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Chord Theory, Scales And Modes

Matching Scales And Chords In Jazz

August 7, 2009

Have you ever wondered how we find out which scales to play over which chords? This article should help you. A recent comment on the site asked the question of

“How do you know which scales go with which chords?”

This is a really problematic area for many new jazz players but it need not be. The idea of finding which scale to use over which chord is actually fairly simple but confuses a lot of people. I will do some more articles on this topic in the future. For now let’s take a look at how we find out which scales to play over a simple dominant 7 chord.

Every scale can be made into a series of chords. The basic idea is that if the notes of a chord exist “in” a scale then you can play that scale over that chord. By this I mean that if all of the notes of the dominant 7 chord exist in a scale then you can play that scale over that chord. All of this sounds much more confusing than it actually is.

Let’s look at a simple example.

The notes of the C mixolydian scale are

C D E F G A Bb

The notes of the C7 chord are

C E G Bb

Look carefully at this and think hard about it. It is the essence of what we are talking about here. If you look at the C7 chord and the C mixolydian scale you will see that all the notes in the C7 chord exist in the C mixolydian scale. Because the notes of the C7 chord exist in the first chord of the C mixolydian scale we can be sure that the C7 chord defines the harmony of the mixolydian scale.

As a general rule, if you can find the notes of a chord in a scale then you can play that chord over that scale. For example you could also find a C9 chord (C E G Bb D) within the C mixolydian scale. Therefore you can play a Mixolydian scale over a C9 chord. All this comes down to really is knowing what chords are in a scale and also knowing which notes are in a chord. This knowledge will come with practice. If you don’t have the patience to learn all of this information then you could just learn to remember which scales go with which chords.

Let’s look at another example. You could also play the C Lydian b7 scale over a C7 chord. Let’s see why by looking at the notes of the C Lydian b7 scale and comparing them to a simple C7 chord.

The notes of the C Lydian b7 scale are

C D E F# G A Bb

The notes of a C7 chord are

C E G Bb

Again we can play the C Lydian b7 scale over a C dominant 7 chord because the Lydian b7 scale contains all the notes of a dominant 7 chord.

This is just a simple introduction to this topic and I hope it helps you get started. In the future lessons I will write out all the scales you can play over certain chords and explain this idea a bit further.

The most common scales to play over a dominant 7 chord are

C Mixolydian

C Major Pentatonic

C Lydian b7

Take your time with this idea and really think about it. Jazz theory isn’t nearly as difficult to understand as it first appears. Always think of a chord as being made up of the notes from a scale.

Jazz Theory, Scales And Modes, Technique

5th Sequences. Interval Sequence Lesson

April 14, 2009

Welcome to the third part in our guide to intervallic sequences. Playing through these interval sequences will improve your jazz technique and aural skills as well as making scale practice more interesting. So far we have covered the 3rd interval and also the 4th interval.

In this lesson we shall take a look at how you can practice playing the C major scale in intervals of a fifth. Let’s take a look at how the 5ths interval sequence would look in C major

C major in 5ths

C, G, D, A, E, B, F, C, G, D, A, E, B, F

The example below shows you the C major scale played in 5ths in both standard notation and tablature.

Jazz Theory, Scales And Modes

Japanese In Sen Scale

April 8, 2009

The Japanese In Sen Scale was made popular in jazz by John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner. The In Sen scale is sometimes called the Japanese pentatonic scale and it is found naturally in the major scale and the melodic minor scale. For example the E In Sen scale can be found in C major scale and D melodic minor scale.

The intervals of the Japanese In Sen Scale are:

1 b2 4 5 b7

The E In Sen scale looks like this:

E F A B D

The intervals of the In Sen scale could also be represented like this:

Half step, major third, whole step, minor third.

I love the sound of the Japanese In Scale and find the wide intervals sound it creates to be very melodic. It is kind of like a Phrygian pentatonic scale and is used to play over susb9 chords.

Take the time to get to know the exotic sounds of the Japanese In Sen Pentatonic scale. The In Sen scale is a really melodic addition to your jazz vocabulary. You can learn more about guitar scales by checking out Jamplay which is a great way to learn scales on guitar.

Chord Theory, Jazz Theory

Jazz Turnarounds

April 7, 2009

In this lesson we are going to take a quick look at turnarounds in jazz and how you can play over them. A turnaround is simply a chord sequence which happens at the end of chord progression which takes you back to the beginning. There is a lot of room to experiment with jazz turnarounds because usually there is not much happening in terms of the melody when you get to the last few bars of a song. This means that jazz turnarounds are an ideal place for chord substitutions. Generally turnarounds in jazz are two or four bars long.

Perhaps the most common turnaround in jazz is the I – VI – II – V chord progression.

In the key of C, this jazz turnaround would look like this:

C, Am, Dm G7

You have probably seen and heard this turnaround being used many times before. Now that we have a basic turnaround, we can experiment with different ways of altering it to produce more interesting chord sequences.

The first thing we can do is to replace the minor chords in this turnaround for dominant seven chords which would give us something like this:

C, A7, D7, G7

Once you get started with these things, the potential for substitutions can sometimes seem unlimited.

Using tritone substitutions on jazz turnarounds

A really common trick when dealing with turnarounds in jazz is to use tritone substitutions to make our original I, VI, II, V chord progression more interesting.

Here are some examples that use tritone substitution on the original I, VI, II, V progression.

C A7 Ab7 Db7

C Eb7 D7 G7

C Eb7 Ab7 G7

C Eb7 D7 Db7

C Eb7 Ab7 Db7

C Am Ab7 G7

C Eb7 Dm Db7

As you can see the turnarounds start to become much more interesting harmonically when we start to add in some tritone substitutions.

Using altered dominant chords on a turnaround

Many jazz musicians will replace the boring dominant seven chords with something a little bit more harmonically adventurous. Take a look at the examples below which offer two examples of how you can use altered dominants in a turnaround situation.

C A7#5#9 Dm Db7

C A7#5#9 Dm G7b9

I hope you enjoyed learning about jazz turnarounds. Once you start to understand the theory behind them, you can start to come up with your own unique turnarounds. Have fun experimenting with these chord sequences.

Arpeggios

Minor 11 Arpeggios

March 21, 2009

The minor 11 arpeggio is worth learning but not something you will use all the time. You can use the minor eleven arpeggio over most minor chords. The minor 11 arpeggio has five notes.

There intervals of the minor 11 arpeggio are

1 b3 5 b7 11

Below I have written out the minor 11 arpeggio in all 12 keys for you to practice.

C minor 11 arpeggio

C Eb G Bb F

Db minor 11 arpeggio

Db E Ab B Gb

D minor 11 arpeggio

D F A C G

Eb minor 11 arpeggio

Eb Gb Bb Db Ab

E minor 11 arpeggio

E G B D A

F minor 11 arpeggio

F Ab C Eb Bb

Gb minor 11 arpeggio

Gb A Db E B

G minor 11 arpeggio

G Bb D F C

Ab minor 11 arpeggio

Ab B Eb Gb Db

A minor 11 arpeggio

A C E G D

Bb minor 11 arpeggio

Bb Db F Ab Eb

B minor 11 arpeggio

B D Gb A E

I hope you enjoyed learning the sound of the minor eleven arpeggio and find a place for it in your improvisations.

Arpeggios

Major 9 Arpeggios

March 20, 2009

Welcome to another installment of our jazz arpeggio series. In this lesson we will be focusing on the major 9 arpeggio. The major 9 arpeggio is a useful 5 note arpeggio that can add a lot of melodic interest when playing over major 9 chords. You can also use arpeggio substitution to find more interesting ways of using the major 9 sound.

The intervals of the major 9 arpeggio are

1, 3, 5, 7, 9

Below I have written out the major 9 arpeggio in all twelve keys

C Major 9 Arpeggio

C E G B D

Db Major 9 Arpeggio

Db F Ab C Eb

D Major 9 Arpeggio

D F# A C# E

Eb Major 9 Arpeggio

Eb G Bb D F

E Major 9 Arpeggio

E G# B D# Gb

F Major 9 Arpeggio

F A C E G

Gb Major 9 Arpeggio

Gb Bb Db F Ab

G Major 9 Arpeggio

G B D F# A

Ab Major 9 Arpeggio

Ab C Eb G Bb

A Major 9 Arpeggio

A C# E G# B

Bb Major 9 Arpeggio

Bb D F A C

B Major 9 Arpeggio

B D# F# Bb C#

Uncategorized

Dominant 7b5 Arpeggios

March 8, 2009

So far in our series of articles we have looked at the most common arpeggios and how to use them in your jazz playing. We will continue this tour of arpeggios by taking a look at the dominant 7b5 arpeggio. The dominant seven flat five arpeggio is an obvious candidate for playing over 7b5 chords and it contains four notes, the root, major third, flat fifth and the flat seventh.

We can write out the intervals of the dominant 7b5 arpeggio like this

1, 3, b5, b7

Below I have written out the dominant 7b5 arpeggio in all 12 keys.

C Dominant 7b5 Arpeggio

C E Gb Bb

Db Dominant 7b5 Arpeggio

Db F G B

D Dominant 7b5 Arpeggio

D F# Ab C

Eb Dominant 7b5 Arpeggio

Eb G A Db

E Dominant 7b5 Arpeggio

E G# Bb D

F Dominant 7b5 Arpeggio

F A B Eb

Gb Dominant 7b5 Arpeggio

Gb Bb C E

G Dominant 7b5 Arpeggio

G B Db F

Ab Dominant 7b5 Arpeggio

Ab C D Gb

A Dominant 7b5 Arpeggio

A C# Eb G

Bb Dominant 7b5 Arpeggio

Bb D E Ab

B Dominant 7b5 Arpeggio

B D# F A

I hope you enjoy learning the unique sound of the dominant 7 flat five arpeggio and that you can find a place for it in your jazz improvisations. Practice playing the 7b5 arpeggio in all keys to improve both your ears and technique.

Standards

Blue Bossa Chord Progression

March 8, 2009

Blue Bossa by Kenny Dorham is a great jazz standard to play over and contains a very nice chord progression that is suitable even for beginners. Blue Bossa is usually one of the first jazz standards that people learn to improvise over. Blue Bossa is written here in the key or C minor. There is only really one A section to this tune. It starts in C minor and modulates up a half step to Db major. Once you have learned the melody and chord changes to Blue Bossa you will need to know how to improvise over it.

Below I have written out the chord changes to Blue Bossa

Blue Bossa Chords

Cm7 | Cm7 | Fm7 | Fm7 |

Dm7b5 | G7alt | Cm7 | Cm7 |

Ebm7 | Ab7 | Db | Db |

Dm7b5 | G7alt | Cm7 | Dm7b5 G7alt |

There are several ways you could approach improvising over the Blue Bossa chord progression. The first four bars are all taken from the C natural minor scale and you can use the C natural minor to play over the Cm7 and Fm7 chords.

Cm7 | Cm7 | Fm7 | Fm7

Bar 5 and 6 give us a minor 2 5 progression that is best handled by playing the C harmonic minor scale.

Dm7b5 | G7alt

Bar 7 and 8 return to the C natural minor scale.

Cm7 | Cm7

In bars 9 to 12 we have a 2 5 1 in Db major. The easiest way to play over this part would be to use the Db major scale over these four bars.

Ebm7 | Ab7 | Db | Db

In bars 13 and 14 we have another minor 2 5 progression which can be tackled using the harmonic minor scale

Dm7b5 | G7alt

Bar 15 briefly returns to the C natural minor scale

Cm7

Bar 16 is a short minor 2 5 progression and you can use the C harmonic minor scale over this section

Dm7b5 G7alt

As you can see we can play over the Blue Bossa chord progression using only three scales: the C natural minor scale, the C harmonic minor scale and the Db major scale.

If you want to make your solos sound more interesting then you should really try and highlight the sound of the G7alt chords in this progression by using the altered scale over them. You can do this by playing the Ab melodic minor scale over the G7alt chords. You could also try playing through the Blue Bossa chord progression using only arpeggios to really nail the sound of the changes in this tune. I hope you have fun learning the Blue Bossa chord progression. It is one of the easiest jazz standards to play over and a really great tune to have in your repertoire.

Chord Theory

7th Chords

March 8, 2009

Welcome this lesson on seventh chords. Seventh chords are probably the most common chord types used in jazz harmony and in this article I will show you how seventh chords are built and how you can use them in your own playing.

Triad Chords

Let’s start by looking at the simplest type of chord, the triad chord. I think it is worth quickly reviewing triad chords because all seventh chords are simply triad chords with an extra note added. A triad chord always has three notes and there are three types of triad chord, major, minor and diminished.

Major Triad

The major triad chord has three notes 1, 3, 5. A C major triad for example would have the notes C, E, G.

Minor Triad

The sad sounding minor triad is made up of three motes 1, b3, 5. A C minor triad for example would have the notes C, Eb, G

Diminished Triad

The diminished triad is a dark sounding chord made up from the notes 1, b3, b5. A diminished triad in the key of C for example would have the notes C, Eb, Gb.

Seventh Chords

Now that we have a better understanding of how triad chords are built, we can take a look at adding one extra note to the triad to form a seventh chord. Seventh chords can be found from a scale by moving up in thirds. Take a look at the example below which shows how you find a seventh chord from the C major scale. You should notice that there is a clear pattern here. You start on C, skip one note to get to E, skip one note to get to G, skip one note to get to B. The chord we form here is a Cmaj7 chord.

C D E F G A B

We can do the same thing and follow the same pattern to form all of the 7th chords of the major scale. Take a look at this example which starts on the D note of the C major scale and produces a Dm7 chord. You are simply starting on D, skipping one note to get to F, skipping one note to get to A and finally skipping one more note to get to a C. You can start on any note of a scale and use this pattern to find 7th chords.

D E F G A B C D

Major 7th Chords

A major 7th chord has four notes and is built from a major triad and an added major seventh note. A major 7th chord has the notes 1, 3, 5, 7. As an example, a major 7th chord in the key of C would contain the notes C, E, G, B.

Minor 7th Chords

A minor 7th chord has four notes and is built from a minor triad and an added minor seventh note. A minor 7th chord has the notes 1, b3, 5, b7. As an example, a minor 7th chord in the key of C would contain the notes C, Eb, G, Bb.

Dominant 7th Chords

A dominant 7th chord has four notes and is built from a major triad and an added flat seventh note. A dominant 7th chord has the notes 1, 3, 5, b7. As an example, a dominant 7th chord in the key of C would contain the notes C, E, G, Bb.

Minor 7b5 Chords

A minor 7b5 chord has four notes and is built from a diminished triad with an added flat seventh note. A minor 7b5 chord has the notes 1, b3, b5, b7. As an example, a minor 7b5 chord in the key of C would contain the notes C, Eb, Gb, Bb.

Harmonizing The Major Scale

We can harmonize the major scale and produce seventh chords. Take a look below to see the harmonized C major and G major scales that show you which seventh chords make up the major scale:

C Major (7th chords)

Cmaj7, Dm7, Em7, Fmaj7, G7, Am7, Bm7b5

G Major (7th chords)

Gmaj7, Am7, Bm7, Cmaj7, D7, Em7, F#m7b5

I hoped you enjoyed learning about seventh chords. You will need to know a bit about these chords because they come up time and time again in all kinds of music. There is nothing complicated about seventh chords. Seventh chords are simply triad chords with an extra note added to them.

Jazz Theory, Scales And Modes

Jazz Theory: The Major Scale

February 23, 2009

In this lesson we will learn everything there is to know about the major scale and how you can use it in your improvisations. The major scale, sometimes called the Ionian mode, is the starting point for all music theory and is without doubt the most important scale you will ever learn. Every musician, no matter what style of music they play needs to know about the major scale and how the major scale is constructed. In this lesson we will take a look at the notes of the major scale, the chords of the major scale and then we will show you the notes of the major scale in every key.

The Notes Of The Major Scale

The major scale is made up of even notes and has the following intervals:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

The major scale in the key of C has the following notes:

C D E F G A B

You can also write the intervals of the major scale like this:
Tone – Tone – Semitone – Tone – Tone – Tone – Semitone

All of the notes in the major scale have names and although not essential to know, they are useful and come up time and again when talking about jazz music theory. Take your time and learn the names of each note in the major scale.

1 – Tonic

2 – Supertonic

3 – Mediant

4 – Subdominant

5 – Dominant

6 – Submediant

7 – Leading tone

8 – Octave

If you play piano, then you will probably know that the C major scale is the only major scale to contain no sharp or flat notes and it is made up of all the white notes on the piano.

You need to get a good grasp of both the notes and the chords in the major scale because many times in music theory we refer to things in terms of the major scale. For example we might refer to the Lydian mode (which is another scale) as being like “a major scale with a raised fourth”. If you know the notes and chords of the major scale inside out, then chances are you will find learning other scales and modes much easier.

The major scale has a bright and happy sound to it and you will have heard it played countless times before. You should instantly recognize the sound of the major scale when you hear it.

As promised, here is a list of all the major scales.

C Major Scale: C D E F G A B
D Major Scale: D E F# G A B C#
E Major Scale: E F# G# A B C# D#
F Major Scale: F G A Bb C D E
G Major Scale: G A B C D E F#
A Major Scale: A B C# D E F# G#
B Major Scale: B C# D# E F# G# A#
C# Major Scale: C# D# E# F# G# A# B#
Eb Major Scale: Eb F G Ab Bb C D
F# Major Scale: F# G# A# B C# D# E#
Ab Major Scale: Ab Bb C Db Eb F G
Bb Major Scale: Bb C D Eb F G A

The Chords Of The Major Scale

As well as knowing the notes of the major scale, it is important that you learn the chords of the major scale as well. The chords of all major scales follow the same sequence and the sequence of chords is:

1 Major 7

2 Minor 7

3 Minor 7

4 Major 7

5 Dominant 7

6 Minor 7

7 Minor 7b5

By using the formula above, we can work out that the chords of the C major scale are:

C major 7, D minor 7, E minor 7, F major 7, G dominant 7, A minor 7, B minor 7b5

You can apply this formula to any scale. As an example, here are the chords of the G major scale:

G Major 7, A minor 7, B minor 7, C major 7, D dominant 7, E minor 7, F# minor 7b5

Arpeggios Of The Major Scale

Because arpeggios are based off chords, it follows that the arpeggios of the major scale are the same as the chords of the major scale. Inside the C major scale for example you can find the following arpeggios:

C major 7, D minor 7, E minor 7, F major 7, G dominant 7, A minor 7, B minor 7b5

Using The Major Scale

The major scale, as the name implies, can be used to play over major chords. In particular you would use the major scale to play over major triad chords, major 7 chords, major 9 chords, major 11 chords and major 13 chords.

I hope you enjoyed learning about the major scale and find this lesson useful. Make sure you know the major scale inside out before you move on to more complicated scales because it is the most important scale in music.

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