The Maj7#5 chord is a great substitute for Maj7 chords if you want a more spicy or surprising sound. In this lesson I am going to tlak about how you can use the chord and about what you can play on it, illustrated by a few example lines.
Using the Maj7#5 chord
The Maj7#5 isn’t really used a lot in standards and is mostly something you add to a song to get a new sound in the melody or improvisation. The sound is closely connected to minMaj chords and a maybe not the chord you’d expect at the end of a cadence or top of a chorus in a standard, which is why it is effective as a surprising turn.
Since it is a less stable chord than a normal maj7 chord we can choose to resolve it back to a nomal maj7, that happens very often. The other approaches where you somehow uses the #5 to resolve to the next chord in the song are a bit hard to list here because it can mean changing that chord too etc.
The examples in this lesson are all on a II V I in Bb where I resolve to a Maj#5 and then resolve that to a maj7 chord. THe cadence is shown here:
What to play over a Maj7#5 chord.
The most common approach to these chords is to view them as Lydian #5 chords, which means that we use the melodic minor scale to improvise over them. That scale is shown in example 2:
In the first line using this sound the Cm7 line is first an Ebmaj7 shell voicing followed by a descending chromatic leading note an a scale run. It then moves chromatically up to the 3rd(A) of F. On the F7alt it is first a sort of F# min cliche followed by an Ebm7b5 in inversion. On the Maj7#5 the line is quite basic: a Bbmaj7#5 arpeggio followed by a scale run before it resolves to the 5th(F) of Bbmaj7.
So the line moves from the Cm7 away from the tonality on an F7alt and then almost back with the Bbmaj7#5 before finally resolving to Bbmaj7
A variation of the lydian #5 sound is to use a Triad Pair to play the sound. In G melodic minor you have a C and a D major triad which would give you a good set of pitches to use over this chord. Both when soloing but also when comping.
The line starts with a stack of 5ths from Eb and then descends down the scale. On the F7alt I am first using an F#mMaj drop2 arpeggio followed by another descend through that scale. On the Bbmaj7(#5) the C and D triads are used interchaning, so first the D major triad followed by a C major 2nd inversion triad and then a D and an A from a D major triad before resolving to the 9th(C) of Bb.
The advantage of using the triads is that they are so strong melodies that you can almost string them together in a random way and still get a good, if slightly odd, melody out of it.
The last example is using another sound than melodic minor, it is using the Augmented scale. A scale that I have covered in some detail in this lesson: Augmented Scale. This scale is a symmetrical scale that you could see as being the notes you get if you combine the notes of three major triads a major 3rd apart. In the case of this key that would be Bb, D and Gb.
The line starts out with a scale line on the Cm7 which is first the scale in groups of three and then just descending further. On the F7 the line consists of a triad pair from the F#m melodic scale: A augmented and B major. On the Bbmaj7#5 the line is a pattern played on first the Bb, then the Gb and finally the D major triad. The last note then works as a resolution to the 7th(A) of Bbmaj7.
I hope you can use the examples and ideas I went over here to incorporate the Maj7#5 chord in your playing and add another chord sound to your vocabulary.
If you want to download a PDF of the examples I went over here for later study you can do so here: Improvising on Maj7#5
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make thme fit what you want to hear.