Thank you, every body !! Which is exactly why I am considering doing this. Lots of instructional books and CD's make the impression of being hastily collected ramshackle booklets aimed at making money more than helping students. Teleman answered that (it's 3rd and 7th: the third selects a chord to be minor or major, the 7th makes it cool or in the case of major chords, dominant). You need to analyze the chord progression, where it deviates from standard progression (see below): that's where you take attention and where exceptions occur, otherwise in standard progessions usually alternatingly the 3rd or the 7th resolves a whole or half step down to the next chord. Example: G7 goes to C major play f, 7th of G7 (third fret on the fourth string) and b = 3rd of G7 (fourth fret on the g-string) then go to e (second fret on D-string, keep b on g-string) to move to C major If you look at a piano exclusively on the white keys, you have all the notes that make up either C major or A (natural) minor. The notes are named from the alphabet (A, B, C and so on) Now play a random key, and play three more using every other white key to the right. That is the most common way to build chords: in 3rds (the left three of these four build the basic triad of each chord which is named after the first key). If you start with C (left to the two-group of black keys) you get seven different chords: Cmaj7 as I (this is called the tonic) D-7 as ii E-7 as iii Fmaj7 as IV G7 as V7 (the dominant) A-7 as vi B half dim as vii-7b5 These are the (basic) chords of the key of C major, so you need to know a voicing (method of playing a version of each chord on guitar) to use the system. Any chord can progress to any other, but the most common way is descending by fifths (or up by four). Counting the key you start as number 1, go up a fourth i.e. play the next chord based on the 4th key to the right, (or down a fifth which is the same, go four keys to the left to start your next chord). This way you have the entire progression or cycle. You will note it sounds familar. Most tunes only use a part of the cycle, and most tunes will feel good to end on the tonic - which is why the dominant chord before it is important. That's basic European type harmony, applies to classical, pop, and jazz but not the blues. Improvising on this easiest to do (simplified) no wrong notes if you just play the white keys (a few will not sound great at any moment in time, but there's a start). In more modern jazz almost any of these note combinations can be played as chord for any position of the progression, if you know what you do. You can use that on any tune depending on your taste. Just select the same as mentioned above but stack chords in 4ths instead of 3rds, easy to play on guitar. As some of the notes will sound a little less consonant, depending on your taste, it will sound more modern. The latter two I gave a more detailed explanation to ask vintagelove and the other readers here whether you think this a good explanation. Good idea! The only thing is that you only benefit from that if you do the transcription yourself (best if you can write music but any method of keeping your results will do). This year I transcribed a lot Chet Baker, one Stan Getz (not finished yet) some Scofield and one Allan Holdsworth (Jeeeez, what a player. R.I.P. Allan, thank you for your music). Best begin simple. As a kid I learned to play the Django Reinhardt electric sessions, the themes are easiest to figure out first. Yes good idea! Good ideas ! Keep them coming, and thanks everybody. P.S. Was it Miles, or Armstrong who said "I'm only trying to make my mistakes work!"