Sometimes you have to solo on a single chord for a longer time, and it can be hard to keep things interesting, so having the option of using some outside material to change things up can make your solo a lot better if you can get it to sound right.
The point of using outside material is to make it sound wrong.
Because you want the listener to feel the tension that needs to resolve and that helps make the solo interesting and gives it a story.
Playing notes that don’t fit the chord is pretty easy, but playing something that moves away and comes back so that it still sounds like the music is MUCH more difficult, but as you will see it is far from impossible, and there are a few ways to do so.
#1 – Ab7 – Side Stepping Up
The first approach is to move up a half step from the chord you are soloing over. For this video, I am using a static G7 chord,
in fact it is a really nice backing track from Quist, there’s a link in the description. If you move up from G7 then you, of course, have an Ab7 chord. Almost all the notes in the scale will sound outside, and in fact the Ab7 works as a tritone substitute for the dominant D7, so there is also a harmonic connecting, but that is not really what I am using in the solo.
Instead, I am moving from the “normal” solo into the outside material by repeating a phrase or a part of a phrase and give the listener something to hold on to when things get weird.
Here it is this section
And then that short phrase is shifted up and I can keep on improvising using Ab7 material.
Another thing you should notice is how I play long notes to really drive home the tension they create before resolving with a short phrase that moves back into the G7 chord
Here’s the complete solo:
The next one is also using another chord as a way of thinking about the outside solo, but then we get into using some exotic scales as a diffrent approach, and rely more on structures like triads.
#2 F#7 – Side Stepping Down
Another option for side-slipping or side-stepping is to move down a half step, which sometimes is a bit nice because it sounds less like a dominant and therefore a little bit more mysterious.
This solo also uses the motivic way of getting to the outside section, but here the motif is also placed differently in the rhythm as well.
It is about giving the listener the idea that they get the melody but then because it is shifted away they at the same time are surprised about the sound.
And the same type of motivic development is used with a basic F# triad melody to go back up to G7.
A later example will also use voice-leading as a way of resolving which is a more abstract motivic technique.
The F#7 Solo is written out here:
#3 Augmented Scale
So, let’s try a funny scale that doesn’t really fit the chord, but also almost does.
The augmented scale is a 6-note scale which you can see as constructed either of 3 major triads a major 3rd apart, in this case G B and Eb major.
or it is the sum of two augmented triads a half-step apart, here I am using B and Bb, but you could also call it F# and G,
Since the chord is a G7 then some of the notes in the scale work pretty well and others are pretty far out.
As you will hear I am really focusing on using the major triads as a way to create melodies. This creates melodies where sometimes it is inside and sometimes outside the G7 sound, but it still works because the triads are strong enough melodies to carry it.
The transition is a bit more abrupt with taking a pause before starting the augmented lick, sort of a shock effect, and then you can use the G major triad to return smoothly back home.
The entire solo is written out here:
You Need To Get This Right!
The trick to getting outside playing to work is to make sure that what you play as outside phrases still makes sense. It still has to be a melody. The two strategies that I am using for this have been either:
#1 Think another chord
So that you can use that chord to create melodies with arpeggios and licks that you already know, even though you still need to get used to how weird it sounds on top of the chord in the music. Sometimes I am also using a chord that I naturally can resolve back to the music like a dominant, and sometimes I don’t that is really something you have to experiment with yourself to figure out what you like. Just make sure that you are playing melodies that you really think sound like melodies, otherwise it falls completely apart.
#2 Think in Melodic structures
This is a bit more abstract and you probably need to develop this a bit by in your playing. But it is about relying on structures like triads and then put those together. You can work on this by sitting down and making melodies with the triads to get that sound into your ears.
And Luckily that skill is useful for a lot more than augmented scale stuff on a G7, as you will see already in the next example which also has a bit of quartal harmony.
#4 The Wrong Dominant Diminished’
B-roll Cleaning? Sweeping away alterations b9, #9, b5, b13
Sometimes you want to resolve the melody as if it is a chord, so you want to resolve several notes in one phrase down to other notes in the next phrase.
This is subtle but it actually really makes a difference, and It is a little bit like going back and cleaning up the mess you left unresolved
You can use D7 diminished or what I would actually refer to as F# diminished, as a great tension over G7, and it lets you play a sort of dominant sound that resolves back to the G7,
but here I am more focused on using triads and quartal arpeggios.
Let’s first look at the scale:
If you write it from D then it would be these notes:
D Eb F F# Ab A B C D Eb F F#
And the first structure that I am using is a quartal arpeggio from C: C F# B which you could also see as the upper part of a D7(13) chord.
This scale also contains 4 major triads a minor 3rd apart.
D F# A – D major
F A C – F major
Ab C Eb – Ab major
B Eb F# – B major
This example also jumps more or less abruptly out of the harmony, using the quartal arpeggio and following it up with a wide-range melody with the B major and Ab major triads, landing on the high Ab which of course is very dissonant over the G7.
The resolution, in this case, is first running down the scale to resolve to D, the 5th of G7 and then back up to A as a resolution to the Ab which is in a way voice-leading the resolution, and also taking care of resolving that long Ab that was just there.
The solo is here:
#5 Altered, But Wrong
The point of playing altered is usually that you want to create some tension that you can resolve moving to a I chord. But in this case, the chord doesn’t go anywhere, and you can still change things up and create a lot of tension using the altered scale.
The outside line starts with a G7(#5) arpeggio which begins by sounding like it is just chord tones but then the Eb makes it clear that something else is going on.
That arpeggio also contains the augmented triad, G B Eb which really helps getting the outside sound across. From there the line continues up to an Abm lick that is shifted up as a sequence to Am and then Bdim which helps it get back to the chord as a resolution.
The Altered Scale solo:
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