Tag Archives: triad pairs

Triads on a G7 – The Most Important Solo Tool

When you start to play jazz it is easy to get completely lost in extensions, alterations and chord substitutions. And while that is also a part of jazz then it is often much more useful to work on more simple things like what Triads you can use on a dominant chord.

To demonstrate some of triads you can use in a Jazz Blues solo and also talk about different ways to use them I have written a one chorus solo on a Blues in G which will illustrate a lot of options in terms of triad options for a lot of the chords in there.

The G Jazz Blues Solo

As you can see in the video the first thing to check out is the solo. If you can then go through the solo now and mark down the different triads you see. Not all phrases are pased on triads, but most of them are.

The Basic triads on a G7(9,13)

The first bar is a phrase made with a root position G major triad, sliding up to the 3rd and then playing first the root and then the 5th that I repeat.

You want to check out how to use the G triad on a G7, especially for a G jazz blues, but make sure to also work on how to play different melodies with it by learning the triad notes in different order or checking out inversions.

If you want to hear somebody use triads well then listen to Charlie Parker or John Coltrane (not the smallest names in Jazz..)

An overview of the triads on a G7 can be made by looking at the G7 with all extensions, similar to stacking the scale in 3rds from G:

G B D F A C E – G7(9,11,13)

G B D – G major

B D F – Bdim

D F A – Dm

F A C – F major

E G B – Em

Am and C major have too much of a “C” sound to really work well on G7. If you want to check out some more ideas for triads then this article might be helpful: Triads – How To Make Jazz Licks and what to Practice

The line on the C7 is not based on a triad.

In Bar 3 the opening phrase is developed using a similar but extended version of the melody. Now the triad used is the one from the 3rd of the chord: B dim.

This is developed further moving up to a Dm triad in bar 4. From there the melody is with a Db triad. The triad of the tritone substitute: Db7.

The IVth degree and the #IV dim chord.

On the C7 the melody is constructed of the triad on the 5th: Gm and on the C#dim the triad is on C#dim. Of course all 4 dim triads could work: C#,E,G and Bb.

Returning to the G7 the melody is constructed from a descending F major. With the F major triad you need to be a little careful with the C so that it still sounds like a G7. In this case I am moving the melody to a B.

On the Bø E7 is played using the triad from the 3rd of Bø: Dm and the one on the b9: Fdim

The Final Cadence and two Triad Combinations

The Final II V: Am7 D7 is using combinations of triads. The Em and C triads on the Am7. In this case this is not a triad pair since a triad pair is made up of triads that have no common notes. If you want to explore triad pairs then this lesson might be useful: Traid Pairs Part 1

On the D7al the triads are Ab and Ebm. The Ebm is neatly resolving to the triad on the 13th of G7: Em.

The melody on the D7alt and G7 is repeated and developed on the D7 into a D augmented triad.

Give you Jazz Blues playing a Boost

If you want to get some new ideas for you blues soloing and check out how I phrase on a medium Bb Blues then check out this lesson based on a transcribed 4 chorus solo. Discussing arpeggios, blues phrasing and pentatonic scales.

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Pat Metheny Is Not About The Notes, Are You?

This is not only a Pat Metheny Lesson. It is also a short discussion and a practical example of how most things that we hear in great solos are not complicated scales or concepts, but much more masterful and melodic improvisations with basic scales and arpeggios.

In the solo I go over some fragments from the Pat Metheny How Insensitive live from the Secret Story live dvd. It is a fantastic solo.

The solo can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9SPR9eUIbk

And a transcription is available here: https://kupdf.net/download/pat-metheny-how-insensitive_598dfa35dc0d60e927300d1a_pdf

Table of Contents:

0:00 Intro

0:17 No Magic Just Playing The Song

0:40 Getting lost in Theory and Scale Choice

1:21 Pat Mehteny – The How Insensitive Solo

1:49 Why Pat Metheny is a great example for this

2:05 Not only The Lick

2:17 How much do scales really matter?

3:18 Example using Locrian Nat. 2

3:30 Example Using Locrian

3:50 Example Bringing out the Locrian Nat 2 sound

4:19 Solo Fragment 1

4:27 Playing Dm blues or Playing the Changes?

5:19 Solo Fragment 2

5:28 Scale Sequences and Triad Groupings

6:01 Breaking down the line

7:52 What makes this a great solo?

8:15 Keeping the Melody and the key in mind

8:47 Melodic Ideas

9:08 Dm Pentatonic scale?

9:57 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Guitar Solo With Only Triads – Jazz Blues

The triad is one of the strongest melodies that we have. It is a part of so many famous songs that it makes sense to work on using triads when playing a jazz guitar solo. 

In this lesson I will go over the triads you can use for all the chords in a 12 bar Jazz Blues in the key of F. I also will talk about how I use some of these triads in a solo that I played and transcribed. At the end of the lesson I will also go over some exercises that are useful if you want to be more flexible when using triad based improvisation.

Getting started with Triads

The first thing we need to do is to find some triads for each of the chords in the 12 bar blues.

The chord progression is shown here below:

In this next part of the lesson I will quickly go over the different triads that we have available.

Finding triads for the I and the IV chord

In the blues the I and the IV chord, in this case F7 and Bb7, are more or less identical. They are both mixolydian sounding dominant chords.

The triads that we have available are found on the root, 3rd, 5th and 6th of the scale:

F7: F major, A dim, C minor and D minor

Bb7: B major, D dim, F minor and G minor

Using Harmonic minor to pull to the IV

On the F7 in bar 4 I have an F7(b9) which is there to pull even stronger to Bb7 in bar 5. The scale I am using on this chord is F mixolydian b9,b13, also known as Bb harmonic minor.

The triads we get from this scale are:

F7: F major, A dim, Cdim and Edim

Triads for the #IV dim chord

On the #IV dim in bar 6 I use the C harmonic minor scale. This scale is both close to the F7 chord and contain the  B diminished chord.

Bdim: B dim, D dim, F dim, Ab dim

A secondary dominant resolving to minor

The D7 in bar 8 is an auxiliary dom7th chord used to take us to the Gm7 in the final cadence of the blues.

Since it is a dom7th chord resolving to a minor chord the scale that fits on this chord is a harmonic minor scale. In this case the G harmonic minor scale.

D7: D major, F# dim, Adim and Cdim

The II Chord in a major cadence

On the II chord I have three triads. Just the basic triads found on the root, 3rd and 5th:

Gm7: Gm, Bb, Dm

The Altered Dominant

The C7 in bar 10 is an altered dominant. The C7 altered scale is the same as Db melodic minor and the triads we can find here are a little different than those on the other chords:

C7alt: Dbm, Eaug, Gb, Bbdim

Guitar Solo with only triads

The solo is written out here below. In most of the bars I am only using one triad so it should be fairly easy to follow.

The first bar is using the basic F major triad in 1st inversion. On a blues you can easily use the triad on the root, and in fact this is a very good triad to get the blues sound across.

On the Bb7 in bar 2 the triad used is again 1st inversion. Here I use the triad found on the 3rd of Bb7: D dim.

Returning to the F7 the triad used is Dm. The Dm in bar 3 is “voice-lead” into an Eb dim triad in bar 4. The Eb dim triad is a great to get the F7b9 sound across.

In the Bb7, Bdim F7 section in bars 5-7 I have an alternative progression that makes sense in another way that the chords move under it. The triads use are F minor, F dim, and F major.

On the D7b9 the triad used is an F# dim.

In the final cadence in bars 9 and 10 I start to use more triads per bar. On the Gm7 it is a combination of a Bb major and a G minor triad. The C7 alt combines Gb major and E augmented triads.

The two triads on the C7 altered chord actually form a triad pair because they don’t have common notes. You can look up more of my lessons on triad pairs here: Triad Pairs

Getting more rhythms down

A bonus feature with using the triads like this is that you only have three notes. The fact that you only have three notes will force you to be more creative with the rhythms and I actually think that this is a good enough reason on it’s own to start working on this!

I will probably make a video on this approach at some time, let me know if you are interested.


Getting more flexible and opening up your abilities with the triads

As you can probably see I don’t only play the triads in root position from the root to the 5th, and there are a lot more ways to make melodies with them.

To get more options when using the triads I have included a few exercises that you can work on.

This first exercise is to just simply play the diatonic triads through the scale. This is important to be able to find the different triads for the chord and of course also to be able to play them in the context of the scale where the underlying chord is found.

To build a bigger overview I would recommend that you also check out the other inversions as well. Here are the 1st inversions of the diatonic triads

and the 2nd inversion:

Besides having the overview of the diatonic triads in a position it can also be very practical to know the triad in this position as shown here below.

Another useful exercise would be to play the position version of the triad  in inversions.

Exploring more melodies

A final idea is to mix up the order of the notes. If you think of a triad as 1,3 and 5, then you can also make a lot of other melodies by changing the order of the notes. The example here below is showing the diatonic triads played in a 3 1 5 pattern through the scale.

Adding the triads to your vocabulary!

Of course the example solo in this lesson is a bit radical in the sense that while it can be useful as an experiment to work like this and see what you can come up with. In the end you want to work on the process of finding the triads and you also want to try get used to make “alternative” chord progressions that you can use for solos.

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Guitar Solo With Only Triads – Jazz Blues

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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Things You Never Use in Your Solos – Mixolydian

We are always looking for new ideas and things to use in our solos so that we can keep improving and stay inspired. In this lesson I am going to go over three examples of some less common ideas that you can add into you vocabulary when using Mixolydian, so if you are playing over a dominant chord. I chose to keep it in a more modal context than in a cadence since these ideas are very useful and easy to study on a static or modal background.

For each of the licks I have also added some exercises to get familiar with the new structure and talk a little about how to use them in jazz licks.

Scale, Chord, Mode and all that

The examples in this lesson are all on a D7 chord, so I am using D mixolydian which is of course the same as G major, since D7 is the dominant of G. Below in example 1 a position of the G major or D mixolyidan scale is shown.

Quintal Harmony – The sound of the Police.

The first structure you can experiment with is the quintal arpeggio. As you hear me play in the video this arpeggio is associated with the sound of Andy Sumners from the Police. That said, if you ask a jazz piano player he might talk about how Kenny Barron is using it a lot and Hendrix was fond of it as well, so it is certainly not unique to the Police.

A good way to check this arpeggio out is to consider it a diatonic arpeggio and play it through the scale, In example 2 I have done this on the A, D & G string set.

One note per string exercises like this are always great for your right hand if you alternate pick.

Another very useful exercise is to take the quintal arpeggio and play it through a position of the scale. Probably this is more for overview and to connect it with the scale than for speed.

A Jazz Guitar Lick with Quintal Arpeggios

On the D7 chord there are of course several different options for a quintal arpeggios. In this example I am using the one from the 5th: A E B, which related to a D root: 5th, 9th and 13th.

The lick starts with the quintal arpeggio and from there continues with a descending scale run down to the 1 of the 2nd bar. In the 2nd bar the melody is first a quartal arpeggio from C: C F# B which is also what you might know as a D7(13) without the root. The Last part of the lick is a scale run in a 3 note per string B minor (or D major) pentatonic scale.

The Forgotten Triad Pairs

Usually when you see people work with Triad Pairs in improvisation they stick with the two major triads next to each other and work with that sound. So in a C major context that would be F and G major triads.  In fact you can choose any set of two triads next to each other and use that as a triad pair and often you can find a set that works better with the chord you are using it on than the two major triads.

In this example I am making a triad pair by removing the one note that you can’t really emphasize on a D7: G. If we take that note a way we are left with 6 notes in the scale and those 6 notes form the Am and Bm triads.

There are several ways to work on these triad pairs. Here is first the Am and Bm triads in the position. I play them in inversions alternating the Am and Bm triads.

Here is a similar exercise but on the A,D and G string set.

Triad Pair melodies: Beautiful intervals

The lick using the triad pairs is almost exclusively using the triad pairs. The first part is chaining together Am root position and a Bm 2nd inversion. From there it continues with a 315 pattern of the Am and the same for the Bm triad. The ending is a smale melody fragment constructed from an Am triad.

The exotic Sus4 options

In my recent lesson on Melodic Minor I also talk about the diatonic sus4 triads (check it out: HERE).

The Sus4 triads are a great sound, they are of course also related to quintal and quartal harmony since: Asus4 is A D E,  E A D is a quartal arpeggio and D A E is a quintal arpeggio.

The first sus4 arpeggio that I am using is an F#dim(sus4). F#dim is F# A C, and F#dim(sus4) is F# B C.  This is in fact spelling out the core of the D7 Mixolydian with C and F# and adding a 13th with the B.

You may recognize the arpeggio as the opening statement in the Joe Henderson piece Inner Urge.

The arpeggio is shown in the position here below:

The other arpeggio I use is an Asus4 arpeggio. This is shown in position here below in example 9:

The sus4 triads are a great way to add extensions and also get some larger intervals in the lick because they by design already contain a 4th and a 5th interval.

Mixolydian Sus4 triads in Action!

The Line starts with a simple statement of the basic chord: D and F#. This is used as a motif and played in reverse a step lower: E C. The last half of the first bar is an Em pentatonic fragment. In the 2nd bar the melody is the F#dim(sus4) arpeggio in 2 octaves. 

Putting all of this to use!

Of course the point of these exercises and the licks are to demonstrate what is possible with these structures. For all of the ideas there are many more options available if you try to find other sus4 triads or triad pairs. 

The material in this lesson doesn’t become really useful until you work a bit with it and start making your own lines, so don’t forget to incorporate it in your own playing!

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Get the PDF!

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Thing You Never Use in Your Solos – Mixolydian

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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Vlog: Advanced ideas: Triads and Spread Triads on Out Of Nowhere

Triads and Spread Triads are invaluable as tools for making jazz lines, especially in the realm of more modern sounding melodies. The video is in three main parts: An analysis of the chord progression, Finding triads that can be used and discussing outside or exotic scale choices, and finally making lines with the material and talking about the colors of the superimposed jazz guitar triads. How to make guitar licks and what rules come into play when using triad pairs and spread triads in jazz guitar solos.

This video turned out to be a lot longer than I thought, but especially the ending I think is a good documentation of how I write lines and you see me experiment with the material I find through the analysis and the triad options.

There’s also a lot of good discussion on melodies and how you write strong melodies with material like this.

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0:00 Intro


1:01 Analysis of chords and form
1:28 Key and form
1:56 The Chords and their function
2:14 The mysterious Eb7 German Augmented Sixth Chord
2:43 The Double Diminished #IV explanation
3:45 Back to the Harmonic Analysis
4:49 How Out Of Nowhere is about Eb7 in G major
5:46 Analysis of The 2nd half of the song
7:02 A modal aspect of Out Of Nowhere
7:46 Why Triads and Diatonic triads are so great for solos

Finding Options Triads for the chords

8:44 Selecting Triads
9:16 Triad options for Gmaj7

10:17 adding the Lydian Options to Gmaj7
11:56 Harmonizing the melody with a lydian sound
12:51 Lydian Augmented triads on Gmaj7
13:48 Augmented Scale on Gmaj7
14:30 Bbm7 Eb7
16:45 C7(#11)
17:15 Bm7
17:32 E7 altered
18:53 Am
22:07 Am7 D7
22:54 D7 altered
23:26 D7 Diminished

Making Lines:

24:48 Making lines with triads
26:31 Extensions in the melody of Out Of Nowhere
26:48 G major/ B minor triad over Gmaj7
29:21 Voice-leading B minor to Bb minor
31:11 Bbm Eb7
33:48 Connecting Gmaj7 C7
34:47 G major – Melodic Minor Hack
37:13 Bm7 E7alt – E7 triad pairs
38:48 Ab+ and Bb major
41:21 Am
42:18 The might Am triad
43:26 Making D7 altered lines
45:18 D7 Diminished Line Ideas

46:15 Exotic scales and Spread Triads

47:24 Spread Triads On Gmaj7
51:33 Bbm Eb7 ideas with Open Triads
52:41 Spread triad ideas for E7alt
53:40 Rules of melodic movement in a Jazz Lick
56:06 Mark Turner and Kurt Rosenwinkel
57:30 Emphasizing upper structures and extensions
58:51 Resolving into the Lydian Augmented sound

Triad pairs in the altered scale

Making good melodies on altered dominants is often a tricky business. One strong approach is to use triad pairs to make some strong yet surprising melodies.

One of the advantages to using triad pairs over altered dominants is that triads are by themself already quite strong melodies. Another advantage is that the triads are excellent tools to pull out and emphasize certain extensions over a dominant.

I have already made a few lessons on Triad Pairs. You can check out one here: Triad Pairs – part 1

The scale and the triads

In this lesson all the triad pair examples are on a C7 altered chord and therefore using the C altered or Db melodic minor scale as shown in Example 1

Triad pairs in the altered scale - ex 1

To get used to the triads one of the first things that it would make sense to practice is to play the scale in diatonic triads, which is what I have written out in Example 2

Triad pairs in the altered scale - ex 2

Choosing a triad pair

Since we are using triad pairs with no common notes it is not too difficult to find triad pairs in a 7 note scale. The two triads will contain 6 notes. This means that we can just take out a note, and then you have the two triads on the following two notes.

As an example: If we take out the C in the Db mel minor scale we have two triads left: Dbm and Ebm.

Since we want to have some freedom in making melodies with the triads it is important to also have be able to play the inversions of the triads. In Example 3 I have written out the triad inversions of Dbm and Ebm in the position that we are working in.

Triad pairs in the altered scale - ex 3

Another exercise that I do that I find very useful and which is also helping you not only lean the triads and their inversions but also helps getting started making lines with the triads.

The idea is to just improvise and then after playing one triad try to move to a close triad inversion and then keep playing. It forces you to think ahead and also to try out some combinations of triads that you can then later use in lines. I’ve written out a bit of how I demonstrate this in the video in Example 4.

Triad pairs in the altered scale - ex 4

Making altered dominant lines with Triad pairs

In the examples I am going to use a few different triad pairs to demonstrate some of the different sounds you have available. I won’t go over exercises like I did with the first pair, but the exercises would be just the same.

In the first line I am using the Dbm, Ebm triad pair. The line on the Gm7 is using an inversion of the Gm7 arpeggio followed by a little Gm pentatonic  fragment. On the C7 the line is a descending version of Example 3 that resolves to the 5th(C) of Fmaj7.

Triad pairs in the altered scale - ex 5

A distinct part of the melodic minor sound is the Augmented triad. This makes that a very nice candidate for a triad pair. In the 2nd line I am using the Eaug and Gb triad pair. The line starts with a chain of arpeggios over Gm7. First a Dm7 arp and then a Bb triad. On the C7alt the line is first a pattern of the E augmented triad and then a 2nd inversion Gb triad.

Triad pairs in the altered scale - ex 6

The final example is using an Ab and a Bbdim triad. This triad pair gives us a lot of the alterations from the Ab and the more basic 3rd and 7th sound of the C7 in the Bb dim triad. The Gm7 line is a basic Bb maj7 arpeggio followed by a descending scale run. On the C7 alt it is first a melody made with the Ab triad in 1st inversion followed by a Bb dim triad before it resolves to the 5th(C) of F

Triad pairs in the altered scale - ex 7

I hope you can use the examples and the exercises to get started making some interesting lines with triad pairs over your altered dominants!

If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf here:

Triad pairs in the altered scale

Check out how I use Triad pairs  in this solo transcription/lesson:

There will never be another you – Reharmonization Solo

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave 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 want to hear.

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Improvising and using Maj7#5 chords

The Maj7#5 chord is a great substitute for Maj7 chords if you want a more spicy or surprising sound. In this lesson I am going to tlak about how you can use the chord and about what you can play on it, illustrated by a few example lines.

Using the Maj7#5 chord

The Maj7#5 isn’t really used a lot in standards and is mostly something you add to a song to get a new sound in the melody or improvisation.  The sound is closely connected to minMaj chords and a maybe not the chord you’d expect at the end of a cadence or top of a chorus in a standard, which is why it is effective as a surprising turn.

Since it is a less stable chord than a normal maj7 chord we can choose to resolve it back to a nomal maj7, that happens very often. The other approaches where you somehow uses the #5 to resolve to the next chord in the song are a bit hard to list here because it can mean changing that chord too etc.

The examples in this lesson are all on a II V I in Bb where I resolve to a Maj#5 and then resolve that to a maj7 chord. THe cadence is shown here:

Improvising on Maj7#5 - ex 1

What to play over a Maj7#5 chord.

The most common approach to these chords is to view them as Lydian #5 chords, which means that we use the melodic minor scale to improvise over them. That scale is shown in example 2:

Improvising on Maj7#5 - ex 2

In the first line using this sound the Cm7 line is first an Ebmaj7 shell voicing followed by a descending chromatic leading note an a scale run. It then moves chromatically up to the 3rd(A) of F. On the F7alt  it is first a sort of F# min cliche followed by an Ebm7b5 in inversion. On the Maj7#5 the line is quite basic: a Bbmaj7#5 arpeggio followed by a scale run before it resolves to the 5th(F) of Bbmaj7.

Improvising on Maj7#5 - ex 3

So the line moves from the Cm7 away from the tonality on an F7alt and then almost back with the Bbmaj7#5 before finally resolving to Bbmaj7

A variation of the lydian #5 sound is to use a Triad Pair to play the sound. In G melodic minor you have a C and a D major triad which would give you a good set of pitches to use over this chord. Both when soloing but also when comping.

The line starts with a stack of 5ths from Eb and then descends down the scale. On the F7alt I am first using an F#mMaj drop2 arpeggio followed by another descend through that scale.  On the Bbmaj7(#5) the C and D triads are used interchaning, so first the D major triad followed by a C major 2nd inversion triad and then a D and an A from a D major triad before resolving to the 9th(C) of Bb.

The advantage of using the triads is that they are so strong melodies that you can almost string them together in a random way and still get a good, if slightly odd, melody out of it.

Improvising on Maj7#5 - ex 4

The last example is using another sound than melodic minor, it is using the Augmented scale. A scale that I have covered in some detail in this lesson: Augmented Scale. This scale is a symmetrical scale that you could see as being the notes you get if you combine the notes of three major triads a major 3rd apart. In the case of this key that would be Bb, D and Gb.

The line starts out with a scale line on the Cm7 which is first the scale in groups of three and then just descending further. On the F7 the line consists of a triad pair from the F#m melodic scale: A augmented and B major. On the Bbmaj7#5 the line is a pattern played on first the Bb, then the Gb and finally the D major triad. The last note then works as a resolution to the 7th(A) of Bbmaj7.

Improvising on Maj7#5 - ex 5

I hope you can use the examples and ideas I went over here to incorporate the Maj7#5 chord in your playing and add another chord sound to your vocabulary.

If you want to download a PDF of the examples I went over here for later study you can do so here: Improvising on Maj7#5

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make thme fit what you want to hear.

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Tritone Scale

The tritone scale is a great symmetric scale that you can use as a tool for making some interested dominant 7th lines. In this lesson I will go over how it is constructed, suggest a few exercises and give you some examples of how you can use the scale in a cadence.

The Tritone Scale is a synthetic scale like the diminished or whole tone scale. What I mean by that is that it is a construction of notes and not something like a key. That doesn’t mean that you can’t put it to good use in a tonal context. The fact that it is symmetrical makes it in some ways easy to use on guitar and you can in general find some good sounds from the Tritone scale to vary your dom7th vocabulary a bit.

The Tritone scale can be viewed as a triad pair, where it is constructed by two major triads a tritone apart. This means that it is a subset of the diminished scale which is symmetrical not only in tritones but also in minor 3rds. I already made quite a few lessons on triad pairs the first one is here: LINK and everything that you can do with triad pairs you can also do with the tritone scale.

In this lesson all the examples are using the scale you get when combining the A major and Eb major triads. In example 1 you see the scale written out not as triads but as a scale with a symmetrical fingering:

Tritone Scale - ex 1

If you play the scale in diatonic triads you will notice that you get the two triads in inversions:

Tritone Scale - ex 2

Tritone Scale - ex 2B

You can also make the observation that the scale contains both A7 and Eb7 so you can play it in symmetrical dom7th arpeggios:

Tritone Scale - ex 3

A very common pattern that is used in this scale is this way of chainging the triads together like this:

Tritone Scale - ex 4

I have heard both Michael Brecker and Arch Enemy use this.

Using the scale on a dominant 7th chord.

In the folowing examples I am demonstrating how you can use this on a dominant that resolves to a tonic chord.

The first example is making a variation on the pattern from example 4 so that it is not the same on both triads and a little bit less predictable. For my taste it is more useful to try to avoid too much symmetrical sounding lines and use that it is technically easy but change it so that it is surprising to the ear, and thus a stronger melody.

Tritone Scale - ex 5

The 2nd line is trying to move a bit away from the symmetrical aspect and using something that the scale also has: there are a few places where you can easily do trills. The line starts out with an A major triad and the moves up in position to make a trill on the 5th(E) of A. From there it continues with descending A and Eb first inversion triads to resolve to a Dmaj7

Tritone Scale - ex 6

The third example uses an almost pentatonic pattern that is also shifts symmetrically to be part of A7 and the part of Eb7. After that it continues with an 2nd inverstion A major triad and an Eb in 1st inversion before it resolves to F# on Dmaj7.

Tritone Scale - ex 7

The way I have demonstrated the use of the scale with dominant 7th with some of the traditional or 1st choice patterns and what you can do with them is fairly basic and should give you a good grip on getting started using this scale.

I hope you can use the material in the lesson to make you own lines and add a nother sound to your dom7th vocabulary!

The other tritone scale

Since this scale is a subset of the diminished scale we could also approach a dominant by using the “other triad pair” so in this case it would be making lines with C and F# triads. If you want me to make a lesson on this then please let me know by commenting on the video or send me an e-mail.

If you want to download a PDF of the examples I went over here for later study you can do so here: Tritone Scale

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make thme fit what you want to hear.

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Triad Pairs – Part 1

In this lesson I am going to go over what triad pairs are and how you can use them in improvisation and try to highlight some of the useful aspects of the lines you can make with them.

Triad Pairs withut common notes

The reason why we use triads to improvise is that it is a very strong melodic structure. This is probably the most important reason why we spend so much time on working on triads and look at them as something we can superimpose on other chords, which is what is often referred to as upper-structure triads.

When you hear people talking about improvisation referring to triad pairs, what they usually mean is a pair of triads without common notes. The fact that they are without common notes means that we could look at it as a sort of scale with six notes that is naturally split in to two groups.

Let’s first look at a basic example: C major scale, two triads F and G major.

Triad Pairs Part 1 ex 1

F and G major triads have no common notes (that is always going to be the case for two diatonic triads that are a 2nd apart in a major scale) In example 1 I have written them out first as 2 triads and then as the scale you get if you combine them. In this lesson I am not going to go too much into treating them like scales, simply because I find myself using them more as triads that I chain together.

Triad Exercises

Let’s first quickly go over some useful triad exercises to make sure that we have the flexibility to make lines with the triads.

The first one is a major triad in inversion on a string set, you need to do this for minor, dim and augmented triads and other string sets of course.

Triad Pairs Part 1 ex 2

Remember that you can practice these as chords and as arpeggios, as I do in the video.

To have a bigger vocabulary of triad inversions you could also try the two varitions that use 2 strings

Triad Pairs Part 1 ex 3

Of course you should also try to pracitice diatonic triads in a major scale to be able to place them in the context that you need to use them, and what many often forget is that you should also do this with the inversions which is a really good way to get a better overview of what notes are in what triads. Example 4 is Diatonic triads of C major in the 2nd inversion

Triad Pairs Part 1 ex 4

Remember that is not about speed it is about overview and having the shapes in your fingers for later.

Triad Pair Hack

Hopefully this should get you on the road to combine triads. In the 2nd part of this series I am going to give a few more exercises to work on gaining overview and making melodies with this material.

How do we chose a good set of triads for a chord?

In most situations when you encounter a chord it is in a key, which has a scale with 7 notes.  In most cases you have an avoid not in the scale, so a note that does not fit the chord well and that you can not land on.

If you know the avoid note you can easily make a triad pair, let’s do a few examples:

Dm7 in the key of C, depending on the situation you might consider the B an avoid note.

Cmajor without a B is C D E F G A, if we make triads on the notes after the B (C and D) we get C major and D minor

G7(b9) in Cm Harmonic. Here C is the avoid note.

C min harmonic without a C: D Eb F G Ab B , and the triads on the notes after C(D and Eb) are D dim and Eb augmented triads.

Lines with triad pairs

Now that we have a strategy for finding triad pairs and some exercises for playing triads we can try to put the two together in some lines:

In the first example I am using the triad pair from above on a Dm7 chord. The line starts with a second inversion Dm triad and contiues to a first inversion C major triad. The G7 alt line is basically a scale run with a trill at the beginning. It resolves to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7

Triad Pairs Part 1 ex 5

The second example is using the triad pair we deduced for a G7(b9) in the previous part of the lesson: D dim and Eb aug triads. The line on the Dm7 is essentially derived from an Fmaj7 arpeggio and leads into the dominant by encircling the 3rd(B). The dominant line is first the Eb aug triad in second inversion and then the D dim triad, after that it resolves down the scale to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7.

Triad Pairs Part 1 ex 6

The final example is combining all the triad pairs so first Dm and C over Dm7 and then Ebaug and Ddim over G7(b). I added a pair for Cmaj7. Same process as above: The avoid note over the Cmaj7 is an F, if I take that away and construct triads on the two following notes I get G major and A minor triads.

The line consists of playing each triad in a 4 note pattern so that it is first Dm 2nd inversion, then C root position followed by Ebaug 2nd inversion and D dim root position. This resolves to a G root position and Am 1st inversion over the Cmaj7 where it finally ends on the 9th(D)

Triad Pairs Part 1 ex 7

As always I hope you can use the ideas and concept I went over in this lesson, as always I’d suggest that you take them as a starting point and use them to make your own lines with triad pairs.

You can download a PDF of the examples for later study here:

Triad Pairs Part 1

Check out how I use Triad pairs  in this solo transcription/lesson:

There will never be another you – Reharmonization Solo

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make thme fit what you want to hear.

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Triads and Triad pairs in improvisation Part 1

I decided to write a few articles on how I view and use triads when I am improvising. I’ll try to cover what I think you need to use triads in improvisation, give some examples on how to make lines with triads and I will also post a complete list of triad pairs without common notes which might be useful.

In my experience we sometimes forget how powerful a melodic device the triad, and in using triads the melodies developed are, in my opinion, to systematic and therefore often  predictable and boring. On this new blog, everything I write is of course very colored by my taste in melodies and harmonies so not everybody will agree with everything.

As with any harmonic device it is important to know how to play it in many different ways to be able to create melodies with it when improvising. Here are a few exercises as examples. In the end it is more important to be able to make similar exercises yourself for arpeggios and different triads, roots, positions etc. I probably would not suggest practicing these exercises with the goal being to have them in your fingers and play them at face melting speed. It is probably better to practice open-ended and change fingerings etc so you get familiar and develop an overview.

To keep it simple I have made all exercises on a Bb triad.

Basic Triad exercises.

Playing the triad up and down in several different fingerings, lowest note to highest on the instrument.

triads exercise 1


Playing the triad in some patterns (again here are a few examples, playing up one and down the next might be a good way to expand, four note patterns etc are also good to know)

triads exercise 2


triads exercise 3

This second exercise is the equivalent of playing the triad “in thirds” ie. you skip one and then go back one. Applying patterns like that to any kind of system can be very useful and is on guitar often quite demanding and forces you to come up with new fingerings.

Diatonic triad exercises

Practicing triads in a scale is also useful since you in the end need to improvise with it in that scale, in this case I took Bb major, but F major or Eb major would have been just as good.

triads exercise 4

When playing a scale in triad we often forget to try it with the inversions too, so here’s one of the 1st inversion diationic triads in Bb major.

triads exercise 5

As my colleague Jeen Rabs pointed out recently there are extremely good books with triad exercises, ie George Van Eps Harmonic Mechanisms for guitar. Which is a very extensive and thorough book with tons exercises in all keys and written out fingerings etc. I own vol 1 and use it for inspiration for exercises but I don’t have the discipline to learn the fingerings.

Open Triad voicings.

Another way to play triads is to use open voicing, also sometimes referred to as drop 2 triads. They can be a bit hard to make sense with melodically, but the do sound different and the big range and large intervals are a nice effect. It is also a very good right hand exercise if you’re playing with a pick.

triads exercise 6

Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse has written some good etudes with them too, and Pat Metheny uses it in his warm up videos. It also appears in John McLaughlins Guardian Angel.