Tag Archives: altered scale

It Is The Sound That Is Important! – Altered Scale

Altered Scale Is A Sound

Like most students, you probably find it difficult to learn using the altered scale because it seems too theoretical and complicated, but if you don’t start with that and instead think of it as a way to go from phrases that sound like this

To also have the option to play this beautiful sound:

Then that is a much better starting point, and THAT is how you want to learn it: As a sound, in fact, many things get easier if you approach them like that as you will see in this video.

The Problem With Theory

The way to learn something is to analyze it, understand it, and internalize it. For many things in life that is a great approach. If you are trying to learn to use Excel or cooking following recipes, but starting with music theory and turning that into music is often not very efficient.

If I say that it is a dominant with a b5, b13, b9 and #9 then that is probably not really helping you make music with the scale, and the same would be the case if I said the notes so Bb and F over D7. Telling you that D altered is the same scale as Eb melodic minor also doesn’t really give you an idea about how it sounds or how to play something with it, but I will fix that in a bit and show you examples of Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass using altered scale.

Listen To The Chords

The problem is that it is not music when you describe it as numbers or letters, so instead of analyzing it then first find some examples to listen to so that you have an idea about what it sounds like, and for that to work it is better to have some context to the altered dominant, not just playing a dominant isolated, that is never how it is used. Let’s start with the chords:

Altered dominants are mostly used with dominants that resolve, so for the D7 it is a D7 that resolves to a G chord. Which is great news because you can then use it in a II V I and use the II and the I chord to add some context to how it sounds.

A D7 altered chord can be a dominant with a b13 and a b9 so it sounds like this:

You probably want to compare that to the same progression with this chord that does not have the altered extensions:

The thing you want to listen for is that there is less movement going on from chord to chord. I’ll get back to that in a bit, but notice that more notes are staying the same going from chord to chord.

Another example that you want to hear could be a D7 with a b5 and a #9, and here I am also moving a few of the voices in the chord:

`

You want to try and play the chords and listen to them, maybe move them into songs you know to hear that, which may mean transposing them to another key. Just use the chords and listen to how it sounds,

because that will tell you more than know that it is a b9,b13 chord.

Play Altered Lines

But you also want to figure out how this works in a solo, and I’ll start by showing you how to play the scale and how to play some simple but clear lines and then you can use that to start to get it into your ears and give yourself a place to start with using this sound in your own solos.

Let’s start with this way of playing the D altered scale:

And again putting it into the context of a II V I really helps hearing how it sounds:

`

It is also useful to compare this to a similar II V I without the altered dominant:

Notice how the altered scale is a sound, and see if you can hear how this example sounds similar to other altered dominant lick:

What Is The Point Of Altered Dominants?

Now that you hear how the altered dominant sounds in a chord progression and also how it sounds compared to the regular dominant then the purpose of altered dominants is easier to understand:

They are there to add tension which in this case is coming from having notes that resolve in half-steps up or down when the chord moves from D7 to Gmaj7.

The altered dominant is a way to create outside tension on the song, and a tension that is easy to resolve using the strongest harmonic connection we have: dominant to tonic.

But how do you solo over it, and what do you play if it says D7alt?

Give Me The Scale Already!

As you already saw then the scale can be played like this:

And since the point of the scale is to resolve to Gmaj7 then you can create licks that move around but also has a direction towards a note on the Gmaj7:

One exercise that can be great to begin to  get the sound into your ears is again leaning more on the chords:

Listen to how each note in the altered scale resolves moving from to the tonic chord. I’ll go over it quickly but maybe try to play it yourself and really listen to it:

Let’s figure out how to make some licks, and talk a bit about why it is often enough to write alt on a dominant chord.

This Is How To Make Licks

If you spend all your time practicing scales, you are doing it wrong! So while it is worth it to figure out how the different notes of D altered resolve then you are better off relying on the fact that the scale is also Eb melodic minor,

and if you have practiced that and checked out the diatonic arpeggios and triads. Then you can use that for D altered as well, it is already in your fingers, and I’ll show you an example of Joe Pass thinking like that as well.

For Melodic minor you have these diatonic chords: EbmMaj7 Fm7 Gbmaj7(#5) Ab7 Bb7 Cø Dø

If you want to play solos using the altered scale then you don’t want to just run up and down the scale and If you are exploring the altered scale then you probably know how to make lines using arpeggios, but in the scale there is no D7 arpeggio, and if you try then Dø sounds pretty weak and difficult to get to sound good.

You can use most of the arpeggios but there are two that are easier to start with because they immediately connect with the D7.

If you look at the D7 chord I played earlier in the video:

Then the top part of that chord is a Cø and that is a diatonic chord in Eb melodic minor

so that is a great place to start already arpeggio up scale down works:

The reason this arpeggio works is that it contains both a C and an F# + some core altered notes like the b9 and the b13.

The other arpeggio you can use that also contains C and F# is Ab7:

The Cø arpeggio is usually easier to get to work and from there you get used to the sound and can start exploring other arpeggios. But it is as important to keep checking out licks and analyze those to get ideas.

How Wes Montgomery & Joe Pass Use Altered

Besides the arpeggios, there are a few other very common devices that really nail the altered sound, and some of them are only four notes. Wes demonstrates one in his solo on Yesterdays, even if he plays it an octave lower than what is most commonly used:

It is A7 altered so the scale is Bb melodic minor and I see this as build around a Bbm triad.

If you play it an octave higher which is also a very common way to use it, then you can also see how it is almost build around an A7 chord voicing

And I see that as build around this voicing

The most common 4-note phrase that Joe Pass uses really a lot is in this example. It is really just a minor triad with an extra note:

And these licks also show you that connection to the melodic minor scale, and a few bars later Joe Pass makes that really clear with this D7alt lick in the turnaround which is just n Ebm triad:

Why is D7alt enough?

I get asked about D7alt quite a lot. Surprisingly it is probably the most honest way to write a chord symbol.

When you come across a place where the altered scale is used then the chord mentioned is written as D7alt which means a D7 chord from the altered scale, but it is not very specific because you can have any combination of b9, #9, b5, and b13 in there.

Of course that is not very specific, so you can’t read D7alt and then immediately turn that into a grip, but it is closer to how we play Jazz. Most of the time we don’t think extensions and alterations

but more of the basic chord and then whatever added notes that make sense in how the chords are played.

So if you see Am7 D7alt Gmaj7 then you could play

But you can also play the dominant like this:

But in the end that is how I treat most chords, on a Gmaj7 I may play a 9 or a 13th, or maybe play a maj6 chord instead, the chord symbols are constantly interpreted, and that is what gives me the room to add melody and color to the music like this:

And you must start thinking about chords like that so that you are not stuck with grips that you can’t turn into music. Jazz harmony is so much more fun once you start to unlock that approach and work with categories. This is very close to how Joe Pass thinks about chords and I talk about it in this video which will help you get rid of that grip-limitation and help you be free when playing the chords. It will change how you play.

The Biggest Misunderstanding About Jazz Chords And How To Quickly Fix It

 

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7 Reasons The Major Triad Is The Most Important Arpeggio

Triads are often underrated! You try to get away from using triads because they are too simple and boring. It becomes about playing the hippest extension and the most glorious superimposed arpeggio. But often the triad, and especially the major triad is a way to get those notes to make sense. If you solo only focusing on what extensions you are playing without thinking about making it melodic, you will not sound great, and triads can help you fix that!

Let’s check out how to use triads to create Bebop lines, Some Jazz Blues, and play melodic upper structures even a bit of outside symmetrical stuff. It is really the entire spectrum!

How well do you know your triads?

I am not 100% sure I practiced triads in positions, that is anyway not how I use them. Most of the time it makes a lot more sense to practice things in a context, so for me, what mostly worked was practicing triads in scales, and you will see why that connection is very important later:

and the same thing along the neck is useful, but remember to see those shapes on the neck as well to be able to think of the triad as one thing AND as 3 separate notes.

but it can also be useful to practice them in chord progressions like inversions of a IV V I cadence:

there are many more exercises you can do, and if you have a great suggestion then let us know in the comments!

#1 Bebop Triads!

There are two very important things you need to be aware of when it comes to triads:

  1. Major Triads are incredibly strong melodies, and so are the inversions.
  2. Because they are strong they also work when they are the foundation of a line that includes other notes.

You will see plenty of examples of both, but because it is an important skill to be able to take a triad, and add a few notes to turn it into a great jazz lick, then that is the place to start. Later in the video the examples of outside use often work better using the pure triad melodies, so that is coming up as well.

I’ll get to some famous examples of this in a bit. But check out how much you can do with a simple C major triad:

Try to play it descending

and just adding notes from the scale you can start to create lines that are based on the C major triad but have much more of a Bebop flow:

Doing this you immediately see why you want to practice triads in the context of a scale, you need those notes as well when you are soloing. And if you go all Jazz, and add chromatic enclosures and passing notes to the triad then you get beautiful Bebop vocabulary:

The method is pretty simple: You have the triad and then you add either a diatonic or chromatic melody that targets a note in the triad, the possibilities are almost endless. Here’s another one

And even though there are all these extra notes it is still working because the basic structure is that major triad. Here’s a very famous example of this from Charlie Parker’s solo on Billie’s Bounce. He is using an F major triad with a few leading notes:

I’ll get to a George Benson example in a bit.

#2 The Most Basic Upper-Structure

Major triad upper structures: Let’s start with a chord. Here’s an Am7:

If you leave out the bass note then you get a C major triad:

Of course, this is true for any 7th chord: If you take away the root you have a triad, but in this case, I will focus on the m7 chord where you get a major triad.

I’ll show you how to use this in a solo, but you also want to keep in mind that if you have a C major triad as a rootless Am7

then you immediately have 3 great Am7 voicings:

But there are some great solo ideas from this as well!

Check out this George Benson lick, which is, oddly enough, also from a solo on Billie’s Bounce

And if you want to explore this then you can of course add chromatic and diatonic phrases to the triad to give it a bit more Bebop flavour like this II V lick:

But the Major triad is also the core part of A LOT if not most Jazz Blues Licks.

#3 Triad Jazz Blues Rules!

A great recipe for a Jazz Blues lick is a major triad plus a few grace notes played as slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs it is by far the easiest way to create some amazing Jazz Blues!

This is all coming from the major triad with a few grace notes and an enclosure, so sliding into notes:

and using this enclosure of the 3rd of the chord

#4 The Triad has 3 Melodies

You may have heard me talk about how inversions of 7th-chord arpeggios are not used in Jazz solos very often, which is sometimes a hot take.. But luckily that is not the case for triads there all the inversions are great!

For the C major triad you have these 3 inversions:

And these work for solos as well. Like this Blues lick using the 2nd inversion:

Or a II V using the 1st inversion C major triad for the Am7 chord, following what I just covered about upper structures:

So you can also explore that if you are looking for new things to play!

#5 An Introduction to Altered Dominants

The altered scale can be a mysterious and difficult sound to get into, and it can be good to start with some chords so that you can hear what the sound is. For a II V I in C major with a G7 altered you could play:

And triads can be a great introduction to creating solo lines over an altered dominant. In this case, the triad from the b5: Db major is a great option.

Check out this this line with an F major triad on Dm7 and the Db major triad on G7alt:

And all that is happening on the G7alt is the Db major triad and a scale run in G altered which is the same set of notes as Ab melodic minor. The advantage is that you have the Db triad to make it a melody and not just running up and down a scale that is more theory than music. Here’s another example:

Notice how I am not mixing in so many notes with the triad here, because that happens in the next section as well, which is about using the triads as shifting colors on a dominant chord.

#6 The Diminished Triad Flow

The altered scale is one of two scale sounds that are difficult to get to work when you are beginning with Jazz, and the other one is using the diminished scale over dominants, sometimes referred to as half-whole diminished.

Luckily Major triads can solve all your problems!

For a G7 then the diminished scale you would play is this:

G Ab Bb B Db D E F G

And using these triads will give you much more interesting solos compared to running up and down the scale which is such a boring sound:

The chords that sound like this scale are G7 with a b9, a 13th and maybe a b5. It’s a complicated but also really beautiful.

Mixing up two triads like E and Bb major gives you some very beautiful lines, and it is really just about finding playable melodies using the triad inversions, like this:

And because the scale is symmetrical then you can move the G7 line around in minor 3rds and get other useable licks, like this one a minor 3rd higher which mixes G and Db major triads:

Now you let’s check out a great way to shift outside over a maj7 or a m7 chord!

#7 Outside Symmetry

On the dominant chords you can use the major triads in minor 3rd distance, but if you want a similar trick for maj7 chords then look at major triads in major 3rd distance. For Cmaj7 then you get these 3 triads:

C major: C E G

E major: E G# B

Ab major: Ab (G#) C Eb

And if you put these 3 together then you get a symmetrical 6-note scale: the Augmented scale, but the best lines for that are using the triads, check out the sound, it is a bit spacy but also quite beautiful:

And, of course, you can also put the 3 triads together in a descending melody:

`

And as a bonus: since C major is an upper-structure of Am7 you can also use these 3 triads on Am7 chords, even if the scale doesn’t have an A:

I Wish Every Jazz Beginner Would Start Here

With any arpeggio based-lick you create and learn to play it is not only knowing the arpeggio, it is much more important what you can do with the arpeggio, and it doesn’t matter if it is a triad or a 7th chord or anything else. You want to develop the skills that help you turn the arpeggios into great lines. That is also the only way to get the things in this video to sound great and those skills give you tons of options. I talk about developing skills like that in this video starting from the very beginning but also focusing on the most important things to get right! Check it out!

Learn Jazz, Make Music

I Wish Every Jazz Beginner Could Watch This!

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Melodic Minor – How To Make Minor Blues Sound Amazing

The minor blues is a great place to explore Melodic minor, and you can get a lot of very different sounds with it.

In this video, I am going to show you how you can use Melodic Minor on an A minor blues, the different colors that are in there, not only on the minor chords but also melodic minor modes like Lydian dominant and altered dominant sounds.

Let’s start with a solo chorus on the song and then I will down what is going and give you some variations and exercise to use in your own playing.

The backing track I am using in this video was made by Quist, and if you want to play over it then there is a link in the description to it on his channel.

Blues Licks With Melodic Minor

The first few phrases are sounding more like a blues phrase than a bebop line, and this is also an option with melodic minor.

The material I use is really just playing around the basic chord tones: Am6, which are great for sounding like blues, almost a BB king flavor. In the example I kept it a bit more plain with the phrasing, but you could also play the line with a few slurs and grace notes like this:

Here, I am mostly just using the Am6 or F#ø arpeggio, so if you take an arpeggio like this:

Notice that an Am6 arpeggio is the same as an F#ø arpeggio, so as you can see here, where F#ø is in fact an inversion of Am6 (and the other way around)

then you can work on making phrases that sound more like blues phrases, like this:

Making the phrases shorter, and a bit more focus on rhythm usually does the trick.

Another option is using double stops like this:

You Need To Know This For ANY Scale You Want To Use

Something I first want to also cover here that is extremely important and something you ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS want to check out for any scale you want to use in a solo: The Diatonic Chords!

You will see this coming back all the time in this video, and knowing them will give you 1000s of things to play.

For A minor Melodic we have these diatonic arpeggios:

You should check those out like this, but also in a position to really get these into your system 

You already saw how this was useful for the Blues phrases, let’s look at some of the other options we have using Diatonic Arpeggios

Beautiful Notes and Diatonic arpeggios

The next phrase in the solo is a combination of two arpeggios: Cmaj7#5 and Am6, both played descending.

This is, again, the Am6 arpeggio and then the diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord Cmaj7(#5).

The Cmaj7(#5) works great because it spells out the upper part of the minMaj7 chord and adds a 9th:

AmMaj7: A C E G#

Cmaj7(#5): C E G# B

(Secret) Altered dominant

The chord in bar 4 is a super-imposition, so I am adding a chord to the song that is not really there, and it is creating tension that then resolves a bar later.

In this case, I am adding an A7alt which then will resolve to the Dm6 in bar 5.

A7 altered is the same as Bb melodic minor, and the line is also clearly related to a Bbm shape.

This is because the Bbm over an A7 gives us some altered notes and the 3rd of the chord:

Bbm: Bb C# F

against A: b9 3 b13

The Line uses the Bbm triad and adds in a C which is a #9 on the A7alt.

Being Vague On Purpose But Sounding Great

The phrase on the Dm6 chord is a little less clear, but is a nice example of using a structure as a motif.

The first bar is a statement coming from an Esus4 triad, and this is echoed in the 2nd bar as an Asus4 triad playing the same melody.

Checking out sus4 triads is under-estimated but very much something you want to do to have some more options, just like you want to explore the diatonic triads and arpeggios of the melodic minor scale.

The Lydian Dominant

The final cadence in a minor blues is a V chord and then also the tritone substituted dominant for that chord.

In Am that is E7 and the tritone substituted dominant for this: F7.

In the solo example, I playing the F7 as a Lydian dominant, which is a very common scale choice for a tritone substitute, and I use the altered scale for the E7, so both of these sounds are rooted in melodic minor, and two of the most common sounds you need to know.

For an F7, the Lydian dominant scale is the same set of notes as the C melodic minor, and I am using the Ebmaj7(#5) arpeggio combining it with a trill.

Ebmaj7(#5) is a good way to have a melody with many of the important notes in the chord:

Eb G B D

b7 9th #11 and 13th.

The Altered Dominant

The E7 altered is also a melodic minor sound, being the same set of notes as F melodic minor.

The line is in this case based around a few notes of an F minor triad and then a Dø arpeggio.

The m7b5 arpeggio on the b7 is a great arpeggio for getting the sound of an altered dominant across with the

Dø : D F G# C – b7 b9 3rd b13

Here I am resolving it to the 9th on the final tonic chord and also combining these with the maj7 and the maj6 to really get that rich tonic minor sound

A Great Arpeggio Combination

In the final, bar I am using a combination of an Abmaj7(#5) and Fm triads for the altered chord, again using some of the same structures to get that sound across on the altered dominant.

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Altered Scale – How To Make It Sound Amazing

The Altered scale is a very common sound in Jazz and also one that can be tricky to get into your playing. In this video, I am quickly going to cover how you get it to work in your playing and what to practice and focus on. Then I am going to go over some examples of what you can use and how you can get that to sound fantastic in your solos with a little bit of practice.

The Altered Scale is a mode of melodic minor, and there are many great sounds in there that you can use in your own playing.

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:47 What the altered scale is for a dominant?

01:46 The 2 problems with the altered scale

02:24 How to get around that just by thinking a little bit differently.

03:06 Lines with Direction and Target Notes

03:44 Using the “trick” to make lines

05:06 More Diatonic Arpeggios

06:12 Non Diatonic Arpeggios

06:38 Triad Pairs

07:19 Quartal Arpeggios

08:04 Drop2 voicings

08:45 Sus4 triads

09:31 Melodic Minor is Awesome!

09:37 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page

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The 3 Hidden Arpeggios in Melodic Minor

With some of the great Melodic minor sounds like Lydian dominant and altered dominants, it is difficult to find arpeggios that really work, especially if you only check out the diatonic arpeggios.

In this video, I am going to show you some arpeggios that you can use that really nails the sound of these chords and adds some beautiful colors. And once you get started using them here you will discover how they also great in some other places.

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Content

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Altered Scale – The Most Important Things to Know

The Altered scale is a difficult scale to get into your playing. At the same time, altered dominants are also a cornerstone sound in Jazz, and you need to learn how to solo over them.

This video is presenting 15 different things you can use on an altered dominant so you will have a huge vocabulary of triads, arpeggios, and pentatonics that you can work with in your solos.

The point of the scale is to sound dissonant and ask for resolution, so you need to keep that in mind when you practice using it.

Pentatonic Scales, Triads, and Arpeggios

It is important to have a big vocabulary of material that you can use when you are improvising. Having a set of things you can use as a flexible part of your playing is going to give you a lot more freedom when you are playing.

0:00 Intro

0:41 #1 Fø

1:04 #2 Db7

1:29 #3 AbmMaj7

1:55 #4 B augmented

2:17 #5 Bbm Pentatonic

2:43 #6 Bmaj7#5

3:06 #7 Quartal #9

3:30 #8 Db, B aug triad pair

3:53 #9 Bmaj7(b5)

4:15 #10 Quartal from Bb and B

4:39 #11 Absus4

5:04 #12 Eb7#5

5:28 #13 Eb,Db triad pair

5:52 #14 Ebsus4

6:14 #15 Abm, Bbm

6:37 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

Other lessons on Altered Scale Ideas

Altered Scale – 3 Great Pentatonic Solutions (Easy And Powerful)

Triad pairs in the altered scale

3 Altered Scale Arpeggios that you forgot to learn!

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How can that be an altered dominant? (The Best Hack)

The altered dominant can be difficult to deal with, but there are some really good hacks or tricks you can use to play the chords and add them to your vocabulary.

In this video I am going to go three of ideas and help add new altered dominant chords to your playing. Using other chords that you already know as altered chords.

Being able to see the same voicing as several different chords was a huge help in building my chord vocabulary and has opened up a lot of things in my comping and soloing.

The Altered Dominant Hack

Which is maybe a hack or is it actually a skill?  The idea is to use other chord voicings that we already know as altered dominant chords. The basic concept is really clear if you look at this example:

Here the G7 altered voicing is really an Fm7b5 or Fø voicing with a G in the bass.

The Fø agaings the G root is F(b7), Ab(b9), B(3) and Eb(b13) so the G7 is a G7(b9b13)

#1 The Fø

From example 1 You now know that You can then use all the Fø voicings and inversions as G7alt chords.

Here’s an example using the original Fø voicing:

And of course you can use the inversions as well:

But you can do a lot of interesting things by using other types of voicings than the Drop2 that was in the previous examples:

#2 Bmaj7(b5)

Another great candidate for a G7 altered voicing is a maj7b5 arpeggio.

A Bmaj7(b5) arpeggio against the G root is: B(3), Eb(b13), F(b7), Bb(#9) so a G7(b13#9)

An example of this that you probably already know would be:

And another great example using a basic root position maj7b5 voicing could be this:

And another good example using an inversion of the Bmaj7(b5) arpeggio:

#3 Using the Db7 or tri-tone substitution voicings

Another great example is to use the Db7 chord as a voicing.

In this first example I am using a basic Db7 voicing. 

Against a G root that would be: Db(b5) F(b7) Ab(b9) B(3) so a G7(b5b9)

And you can use variations of the Db7 chords as well.

Here are an example using a Db7(13) voicing which contains B(3) F(b7) Bb(#9) Db(b5) which is a G7(b5#9) 

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How can that be an altered dominant

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Altered Scale – 3 Great Pentatonic Solutions (Easy And Powerful)

Finding good ideas for using The altered scale can be difficult and often we end up just running the scale and not really making any interesting melodies.

In this video I will go over 3 pentatonic scales you can use when improvising over an altered dominant which is a great way to get some strong and interesting melodic ideas. Pentatonic scales are a great and easy to use resource on the guitar and as you will see you can do a lot with them.

The Sound of Pentatonic Scale in Modern Jazz

I really like to use pentatonic scales in my playing to get some more modern sounding ideas, which is also where the pentatonic scale is mostly used, but it is overall a very effective tool.

Connecting to the basic G Altered Scale

G7 altered is the same as Ab melodic minor:

Ab Bb B Db Eb F G Ab

We have one straight minor pentatonic scale:

Bbm – Bb Db Eb F Ab Bb

That’s what I am using here in this next example.

In example 2 I am first playing the scale as a 2nd position minor pentatonic.  I also use another way which is to play it in a 3-1 pattern.  This has 3 notes on one string , 1 note on the next etc. That is written in the 2nd 2 bars of example 2 here below.

Next lick another type of pentatonic scale that works really well for melodic minor sounds and especially the Altered scale. I will also go over some useful exercises to combine legato and picking for playing fast in the pentatonic scale.

The altered lick using Bbm pentatonic

Here below is the lick using the Bbm pentatonic scale. The first part is just runing up the basic scale position. in the 2nd bar I use 2 different 3 note per string patterns and then resolve to the G on Cmaj7. The line is closed with a small fragment from an Em pentatonic.

Abm6 Pentatonic

Abm6 pentatonic is a very good choice for a pentatonic scale in the altered scale. In fact it is great fro most chords you come across in melodic minor.

Abm6 pentatonic: Ab B Db Eb F Ab 

You can play that like this:

Connecting it to the tritone substitute

You can also look at it the scale as a Db7(9): Db F Ab B Eb which is how I am using it here.

Ab B Db Eb F re-ordered is Db F Ab B Eb

which is a Db7(9) arpeggio.

The example here below starts with a Db7 arpeggio and ending on the 9th in the 2nd bar two octaves higher. From here it resolves to the 9th on Cmaj7 and ends with a short lick on the Cmaj7.

Mixing legato and picking

This lick relies on mixing legato and picking. I find that those two are really cornerstones in my playing and it makes sense to have exercises where you mix them so that you can solve problems for your right hand with legato.

Here below I included an example of an exercise like this using the Abm6  pentatonic.

Let’s have a look at a more exotic but also effective pentatonic scale for altered dominants, some economy picking and how an E7sus4 chord works great on a Cmaj7.

The Eb major b6 pentatonic

This is the Eb major (b6) pentatonic scale: Eb F G Bb B Eb

It is  a great scale to spell out the sound of  melodic minor because it has the augmented triad from B included.

Constructing the scale

Since we are using the scale over a G7 altered it makes sense to connect it to a Cm pentatonic scale. You can construct the scale by taking a Cm pentatonic replace the C with a B. That makes it easier to find fingerings:

Major b6 pentatonic scale example with economy picking

The example using this scale is making use of an economy picking pattern in the first bar. I am using the economy picking to play the 3 note patterns in bar one branching into bar 2.  From there it starts with a small scale pattern resolving to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7.

The arpeggio on the Cmaj7 is an E7sus4 which works great for that sound. It is also a part of the Em pentatonic scale I am using on that chrord.

Using pentatonic scales in Jazz

The way I work with pentatonics is mostly to get a different sound than the standard blues phrasing, they work great for some open sounds and different melodies. How do you work with pentatonics? Leave a comment and be sure to also check out the ideas that are discussed in the comments because often there is a lot of interesting information being shared.

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Altered Scale – 3 pentatonic scales

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My secret arpeggio and 3 places I use it!

Sometimes it is great to look beyond the diatonic arpeggios for some rich or more colorful sounding arpeggios.

This video is about one of these arpeggios that I really use a lot for melodic minor, altered or Lydian dominant sounds.

Finding the arpeggios

Usually we find arpeggios by stacking 3rds in a scale, but in some cases we can get some really great sounds by building chords in other ways.

The arpeggio I want to talk about in this lesson is the dom7th(#5) arpeggio. The A7(#5) is shown here below:

Where does the dom7th(#5) chord belong?

There are a few places where you can construct this arpeggio.

It is of course found in the whole tone scale, and a can be constructed in both harmonic major and minor.

In this lesson I will focus on it in the context of melodic minor. Purely because that is where I use it the most.

The dom7th(#5) can be found in two places in the melodic minor scale.

If we take the A7(#5) as an example then it can be found on the 5th degree of D melodic minor:

And also on the 7th degree of Bb melodic minor:

Using the arpeggio

If we look at the A7(#5): A C# F G  then it is worth noticing that it is in fact an A augmented triad and an A.

The fac that the augmented triad is a part of the arpeggio is probably one of the reasons why it is so useful for a lot of different chords in melodic minor. The augmented triad sound is a big part of the melodic minor sound. Just think of an DmMaj7 where the upper part of the chord is an augmented triad.

The Altered dominant

When using the arpeggio on an altered dominant we have two options.

The altered dominant in this case is a Db7alt. The two dom7(#5) arpeggios we have available are then A7(#5) and C#7(#5) (or Db)

In this example I am using the A7(#5). If we relate the A7 arpeggio to a Db root we get: A(b13) C#(root) F(3rd) G(b5). So there is a lot of color in the arpeggio.

The Abm7 line is a descending Bmaj7 sweep arpeggio followed by a small turn with a leading note on before the root.

On the Db7alt the line is really just the A7(#5) arpeggio adding a B to resolve to the 3rd of Gbmaj7 in bar 3.

Tonic minor

In the second example I am using the line on a tonic minor chord. The A7(#5) related to D would be: A(5), C#(Maj7), F(3rd), G(11).

The first bar is really just a simple Dm line with a leading note under the root. The 2nd bar is coming from the A7(#5) arpeggio that finally resolves to the 9th(E) of Dm6 (or DmMAj7)

Lydian Dominant

The Lydian dominant example is using a IV IVm progression in F major. In this case it is in fact II bVII I that is being used, but the main idea is of course subdominant, subdominant minor to tonic.

The line on the Gm7 is first encircling the root of the chord and then ascending a Gm7 arpeggio with an added A. 

The Eb7 bar is first the A7(#5) arpeggio followed by Bb and C to resolve to the 3rd(A) of Fmaj7. The ending is tagget with a small pentatonic turn.

Make you own lines with these arpeggios

The examples I went over here are of course only a glimpse at a quite vast amount of options available with this arpeggio.

The best way to get this arpeggio in to your playing is to use it in different situations in songs that you already know so that you can explore the sound of the arpeggio. 

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My secret arpeggio and 3 places i use it!

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Pentatonic Scale for Altered Chords – Modern Melodic Minor Secrets

The Pentatonic scale is one of the first things we learn. And since it is something we are very familiar with and we can use this to change it a bit and use it for other chord sounds like Altered Dominants or other melodic minor sounds. In this lesson I am going to show you a simple way to make a great pentatonic scale for altered chords and demonstrate how to learn and how to use it.

Creating the Pentatonic scale

I came up with this scale by playing a C minor pentatonic scale and then changing the C to a B. This is shown in example 1, first the C minor and then the B Lydian Augmented pentatonic scale.

As you can see in this example we can easily use that we already know 5 positions of pentatonic scales and that it is easy to “alter” the root so that we make them into or new pentatonic scale.

The Melodic Minor Connection

It is important to also notice that this scale, or 5 note set of notes. Is also a subset of the Ab melodic minor scale:

Melodic minor:       Ab Bb B Db Eb F G Ab Ab Bb

Altered pentatonic:          B        Eb F G            Bb B

This tells us that it is a part of the Ab melodic minor/ G Altered scale and we can also see that it is a good fit for the G7 with an F and a B in there.

Learning The Altered Dom7th Pentatonic Scale

Since the scale is layed out in 2 notes per string patterns across the neck, just like our normal pentatonic scales we can use some of the same exercises to get used to playing the scale

Here are a few excerpts:

The pentatonic scale in groups of 3 notes

The scale in groups of 4 notes:

Finding the chords in the scale

It is important to also have some of the structures under control in the scale. The place you probably want to start is to create some diatonic chords. In Example 5 I have stacked diatonic “3rds” which as you may know yields a lot of quartal harmony.

This exercise is shown here below:

The chords that we get from this are:

  • G7alt Quartal Voicing
  • Eb augmented triad
  • F Quartal Voicing
  • G7 Shell voicing
  • Eb Maj triad (2nd inv)

All of them are quite useful as upper-structures on a G7 altered.

Using the scale as a melody

To demonstrate the way this pentatonic scale works in the context of a II V I I have made three examples.

The first example starts with a pattern of an Fmaj7 (the arpeggio from the 3rd of Dm7). The arepggio is played in a 1 5 3 7 pattern. The line continues with a descending scale run.

On the G7alt the line is simply an ascending run up the scale that is then finally resolved to the 9th(D).

The fact that the pentatonic scale is a bit unusual in the construction makes it possible to get away with using it as a melody in the most basic form as a sort of enriched arpeggio.  

Putting some diatonic chords to use

The 2nd example starts with a Dm7 descending arpeggio. From here it continues with a short scale run. 

On the G7alt the melody is first the G7(#9) quartal voicing and then a Eb augmented triad in inversion.

The line resolves to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7.

The upper-structure triad

This example makes use of the Eb major triad as an upper structure on the G7alt.

The opening on the Dm7 line is constructed first from an F major triad followed by an Am pentatonic scale fragment. On the G7alt the line is an embellishment of an Eb root position triad followed by a small scale run that resolves to the 3rd of Cmaj7.

Working with these altered or modified pentatonic scales

When you work on using this pentatonic scale it is useful to try to tap into some of all the things you already have in your system with normal pentatonics. There is a lot of tips and ideas already explored on guitar in several styles using pentatonic scales after all. 

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Pentatonic Scales – Melodic Minor – Altered Scale

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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