Tag Archives: improvisation

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords

In my lesson on scale choices for dominant chords: Dom7th chords One of the examples was using the diminished scale. In this lesson I want to show how I make lines using the major triads in the diminished scale and give a few examples and exercises to help developing that.

Scale and Triad exercises

The diminished scale when applied to a dominant gives you the sound of for example a G7(b9#11,13) chord. To me the 13th sound very major this is because it is the major third of the chord that the dominat resolves to (the E in the case of the G7 to Cmaj7). At the same time the chord contains the b9 (Ab) which sounds minor so it is sort of in between the major (using the mixolydian sound) and minor dominants (harmonic minor or altered scales).

Let’s first try to play the scale:

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords ex 1

I never spent a lot of time practicing the scale, and have always use more time on making lines with the arpeggios and structures I took out of it. That said you still need to be able to play it and should know it over the whole neck.

If we build chords by stacking thirds in this scale we will only get diminished chords, but if you start looking at the material you’ll see that it contains Major and minor triads too as well as dom7th and m7th chords. Since the diminished scale is symmetrical and you can moving everything around in minor thirds we can also see that if we have a G major triad, we will also have Bb, Db and E major triads.

To learn the triads and have material to make lines it is practical to learn the inversions of the triads:

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords ex 2

Here are 3 of the 4 string sets. Of course there are many other ways to practice this than string sets, but for now let’s focus on these.

Since it could be useful to use more triads in one line it can be a good exercise to connect them and get an overview of where they are placed in one position. One exercise (you can and should make more yourself!) is to play the triads in this progression on one string set: G, E, Db, Bb G, etc.

That might look like this:

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords ex 3

You can try to do thi son other string sets and come up with other ideas for connecting the triads and getting an overview of how they a placed in relation to each other.

Example lines

Often when people start working with the diminished scale they use the symmetrical aspect a lot. Probably because it is very practical on guitar and requires little effort in learning the scale or the structures in it. Personally I don’t like those melodies that much so I try not to use that too often and focus more on treating it like I would any other scale, which should be clear from the examples.

All my examples are II V I progressions in C major. For these examples I did not try to stay in one position, mostly because I think that this is material you should check out when you already have that knowledge covered for major and minor cadences.

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords ex 4

In the first example I play a simle Dm7 arpeggio followed by a scale fragment. The Diminished line is first an E and then a Db major triad. Notice that I don’t only use root position inversions. After the triads I make a small trill on the b9 before resolving to the 3rd of C

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords ex 5

The line on the Dm7 in the second example is very closely related to the one in the first since it is almost a diatonic transposition of it. On the G7 I play the same sort of pattern on a Db and then a Bbmajor triad. I guess this melodic pattern is developed from a RH picking pattern, but it does work well for arpeggios because it emphasizes the top note in the arpeggio. The line resolves chromatically to the maj7th on the C.

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords ex 6

In the last line I use an Fmaj7 shell voicing on the Dm7, followed by a scale run from the root to the 5th. The line on the G7 consists of a 1st inversion E triad and a 2nd inversion Bb triad followed by the b9 and the third before resolving to the 5th of C.

As I mention in the video I find the 2 string inversions of triads a useful tool in soloing so it can be worthwhile to check that out, and I will probably make a lesson on that in the future.

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

Diminished Scale on Dom7th Chords

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.

 

 

Open Triads in Solos

In this lesson I want to give you a few exercises and show how I use open voiced triads in my solos. The sound of open voiced triads is often associated with Eric Johnson and Steve Morse but is a fairly common device in Jazz and Rock. Hopefully this lesson will give you some insight and a way to incorporate it in your own playing.

The lesson is based around a basic  II V I in F major as shown here:

Open Triads in Solos - example 1

In some of the examples I decided to also use a dominant from the diminished scale, and not only the altered scale. Especially because triads are really great melodic material when using the diminished scale.

The Exercises

The first basic exercise is to practice playing the open voiced triad in inversions. Here’s the Bb Major and G minor triads.

Open Triads in Solos - example 2

Open Triads in Solos - example 3

As I mentioned in the video and also in the lesson: Open triads for jazz chords there are more ways to play the same triads and you might find that in some contexts it is easier to use something else than what I have put in these 2 exercises, but these are the ones I use for this exercise and sometimes I’ll use something else if that works better in other situations.

The next exercise is to play the triads through a major scale. In this case the F major scale. I most of the time practice arpeggios and other things in a scale or tonal context since that is where you have to put it to use.

This exercise is not that useful in a position so I wrote it out across the neck from low to high. This is also a very useful approach to practicing for building an overview of the neck and also to help you connecting the different positions.

Open Triads in Solos - example 4

You might want to try taking the other inversions through the scale as well.

The lines

Before I start going through the lines I just want to explain how I chose triads for each of the chords. The process is fairly simple as it is just picking triads out of the stacked thirds that make up the chords and add some extensions to get a few more triads.

 

I have chosen to show the C7alt using the same trick as in Diatonic Arpeggios – Superimposing arpeggios and altered chords, so the triads are chosen by looking at the tritone substitution of C7, Gb7. In the video I also briefly explain how I come by the triads in the diminished scale.

Open Triads in Solos - example 5

In this lesson I tried to write the lines a bit further so that it also shows some of the melodies I might use on the I chord.

Open Triads in Solos - example 6

The first line is build by using a Bb major open voiced triad that continues into a Gm arpeggio. For the dominant I string together an Eaugmented triad and an inversion of the Gb7 arpeggio. The line on the Fmaj7 is a stack of fourths from G and then an Asus4 triad. The Asus4 works well over Fmaj7 because it is 3(A), 13(D) and 7(E) of the chord.

 

Open Triads in Solos - example 7

In the 2nd example I start with a Dm7 arpeggio over the Gm7 chord which resolves to the 3rd of the Gm on the 3rd beat. On the C7 the first part is a Gb open voiced triad followed by a Dbminor triad. on the Fmaj7 I first play a Gsus4 arpeggio and then a pentatonic 3 note per string idea that in this case turns out to be an Aminor triad resolving to the 13 of F.

Open Triads in Solos - example 8

I chain the Gm7 and the Dm7 arpeggios over the Gm7 chord in example 3. The line over the C7 is an Bbdim open triad, followed by an Eb major triad. As you might see from the notes being played I am usin gthe diminished scale over the C7. On the Fmaj7 I play an D7sus4 arpeggio, but I guess you could argue that it is also an Am pentatonic line.

Open Triads in Solos - example 9

The coltrane minor pattern opens up the fourth example and it continues into an open voiced F major triad. The C7 line is again usin gthe diminished sound and is an E diminished arpeggio followed by an open A triad. The line resolves to the 7th of F and then the melody continues to the 9th(G) of F.

As always you can download the examples as a pdf here:

Open Triads in Solos

I hope that you liked the lesson, and can use some of this information to make your own lines with using open triad arpeggios

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.

Pentatonics part 1 – Maj7 Chords

We all know and use pentatonic scale a lot, they are practical and easy on guitar, and it is one of the first scales we learn. Here’s how I approach using a few different pentatonic scales when improvising over a major 7th chord.

In the lesson I wrote all examples on a Cmaj7 chord. Selecting which scales work over a chord is to some degree a personal choice. I have chosen to say that I would not include a scale which has something that I would consider an avoid note like F, Bb, C# etc. This limits the options quite a lot but on the other hand if you pick out 5 notes to use over a chord then why pick 1 or 2 that don’t work witht the chord.

How to practice using the scales

When you start improvising with pentatonics over chords like this I’d suggest  you make sure that you know the scale in all positions. Learn a bunch of exercises in the scales, since they will end up helping you come up with and play melodies that are not just runing up and down the scale. In this lesson is an example of one: Diatonic chords in pentatonic scales

Try not to play your usual licks, if you start playing the solo of Back In Black over a Cmajor7 chord you are using E minor pentatonic, but probably not hearing the C chord anymore. If you start by just playing each note over a backing track or loop, and make some new melodies then you keep the sound of the chord in the process, and that is very important since you have to hear melodies in the pentatonic scale over the chord. Later when you have the sound a bit more in your ear you can start to adapt the lines you already know, and a lot of Angus’ stuff is great and will work fine 🙂

A minor / C major Pentatonic

The most basic choice of scale is of course the C major pentatonic (or A minor since most of us probably think more in minor than major roots). If you break this scale down over a C major root : A C D E G will be 6 1 9 3 5 so basically a C major triad with a 6 and a 9. You might notice that the fact that there is no 7 in the scale will make it work for dominant chords as well.

To this scale is mostly associated with a very pure major sound, like country or some of the simpler latin genres. I always try to have some sort of association with the sound of a scale when played over a chord since it makes it easier for me to make lines when I have (however abstract and personal) an idea how it sounds.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 1

Here’s an example of a line using the A minor pentatonic scale over a Cmaj7 chord:

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 2

The line is constructed from a 4 note scale fragment which is also often referred to as a Coltrane pattern. The 2nd part of the line is an Asus4triad  arpeggio in inversion.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 3

 

The 2nd line is to some degree highlighting how it is a very “major sounding” scale. The line opens with a C Major triad and then a sort of pedal point idea using G as a pedal under a simple melody.

E minor / G major Pentatonic

My sound association with the E minor pentatonic scale is a bit odd in that it is sort of a “core” C major sound: If you remove the two notes from the C major scale that I usually don’t emphasize on a Cmaj7: F and C, then you have the E minor pentatonic scale. If you spell out what the notes E G A B D would be related to C you get: 3, 5, 13, 7 and 9. All good notes to land on and to use on the chord in a jazz context.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 4

The first line that I made using the E minor pentatonic scale starts off with a stack of fourths from B to A and then continues with a sort of “inversion” of an E minor 7 arpeggio.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 5

 

In the 2nd line I start of with a fragment from the exercise I mentioned in Diatonic chords in pentatonic scales and go on with a E7sus4 like arpeggio.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 6

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B minor / D major Pentatonic

The B minor pentatonic scale is a collection of notes that all work well on Cmaj7, the only difference is that the 5th (G) is not in the scale but the #11 (F#) is. A B minor pentatonic scale is B D E F# A which is 7 9 3 #11 and 13 in relation to a C.  The inclusion of the #11 makes it less suitable in some contexts.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 7

In the first line I start of with the minor version of the Coltrane pattern and follow it up with the “diatonic thirds” exercise before it sustains on an E.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 8

The last line is first an E sus triad followed by a short melody around the F#.

Pentatonics part 1 - Maj7 Chords Ex 9

 

You can download the examples in pdf format here:

Pentatonics part 1 – Maj7 Chords

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

 

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.

Dominant 7th Chord Scales – part 1

I’ve had a few questions about what options there were for scales and sounds on dominant 7th chords so I decided to make a lesson demonstrating a few of the common ones and talking a bit about what I think characterizes them and how I approach improvising with them.

I set out to just make a few short examples, but in the end I talk a bit about how I use the scales and about the lines so the video became a bit long. In the end I thought the information was useful so I left it in there.

As I mention in the video I often uses the chords when learning scales so if I want to learn to improvize with a certain scale at some point in a progression or song then I find a chord that really sounds like that scale and play that in the context of the song to hear how it sounds.

Mixolydian or F7 from Bbmajor

In this example I am “just” using the Bb Major scale. It seems logical as a starting point and as a reference. I did try to make a melody on the F7 that was at least not cliché. I do that by using Drop2 or Open voiced triads, something that might be a subject for a later lesson too as they are a very good way to incorporate larger intervals in lines without sounding too fragmented.

Dominant 7th Scales - Part 1 - ex 1

Mixolydian b9b13, F7 from Bb Harmonic Minor

In this example we borrowed the dominant of Bb minor in the cadence. It works well with a lot of different chord types to borrow an equivalent from the minor scale. Mixolydian b9b13 is also more or less the first choice for a scale on an F7 that resolves to a minor chord, so for that it is important to know it. I chose the F7(b9) chord as an example because it has a 5th and a b9 which in context gives paints the F7 from Bb harmonic minor sound (to me anyway).  Part of the line on the F7 is based on the A diminished arpeggio which is also diatonic to Bb Harm min. and is a good arpeggio to check out when using that scale.

Dominant 7th Scales - Part 1 - ex 2
The Altered Scale

Playing F# melodic minor is on an F7 chord is mostly described as the F7 altered scale. The melodic minor scale has a strong augmented sound in it and the scale also sounds a bit like the whole tone scale as I demonstrate in the video. Making lines on F7altered I find it a good starting point to use the fact that F# melodic minor also contains the B7 which is the tri-tone substitute of F7. As an example I use the  B7 and F#m triad arpeggios in the line. If it is difficult to hear the F7 altered then it can be good to really just play/think B7#11 and resolve that to Bbmaj7 to get used to the sound.
Dominant 7th Scales - Part 1 - ex 3

The Diminished scale

The diminished scale is another good scale to apply to dominants. It is to me charactereized by the fact that it has alterations on the 9(which to me sounds minor), but has a natural 13 (which sounds like major), which is why it has some things sounding like minor and some like major. This mix of minor and major extensions makes it a bit difficult to use in some situations.

One important aspect of the diminished scale is that it is symmetrical, so everything can be transposed in minor 3rds and still be in the same scale. This is handy in terms of guitar technique because it is easy to move a phrase like that on the guitar, but often the phrases you get when you make melodies like that are very predictable and (to me) not very beautiful.

The way I mostly approach making melodies with the dimninished scale is to mix up the triads that it contains, for the F7(13b9) chord there are 4 major triads contained in the scale: F Ab B and D, so I mix those up to make lines, of course there are many other ways to make lines, this just happens to be what I mostly do (right now anyway).
Dominant 7th Scales - Part 1 - ex 4

The Whole tone scale

The Whole tone scale was until now a bit of a special effects scale to me. But as has happened before, when I make a lesson on something I get to rediscover shings. In a way the Whole tone scale is the opposite of the diminished scale because it has a natural 9 and altered 5th or 13. Since it is a scale consisiting only of Whole steps there are not that many options for chords, everything is augmennted triads and dominants, so that is what you have to work with when making lines.

As I also mention in the video I sometimes use the wholetone scale as an effect in situations where the chord contains an augemented triad, in a way letting the triad decide what Whole tone scale to use even if that does not fit with the rest of the chord. As an example a AmMaj7 where the chord contains the Triad C E G# so you could play C D E F# G# Bb on it, a similar trick could Work on a D7(9#11)).

Here’s a downloadable pdf of the examples: Dominant 7th Scales – Part 1

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.

Jazz Chord Essentials: Open Triads

After making the triad lesson I thought I might as well make a lesson on open triads because I use them sometimes as chords and sometimes as arpeggios. I think they can sound great and it is a subject that is not covered that often so it deserved a bit of attention. I guess I’ll do a lesson on how to use them as arpeggios in solos at a later time.

I never really checked them out in any systematical way so making this lesson I found quite a few new voicings to experiment with.

Open Triads

What is an open triad? Probably some of the most famous examples of open triads on the guitar would be Eric Johnson intro to Cliffs of Dover, Steve Morse string skipping etudes, and a lot of the guitar parts of the Californication-era Red Hot Chili Peppers. They all apply them as triads, but I am going to use them in the same way I approached the triads in my lesson on that.

Here’s an example on how to construct open triads from triad inversions. As you can see the idea is to take the 2nd note of the triad and drop it an octave. This is also sometimes referred to as a drop2 voicing, which I already covered with 7th chords in a few other lessons.

Here are the 3 of the basic sort of triads, the ones found in the major scale. I leave out the augmented triad because it is less useful as an upper structure except when playing minorMajor7 chords and since it is symmetrical it is fairly easy to figure out (This is where you go “Challenge accepted!”)

Basic triads in inversions:

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 1

As I mention in the video, there are a few possible choices when choosing where to place the notes on the neck, to me it varies what I prefer and I try to use whatever fits the situation best. That might be influenced by voice-leading, technique and timbre of the strings.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 2

Here are some basic Cadences constructed with the triad found on the 3rd of each chord: II V I in C using F, Bdim, Em. Of course it is possible to use all string sets, but I find myself using the middle and the top set the most for these voicings so here’s the middle one. You should try to do the top one your self, that’s a good exercise.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 3

And if you want to play altered dom7th chords then you can use the diminished triad on the 7th degree of the chord so for G7 that would be F dim: F Ab B which gives you these notes over G7: 7, b9 and 3, so the equivalent of a G7b9.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 4

 

Altering notes in the triad

In order to cover more chords we can start moving away from only viewing the triad as a triad but more as a set of notes over another chord so we can start altering that chord. To me it is handy to have a simple way to construct basic 3 note voicings I can use for any chord type and then it is easier to alter one of the notes while playing becuase there are only three and I know what notes they are in relation to the chord. The way I approach this is the same as what I did in this lesson on drop2 voicings of 7th chords: Drop2 voicins part 2

Here are a few examples:

G7#5 is in this case constructed by taking a Bdim triad and exchanging the D with a D#. Thinking of this in terms of notes over a G7 this is pretty trivial, but thinking of it as a Bmajorb5 triad is complicated.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 5

In the next example I am taking the F dim construction and exchange the b9 with a #9 to play G7#9.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 7

Here’s the same approach using an F major triad where I substitute the fifth(A) with the 11th(G) to have a Dm7(11) chord voicing.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 8

In the same way we can construct a Cmaj7(#11) voicing by changing the G in the Em triad with an F#. so we are playing the notes E F# and B over the C, in a way you could look at that as a Bsus4 triad too.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 9

In this next example I am substituting the 7th(B) of the Cmaj7 with the 6th(A), still using the E minor triad as a starting point.

Jazz Chord Essentials - Open Triads Ex 10

Of course there more options and things to figure out using these open triads. Actually I got some new info from writing this lesson since I never approached this in a systematical way, so maybe I can make another one later.

Here’s a downloadable pdf of the examples:Jazz Chord Essentials – Open Triads

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.

Target Notes

A target note is a note that you play in your improvisation when the chord is changing so that the change in the harmony is clear in the melody that you’re improvising. So it’s a way to link your solo to the harmony under it, because you play harmonically clear notes on strong beats of the bar.

Another important aspect of this approach is that It will help having a natural flow in your solo because you are thinking ahead of the harmony and playing towards something instead of trying to keep up with it after it has changed, which is a more important part of playing over changes than a lot of people think.

I already talked a bit about target notes in my lesson on playing over changes with arpeggios. But I thought it deserved a lesson by itself.

Selelcting Target notes

I’ll demonstrate this on a turnaround with altered dominants, because it is easy to make it clear, but it will of course work on all progressions.

Here’s the turnaround:

Target Notes - example 1

I’ll just quickly demonstrate the scales I’ll use:

Target Notes - example 2Target Notes - example 3Target Notes - example 4

 

Important priorities:

  • It has to be an important note in the chord, but try to avoid the root. Color of the chord is important so 3rd, 5th and on an altered dominant for example the b5 will be clear.
  • Pick a note that was not in the previous chord and maybe not even in the previous scale, that simply makes it very clear.

If we compare the scale on the Fmaj7 to the D altered scale we’ll find that three notes are in D7alt and NOT in F Major: Eb F# Ab, so they would be good candidates for clear target notes.

In a similar way we can come up with this set of target notes for the turnaround:

Target Notes - example 5

You’ll notice that since the root for several reasons does not work to well as a target note we are free to have D as a target note on the Gm7.

Playing towards a target note

The way to improvise or compose lines within this approach is to always compose a line that moves to the next target note. So here are a few examples of moving from one note to the next. The strongest melody across the barline is a step wise movement so a whole or half step.

Target Notes - example 6

And here is a more realistic example where I play twice through the turnaround with the target notes I chose in the beginning.

Target Notes - example 7

 

Download a pdf of the examples: Target Notes

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.