If you had any doubt, why Triads are amazing in your solos then you just check out this video and see how strong melodies you can create and how many options you have when you solo on a jazz blues. Trust me, you will never regret practicing diatonic triads and inversions.
A triad is easy to learn and great for melodies, just listen to Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik or Metallica’s One.
We can practice many things, but the great thing about triads is that they make very solid melodies so you can easily use them and sound great in a lot of places, as you will hear in this video.
The Solo – Triads only
Let’s first check out how a solo chorus only using triads sound and then I will show you what triads go where and how to find them for different chords.
When you only play super-imposed triads it often sounds quite modern, but of course, Charlie Parker and Wes used triads as well, so it is also a part of more traditional bop vocabulary
F7 and Bb7 – The Magic of Diatonic Triads
The first phrase on the F7 is an A diminished triad. When it comes to choosing triads then the easiest way to search is to look at the scale in thirds.
F7 is the dominant in Bb major, so if you have that scale in thirds:
Bb D F A C Eb G Bb
The F7 is arpeggio is then: Bb D F A C Eb G A Bb
And the top part of that is A diminished A C Eb
In this way, we can filter out possible candidates by choosing triads that have common notes with F7.
Bb major doesn’t work, but Dm, is good, F and Adim are part of the arpeggio, and Cm is also a fine option, as you will see later. You can get away with Eb major as well because the Eb is a strong note on F7.
Dm, F, Adim, Cm, Eb
The same process on Bb7: Bb7 is the dominant in Eb major
Eb G Bb D F Ab C Eb
Gm, Bb, Ddim, Fm, Ab.
Here I am using Bb major on the Bb7.
The next bar uses a Cm triad on F7, which fits with what I already showed you.
Now that it is clear what is available on the regular dominants then let’s have a look at the Altered dominant and later the dominants from the diminished scale.
Next, we have an F7 altered which for many is a difficult chord to solo over, but Triads can actually work as a type of Shortcut.
Thoughts on Practicing Triads
The most important way to practice triads is to learn them in the scales you use, so working on diatonic triads is extremely useful, and if you want to take it to the next level then playing the inversions through scales is also a great exercise.
Altered Dominant Triads
F7 altered is the same as Gb melodic minor. Soloing over an altered dominant can be tricky, but as you can see here the triads help you make stronger melodies that still really connect to the chord.
The theory is a little bit less clear, but still not rocket science:
The Scale in 3rds: Gb A Db F Ab Cb Eb Gb (I am writing A because it is an F7 chord)
The Gbm triad is b9, 3, b13
A augmented triad: A Db F works as well
Db is not that strong without an A, it almost sounds like an Fm chord and a little close to the Bb7.
F dim is not that strong, we really miss the A and the Eb.
Abm has the Eb so that works.
Cb or B major works really well, that is the triad of the tritone sub B7
Ebdim is an F7b9 so that works as well
So we have: Gbm, Aaug, Abm, Cb, Edim
This is a bit context-sensitive so you can probably get other triads to work as well, but for now, I am going for the “easy” choices that sound fairly obvious.
The Altered Shortcut
The line in the solo is using Cb and Gbm triads to create a very logical melody. And in general, that is something you can use with the altered dominant: The triads resolve up and down in half steps:
F7alt: Bb7: Gbm Fm
And you could make similar lists for resolving to other chords like Bbmaj7 or Bbm6.
Diminished Chords and Some Great Triad Options
The Bdim in bar 6 has a lot of triad options.
The arpeggio itself has 4 diminished triads: B D F Ab
Which gives us B D F, D F Ab , F Ab B, Ab D F
The scale I would use here is C harmonic minor, and a great triad in that to use would be the G major triad, which is what I use here.
The G triad is used to lead back to the Adim on the F7.
Minor II V I trick
The Aø D7alt is the minor II V to the Gm7, the II chord.
A great really simple way to make lines on this progression with triads is to use the same triad, first in major and then in minor.
That is what I am doing here: On the Aø you see the major triad from the b5: Eb major, and on the D7alt that becomes an Ebm triad, which fits because D7 altered is Eb melodic minor.
Let’s have a look at being symmetric without sounding symmetric with the diminished scale.
Dominant With Diminished Scale
On the C7, I am using one of the best ways to play melodic lines over a dominant using the diminished scale: Making melodies with the 4 major triads.
For the C7 that gives us C, Eb, Gb and A major.
In this case, I am using A and Gb major to really bring across the C7(13b9) and C7(b5).
When you improvise with these triads then it is easy to not sound symmetric: Don’t play symmetrical melodies, which is how I approach this line playing different melodies and inversions with the triads.
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