Tag Archives: arp

Melodic Minor – Lydian Dominants

In my last lesson on melodic minor I was only talking about how to use it on tonic chords which is a good starting point: Melodic minor.  In this lesson I wanted to give a few examples on how you use it in another context: Lydian Dominants. This lesson will also give a few examples of common progressions that are not standard II V I cadences in jazz, which is what most lessons use as a basis.

Dom7th chords that do not resolve to a I chord

If you play jazz tunes you will quickly come across chord progressions that has a dominant that does not resolve. In this lesson I am using the Bb7 as an example. As you might know Bb7 is the dominant of Eb so a Bb7 chord resolves to an Eb chord if it is part of a standard cadence, but in many cases you have other progressions where Bb7 goes to another chord. In a lot of those cases a good choice of scale would be the lydian dominant scale which is the 4th mode of melodic minor scale.  In this lesson I am making examples using the Bb7 as chord, and Bb is the 4th degree of F minor melodic so that is the scale that we will use in these differents contexts.

The Lydian dominant scale gives you a dominant with a 9,#11 and a 13, so in that respect it’s a fairly neutral sounding scale. Here’s a few voicings for a Bb7 like that and also a possible way to play the F minor melodic scale.

Melodic Minor - Lydian Dominants - ex 1


I’d suggest that you make sure to also learn the melodic minor scales in several positions and learn the diatonic chords and triads so that you have an overview of what harmonic options you have in the scale. Just to provide the over view here are the diatonic chords of Fm melodic:

FmMaj7, Gm7, AbMaj7, Bb7, C7, Dm7b5, Em7b5

Lydian Dominant as part of a IV minor progression

Bb7 can work well as a substitute for Fm in some contexts, as is not surprising since we are playing an Fm scale over it. The progression is essentially IV IVm I, but in this case it is harmonized as IV bVII7 I. This is a very common way to harmonize that kind of progression and I think I will leave more explanations on IV minor chords for another lesson, since it is a big subject with a lot of options that are nice for harmonizing songs but also to just throw in as reharmonizations during a solo.

Melodic Minor - Lydian Dominants - ex 2The line that I am playing over the Bb7 is based around a Bb7(b5) arpeggio which is not strictly a diatonic arpeggio in Fm melodic but it is a nice sound to use.

Tritone substitution

As I have mentioned before it is possible to substitue the dominant in a II V I with the chord found a tritone away, so in this case we are playing Bb7 instead of E7 in a cadence in A major. You might notice that E7 altered and Bb7 lydian dominant are from the same melodic minor scale, so in this by playing Bb7(#11) you are in fact also playing E altered.

Melodic Minor - Lydian Dominants - ex 3


The line that I played on the dominat is btw using a stack of fourths spelling out a Bb7(13) sound. Using stacked 4ths in lines often gives a good slightly modern sounding arpeggio.

You could chose to not play a #11 on the Bb and just use an Eb major scale in a tritone substitution, it will work too and it would sort of be one step further away from the key.

IV dominant Chord

Once in a while I’ve come across songs where this chord is used. I think I mentioned So Danco Samba and Tenderly in the video. It’s fairly straight forward to figure out that if you want the scale on the IV dom7th that is closest to the major scale of the song then you will end up with the lydian dominant scale (since the difference it that you flatten on note to make room for the b7 on the dominant, and end up with melodic minor with the root on the I)

Melodic Minor - Lydian Dominants - ex 4

In this line I am using the Ab augmented triad on the Bb7 resolving the 7th to the third of F. It is also an example on how to melodically connect the lines over two chrods by making a statement on the first and then playing a variation of it on the next.

bVI dominant (The #IV Double Diminished chord in 1st inversion)

This is a chord that you don’t come across that often, but it is quite prominant in the standard Out of Nowhere and in the Star Trek theme. I am not going to try to explain the whole double diminished story but could not resist the name (since it looks long dificult and impressive..) If you are already familiar with what a #IV diminished chord is you can see that this chord shares a lot of notes: in D #IV dim is G# dim which is Bb7 with a B instead of a Bb. I guess that is why I even remember the #IV name, it is a description that I hear in the sound of the chord.

Melodic Minor - Lydian Dominants - ex 5

In the line I am using a shell voicing on the Dmaj7 chord and I am using the FmMaj arpeggio on the Bb7 chord.

Dominant of the Dominant

This is one of the most common progressions in songs where the lydian dominant sound is used, so in that respect it is maybe a bit weird to put it at the end. In Dutch and Danish this chord has it own name because it is coming along so often, I could not find an English word for it.

In Jazz standards with a 32 bar AB form the dominant of the dominant is very often found in measures 13 and 14 before going on to a II V back to the tonic. This happens so often that if you play a song with this form you are surprised if that is not the case.

I actually don’t know why it has become so normal to play this as a lydian dominant, but I suspect that it has to do with the fact that you can get away with it and it gives you an easy way to vary your lines and voicings without clashing with the rest.

Since it is only changing one note from the original dominant scale (#4 in stead of 4) The thing to focus on is probably to make sure to play the #4 very clearly in the lin and maybe resolve it to the 5th of the pursuing II chord, as I do in the example.
Melodic Minor - Lydian Dominants - ex 6

Here’s a downloadble PDF version of the examples:  Melodic Minor – Lydian Dominants

As I mention in the video it you will probably have the most benefit of these progressions if you check out some of the songs that they are used in. The more songs you know the easier it is to hear and understand the chord progressions. Apart from that you can of course also just experiment with them and see what you end up with.

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 Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Maj7b5 – chords and arpeggios

I wanted to try and do a lesson on a type of chord that serves very well as a sort of swiss-army knife chord that you can put to work in a lot of contexts. By now this way of voicing chords has been a part of jazz since the mid 60’s. Another reason why I put this in a lesson of its own is that it is not strictly diatonic, you can find it in Major, Melodic and Harmonic minorbut it won’t appear as a stack of diatonic thirds in the scale which has been my subject in some of my other lessons.

An important part of analyzing solos and harmonies is superimposing a set of notes over a root. It is very useful to be able to see how notes relate to the root and interpret that into what sort of chord they then end up being, which is what I will be doing in this lesson.

The Chord

So a Cmaj7b5: Cmaj7 is C E G B so Cmaj7b5 is C E Gb B, but in this lesson it’s a bit more practical to notate it C E F# B.

Here are a few voicings:

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 1

And here is (one of the many) ways to play it as an arpeggio:

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 2

This way of playing the arpeggio is handy because it is symmetrical in groups of 2 strings and it is also pretty compact, so no stretches. If you want to use this chord you will probably need to check it out in a few positions too.

Superimposing a Maj7b5 chord and voicing

So here are a few examples of how to use the chord in a progression and using the arpeggio in a line.

If you use the chord as an F#m7b5 it will give you the following sound: b5(C), b7(E), 1(F#) and 11(B)

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 3

Here is a the chord is working as an Am6/9 it will give you the following sound: b3(C), 5(E), 6(F#) and 9(B)

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 4

On a D7(9,13) it will give you the following sound: b7(C), 9(E), 3(F#) and 12(B)

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 5

If you use the chord as an Ab7alt it will give you the following sound: 3(C), b13(E), b7(F#) and #9(B)

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 6

Of course there are more possibilities to use the chord, it can also work as an 7sus4(b9) or phrygian chord, a Maj7b5 chord (not surprisingly). But I tried to choose the ones that I use the most myself.

You can download the sheet music as a PDF here:  Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord

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 Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Melodic Minor – An Introduction

I’ve had quite a few requests for a lesson on melodic minor so here’s a lesson giving you, what I consider, a good place to start to learn melodic minor: Melodic minor on a tonic minor chord. I’ve tried to give an introduction to some of the sounds of the melodic minor scale here, but also to demonstrate the approach to finding material to play that I described in my lessons on diatonic arpeggios and superimposing arpeggios.

Construction of a melodic minor scale

A melodic minor scale is a minor scale with a major 6th and a major 7th. In my video I’ve chosen to use E minor as an example so E minor is E F# G A B C D E and E melodic minor is then E F# G A B C# D# E.

To understand what chords and sounds are contained in the scale we can look at the diatonic 7th chords in it. See my lesson: Diatonic arpeggios for a bit more insight in how these are constructed.

Here are two ways to play through the diatonic chords in an E minor melodic scale:

Melodic Minor - an introduction - ex 1
Melodic Minor - an introduction - ex 2

Learning the scale

For practical reasons I am using this position of the E melodic minor scale, but in the end you will need to learn the scale all over the neck. Don’t forget that each time you need to learn a new position of a scale you already know in other positions it gets easier so don’t get too discouraged by how much hard work it is in the beginning.

Here’s the scale position written out:

Melodic Minor - an introduction - ex 3
Once you know this position by heart make sure to run through the following exercises in this position (or whatever position you are working on).
Diatonic 3rds:
Melodic Minor - an introduction - ex 4
Diatonic Triads:
Melodic Minor - an introduction - ex 5
Melodic Minor - an introduction - ex 5 2
Diatonic 7th chords:
Melodic Minor - an introduction - ex 6
Melodic Minor - an introduction - ex 6 2

 Examples of lines

If we approach improvising over an EmMaj7 or Em6 chord with the melodic minor scale in the way that I have described in my two lessons on diatonic chords, we can easily come up with these 3 arpeggios that will work well as a starting point for composing good lines: EmMaj7, Gmaj7#5 and C#mb5.

In the video I make small rubato improvisations with each one, and then I give these examples:

Melodic Minor - an introduction - ex 7

Melodic Minor - an introduction - ex 8

Melodic Minor - an introduction - ex 9

Download a pdf of the examples here: Melodic Minor – an introduction

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 Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Diatonic Arpeggios – Superimposing and altered chords

In this lesson I’ll discuss a standard approach to get more arpeggios you can use over a chord, using the diatonic 7th arpeggios. I’ll also go over how I use diatonic arppegios over altered dominants.

I guess I can assume you already read this lesson: Diatonic arpeggios: how to use and practice them, so you should at least know you what a diatonic arpeggio is and how it is constructed and be able to play them in a few positions and a few keys.

Superimposing – a way of adding extensions to your lines

Hopefully you have some idea on how to make a line using the arpeggio and the scale, so this next idea should help you develop a lot of new lines.

Let’s look at a Fmajor7(9): F A C E G, if you take away the F you have the notes of an Am7 so if you apply that so f.ex a II V I in F major: You have the chords: Gm7, C7, Fmaj7 and you can use the arppegios Bbmaj7, Em7b5 and Am7 over them  in you lines.

Obviously this works because the notes that make the color of the chord (3 and 7) are still being played so the overall sound of the chord is still there.

DA - superimposing and alt ex 1

Using other arpeggios that have a lot of chords in common with the chord you play them over will often work to so you could look at the one that is from the 5th and the one that is from the 6th which is the same as a third under the root. In some cases they are not working too well, f.ex a C7 arpeggio is very strongly sounding like something that is not a Fmaj7 sound, and something similar could be said about using Em7b5 over Gm7.

Here are two examples using the diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord:

DA - superimposing and alt ex 2


DA - superimposing and alt ex 3

I am not going to write too much about the examples I’ll explain a bit in the video. What you can learn from them is analyzing what arpeggios I play and how I use them melodically.

Altered dominants and diatonic arpeggios

In jazz you often come across altered dominant 7th chords, which are not a stack of diatonic 3rds in so you need to approach them differently. Let’s take a C7altered Usually we play the altered scale on a chord like that, so the same notes as C# melodic minor. But in C# melodic minor the diatonic chord on the C is a Cm7b5, not a C7altered chord so we don’t have a built in diatonic arpeggio for that chord and the system of taking the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord is not as strong.

Let’s first play an altered scale, ie Melodic minor. In this case C# melodic minor:DA - superimposing and alt ex 4

So here’s a practical solution to that problem: If you look at a C7altered chord voicing like one of these: DA - superimposing and alt ex 5

You can see that they are identical to F#7 voicings so if we think of the C7altered chord as a F#7(#11) with a C in the bass, we can use the arpeggio from the 3rd of that one: A#m7b5. That arpeggio contains the 3rd and 7th of C7, the b9 and the b13 so it gives you a pretty good set of notes for C7 altered lines.

The C7alt/F#7 relationship is what is called a tritone substitution, but I won’t go into the theory on that here, it is explained in various places on the net so you can easily look it up, and is for the rest not that relevant in this context, since we are just looking for an arpeggio to play over an altered dominant.

You get these arpeggios:

DA - superimposing and alt ex 6


Here are a few examples where I use an A#m7b5 arpeggio over C7alt.

DA - superimposing and alt ex 7


DA - superimposing and alt ex 8


You can download a pdf of the examples here:

Diatonic Arpeggios – Superimposing and altered chords

As an experiment I have recorded a backing track of me playing 0:30 seconds of II V I in F major. If you follow me on soundcloud you can download it to practice the lines you make. If you post a recording or video of you playing lines using the material in this over the backing track and let me know I’ll try to leave you a comment on what you’ve come up with and maybe give you some advice.

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 Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Playing over changes with arpeggios

This is a subject that is often a struggle to master for beginning jazz players so I figured I’d write one approach that I use when learning tunes and also that I teach to students who wish to learn jazz. The method is fairly simple, but still requires a bit of preparation technically and theoretically. My blogs are written for guitarists with tabs as well as notation, but essentially it works for all instruments of course.

The goal is to become able to make melodies over chord changes so that it is clear when the harmony moves from one chord to the next. This is obviously not the only way to do this, but just a simple approach that is easy to do on a few chords and fairly easy to move to simple songs.

The Arpeggios

As an example I’ve taken a II V I in Bb, I assume you are familiar with what that is. Since we are trying to practice making coherent melodies in 8th notes over these chords I’ve chosen the following arpeggio fingerings:Arps on Changes Ex 1

It is important that in the arpeggios are in the same range and pretty much the same position on the neck, that helps getting more freedom while improvising. I found it to be more important than starting on the root. There are many ways to construct fingerings for arpeggios, and I leave that up to you for other examples. You need to know the fretboard and you need to know what notes are in the chords you play on to do this.

Target notes

I was taught by Bjarne Roupé, who I studied with in Copenhagen, that constructing lines that point forward to a target note in the next chord is a good way to build logical sounding 8th note lines. I think Hal Galper has written articles and books on the subject.

In the beginning it is handy to aim for notes that are not in the previous chord so that if you play that note on the 1 of the bar you really hear a new harmony introduced. This is a restriction you can leave out quite quickly though.

For my II V I in Bb we can just take the 3rd of each chord:Arps on Changes Ex 2


In voice-leading you learn that the 3rd moves to the 7th, but in this case that would give you the same note on the Cm7 and the F7 and that is less clear than introducing the A on the Cm7. In general you can use other notes. Melodically the 3rd and the 5th are very strong and clear.

So here are a few examples using the 3rds as targets:  Arps on Changes Ex 3

Arps on Changes Ex 4

Arps on Changes Ex 5

Of course the idea is that you sit down and practice making lines like these playing towards the different target notes. Some thoughts on how to practice that can be found here: http://jenslarsen.nl/convert-theory-technique-exercises-solo-lines/

The type of lines you end up with in the beginning will (like my examples) very much be moving through the II V I and then stop which is a very predictable movement, but for learning the harmony it is in part a necessary step. This procedure is not so difficult to move to a simple song like Tune Up, Take The A-train or Blue Bossa. And once you’re familiar with how it works on a cadence like the II V I it is easier to free up the rhythm and amount of notes per bar for more musical lines.

Here’s a final audio example of a solo only using arpeggio notes, but freed up a bit when it comes to target notes and rhythm: