If you want to really open up the way you play chords and be a lot more free with how you comp or make fills in a chord melody arrangement, then you have to start working on different ways to make harmonized melodies that you can fit into a chord progression.
In this lesson, I am going to show you how I make chord runs or chord fills like I was using in the intro and break down a few examples.
One thing that is really useful for this is a way to use the pentatonic scale as chords and in that way make some really great sounding fills.
Let’s first take a look at a few examples and then talk about developing the pentatonic ideas later in the lesson.
3 Chord Runs Mixing Scales and Chord Voicings
The above example has a different run for each chord. Let’s have a look at how they are constructed.
Mixing Am pentatonic and Dm7
The Dm7 run below is the most complicated of the 3. Here I am harmonizing a melody that is from the Am pentatonic scale. The Am pentatonic scale is a “neutral” sound over a Dm7. All notes sound good but the scale lacks a little color because there is no F.
In the run, I start with a Dm triad and I also end with a Dm7(9) or Fmaj voicing. These two ensure that the sound of the chord is clear. In between, I am using C major and Am voicings. They sound neutral but are not too clear.
Harmonized G altered scale
The G altered run is mixing voicings and the scale. You can see how the 3 voicings shown in diagrams below work as a way of harmonizing the melody on each string. The red note marks where the melody is moving to in the line.
The entire voicing in the scale is shown in the lowest diagram, with the voicing in Blue.
Em pentatonic scale as a Jazz Chords for Cmaj7
In the example above I am generating voicings by stacking notes in the Em pentatonic scale. Since the entire Em pentatonic scale works as a Cmaj7 sound then this produces some great sounding voicings and I can move around and have a scale to play melodies with,
In this case, it is an ascending melody harmonizing every other note.
Two-layer Chord Runs
This example is using quarter note triplets to create a floating effect over the meter. It is also separating the melody from the chords to give the run a call response or solo-comp character.
On the Dm7 the technique used is similar to what I did on Cmaj7 in the previous example. The only difference is that here the chord is split into two so that the highest note in the chord is played separately.
Dm Pentatonic Run
Turning this into an exercise down the neck would give you this run:
The Cmaj7 bar is using the exact same thing but with an Em pentatonic scale instead of a Dm pentatonic.
G7 altered Exercise
You can also turn the G7 altered lick into a longer exercise moving in the scale. SInce the G altered scale is a 7 note scale I had to adapt the melody a little to get it to work.
A way to practice for more flexibility
The exercise below is using the Em pentatonic scale. This is really just a way to practice playing several pentatonic voicings but builds your ability to make melodies and create variations.
Using Pentatonic Positions
The pentatonic chords that I have used until now were all along the neck. This is a great way to work with voicings, but the open sound of the chords you get makes it possible to also do this in position.
These 3 exercises help you explore that:
Pentatonics and Arpeggios on a Jazz Standard
If you want to explore how you can get some great solo lines mixing pentatonics and arpeggios on Lady Bird then check out this lesson, or get it at a reduced price as a part of the Easy Standards Bundle:
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