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Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Lesson: Using Parallel Fourths with Martin Taylor


Harmonizing a song’s melody is a great way to add richness to a performance and make a piece more expressive. Using parallel harmonies when outlining a melody, in particular, is a common technique utilized in a variety of different musical styles. For example, in pop, blues, and R&B styles, it is very common to hear melodies outlined using parallel thirds. In rock music, parallel fifths are employed frequently in the form of “power chords.” Country musicians routinely play parallel sixth harmonies in the form of double-stops when improvising. And, the list goes on...


In this online guitar lesson, Grammy-nominated guitarist, Member of the Order of the British Empire, and ArtistWorks fingerstyle guitar instructor, Martin Taylor, illustrates how to tastefully use parallel fourths to add tension and an edgy quality to chord-melody performance on the jazz guitar, emulating masterful playing techniques utilized by the likes of jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, composer and trumpet virtuoso Miles Davis, and others.


“I’m a melodic improviser,” Martin explains. “But, we can’t always make everything we play melodic and pretty. We need to incorporate other elements to bring in more of an edge. One of the great ways to do that is by using parallel fourths."


While the sonic character of parallel fourths may sound slightly foreign at first, getting these parallel fourths techniques under your fingers is a great way to add maturity and complexity to your sound and improvisations rather easily, and are methods that guitarists of all levels should practice.


“One thing that’s difficult about playing jazz on the guitar is that most things don’t fall easily under the fingers,” Martin explains. “When you look at blues and rock guitar playing, the guitar is central to those genres and that music was written with guitar in mind. In most cases, that isn’t true for jazz music, so lines and phrases have to be translated onto the guitar in ways that can be difficult to play. With parallel fourths, that’s not the case. Executing them on the guitar is simple.”


To learn more about how to employ parallel fourths in your improvisation and fingerstyle jazz guitar playing, dive into this online guitar lesson from Martin Taylor:


Using Parallel Fourths with Martin Taylor:



Have you always wanted to learn how to play fingerstyle jazz guitar? Through our comprehensive guitar lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Martin Taylor, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Martin’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner guitar to advanced performance techniques and pieces. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as fingerstyle guitar players and musicians!


Try out some free sample music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



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