How are jazz guitarists and musicians like us supposed to create and control pianistic harmony and improvise 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 guitar and improvisation are drop chords, scales, riffs, arpeggios, and outlining changes with chord tones?
That is the question...
"Jordan Klemons is a great guitarist with unlimited potential. His prodigious technique is never an end in itself but instead the means to musical expression. He is a musician who looks to the past for inspiration and influence yet has a modern conception; he is someone to look out and listen for!
He has a beautiful and clear way of explaining and organizing important things related to music, jazz, and guitar. Do yourself a favor and dig into [The Melodic Triads Study Group]."
We are an online group of diverse, international jazz musicians ranging from beginners all the way up to advanced gigging and teaching professionals. While most are guitar players, we do have a handful of members who play other instruments. The one thing that we all share in common is the desire to free ourselves from being stuck sounding like we're running scales, modes, chord tones, and riffs when 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.
"The most remarkable thing about working on Jordan's method is that my hearing improved. Immensely. That translated directly to my playing in jazz, but also in jamming in other genres and simply picking out familiar melodies. If you're interested but not sure whether this is for you, I say give it a solid month of effort and you will be very glad you did."
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.
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 melodic triads approach made me realize that I was interacting with music much like a photographer looking through the lens of a camera. My perception of music had been incomplete, with parts of it out of focus. Jordan's ideas have felt as if my ears are suddenly adjusting the focus on the camera lens and my musical self is seeing clarity where there had been a sort of fuzzy concept. Elements of my improvisations that had relied on memorized patterns or ideas are now able to be approached with intention and personal choice. I highly recommend engaging and experiencing the melodic triads approach, regardless of your musical background or experience. There is something here for everyone."
The bulk of this method came from a year I spent studying and playing with the brilliant vibraphonist, Stefon Harris. He 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 conversations about harmony on the guitar that I was hearing were either about whether we should use drop 2 voicings or drop 3, basic shell voicings, or running chord scales. 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 was 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 the Melodic Triad Approach for the guitar began taking shape.
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... relaxing the limitations and generic quality of the chord-scale theory and chord tone running approaches to improvisation. 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. Having had to stop playing music for two years due to medical issues, I was forced to relearn to play the guitar. As I began to understand what this system was capable of and see how quickly and effectively the Melodic Triad Approach helped me get back to making music, I then started using it as a teaching tool when working with my private students.
As I began sharing more of my ideas with other, 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.
"A couple of years ago I discovered a video on YouTube of Jordan playing his version of 'Body and Soul' - in his way of playing he highlighted some beautiful sounds that enchanted me! He seemed to have more than 12 notes available... it was amazing! Some time later I began to study his approach to the melodic triads in the study group and SBAM! I discovered sounds that I did not imagine I could handle. The way in which the topics are proposed is very organic and never boring! Forget the classic approach to the study of scales, arpeggios, and triads (often you end up doing only gymnastics). With the modality proposed in the course you just need a few notions to immediately start to get into the heart of the topic in a simple and rational way! In a short time I started improvising with a taste that I did not think I had! My ear has improved - I notice and recognize the use of melodic triads in the records that I hear! In short: I have acquired greater awareness and mastery of harmony and the concept of tension and resolution! I will never stop thanking you.”
There's a famous quote that says that, "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture." I could talk and write about melodic triads forever, but the quickest way to learn about a musical concept is always to start with experiencing it through listening.
Check out this short demo video to hear what is so unique about melodic triads. Yes, we're using the same 12 pitches of western music, but there are some unique features available to us using the melodic triad approach that are easier to understand experientially through listening BEFORE I try and explain the theory.
Our Standard Membership level is run using an email list. You don't need to purchase anything or create a login account or password. You simply sign up for our Melodic Triad Study Group Standard Membership email list below, and you're part of the community!
I will send you links every month to watch our free monthly study videos, links to join our free live open office hours session each month so you can ask me questions and get help with anything that's confusing you, the 50% discount code for our course The Overview - 5 Steps To Melodic Improvisation (which is optional and you can skip it and jump directly into our free monthly materials if you want), and other occasional specials, discounts, and related materials.
Signup below to get started...
PS - Double and triple check your email. One typo, and you won't receive any emails from me.