Jazz Turnaround Lines for Guitar
This lesson offers you some typical bop style turnaround lines to learn, to help develop your melodic jazz vocabulary on such chord progressions. Turnaround progressions are short chord sequences commonly played within the last few bars of a composition or perhaps at the beginning or end of a section. Turnarounds can be played in many different ways and with a variety of different chord types, although the progression used in the examples below is very common indeed.
All the written examples are to be played over a Imaj7 – VI7(alt) – IIm7 – V7(alt) chord progression, such as you might encounter at the end of a standard song or in compositions heavily featuring turnarounds, such as ‘Rhythm Changes’ for example.
Developing melodic fluency with turnaround progressions is very important for a jazz improviser and is considered an important (if not essential) skill to master.
Here’s a quick example of one of the featured jazz turnaround lines being played over a Imaj7 – VI7(alt) – IIm7 – V7(alt) chord progression in C:
The first three jazz turnaround lines in the PDF file below are all written in 8th notes and there are also two longer examples over the same progression using 16th notes, which give you some extended jazz lines to learn as well.
The lines are written with no rests and are therefore continuous melodies, which is to help you learn the overall shape and contour of each line first.
You can (and should) later experiment with adding rests/syncopation to the lines to personalise them for your own playing style.
You will also see from these lines that the two dominant chords (the VI7 and the V7) are played as altered dominant chords, so the lines reflect that with the use of altered pitches against the chords. This means that you will see notes such as b9, #9, b5 and #5 within the lines.
Below, there is also an MP3 file of the examples played on a MIDI piano.
Learn each line slowly at first (and maybe one bar at a time) before building up to learning (and memorising) the whole line.
Try if you can to examine what the various notes in each line are against the underlying chords in terms of interval.