3 Steps to Soloing Over Fast Chord Progressions


When learning how to solo over jazz standards, things usually start well for many guitarists. 

You learn how to solo over ii-V-I’s, jazz blues, and other essential progressions, but then you hit a tune that catches you totally off guard. 

This tune has two chords per bar in every, or most, measures in the progression. 

Ouch, not easy.

So, what do you do when you have these fast-moving chord changes?

You could try scales and modes, or full arpeggios, or licks and phrases, but those all feel bulky and tough to play when the keys change so quickly. 

While these larger devices work well over slower chords, they tend to break down over fast-moving chords. 

This is where triads come into play. 

Triads allow you to outline the chords, use root-based and rootless shapes, and they fit easily on the fretboard and under your fingers. 

That’s a big win when soloing over fast-moving chords, such as you find in the rhythm changes A section, which is used in the exercises below. 

In this lesson, you learn 3 essential triad patterns that you can use to build your technique and solo with ease over fast-moving chord changes. 

You then apply these three triad patterns to the A section of rhythm changes, which features two-chords per bar. 

Here are the triads being used to outline each chord in the rhythm changes A section. 

Check these out so that you can apply these triads to other tunes as you move forward in your playing. 

- Bbmaj7 = Bb

- G7b9 = Bdim

- Cm7 = Cm

- F7 = Adim

- Dm7 = Dm

- G7 = Bdim

- Fm7 = Fm

- Bb7 = Ddim

- Ebmaj7 = Eb

- Ebm7 = Ebm

Now that you know what triads to use, time to take them to the fretboard as you build your jazz soloing skill set over fast-moving chord changes. 

Jazz Soloing Workout 1

The first triad outline runs a 1-3-5-3 pattern over each chord in the A section to rhythm changes. 

Notice that by repeating the 3rd, the 2nd and 4th notes of the pattern, you extend a three-note triad to cover 2 beats, 4 notes, in your solos.

Doing so allows you to use triads to solo over songs with two chords per bar and run 8th notes if needed. 

You don’t have to fill every beat with notes, rests are good too sometimes…, but this pattern gives you that option when needed. 

Begin by playing this pattern over the backing track, focusing on accuracy not speed for now. 

Then, when ready, put on the backing track and play the triads as written over the track before soloing with each triad over the progression. 

Have fun as you work on this essential jazz soloing device as you build a solid foundation when soloing over fast-moving chords.

Backing Track 1

Jazz Soloing Workout 2

Taking things a step further, you now play a 3-1-3-5 pattern over each triad in the A section of rhythm changes. 

Though it’s a close variation to what you just practiced, a slight alteration like this can test your memory and focus in the practice room

Keep an eye on your triads, so you don’t slip into the 1-3-5-3 pattern you just learned as you add this new 3-1-3-5 line to your triad workout. 

Start by working this pattern as a technical study, so playing as written with a metronome, before adding these triads to your solos when ready.

To improvise with these shapes, alter the rhythms, leave some notes out, add in approach notes, enclosures, and other chromatic ornaments, etc. 

Have fun building your chops and leveling up your soloing skills with this new triad pattern over fast-moving chord changes.

Backing Track 1

Jazz Soloing Workout 3

In this last pattern, you play 5-1-3-5 over each triad in the A section of rhythm changes. 

This was one of Coltrane’s favorite triad patterns that he used over fast-moving chord changes such as Moment’s Notice, Giant Steps, and Countdown. 

Because of this, it’s an essential jazz soloing pattern to learn, memorize, and add to your improvisations over fast-moving chord progressions. 

Start by playing this pattern as an exercise, then alter the rhythms, add in chromatic notes, leave some notes out, etc. to begin soloing with these shapes. 

Triads are both technique builders and excellent material for your solos, make sure to cover both angles in your studies to get the most from these shapes.

Backing Track 1

Jazz Soloing Creative Challenge 

You’re now ready to review and test your skill set as you solo over the A section to rhythm changes using triads. 

In this exercise, each chord is stretched out to be 1 bar long, twice as long as the original changes. 

This allows you to get your feet wet with these triads without the stress and pressure of blowing over 2 chords per bar

Start by reviewing the triad shapes you learned in this lesson, then add in the 1353, 3531, and 5135 patterns over the chords. 

When that’s comfortable, improvise over the backing track using the triad shapes and practice patterns you learned above. 

Remember to add in different rhythms, mix the patterns together, add chromatic notes, and leave some notes out when soloing with these shapes. 

Have fun as you test your triad soloing skills over this essential jazz chord progression. 

Backing Track 2