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Standard Study Guide – Misty

Written By: Matthew Warnock
Published By: Guitar for Life LLC
Copyright 2017 Guitar for Life LLC 2
Introduction to This Study Guide

Welcome to the Misty study guide.

Great to have you here!

When learning any jazz standard, you need to have an understanding of
four main elements:

Ø Melody
Ø Form
Ø Soloing
Ø Comping

Because of copyright issues, this eBook leaves out the melody and
focuses on the other three elements.

By studying the form, soloing techniques, and comping patterns, you
give yourself everything you need to jam this tune on guitar.

From there, you can add the melody, learning it by ear or from a lead
sheet such as you find in the Real Book.

Make sure to work each section in this eBook to get the most out of your

It’s no use being able to rip a solo over a tune if you can’t then comp the
chords, or you can comp great chords but get lost in the form.

It’s the marriage of these three devices, form-soloing-comping, that
provide the skills needed to jam this tune with confidence.

So, grab your guitar, turn up your amp, and learn how to play one of the
most popular jazz songs in the genre, Misty. 3
Harmonic Analysis

The first step to learning how to play Misty is to understand the form
and progression of the tune.

The form of Misty is the jazz standard AABA, with each section being 8
bars long for a total of 32 bars.

The key of Misty is Eb major, with most chords falling into that key, and
the few exceptions noted below.

As with any jazz standard, there are a number of variations that you find
for Misty depending on the source you use for the changes.

The chords in the chart, and that are used throughout this eBook, are
the ones that I’ve seen used most in jam sessions over the past 20 years.

These are the chords I’d play at a jam session or if I didn’t know the
players on the gig, as they’re pretty safe changes.

From there, you can explore other options for the chords if you want,
but these changes will do you just fine on any jam or jazz gig.

To begin, here are the chords used in each section of the tune.

A Section Chords

• Ebmaj7 = Imaj7
• Bbm7 - Eb7 - Abmaj7 = ii V to the IVmaj7 chord
• Abm7 – Db7 = ivm7 bVII7 (backdoor ii V)
• Cm7 = vim7
• Fm7 – Bb7 = iim7 V7
• Gm7 – C7 = iiim7 VI7 4
B Section Chords

• Bbm7 – Eb7 – Abmaj7 = ii V to the IVmaj7 chord
• Am7 – D7 = Unresolved ii V in G major (III major)
• Cm7 – F7 = Unresolved ii V in Bb major (V major)
• Gm7 – C7 = iiim7 VI7
• Fm7 – Bb7 = iim7 V7

As you can see, beyond the chords in Eb major, and the ii V to the
IVmaj7 chord, there are two interested concepts going on here.

The first is the “backdoor ii V,” so called because the V7 chord resolves
up from “behind” the Imaj7, Abm7-Db7-Ebmaj7.

The backdoor ii V is a common progression in jazz, so it’s worth
checking out so that you recognize it in any tune you’re jamming over.

The other concept is the unresolved ii V’s in the bridge, Am7-D7 and

Both of these bars contain ii V chords that never resolve to their Imaj7

This is also a common device in jazz harmony, where the composer
leads the listener one way, before resolving in an unexpected manner.

Though these ii V’s are unresolved, you still need to address them in
your solos.

This means that over Am7-D7 you solo in G major, and over Cm7-F7 you
solo in Bb major.

Here are all those chords and their Roman Numerals to see how
everything comes together in the chord chart. 5 6
Guide Tones

Now that you know how Misty is built and the keys and chords used in
the tune, you can take this song to the fretboard.

The first exercise uses guide tones to introduce your ears and hands to
the most important tones of each chord, the 3rds and 7ths.

Because you can outline the chords to any tune or progression with just
the 3rds and 7ths, guide tones are a powerful tool for any jazz guitarist.

Start by learning the guide tones in the music below as written.

When you can do that, by reading or memory, put on the backing track
and begin to improvise with these essential tones.

Start by altering the rhythms for each guide tone, then add some slides
into and between the notes.

From there, you can add approach notes, enclosures, passing notes, and
other chromatic notes to the mix.

Though you’re only playing two notes per chord, with a little
imagination you can create a solid solo with just this information.

Guide tones are essential building blocks when learning a new
progression, but they can also be used to create memorable lines.

Start by learning the notes as is below, then see where your creativity
takes them in your solos over the backing track.

Audio Example 1 7 8 9
Drop 3 Chords

To get you started with comping over Misty, here are drop 3 chords
over the changes to the tune.

Start by learning these chords as is, then begin to add your own rhythms
and picking variations when ready over the backing track.

Because drop 3 chords have a skip built into their shapes, between the
lowest two notes, strumming these chords can be awkward.

To make playing these chords easier on your hands, use fingerpicking or
hybrid (pick + fingers) when comping with drop 3 shapes.

Lastly, drop 3 chords have a big, fat sound compared to drop 2 and
other chord shapes.

This makes them a great choice for solo, duo, and any other situation
where there isn’t a bassist.

You can use these shapes when jamming with a bassist, but you might
have to adjust your tone so you don’t sound too muddy in that instance.

Have fun with these shapes; work them with the plain rhythm, your own
rhythms, and with picking hand variations.

Then, when you’ve got that down, move on to the drop 2 shapes below
to further expand your comping knowledge over Misty.

Audio Example 2 10 11 12
Drop 2 Chords

You now move on to learning drop 2 chords over the changes to Misty.

These chords are useful when playing in a combo setting, or any setting
with a bassist.

This is because these chords stay out of the bassist’s range, for the most
part, as they don’t use the 6th string.

Also, these chords are easier for most people compared to drop 3
chords, so they work well in chord melody and chord soloing lines.

After you can play the chords with the plain rhythm below from
memory, comp over the backing track and add your own rhythms.

You can also break up the chords with your picking hand, add some
slides into chords, and other variations to your comping.

When you can do that, mix these chords with the drop 3 shapes you
learned over the backing track.

When learning chords, it’s best to isolate shapes like drop 2 or drop 3 in
one exercise for the sake of focus.

But, when jamming you can mix any chord you know into your comping,
so feel free to explore that option over Misty.

Audio Example 3 13 14 15
Scales for Soloing

Now that you can comp over Misty with drop 2 and drop 3 chords, you
move on to soloing over this tune.

Though it’s mostly in Eb major, this tune does provides some twists and
turns when it comes to soloing.

To help you get started soloing over Misty, here are the scales used to
outline the chords in both the A and B sections of the song.

Start by learning what scales you need over each chord in the tune, then
move on to learning those scales below.

After you can play the scales for each section, solo over the backing
track as you take this material from the page to the fretboard.

A Sections

Here are the scales for the A section, with two that you’ll need to look
closely at.

The first is the Ab melodic minor scale, used in bar four to outline the
Abm7-Db7 chords.

When you have a backdoor ii V or ii V I, as you do here, you most
commonly use melodic minor over the ii V.

This is because the melodic minor scale is connected more solidly to the
original key.

Ab melodic minor, for example, has the note G in it, the raised 7th of that
scale. 16
That note, G, is the 3rd of Eb major, so it locks you into both the Abm7-
Db7 and Ebmaj7 chords in that progression.

It’s a new sound for many people, so go slow there, but once you get the
hang of it, you’ll hear how it fits those chords with a bebop sound.

The other scale is in brackets, F harmonic minor over Gm7-C7.

In that bar, you can use F harmonic minor to create a C7alt sound.

Or, as some people prefer, just use Eb major over Gm7-C7.

Either will work, so try both out and see what you think.

You can even alternate those two scales in your solos for variety. 17

B Section

Here are the B section scales, many of which you’ve seen before.

Again, F harmonic minor is in brackets as you can use that scale over
Gm7-C7, or stick to Eb major there if you prefer that sound.

Other than that bar, you can use the major scale to outline every chord
in the bridge to Misty, Ab, G, Bb, and Eb. 18

Scale Shapes

Now that you know what scales to use, and where to use them over the
A and B sections to Misty, you can learn shapes for each of those scales.

After you can play these scales from memory, solo over the A section to
Misty with these shapes.

Then, solo over the B section using the correct scale shapes.

Once you can do that, solo over the entire song using the scale fingerings

When that’s comfortable, move on to the arpeggio shapes in the next
section, before mixing scales and arpeggios in your Misty solos. 19
Lastly, to get the most out of these shapes, practice them four ways.

1. All up.
2. All down.
3. One scale up, one scale down.
4. One scale down, one scale up.

This approach gets the scales under your fingers, and prevents you from
always starting on the root in your lines in the process. 20 21 22
Arpeggios for Soloing

As well as learning scales to solo over Misty, you can also learn arpeggio
shapes to help you outline the chords directly in your solos.

Here are sample arpeggio shapes for every chord in Misty, with each
chord written only once in the diagrams below.

This means that if you see Gm7 in multiple spots during Misty, you use
the same arpeggio shape for each Gm7 in the tune.

Start by memorizing the arpeggios for the A section of Misty, then the B
section, before bringing them both together in your studies.

From there, run them in four different ways to get the most out of these
shapes in your studies.

1. All up.
2. All down.
3. One up one down.
4. One down one up.

As well, make sure to solo over the backing track using only these
arpeggio shapes until you’re comfortable with them in your playing.

From there, mix them with the scales you learned in the previous
section, and later with licks you learn in future sections of the eBook.

Arpeggios are essential tools for outlining chord changes, and therefore
are essential learning whenever you study a tune.

These shapes give you a head start when soloing over Misty using
arpeggios and arpeggio-based lines. 23 24 25 26 27
Short ii V Exercises

As there are a number of ii V’s in Misty, and most of them occur within
one bar, it’s worth learning patterns that outline those changes.

The patterns below are written over Fm7-Bb7, but make sure you work
them in all short ii V keys from Misty.

These keys are:

• Fm7-Bb7
• Gm7-C7
• Am7-D7
• Cm7-F7

Now that you know what keys to practice these patterns in, here are
four ii V patterns to memorize and add to your Misty solos.

The first pattern runs up the Fm7 chord and down the Bb7 chord.

After you can play this pattern from memory, bring it to the other ii V
keys in Misty so you’re prepared to use it in your solos.

Audio Example 4 28
Here’s the same pattern with a b9, B, used over the Bb7 to create a sense
of tension and release over that chord.

When you run ii V patterns like this, they can become predictable over
time; the b9 helps you to break out of that predictable pattern.

After learning this line, bring it to all ii V keys in Misty.

Audio Example 5

The next outline runs down Fm7 then up Bb7, in the opposite direction
as the previous two outlines.

Make sure to memorize this pattern in a few positions, then take it to
the other ii V keys in Misty as you bring it into your solos on the tune.

Audio Example 6 29
Here’s the same descending pattern with the b9 added to the Bb7 in
each position of the outline.

Make sure to memorize this outline, run it with a metronome, then add
it to your solos over any ii V in Misty.

Audio Example 7 30
iiim7 VI7 iim7 V7 Patterns

One of the standard progressions in Misty is the iiim7-VI7-iim7-V7
progression you find throughout the tune.

This progression is built with two ii-V changes a tone apart, Gm7-

Because of this, you want to run outlines over those changes such as
scales and arpeggios, but also musical patterns.

With the chords descending in a sequence, down a tone, arpeggios and
scales can become predictable over these chords.

The patterns in this section help you break out of that repetitive
approach to these chords and build your vocabulary at the same time.

The first pattern is a classic bebop lick that can be heard in the
Parker/Gillespie school of soloing.

Here, you jump from the 3rd of C7, E, to the b9, Db, and then resolve
chromatically to the C, 5th of Fm7, at the start of the next bar.

Those four notes, Db-Bb-B-C, are a standard bebop chromatic phrase, so
take it out of context here and explore it elsewhere in your solos.

Pick any chord tone you want to highlight, then play one fret above, and
then two chromatic notes below, before resolving to the notes.

An example of this would be to pick D over the Bb7 chord, then you play
Eb-C-C#-D, adding that chromatic run to the note. 31
Audio Example 8

In this line you use a Dbdim7 arpeggio to outline the intervals b9-3-5-b7
of the C7 chord in bar one of the phrase.

When soloing over any 7th chord, you can play a dim7 arpeggio 1 fret
higher than the root of that chord to sound a 7b9 arpeggio.

This means that if you have Bb7, you play Bdim7 to create that same
sound in your lines.

Learn the phrase and add it to your soloing ideas.

Then, take that dim7 concept and add it to other 7th chords in your solos
as you take that concept further in your playing.

Audio Example 9 32
The next line uses F harmonic minor over the first bar and a 3-9
arpeggio over the Fm7 in the second bar.

3-9 arpeggios outline the 3-5-7-9 of the chord you’re on, here it’s the
notes Ab-C-Eb-G over Fm7.

When doing so, you end up playing Abmaj7 in place of Fm7 to create a
rootless Fm9 sound.

You now have a rule to explore in other musical situations.

If you’re soloing over a m7 chord, play a maj7 arpeggio from the b3 of
that underlying chord to create a m9 sound.

This means that if you have Dm7, you play Fmaj7 to create a Dm9

Try this lick out, then take that 3-9 concept to other m7 chords in your
playing to expand it further in your solos.

Audio Example 10

Here’s a famous bebop era line over the progression.

Notice the b9 over the C7 chord, as well as the octave displacement in
the 3rd bar. 33
Octave displacement is where you have notes in alphabetical order; in
this case it’s Ab-G-F-Eb-D, with a skip in the middle.

Here, you play Ab, then jump up the octave to G, and continue down the
scale from there.

This technique was used by many different players, and can often be
heard in the solos of jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery.

Audio Example 11 34
Double Time Licks

Soloing over ballads is tough, mostly because the tempo is too slow for
8th notes to create intensity, but often too fast for double-time lines.

To help you make playing double-time easier, 16th notes compared to 8th
notes, here are three lines to get you started with this concept.

Each line focuses on the 16th-note feel, and outlines one of the
progressions from Misty.

After you learn these three lines, write out three of your own as you
expand your double-time playing over this ballad tempo.

Here’s an example of a double-time lick that uses a mixture of diatonic
scales and arpeggios over a ii V I to the IVmaj7 chord.

After you can play this line from memory, move it to Eb major so you
can use it in that key as well.

From there, add this line to your solos over the ii V I to Eb and ii V I to
Ab in Misty.

Audio Example 12 35
This double-time lick outlines the backdoor ii V I progression, and is
inspired by Wes Montgomery.

Though Wes played with his thumb, he could play double-time lines as
well as any picker.

Here’s an example of a Wes-style line that uses the Ab melodic minor
scale in bar one, followed by a typical Wes rhythm in bar two.

After you can play this line from memory, add it to your solos over Misty
in the A section of the song.

Audio Example 13

The final double-time line uses diatonic triads in a style similar to Bill
Evans, who loved this rhythm in his solos.

Not using steady 16th notes, here you play one 8th note followed by a
16th note on each beat of the line.

This gives the line rhythm interest, while still using the double-time feel
at the same time.

After you get this line down, add it to your solos over the turnaround
sections of the tune. 36
Audio Example 14 37
Comping Study

Now that you worked on fundamental chord shapes over Misty, you
learn a chord study that focuses on rootless shapes over the tune.

The first half of the tune uses a static rhythm, starting slowly in the A
section before becoming more engaged in the second A.

The B section uses Joe Pass style chord runs to create interest in that
section, before finishing with a more sparse ending in the last A.

Learn each section separately to make it easier to memorize, then bring
all four together to form the study as a whole.

Once you can comp this study over the track, begin to add your own
chords into the mix.

Do this by comping your own chords over the first A, then play the
written second A.

Then you comp the bridge with your material, and play the written last
A section.

By mixing your material with the written study you integrate these
ideas into your playing in an organic fashion.

Audio Example 15 38 39 40
Single Note Soloing Study

You now move on to learning a single-note soloing study over Misty.

In this study you mix different scales, arpeggios, licks, and rhythms to
create a solo over the 32-bar form of the tune.

Start by learning the first A section, then the second, before combining
them together.

After that, learn the bridge, followed by the last A before combining all
four sections to play the solo as a whole.

When you can do that, play the first 8 bars of this solo, then you
improvise for 8 bars.

Then play the written bridge solo, then you solo over the last 8 bars.

Doing so will help you integrate these lines into your playing in an
organic fashion.

Often times we learn soloing studies then just move on, but you want to
integrate those lines into your own playing over time.

By mixing the written solo with your own lines, you move in that
direction and have fun in the process as you solo over the tune.

Audio Example 16 41 42 43
Mixed Soloing Study

If you find yourself in a trio situation, or any playing situation where
you’re the only comper, adding chords to your solos is a must.

But, while you know that adding chords is important in those situations,
it’s tough to know where to start.

This soloing study mixes chord shapes and single-note lines to help you
get that mixed concept under your fingers.

After you can play this study with the audio, example and backing track,
replace the chord shapes with your own shapes.

Then, keep the chords as written, but you invent the single-note lines in
those measures.

Finally, once you can do that, create your own mixed solos as you blend
chord shapes and single notes over Misty.

Because it’s a slow song, start by working each four-bar section of this
study one at a time.

From there, combine those four-bar sections until you can play the
study as a whole.

Same goes for creating your own mixed solos.

Loop the A section for a while until it’s comfortable, then move on to the
bridge, before bringing them both together.

Learning how to comp and solo together is tough when starting from
scratch, but a study like this will get you off on the right foot today.

Audio Example 17 44 45 46
Misty Bassline Study

You can also practice basslines over Misty, as in the bassline study

After you learn this bassline over the tune, working it with the bassless
backing track, start to add chords over the bass notes.

The easiest place to add chords is over the root note of any new chord
or bar, where the root note occurs.

By learning the bassline as written, and adding chords on top of that
bassline, you can use it in multiple musical situations.

When there’s another comper, but no bass, you walk the bassline.

Then, when you’re the only comper and there’s no bassist, you can walk
and play the chords to fill both rolls.

Learning to walk, or walk and comp, is tough when you don’t know
where to start.

This bassline study gives you material to get started on the right track
when walking basslines over Misty.

Audio Example 18 47 48 49