Tag Archives: altered scale

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

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Melodic Minor, Altered, Tritone Subs – Guitar solo on Solar

Using Melodic minor and it’s modes is an important part of the modern jazz guitar sound. In this video I am going to analyse a solo on the jazz standards Solar that I improvised and transcribed. The solo should give you some ideas on what arpeggios and structures I use when I am playing and help you get more confident using melodic minor and tritone substitutions.

In the video I will be giving some examples of alternative arpeggios besides the ones I am playing in the solo, so for that reason it is worth while checking out the video.

Solar: History, form, key and harmony

Solar is often attributed to Miles Davis, but there it is likely that he did not in fact write the song and that it is in fact a composition by Chuck Wayne. This is also mentioned in this wikipedia article

The form of Solar is 12 bars. It is a reharmonization of a 12 bar blues in C minor. The first four bars are clearly reminiscent of a blues moving from the I to the IV. Very often these four bars are also played as four bars of C minor. The IV is then here substituted for a maj7 chord, and use a pattern of II V I cadences where the I is turned into a II chord by making it a minor chord. A similar idea to what happens in for example How High The Moon.

The melody of Solar clearly uses melodic minor on the I chord, and this makes it a great place to start using tonic melodic minor.

Tonic melodic minor and the cadence to the 4th degree.

The opening line is constructed from two versions of the arpeggio from the 3rd of CmMaj: Ebmaj(#5) In the lower octave it is played as a triplet with a leading note. From there it continues up the scale and then plays another Ebmaj(#5) arpeggio. From there it continues down a structure that you could call an F lydian arpeggio (5 #4 3 1, which is a term coined by Rick Beato). It then ends on the maj6th of the CmMaj which is then also the 9th(A) of Gm7.

For the cadence to Fmaj7 two concepts are being used: A quick trill with a chromatic approach and a line on the C7 drawing from the diminished scale.

Diminished dominants

The line on the Gm7 is also using the arpeggio from the third. On the Gm7 that is a Bbmaj7 which is played as a descending sweep. From there the line continues with a trill on the A and the Bb which then is used as part of an encircling of the 5th(G) of C.

The C7 is given a C7(13b9) color which is mostly associated to the diminished scale. In this case it starts out with a scale run that could just as easily have been from the normal F major scale, but then via an A major triad (in 2nd inversion) turns into  a C7(13b9). The A major triad is a great way to pull out that sound since it combines the 13 and the b9.  

Chaining triads together

The Fmaj7 line is constructed of first two triads: A very clear F major triad that then continues into a C major triad. From the C it continues into what could be seen as an Fmaj7 arpeggio with an added 9th.

The line ends on the 3&, a typical Bebop phraing habit.  

Triplet groupings and tritone substitution

For medium tempos the 8th note triplets are a great way to vary the flow of 8th notes. Your playing will benefit greatly from checking this out. If you want to hear great examples of this then check out mid 60’s Herbie Hancock or some of the more recent Kurt Rosenwinkel stuff.

In this example I am using triplets in groups of four. Since this is an improvised solo the way I use it is more loose and I don’t play complete bars or start clearly on the one. The idea is however still clearly groups of for notes. Since triplets naturally fall in groups of three then grouping them in fours will create a nice shifting rhythm on top of the original groove. In the solo I start on the 3rd triplet of the bar, but if you watch the video I also demonstrate how it would sound if you started it on the one with the same pattern. The four note pattern is an Abmaj7 shell voicing (three notes) followed by an 8th note triplet rest. 

The Bb7 line is using tritone substitution. In this case it is done very clearly since the line consists purely of an E7 arpeggio played in a skipping pattern.  The line is pulled into the Ebmaj7 bar and the resolution is deayed until the 1&.

Using the diatonic arpeggio of the VI degree

On the Ebmaj7  the material used is essentially a Cm7 arpeggio decorated with an extra D. Using the VI arpeggio over a tonic chord is a good resource and will mostly work really well. The Cm7 arpeggio is of course also in fact an Eb6 arpeggio.

Quick II V: Ignore the V chord

On the II V I to Db major I am using the exact same arpeggio as I did on Ebmaj7, except that I am moving it up to Ebm7. The line is pretty basic and the only really interesting thing is probably that it is clearly ignoring the Ab7. To me this place in the song is served better by ignoring the Ab and then focusing on the Ebmaj7 -> Ebm7 change. As you shall see in the next cadence I don’t have strict rules about which chord to ignore in a quick II V like this one. It is context sensitive what you consider more important. 

On the Dbmaj7 the line is using an Fm pentatonic scale. Using the pentatonic scale from the 3rd of the chord is a personal favorite of mine. I find that it is a great way to bring out the important colors over the maj7 chord and it is easy to use it to start pulling out some of the quartal arpeggio sounds as well.

Quick II V: Ignore the II chord 

In the final II V I am ignoring the II chord. This feels more natural because the point of the cadence is that it wants to pull us back to the I chord at the top of the next chorus. This is an important function and (obviously?) the dom7th chord carries most of that which is why I don’t really play the II chord.

The line is using a trill on G and from there continues down an AbmMaj7 arpeggio that is then resolved to the 9th(D) of CmMaj7. 

Try it out on my backing track

If you want to check out how all these concepts and ideas work you can do so on my backing track: Solar 141 bpm

If you would like to check out the 2nd chorus you can do so via my Patreon page. You will get access to the 2nd chorus, the lesson discussing it and a lot of other extras with a pledge of $3 for each Thursday YouTube Lesson. You can have a look here: Jens Larsen on Patreon 

I have a small but deidcated community on Patreon that supports me in making all the jazz videos and it is a great way for me to give something back for the support!

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Solar – Melodic Minor and Tritone subs

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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Triad pairs in the altered scale

Making good melodies on altered dominants is often a tricky business. One strong approach is to use triad pairs to make some strong yet surprising melodies.

One of the advantages to using triad pairs over altered dominants is that triads are by themself already quite strong melodies. Another advantage is that the triads are excellent tools to pull out and emphasize certain extensions over a dominant.

I have already made a few lessons on Triad Pairs. You can check out one here: Triad Pairs – part 1

The scale and the triads

In this lesson all the triad pair examples are on a C7 altered chord and therefore using the C altered or Db melodic minor scale as shown in Example 1

Triad pairs in the altered scale - ex 1

To get used to the triads one of the first things that it would make sense to practice is to play the scale in diatonic triads, which is what I have written out in Example 2

Triad pairs in the altered scale - ex 2

Choosing a triad pair

Since we are using triad pairs with no common notes it is not too difficult to find triad pairs in a 7 note scale. The two triads will contain 6 notes. This means that we can just take out a note, and then you have the two triads on the following two notes.

As an example: If we take out the C in the Db mel minor scale we have two triads left: Dbm and Ebm.

Since we want to have some freedom in making melodies with the triads it is important to also have be able to play the inversions of the triads. In Example 3 I have written out the triad inversions of Dbm and Ebm in the position that we are working in.

Triad pairs in the altered scale - ex 3

Another exercise that I do that I find very useful and which is also helping you not only lean the triads and their inversions but also helps getting started making lines with the triads.

The idea is to just improvise and then after playing one triad try to move to a close triad inversion and then keep playing. It forces you to think ahead and also to try out some combinations of triads that you can then later use in lines. I’ve written out a bit of how I demonstrate this in the video in Example 4.

Triad pairs in the altered scale - ex 4

Making altered dominant lines with Triad pairs

In the examples I am going to use a few different triad pairs to demonstrate some of the different sounds you have available. I won’t go over exercises like I did with the first pair, but the exercises would be just the same.

In the first line I am using the Dbm, Ebm triad pair. The line on the Gm7 is using an inversion of the Gm7 arpeggio followed by a little Gm pentatonic  fragment. On the C7 the line is a descending version of Example 3 that resolves to the 5th(C) of Fmaj7.

Triad pairs in the altered scale - ex 5

A distinct part of the melodic minor sound is the Augmented triad. This makes that a very nice candidate for a triad pair. In the 2nd line I am using the Eaug and Gb triad pair. The line starts with a chain of arpeggios over Gm7. First a Dm7 arp and then a Bb triad. On the C7alt the line is first a pattern of the E augmented triad and then a 2nd inversion Gb triad.

Triad pairs in the altered scale - ex 6

The final example is using an Ab and a Bbdim triad. This triad pair gives us a lot of the alterations from the Ab and the more basic 3rd and 7th sound of the C7 in the Bb dim triad. The Gm7 line is a basic Bb maj7 arpeggio followed by a descending scale run. On the C7 alt it is first a melody made with the Ab triad in 1st inversion followed by a Bb dim triad before it resolves to the 5th(C) of F

Triad pairs in the altered scale - ex 7

I hope you can use the examples and the exercises to get started making some interesting lines with triad pairs over your altered dominants!

If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf here:

Triad pairs in the altered scale

Check out how I use Triad pairs  in this solo transcription/lesson:

There will never be another you – Reharmonization Solo

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 them fit what you want to hear.

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How to improvise over a minor II V I with arpeggios

The minor II V I is often a troubling cadence for begining Jazz guitarists. That is probably because the II is a m7b5 or half diminished chord which can be tricky and also because you have two or three different scales going on through the cadence.

In this lesson I want to go over the chords and the scales you need to improvise over them. From that I will take 3 arpeggios, one for each chord, and talk about how you practice them and with some examples of lines over the minor II V I hopefully give you some ideas about how to improvise over this cadence.

All the examples in this lesson are over a II V I in the key of C minor as shown in example 1

How to improvise over a minor II V I with arpeggios ex 1

The scales that I chose for each chord are fairly straight forward, the Dm7b5 chord is seen as coming from C minor so that is the scale I use. For the G7 I chose the altered scale which is one of the possible options. C harmonic minor would be another obvious choice. The tonic chord I play in the cadence is a m7 chord, but it could ahve been a m6 or mMaj7 chord. Since it is a Cm7 I chose Dorian as a scale sound, and otherwise you could use Aeolian which is the same as Natural minor.

To keep it easy to approach from a technical point of view I put all the scales and arpeggios in one position on the neck around the 8th fret C. If you start working on this you should probably also move it around to other positions once you get more familiar with the arpeggios and the cadence.

How to improvise over a minor II V I with arpeggios ex 2

Choosing the arpeggios are easy for the Dm7b5 and Cm7 chords since you can just use a diatonic arpeggio for each of those. The G7alt arpeggios is a bit more tricky since the G altered scale has a Gm7b5 as a diatonic arpeggio on the G. To find a good substitute you could look at a G7(b9b13) voicing and realize that it is often played as an Fm7b5 with a G bass note (I demonstrate this in the video). This means that you can use the Fm7b5 arpeggio as to convey the sound of the G7alt chord when you are improvising which is what I chose to do in this lesson. The arpeggios

How to improvise over a minor II V I with arpeggios ex 3

For a more detailed look into the altered sound you could check out: Melodic Minor – Altered Scale

When you practice the arpeggios the first thing you need to do is of course to just play through them and learn them one a t a time. Once you can do that you should try a few patterns like groups of 3 and 4 etc. To connect the arpeggios to the progression you can practice them like this:

How to improvise over a minor II V I with arpeggios ex 4

Once you can do this you should try to connect the arpeggios like shown hereunder. Practicing the arpeggios in this way over the progression is a way to get closer to how you improvise, something that you should also strive after when making exercises.

The idea is to start playing the arpeggios over the progression and then when ever the chord changes to continue the movement with the note that is the closest in the next arpeggio. It’s quite tricky to get started with but very rewarding when you start getting the freedom while improvising.

How to improvise over a minor II V I with arpeggios ex 5

With an exercise like this you get a completely new exercise if you start on a different note, and if you keep on going it should keep mutating into new exercises, also a very healthy way to keep your ears and mind busy while practicing something as simple as arpeggios.

Example lines

The first example starts with a straight forward Dm7 arpeggio from the root to the root. I am playing it in a skipping pattern that I use a lot, so I start on the 3rd and then go 1, b5, 3 b7 etc etc. On the G7alt I am basically just playing the descending Fm7b5 arpeggio, but it is broken up rhythmically. The first part is a swept arpegigio from the 7th to the root, and then it continues down from the 7th in the next octave. The Altered line resolves  to the 5th(G) of Cm and from there it runs up the Cm7 arpeggio, skips down to the root and then up to the fifth.

How to improvise over a minor II V I with arpeggios ex 6

Motiefs should always be a part of your melodic tool box, and so should the triad on the third of the chord you play over! The first part of the 2nd example is purely based on a using the Fm triad over the Dm7b5 and then using it as a motief and using the Fdim triad over the G7alt. The altered line resolves via the F to the Eb on Cm7. The Cm7 line is first moving up from the root to the 3rd before it descends down to the  rest on the 5th.

How to improvise over a minor II V I with arpeggios ex 7

Th last line is starting out with the D dim triad over the Dm7b5. In this example it gives a sort of bluesy flavour. After that it descends down the arpeggio to encircle and resolve to B over the G7alt. The Fm7b5 arpeggio is played ascending and skips around at the end to resolve to the 5th(G) of Cm7. The final part of the line is employing a slide to add some blues to the Cm7 arpeggio.

How to improvise over a minor II V I with arpeggios ex 8

I hope you can use the arpeggios and exercises I went over here to get started making some melodically strong solos that really dig into the harmony and negociate the minor II V I cadence.

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf here:

How to improvise over a minor II V I with arpeggios

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.

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Soloing over a II V I with Pentatonic scales

The II V I is one of the most common and important progressions in jazz. So playing over a II V I is a necessary part of being able to play jazz. One way to get started with this is to use pentatonic scales as a starting point. In this lesson I will give you 3 pentatonic scales to use over a II V I in C, talk a bit about how you use them and give you 3 lines using the pentatonic scales.

The II Valt I Progression

The progression I am going to talk about in this lesson is a II Valt I in the key of C major. The progression can be seen here:

Soloing over a II V I with Pentatonic scales ex 1

For each of these chords we can choose a pentatonic scale that will work well to convey the sound of this chord.

For the Dm7 chord it’s failry easy, a D minor pentatonic is a Dm7 with and added G so that gives us this “standard box” Dm pentatonic

Soloing over a II V I with Pentatonic scales ex 2

The tricky chord in the progression is the G7alt, since G altered is the same as Ab melodic minor we only have one “normal” minor pentatonic scale: Bb minor. I chose not to use a Minor 6th pentatonic like I talk about in this lesson:  Minor 6th Pentatonic scale Because I wanted to keep it a lesson on material that I expect you already know (which is a bit less likely with a min 6th pentatonic). The scale can be played like this:

Soloing over a II V I with Pentatonic scales ex 3

For the Cmaj7 I am focusing on getting the entire upperstructure of the chord (an E minor triad), since the only pentatonic scale in Cmajor (it contains Dm, Em and Am pentatonic scales) that has a B is the Em pentatonic I am using that on the Cmaj7.

Soloing over a II V I with Pentatonic scales ex 4

Now that we have three pentatonic scales placed on the same part of the neck we can start making some lines with the scales.

II V I lines with pentatonic scales

In some of my other lessons on improvising over specific progression with arpeggios like this one: How to start soloing over a II V I with arpeggios I am talking a lot about what notes to target when making a line that goes from one chord to the next. In this example the scales are very different (much less that the arpeggios that are 50% the same notes every time) so it is less important to hit specific notes at the beginning of a bar. That said it is still a cadence and the lines will be stronger if you aim for the E or G on the Cmaj7 to make the resolution to the tonic clear.

The first example is fairly basic in that it is trying yo use some ways of playing the pentatonic scales in ways you are probably already familiar with. On the Dm7 I start out with groups of three notes with a pull off to make it easier to play. The G7alt line is first a descending run in the scale followed by an ascending run which ends in an encircling of the 5th of C(G).

Soloing over a II V I with Pentatonic scales ex 5

The second example is making heavy use of the “diatonic” chords in a pentatonic scale. If you stack 3rds(so every other note) in a pentatonic scale you get a set of structures mostly containing stacks of 4ths. I talk about this in detail in this lesson:  Diatonic chords in the pentatonic scale. These structures are great for solos and that is what I am using in the 2nd line.

On the Dm7 istarts of with a stack of 4ths from the D on the 12th fret. After this it descends down the scale and encircles the Eb in the Bbm pentatonic scale. The same structure moved up a half step is found in the Bbm pentatonic scale which is how I start the line on the G7alt.  After this it skips up to a high f and descends down the scale. The line then resolves from Bb to the 7th(B) of Cmaj7. The line on the Cmaj7 continues with another stack of 4ths and descends down to the final 9th(D) of C.

Soloing over a II V I with Pentatonic scales ex 6

The final example starts off with another structure found in the pentatonic scale: a minor triad. In this example I play it as an open voiced D minor triad. From there the line continues with a stack of 4ths that encircles the #9(Bb) on G. From there the line descends down the scale and then skips to play a stack of 4ths from the lower Bb. This resolves scalewise to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7. The first for notes of the line on the Cmaj is a sort of blues cliche in an E minor pentatonic, followed by a stack of 4ths from A and finally resting on the 3rd of Cmaj7.

Soloing over a II V I with Pentatonic scales ex 7

I hope you can use the information and the approach I discussed in this lesson to make lines with pentatonic scales. This approach can easily be used as another option to put to use in later choruses of a solo, which is how I mostly use it.

If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf here:

Soloing over a II V I with Pentatonic scales

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.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Turnarounds part 3 – I bIII7 II Valt

The 3rd lesson in my series on turnaround is about how you deal with tritone substitution and altered dominants. I’ll try to give you an idea about what scales and arpeggios to play, and in the Etude I’ll also try to give demonstrate how I use it, notes to aim for and other useful tips.

The Turnaround

The main turnaround that this lesson is about is the first 2 bars of example 1, where the IV is replaced by a  tritonesubstitution: Db7. If you are familiar with my lessons on altered dominants and tritone substitution you will know that the progression is almost identical to the one shown in the next line where I use G7 instead of Db7, the same holds for the F7 which could be replaced by a B7.

Turnarounds part 3 - I bIII7 II Valt ex 1

Let’s first go over the scales: Since the progression as a whole is in the key of Bb we use the Bb major scale on the Bbmaj7 chord and the Cm7 chord.

Turnarounds part 3 - I bIII7 II Valt ex 2

For the Db7: A tritone substitution is approached as an Lydian Dominant, so that would make the root of the chord the 4th degree in a melodic minor scale. That means that we get Ab melodic minor. You should notice that Ab melodic minor is the same as G altered too.Turnarounds part 3 - I bIII7 II Valt ex 3

The same is true for the F7alt: F# melodic minor, and it could be seen as B lydian dominant too.

Turnarounds part 3 - I bIII7 II Valt ex 4

Now that we have scales for all the chords we can chose a few arpeggios for each one. For the Bbmaj7, Db7 and Cm7 chords I am using the arpeggio of the chord it self and an arpeggio that is a diatonic 3rd above or below the root of the chord. This is because that way this arpeggios will have a lot of common notes with the chord and fit it very well.

For the F7 we have the issue that the diatonic chord in the scale is an Fm7b5 which is not that useful or strong on an F7. The way I chose to fix this was to use the diatonic arps of the tritone substitute (B7, the 2nd arpeggio) and the 3rd of B7 (Ebm7b5). Those both contain both 3rd and 7th so that they convey the sound of the F7 really well.

Turnarounds part 3 - I bIII7 II Valt ex 5

The Etude

In my experience you learn more from sitting down and trying to work on writing strong lines than just copying other peoples lines, so you should consider trying to analyze the things that I do in this etude and use them in you own lines. That way you really train your ear and your taste, two very important aspects of improvising.

Turnarounds part 3 - I bIII7 II Valt ex 6

The first turnaround is simply starting with a Bb major triad and the works up the scale to hit the Ab on the Db7. On the Db7 the line consists of an Abm triad which is a good upperstructure for that chord (try playing a Db7(9) chord). On the Cm7 the melody descends down an Ebmaj7 arpeggio and continues down an GbmMaj7 arpeggio on the F7alt.

I often use the “Coltrane” patter in fast moving progressions like this. In the 2nd turnaround the melody on the Bb is an F major Coltrane pattern: F G A C which works very well with a Bbmaj7. On the Db7 it continues with a smal scale run that leads in to the Cm7 arpeggio in inversion over the Cm7. The line on the F7alt is really a sort of F# minor cliche melody that  is a minor version of the Coltrane pattern, relative to F# it is 1,2,b3 and 5. Here it’s played descending.

The Gb of the F7alt resolves nicely to an F on the next Bbmaj chord. The melody continues up a Dm7 arpeggio in inversion. The Db7 line is using a Bmaj7 shell voicing arpeggiated with in a melodic way. The idea on the Cm7 and F7 is connected by using the Coltrane minor pattern on the Cm7 (1,b3,4,5) and then continuing with that idea using the B major Coltrane pattern on the F7. This is a good example how the interchanging between altered dominant and tritone substitute can give you some melodic ideas that you would maybe not otherwise arrive at.

On the last turnaround the Bbmaj7 line is a Dm triad which is followed by an Ab minor triad on the Db7. This time the Ab minor triad is played so that it resolves to the 5th of Cm7. On the Cm7 it is first ascending up an Ebmaj7 arp in inversion and then resolves down an Ebm7b5 on the F7alt and finally ending on the 3rd(D) of Bb.

As always you can download the examples I used as a pdf here:

Turnarounds part 3 – I bIII7 II Valt

I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.