Tag Archives: harmonic minor

Harmonic minor Scale – CAGED

Here is an overview of the Harmonic minor scale in the key of C, using the CAGED system.

When playing these 5 scale positions it can be useful to be aware of when to shift position. The more you are used to it the easier the arpeggios and the other scale positions will be to play.

If you want to download a PDF of the scales then you can do so by signing up for my mailing list and entering your e-mail here below:

If you want to download a PDF of the scales then you can do so by signing up for my mailing list and entering your e-mail here below:

the 3 jazz scales you need to know

Jazz Scales! The 3 You Need to practice and How You apply them to Jazz Chords

Jazz Scales can seem like a million options that you all need to learn in all positions and all chords, but there is a way to approach this that is a little easier than trying to learn all jazz scales in all modes. After all the Dorian mode is not as important as the Major or Minor key.

My Approach to Jazz Scales – Learn from the songs you play

In this video I am going to take a practical look at the chord progressions you will encounter and what scales over what chords you are going to need. I am also going to discuss how you apply the scales to the chords and practice in a more general way towards being able to use a scale over any of it’s diatonic chords.
Hope you like it!

List of content: 

0:00 Intro — a myriad of Jazz Scales

0:20 Practice efficiently

0:50 Finding the scales by looking at the progressions

0:59 The Major II V I Cadence: Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

1:15 The II V I and the other diatonic chords

1:44 The Major scale it’s all you need from So What to Giant Steps.

1:57 The Minor II V I Cadence: Bø E7(b9) Am6

2:09 Adding Harmonic minor and Melodic minor

2:34 Secondary dominants and cadences

2:51 Secondary cadence to IV in C major

3:07 Secondary cadence to III in C major

3:27 IV minor variations

4:26 Diminished Chords the two types

4:40 Dominant diminished chord

5:04 Subdominant diminished chord

5:44 What is covered so far

6:06 The tritone substitute: Dm7 Db7 Cmaj7

6:23 The Backdoor dominant: Fmaj7 Bb7 Cmaj7

6:48 Double diminished or German Augmented 6th: Fmaj7 Ab7 Cmaj7

7:23 Cadences with other dominant choices: Altered and Harmonic minor

8:11 The three scales and where we need them — cutting away what we don’t need.

8:55 Getting this into your practice routine!

9:12 Scale practice suggestions and knowing the scales

9:40 Example of what works and what doesn’t work when improvising over an Fmaj7 in C major

10:59 The Bonus from practicing like this!

11:20 Learning the rest of the scales

11:58 Do you work with this system or do you have a better one?

12:36 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Secret to play over Diminished Chords

Everybody find Diminished chords troublesome to play over, but actually it is not as difficult as you think. In this video I will go over how I improvise over a diminished chord and give you the tools and knowledge to add it to your guitar solos.

Three main types of Dim Chords

A diminished chord is a collection of notes that always want to resolve. They are never used as a tonic chord, but always as a means of tension towards or suspension of another chord. The first thing to notice is that diminished chords have different ways to resolve, in fact there are three main types of dim chords resolutions you will come across. These are shown in example 1 here below:

Dominant Diminished Chords

The first diminished chord is a G#dim resolving to an Am7. This Dim chord functions as a dominant and could easily be replaced with an E7.

I assume you know how to play a dominant resolving to a minor chord like E7(b9) to Am, so I won’t spend a lot of time on this type in this lesson.

Sub-Dominant Diminished Chords

The other two are #IV diminished chords. These are not dominants but are sub dominants and resolve in a different way. The easiest way to think of them is as #IV dim, but you are also (or most even) likely to come accross them in inversions (as you will see in the examples)

The two most common progressions where you will come across these are the #VI-I and #IV-IV. In the first case the Fdim to Fmaj7, where Fdim is an inversion of Bdim, which is #IV in F major.

The last part of example 1 is a #IV dim chord (Ab dim or Bdim/Ab in this case) resolving to a subdominant chord: Gm7. This is a very common dim chord to encounter in turnarounds and is also found in a lot of standards like The Song is You or Embraceable You.

So we have three types of progressions where one is easy to play because we can treat it as a V I progression.

How to not use the diminished scale

The scale that you need to use in a context not the diminished scale. Primarily because the diminished scale is a symetrical and synthetic construction and not really what fits any type of tonal song. Most jazz standard progressions, where we find the diminished chords, are tonal.

The best way to approach this is probably to take a look at the scale that is the key. In this case that is F major as shown in example 2. If we alter this scale to contain a Dim chord then we get either an A harmonic minor scale or you could also choose a C harmonic major scale.

In most cases the A harmonic minor scale is more familiar so for now we can just stick with that. The C harmonic major option only differs one note and the difference is not that big.

The Secret Trick to Dim Chords

The secret trick in this case is to use the target notes that we associate with the V I resolutions, so in this case we coud resolve the dim chord to an A or a C over the Fmaj7 or Gm7. In Example 3 I have written out some simple exercises so you can hear how it sounds.

It’s all about target notes

So instead of making lines that resolve to the basic chord tones of the chord you can make lines as if you are resolving a dom7th chord and get used to how they sound over the chord you want to resolve to.

Idim – Imaj7

This type of progression is fairly common in songs like “I Remember You” or “You Do Something To Me”

Using the target notes of A and C in this situation is not so difficult since the A and C are both chord tones on an Fmaj7: F A C E.

Below are to examples of simple lines resoving to first the C and then the A.

The material I am using on the Bdim is really spelling out an E7(b9). E7(b9) is of course also what you are left with if you take an A harmonic minor scale and leave out A and C. 

The bIII dim resolving to IIm7.

This is usually the dim chord situation that is causing the most problems. It is also the example where you end up playing towards extensions over the II chord that you are maybe not as used to resolving to or hearing.

The first thing you want to be used to is the sound of the dim chord resolving to Gm7 as I wrote out in example 3.

For the bIII dim chord I have a few different examples. The first two are in the context of a III bIII II V I progression. 

1st Turnaround example

The Am7 line is a basic Am triad which is followed by a dim arpeggio from B to Ab. The Ab is then resolved to A on the Gm7. The A is then used as a top note in an Bbmaj7 arpeggio.

2nd Turnaround example

The 2nd turnaround example is using the C over the Gm7 chord.

The line starts with a scale run from A to C on the Am7. The Abdim line is a descending arpeggio run from the 3rd(B). On the Gm7 the line first resolves to C, which is the target note, and from there continues with a Bb major triad played in a 153 pattern.

Longer bIIIdim lines

To help you get used to the sound I have also included two examples where you can hear the resolution and I am adding the chord under the target note so that you can easily hear how it resolves.

The first example is using a dim arpeggio pattern followed by an E7 arpeggio that resolves to 9th(A) over Gm7.

The second example uses a similar arpeggio pattern that is followed by an E7(b9) fragment. This resolves to the 11th(C) on the Gm7 where I again have added the chord under the target note.

How to work on this material

The important thing is that you train yourself to hear how these target notes work and sound over the chords and in that way get the lines that you already have in your system as dominant lines to work in this other context.

Adding the chords under the target notes or just sitting down to voicelead chords towards with the target notes in the melody can be very useful besides all the exercises I covered in this lesson!

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Secret to play over diminished chords

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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Jazz Chord Essentials – 3 note 7th chords part 1

In this lesson I want to introduce a type of chords that I use a lot which are a versatile and practical way to play chords with 2nd intervals in them which is often difficult on guitar, but has a very nice and interesting sound.


I had quite a hard time coming up for a name for this kind of chord as you might have noticed on social media, but I think the name that I have now is a good description and it is of course also more or less the same as what people tell me it is called in literature (though there is not one single name in use).

In this first part of the two lessons I’ll focus on the chords that are constructed of 3rds and 2nds. There is another version possible that consists of 2nds and 5ths or 4ths which I’ll cover in the next lesson.

The Voicings

Let’s first go over the voicings. The first one is a diatonic 3rd followed by a diatonic 2nd, so from C that would give us C E F (in the key of C major), which is the 4th chord in example 1.

Example on is that construc through a C major scale on the middle strings. I find that with voicings like this I prefer to have the 2nd placed on the D,G or G,B strings. Probably because it does not get muddy but also because it is practical.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 note 7th chords part 1 ex 1

The 2nd example is the version that has a 2nd followed by a 3rd through the C major scale. From C (the 4th chord in example 2) C D F

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 note 7th chords part 1 ex 2

 How to use the voicings

As the name suggests the chords are derived from 4 note chords with one note left out. Even if you could try to rationalize how you would use the chord I think that I mostly just look at the notes it contains and listen to check if it makes sense in the context I am playing.

In the examples that follow I<ll try to explain why I chose this voicing, but if you play the example you can probably also hear how the voices lead from one chord to the next.

For all of these examples I am using the voicings from example 1 and 2 for the chords diatonic to C major (Dm7 and Cmaj7) and I am using the same construction from the Abm Melodic or G altered scale for the voicings on the G7alt.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 note 7th chords part 1 ex 3

In this first example I am using a chord consisting of F E and C fro the Dm7 which gives me a fairly clear Dm7 sound. The G7 altered is using a voicing that consists of b13, 3 and #9 so it lacks the 7th but in the context of the II V I it works quite clearly as an altered dominant. The C chord is using the same sort of voicing as the G7, but moved up a half step so. On that chord that is in fact a 3rd,root and 7th so a complete chord.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 note 7th chords part 1 ex 4

The 2nd example use the same voicing for Dm7 but now the chord is moving to the G7alt by lowering the C and the E to B and Eb yielding a G7b13. I also use m 4th finger to add a Db on top. One of the advantages to using 3 note voicings is the freedom to add and alter notes above and below the chord. The G7 is resolved to a Cmaj7(9) which is infact an Drop2 E minor voicing.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 note 7th chords part 1 ex 5

In the 3rd example I am using inner voice movement which is a way to have small simple melodies moving within the chords. It can be a nice way to add details to a chord progression. In this example the inner voice movement is on the 3rd string on both the Dm and the G7 chords. The Dm7 is using another voicing containing the C, D and F, which then via the inner voice movement becomes a C E, F voicing of the first two examples. On the G7alt I am using the fact that the sound of the altered notes are enough to get the sound of the chord in this context, so the chord consists of Eb, G and Ab which means that it has no 3rd or 7th, Cmaj7 is a voicing consisting of D, E and G.

The 4th example is also demonstrating inner voice movement, on the Dm7 the chord contains A F and E, but again in the context the C is not really missed. The E moves to D. On the G7 the chord is the same as in the 3rd example except that it is turned around and the movement is in the other direction from F to G in the middle voice. The voicing on Cmaj7 is again the C(9) sound used in example 3.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 note 7th chords part 1 ex 6

In the last example I try to show how you might connect these voicings to other kinds of voicings since in the end you’d want to combine them all as a natural whole. On the Dm7 chord I use the same as in the first example but now add the 4th finger to play a high D on the E string. I then voice lead that into a G7 alt drop2 voicing which resolves to a CMaj7, where the voicing used for the C is a G triad over a C note.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 note 7th chords part 1 ex 7

I hope you can use these examples as a way to get an idea about how I use voicings like these, and then make it part of your own playing.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here:

Jazz Chord Essentials – 3 note 7th chords part 1

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


Harmonic Minor Dominant Lines

In this lesson I want to show how I might use harmonic minor on the dominant in a II V I resolving to a major tonic. This is a very useful way to apply this scale to get a surprising sound on the dominant in a major cadence.

The II V I cadence

Let’s first look at the cadence. In this lesson I am using a II V I in the key of G major, so the chrods are Am7 D7 Gmaj7.

For the Am7 and Gmaj7 chord I use the G major scale which in the 10th position would be this.

Harmonic minor dominant lines ex 1

For the dominant, D7, I play that as if I was in the key of G minor, so I use the G harmonic minor scale which in the 10th fret would be this:

Harmonic minor dominant lines ex 2

You’ll notice that the G minor harmonic scale is the G major with a flatted 3rd and 6th degree, giving us the b9(Eb) and b13(Bb) on the D7.

The lines

The first example uses a trill and a scale fragment on the Am7. On the D7 the line is base around an Eb minor triad. The Ebminor triad is not really diatonic to G harmonic minor, but since you have both a G and an F# you can construct it.

Harmonic minor dominant lines ex 3

The line ascends up the triad and then resolves to the 3rd(B) of Gmaj7

The next example uses the diminished arpeggio which, to me, is the stereotype sound or a D7 from G harmonic minor.

Harmonic minor dominant lines ex 4

The line on the Am7 is a Cmaj7 arpeggio followed by a stack of fourths from A. The line on the D7 consists of an F# dim arpeggio followed by a chromatic encircling that resolves to the 3rd of GMaj7.

Another very useful device in the D7(b9b13) repertoire is the augmented triad. In the scale the triad is found on the 3rd of the scale which in the key of G would be a Bb. SInce I mostly use it on a D7 I guess I tend to think of it as a D augmented triad. Of course it is that too since the augmented triad is symmetrical.

Harmonic minor dominant lines ex 5

On the Am7 I start out with an encircling of the root which is then followed by a Cmaj7 arpeggio.  The line on the D7 is build from the Bb augmented triad followed by a scale run that resolves to the 5th(D) of G.

A good way to create interesting lines is to combine triads in pairs. I have written a few articles about this subject they can be found on the list here: Online lessons

In this case I am using the D and Eb major triads which give you a good set of notes to convey the D7(b9b13) sound.
Harmonic minor dominant lines ex 6

The line on the Am7 is a combination of two arpeggios. Am7 followed by an Em7 arpeggio. The D7 line connects the Eb and D triads and resolves via the b9 and b7 to the 5th of G.

The last example makes use of the diatonic chord on the 3rd degree of the scale, so in this case a BbMaj7#5.

Harmonic minor dominant lines ex 7

The Am7 line is a combination of a C major triad and an Asus4 triad, both good devices for that sound. On the D7 I start of with a melodic fragment that to me sounds like a dim chord (I don’t actually have a name for it though) and then I descend down the BbMaj7#5 arpeggio and resolve to the 3rd of G.

I hope that you can use the material I presented hear in you own improvisations and that you get some new ideas and melodic devices to use over a b9b13 dominant chord.

As always you can download a PDF of the examples here:

Harmonic minor dominant lines

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



Minor II V I Cadences

In this lesson I want to give some insight into how I approach soloing over minor cadences. The lesson is built around 4 examples over a II V I in Dm. Em7b5 A7 Dm6/9 and I’ll explain what I use on the different chords and how I use it.

The Cadence

A minor II V I consist of a IIm7b5, a dominant and a minor tonic. In the case of D minor a cadence might look like this:

Minor II V I Cadences - ex 1

For this progression you’d typically play D natural minor or F major over the Em7b5 chord, D harmonic minor, Spanish Dominant (or one of the many other names for this scale) over the A7 and D melodic minor over the Dm6/9.

One of the things that many students find difficult in with the minor II V I in the beginning is probably that you need to change scale for more or less every chord. While there is not really a way around that, I find it helps to focus more on the chord than on the scale and think from that. In that way there are fewer notes to worry about than a complete scale where it is harder to keep the overview.

For the dominant there are more options than D harmonic minor, but that is the most natural in this context so I decided only to use that in this lesson. I have also chosen not to  make a line on the tonic chord. If you want to check out how to construct lines over tonic chords using melodic minor you can read this lesson: Melodic Minor – An Introduction

The scale charts are available as downloads on my site here: Pdf downloads and charts. The D minor harmonic that I am using is mostly this position though:

Minor II V I Cadences - ex 2

Minor II V I lines

Here are the 4 examples of lines to give you an idea of some of the arpeggios and melodic patterns I use when making lines like this. I have in this lesson tried to add a bit more rhythm to the lines instead of straight 8th note stuff. It is probably because I am always busy with harmony and notes that I don’t add too much rhythm to the examples, but I thought it fitted this quite well.

Minor II V I Cadences - ex 3In line no 1 the Em7b5 part is composed of a sequence of the Em7b5 arpeggio. I use arpeggio sequences quite often, mostly not for longer periods, since there isn’t room and also because it gets tedious very very fast, but I find it very useful to practice so that you don’t always just run up and down the arpeggio. I then encircle the 3rd of A. The arpeggio over the A7 is a diminished 7th arpeggio in inversion. In D harmonic minor the diatonic arpeggio on C# (the third of A7) is a C# dim arpeggio and I use that really a lot on dominants (This is probably something I took from Parker btw)  I resolve the arpeggio to the 5th of Dm.

Minor II V I Cadences - ex 4Line 2 begins with the Bbmaj7 arpeggio over the Em7b5. This is an arpeggio I use like that really a lot, since it starts with the b5 it is quite clear in the sound. You might notice that I very often use arpeggios with a leading note and then a triplet. That way of playing arpeggios is also quite Parkerish (as in Charlie Parker) and I recommend doing that with all your diatonic arps once in a while it is good practice and a useful thing to be able to do. On the A7 I am again using the diminished arpeggio this time starting on E and ending the line with a chromatic encircling of the 3rd of Dm.

Minor II V I Cadences - ex 5The third line is using a Gm7 arpeggio in a sequence before going in to the C# diminished and resolving to the 3rd of Dm. The Gm7 is quite good to use on the Em7b5, but often you have to be a bit careful with landing on the F, which does not sound so good if it is emphasized. In the Bbmaj7 arpeggio the F is in the middle of the  arpeggio which somehow makes it easier to use (in my experience anyway..)

The last example is again using the Em7b5 arpeggio but this time in an inversion. On the A7 I am using another good device: the C# augmented triad (diatonically it is actually an F triad, but it sounds like C# to me somehow). I then continue with a typical bebop approach of the 5th of Dm.

Minor II V I Cadences - ex 6

You can download the examples in pdf format here:

Minor II V I Cadences

I hope that you liked the lesson, and can use some of this information to make your own lines on minor II V I progressions.

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