Tag Archives: Backing track

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.

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Altered Scale – 3 pentatonic scales

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics 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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Practice with Backing Tracks will ruin your Rhythm and Timing!

Every body wants to have good time and work on playing swinging rhythms. But if you only do this with a backing track, you might be in trouble! 

With this video I want to discuss why there is a much more effective way to practice to improve your rhythm than using backing tracks. The video will give you a few metronome exercises and a way to start working on feeling subdivision.
Feeling subdivision and working on relating what you hear and play to your subdivison grid is a very useful way to get better time and also to get better at playing together with others.


0:09 Intro

0:39 What is wrong with backing tracks

0:55 Rhythm and practice – what’s the goal

1:07 A definition of good timing

1:15 Sub-division, the grid that we hear and relate to

1:45 Backing tracks and harmony

2:09 How to practice subdivision

2:53 The Backing track alternative

3:20 Genereal points of practicing with a metronome

3:56 Metronome on 2&4 5:01 Blues Chorus with metronome on 2&4

6:06 All the things you should try with 2&4

6:34 Specific timing exercises

6:48 Dotted Quarter note practice

7:14 Straight No Chaser with dotted quarter metronome

7:54 feeling the beat in this exercise

8:04 how this is a more realistic situation to practice

9:25 Why Bebop Themes are great for timing exercises

9:43 The 2nd triplet exercise 1

10:25 How to feel the beat in this exercise

11:21 The Bebop example with this metronome exercise

12:09 Do you have a great metronome exercise?

12:36 What is good about backing tracks

12:57 HIstorical importance of backing tracks

13:59 Different types of swing or groove

Bluesette – Backing Track – Playalong – Jazz Waltz – 147 bpm

Bluesette is probably the most famous Toots Thielemans song and certainly a jazz standard. Such a great take on a 3/4 Parker Blues with a few extra twists!

This is a great progression! A Belgian version of the Parker Blues and also in 3/4. I guess that is the Belgian part of it?

This song has a very nice way of travelling through a lot of keys and still end up home in a turnaround. Certainly one of my favourite waltzes, probably no 2 on the list 😀

Here’s my solo on the track:


Here are the changes:

Stella By Starlight – Backing Track – Playalong – Medium Up – 183 bpm

Stella By Starlight is probably one of the more complicated jazz standards. At the same time it is a very beautiful melody and the harmony is, even if a bit complicated, also very rich!

If you want to check out my solo on it you can do so here:


If you want to check out my analysis of the song you can do so here: 

And check out my other backing tracks:

Night and Day – Backing Track – Playalong – Samba – 185 bpm

Here’s the backing track for Night and Day! One of my favourite Cole Porter pieces jam on. The progression has it all: bVImaj7, a nice variation on the II V I, #IVm7b5, IVm. You name it, it’s in there!

As I mentioned in the solo it also works great as a samba like I am playing it here.


If you want to check out my solo on it you can do so here:

And check out my other backing tracks: Here


Here are the changes I play:

Yesterdays – Backing Track – Medium Swing – 138 Bpm

Yesterdays – Medium Swing Backing track

Yesterdays is a great song with some minor turnarounds and a long dominant chain! The 16 bar form is split in two where the first half is in Dm with some turnarounds and a line cliché. The second half is a dominant chain starting with an A7(b13) with the b13 in the melody.

The song is also a great vehicle for odd meters like 5/4 and 7/4. Scofield has a 7/4 song called last week on these changes.


Here’s my solo on the track:

And here are the changes I play over:

I’ll Remember April – Backing Track – Latin – 175 BPM

I’ll remember April Backing track!

Great combination of modal and changes in this song.

The form is ABA, the A parts have modal 4 bar G major and minor stretches and the B part is a series of II V I progressions.

The song is not too dificult in terms of the changes but offers some nice opportunities to play in different keys and also make longer melodic ideas on one chord.

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Here’s my solo on the track!

The changes I play can be found here:


Autumn Leaves – Backing Track – Medium Swing – 132 bpm

Autumn Leaves Backing track!

Autumn Leaves is such a great study in diatonic chord movement.

The form is an unusal AAB where the A’s are 8 bars and the B is 16 bars.

And my solo:

If you want to check out a lesson on how to solo over Autumn Leaves:

Autumn Leaves Solo Lesson 1

Here are the changes I play: