can't find this month's free study material, CLICK HERE.
If you haven't already gone through the demo video and the free intro materials, I would not recommend jumping directly into our monthly study guides. We do things very differently than you're probably used to, and it may confuse and frustrate you. You can always start working on our monthly materials after you check out our free intro material and learn more about how we organize and notate our ideas.