Video Review: Dave Hill – Motif Development (Jazz Guitar Society)

Today, I’m reviewing this 2012 instructional video by Musicians Institute faculty member Dave Hill on the topic of Motif Development from the Jazz Guitar Society website. This is one of 41 masterclass videos currently available from the website that includes videos from Allen Hinds, Sheryl Bailey, Sid Jacobs, Tim Lerch, Daniel Gilbert, Hristo Vitchev, Armen Movsesyan and Ron Eschete among others.

The product page describes the video as:

Musicians Institute and Los Angeles Music Academy master teacher Dave Hill (Gregg Karukas, Dave Hill Group, Phil Maturano), illustrates how to take simple small musical ideas and develop them in your soloing. Taking a simple minor chord vamp, he shows how to add chromaticism and sequential displacement to your motifs to get you all over the neck. A player who draws from both the tradition of Wes Montgomery and George Benson to the blues/jazz of Larry Carlton and Robben Ford, Hill is one of the few that can put soulful and melodic with chops and make it all work.

When you purchase the video, you receive:

  • The 19 minute 34 second video
  • 11 page transcription handout in standard notation with some examples in tablature (PDF)

The video is divided into two sections:

  • Developing Motifs (9 mins)
  • Altered Dominants (10 mins 34 seconds)

It appears like the video might have been intended to be two separate releases but combined into one product. I’m not completely sure about this but the material works well together. In the first section, Dave begins by demonstrating one motif which he expands into different longer ideas. There are a total of 21 examples all transcribed in standard notation and the video includes on screen labels so it’s easy to scan and find a particular example. The thing about the examples is that they all sound amazing to me and it’s a testament to Dave Hill’s amazing musicality.

The second half begins with a Peter Bernstein idea to show how you can create a strong altered dominant idea that is not simply scalar in nature. Dave Hill explains the importance of intervallic leaps that Peter Bernstein used and then develops the following examples from that starting point.

Studying the video numerous times since I first purchased it in 2013, I keep learning new things every time. Dave’s examples resonate with me even more now then the first time I studied them. Some lines that were difficult to play (or understand) initially seem more possible now. This is a video that I believe many can revisit to get its full value.

Pros: High quality idiomatic jazz lines for both minor and altered dominant chords. PDF included. Sort of two lessons really with the minor motif development and altered dominant ideas covered.

Cons: Video is shot vertical, which is unusual but still provides clear view of both hands and the fretboard.

TLDR: This video is very short since it’s under 20 minutes. At USD$15 you might wonder whether it’s worth buying since there are many other courses that give a lot more content for the same price or less. The main thing here is the fact that it’s Dave Hill and that he is an amazing educator. Practically every single note and all the lines in this video is pure gold so if you’re familiar with Dave’s work, this purchase is a no-brainer. The transcriptions are mostly in standard notation with some including tab so if you’re okay with reading and/or learning by ear from the video, this is a good one to get.

How to Buy:
The video is available here:

You can also check out their other masterclasses here:

[Read more Reviews]

Book Review: A Guide to Developing a Chromatic Approach to Improvisation by Tony Greaves

Course Review: Fundamentals of Picking by Fretboard Anatomy

Book Review: Principles of Music by Bryan Baker

Book Review: The Tao of Badass Guitar by Ben Higgins

Book Review: Bach Scales by Jon De Lucia

Book Review: Extended Scale Playing for Guitar by Joe Puma

Book Review: Between the Voicings by Hristo Vitchev

Book Review: Voicing Modes – A Chord Voicing Approach to Hearing and Practicing Modes by Noel Johnston

Book Review: The Outside Sounds and Substitutions of Modern Saxophonists for Jazz Guitar by Kevin Miller

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NOTE: All reviews reflect my honest personal opinion so be aware that I will point out both cool Pros and Cons that I see in the work. You dig? 🙂

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  1. says

    Hi Az – thanks for the review. Yes, this was one of the first I shot for Jazz Guitar Society and the only reason it was shot vertically was just stupidity on my part. JGS has always been all about the content over anything else and always will be, so I didn’t want to make Dave do all his fine work again just to fix that, so we just worked around that in Video post 😉

    • says

      Hi Doug, you’re welcome. The content is gold! There’s so much stuff that Dave shared, I dig it even more now than when I first got it. Thanks for your awesome work with Jazz Guitar Society! 🙂

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