Here is a list of the 16 most important scales for jazz improvisation and the harmonic contexts in which they can be used for improvisation. These scales are important for all instruments to know. You still have to study the language and vocabulary of jazz in order to know how to appropriately apply these scales in your improvisation! Meaning, note choice options we can play in any particular order, rather than a linear pattern to play.
I think this is a healthier way to think about scales, and ultimately will help us become better jazz improvisers. The major scale is consonant over major chords. For example, a C major scale corresponds with a C major chord.
The Dorian minor scale as a b3, natural 6, and b7. It is the most commonly used minor scale for improvisation in jazz music. It works over any ii chord, or i chord, but it can also be used for other minor chords, such as the iii chord and the vi chord. The Lydian Mode works well over any maj7 4, maj7b5, or maj7 11 chord. The most obvious example is as IV chord e. F major in the key of Cbut the Lydian mode can also work well over a I chord.
The Lydian scale is the brightest of all the church modes, and has a distinct, modern flavor over a I chord due to the non-diatonic in the context of a I chord 4 chord tone.
You can also use the altered scale, the half-whole diminished scale, whole-tone, or even Phrygian over a V7 chord, but each different scale implies different alterations, and different scales will work better in different musical contexts.
This is due to the relative consonance of the natural 6 from the Dorian scale versus the relative dissonance of the b6 from the Natural Minor scale.
The exotic Locrian scale is the darkest, most dissonant mode of the major scale. This scale is 12b34b5b6b78, and the natural 2 differs from the Locrian mode. All diminished scales are made up of alternating half-steps and whole-steps, but you can start with either a half-step or a whole-step.
The half-whole diminished scale can be referred to as dominant diminished because it works well over a dominant 13 b9 chord. This mode of the diminished scale works well over a diminished chord. It works great over an altered chord 7 9b13, or 7altwhich implies 7 b9 9 11b Vibraphonist Gary Burton likes to remind us that the altered scale has a hidden tone, the natural 5th, that is also consonant with this scale. The whole-tone scale only has 6 notes the 7th note would be the doubled root in the top octave.
This scale implies a natural 9, a 11, a b13, and of course a b7. Lydian implies a 4. Dominant implies a b7. If you put them together, you have the fourth mode of the melodic minor scale!There are three types of minor scale: the natural minor scalethe harmonic minor scale and the melodic minor scale.
Each minor scale has a different use and application in jazz piano and so learning how to construct and apply each one is a vital skill. Download this printable lesson resource containing the 36 minor scales:.
The natural minor scale is most likely the first minor scale that you will come across. Also known as the relative minor, it contains the exact same notes as the major scale that starts a minor 3rd above.
Simple Walking Bass Line For Jazz Beginners
The harmonic minor scale is the same as the natural minor scale but with a raised 7th degree. Raising the 7th degree by half a step gives the scale a much stronger harmonic foundation and allows you to create more interesting harmonic possibilities in minor keys. To build a minor progression, you must use chords from the harmonic minor scale. Finally, the melodic minor is the same as the natural minor but with the 6th and 7th degrees raised. The raised 6th and 7th degrees removes any awkward intervals in the scale making it flow very smoothly.
This makes the melodic minor scale particularly suited to melodic development. In classical music, the melodic minor scale has a raised 6th and 7th ascending and then a flat 6th and 7th descending. In jazz we ignore this approach and play the scale the same ascending and descending. Download theory supplements, midi files, chord changes and full note-for-note transcriptions of every lesson. In this lesson we are going to look at some alternative ways to voice minor s with our left hand.
We introduce the b5 chord and its inversions. Minor harmony is much more complex than major harmony and so the minor progression takes much more time and patience to master. If you are just starting out, it is not vitally important to have all these scales memorized in every key. But you should understand the difference between the scales and know the formulas for constructing them:.
Considering you understand those 3 formulas, you now know how to construct the minor scales in all 12 keys. Try to work out the scale using the formulas instead of becoming over-reliant on the notation.Chord progressions are a succession of chords played one after another and during a specified duration.
In this lesson you will learn how to recognize these progressions from a Roman numeral standpoint, allowing you to quickly transpose them to other keys, as well as two different ways to comp through each progression on the guitar.
Download now and learn chord shapes! The 2 5 1 progression is without any doubt the most popular chord progression in jazz. Some jazz standard chord progressions are nothing more than a series of II Vs. It can be found in countless tunes, in all 12 keys, and with many different permutations, both rhythmically and harmonically. For this reason, it is the best place to start when working on solidifying and expanding your jazz guitar progressions repertoire.
People started using this progression to jam on and so many different melodies came into being that use the same chord changes. Built around the I-vi-ii-V progression, with a slight variation between the first and second two-bar phrases, this chord progression can be deceptively simple.
But, for those that do lift the hood and explore these changes with a bit more detail, you can learn new and creative ways of outlining these often-used chords, taking your Rhythm Changes comping to new levels of creativity. This is also a very common jazz chord progression.
Song Key Finder
When faced with descending harmonic patterns such as this, many of us simply repeat the same chords down two frets for each new key. While this can work, more advanced players will find ways to ascend up the neck as the chord progression descends, providing a nice harmonic contrast during these chords. Dim7 chords not only add harmonic tension to this progression, but the chromatic bass line helps to build tension, which is then resolved to the iim7 and iiim7 chords in the following downbeats.
These chords, which feature the cool-sounding and fun to play II7 chordare mostly associated with the classic Ellington track Take the A Train. The movement from Imaj7 to II7 to iim7 is one that you will see in many different jazz guitar tunes, including the classic Bossa Nova track The Girl From Ipanemaand is therefore worth working on from both a comping and soloing standpoint. Here are two ways that you can work on these chords to help get them under your fingers and into your ears:.
For anyone that has played the bluesyou know that the movement from a I chord to a IV chord is a commonly heard sound in the jazz guitar idiom. While you may be most familiar with this progression from a jazz-blues standpoint, you can also apply this progression to a major key situation such as the one seen in the examples below. Working on these two examples, in various keys, will help get this important sound into your ears and under your fingers, allowing you to confidently bring these changes to your jam sessions and gigs in no time:.
Used by countless jazz composers and improvisers, as well as many pop musicians such as the Beatlesthe IV major to iv minor harmonic movement is one that every jazz guitarist needs to have under his fingers from both a comping and soloing standpoint.
The key to learning to play and hear this progression is the movement from the IVmaj7 to the ivm7 chord. As we saw earlier, Rhythm Changes is a tune that is full of classic sounding, and must-know, chord progressions.
Based off of the cycle of 5ths, the bridge to Rhythm Changes features four 7th chords moving up by a 4th with each new chord in the progression. Though there are only four chords, these changes can be tricky to master, and therefore are worth exploring. To help you get started, here are a couple of ways that you can practice playing the bridge to Rhythm Changes in Bb major :.
Just like its major-key cousin, the minor ii V I progression is found in countless tunes from many different composers and improvisers. Here are a couple of examples to help you get started with comping through this important group of 3 chords:. With a distinctive bass line, simple yet effective harmonic movement, and a swinging feel, these four chords can add spice to any plain minor-turnaround.
To get you started, here are two ways that you could comp through this important minor-key turnaround:. The same goes for the following ii Vs. Guys…I am thrill by the work you post and give to any of us! Guitarist from Athens Greece! Would welcome any advice.For a complete guide to Walking Bass Lines be sure to check out the full course here. You can also download the pdf of this line here.
As I mentioned this is a very simple line using only a couple of basic repeating melodic patterns. Once you have those patterns under your fingers you can start to experiment and add more and more figures on the fly as your vocabulary develops. Autumn Leaves is pretty straightforward in that we have two main tonal centers, one in Bb major and then another in the relative minor key of G minor. At the end of the 8 bars we have G7 chord acting as a secondary dominant chord to bring us back round to Cm7 again:.
These two patterns work for any chord movement by 4 th. When measuring chord movement we look at the root movement in ascent. So Cm7 to F7 is movement by 4th because we have the root notes moving from C to F. This is the pattern of scale degrees 1 2 3 5 applied to the C Dorian scale. We match this to the second mode of the keywhich is Dorian.
Jazz Chord Progressions
For the descending line I come down through the appropriate scale. If we look at the Bbmaj7 I descend through the notes of the Bb major scale. This leads us smoothly into the next chord of Ebmaj7. The two scale patterns work through most of the chords in Autumn Leaves because there is so much movement by 4th.
However there are a few basic exceptions. In bar 16 we also have Gm7 moving to Am7b5. This is movement of a 2nd so we need another line. I opted to use a basic chromatic approach :. In this instance, we can simply repeat each root note, giving us a smooth descending line:. Finally in bar 30 we have another 2 chords in the bar.Blues ballad, maybe? So, still searching for the elusive blues in E minor. My life is complete. I can enjoy Christmas secure in the knowledge that here is a playlist that has a blues in every major and minor key.
Adrian Clark nailed Riders on the Storm — the elusive E minor blues. A big Christmas thanks to everyone who came up with tunes and anyone else who even thought about it. How idiotic can I be? Anyway, enough self-flagellation. I will not rest until I have the minor blues in Ab on this list. Even an A minor blues by some de-tuning blues ruffian would suffice…. The circle is complete! And it is cause for a party. Share the playlist far and wide with your musical friends. Hi Mike Great blog and website you have.
Inspiring stuff. I will look for a replacement! Perhaps a little late to this topic, but what hell! Although I cannot positively say at this point if they are major or minor but the melodies are based on the minor blues scale it seems.
Thanks for your comment, Bruce. What a bonkers sounding album! Harpsichord, bass, vibes and sleigh bells! Beautiful sounding recording too.Click here to watch a video tour of what the inside of the site looks like. Take the tour now. Click here for our system of mastery for all skill level blues harmonica students. Just wondering the correct key to play in second position? That said, several different "flavors" of minor scale exist, so without knowing which flavor, I can't smake a specific recommendation.
There's one note in the scale that makes a scale and a song minor: the third degree. E natural is a major third, while E-flat is the minor third. But the 6th and 7th degrees can also be major or minor, and some minor tunes will minor-ize those degrees as well. Perhaps the best thing you can do is try playing each of these positions against a minor song and see which sound seems to fit best.
Third position gives you a minor chord in Draw andwith the key note residing in Draw 1, 4, and 8. So, depending on the tune, those notes might be avoid notes though you can bend Draw 3 down to make it minor. You can also bend Draw 1 and 4 down if you need the major 7th note in the scale. Fourth position gives you a pure "natural minor" scale - third, sixth, and seventh are minor. Great if that's the scale of the tune.
But you don't get a full chord. Also, you have to bend Draw 3 down 2 semitones to get the key note in the low register, which can be tricky to get in tune and to sustain. But if you do your main melody work in Hole 4 and above, it can sound great. Also, you can bend Draw 6 down if you need the major 7th degree, whcih some minor tunes use. Fifth position is used sometimes and has some cool possibilities.
The key notes are in Blow 2, 5, and 8, and the note one hole to the right is a chord note. Bending Draw 2 slightly and Draw 3 create some great sounds. However, Draw 5 and 9 are sour-sounding avoid notes unless you're doing some sort of Spanish Flamenco or maybe middle eastern thing where the second degree of the scale is also minor. I did a little computer program in order to find out the easiest scales played on a major diatonic C harp i. Below is the table of the natural minor scales easily played on a C harp two columns, top left is the easiest, bottom right the hardest among the easiest.
The pink notes belong to the scale, the white don't. The missing notes are greyed II for major second, ii for minor second, t for minor third and so on. The bold note is the tonic. In your case, we are lucky as the table shows that the easiest minor scale is played on a C harp. E minor is the natural minor scale of G major which is the second position of C. If you want to play in minor in second position, the table shows that it would be in G minor on a C harp.In this jazz guitar lesson, you will learn the most common chord progressions used when playing a minor blues.
Comping over a minor blues tune is an essential skill for any jazz guitarist, as minor blues tunes are some of the most commonly called songs on jam sessions. These progressions will start off rather simply, with what is referred to as the basic minor blues, and will consequently get more and more complex until reaching a point of chordal saturation.
Each progression in the lesson has a backing track that you can listen to, jam along with, and use as a practice aid. Download now and learn chord shapes! The first example lays out the chords to what is considered the most common minor blues progression.
These are the changes that one would play if a minor blues were called at a jam session, or if they were playing with a band for the first time. In the next progression, we will insert a common substitution over the II chord in bars 9 and Instead of playing the Dm7b5 chord each time the II chord comes around, we will play its tritone substitution Ab7 instead.
The Ab7 chord resolves smoothly down by a half-step to the G7alt chord that follows it each time it is played. This progression is often intertwined with example 1 without much distinction between the two. Since Ab7 and Dm7b5 are so closely related the only real audible difference between these two progressions is the bass movement in bars and This is the chord progression of standards such as Equinox and Mr. In the following example, we will insert our first secondary dominant chords.
These chords allow for a smooth transition between the I chord Cm7 and the IV chord Fm7by temporarily cadencing in that key. In this example, we will add a turnaround progression in the second bar.
A turnaround is a series of chords that takes the listener from one chord Cm7 in this caseand turning it around back to itself using a series of chords Dm7b5-G7alt in this case. These chords help to add harmonic diversity to the first three bars of the minor blues, which is normally just a long Cm7 chord. The Ebmaj7 chord is the relative major of C minor and allows for a smooth connection of the I and II chords.
In this example, the target chord of the new turnaround is the Ab7 chord found in bar nine. With this turnaround added to our progression, there are now four turnarounds used in our chorus:. So without stepping outside of the main chords in our original progression, we are now able to create movement in almost every bar of the progression, simply by inserting turnarounds.
Now that we have used as many turnarounds as we can, we will start to alter these turnarounds to give ourselves several options when playing through the progression. We will start by adding tritone substitutions into the tonic turnarounds in bars and We will now apply the tritone substitution concept to the turnaround in bars and The use of the tritone subs can sometimes become monotonous because of the continuous half-step movement occurring during each cadence.
In order to avoid this, you can alternate between using the standard turnarounds and the tritone turnarounds. We can now add tritone subs to the ii chords of each of the turnarounds, which produce cycle progressions. A cycle progression is a chord progression where the roots of each chord moves by a fourth to the next chord, for example the Eb7-Ab7-Db7 chords in bars one and two. Since the last two bars will resolve to the tonic chord in bar one, it is not always necessary to state the tonic chord Cm7 in bar 11 of the progression, since it will be stated two bars later when the progression resets itself.Gerry Mulligan Sextet - Prelude in E Minor
In the next example, we will stretch out our cycle progression so that it stretches the length of the first four bars before it resolves into the Fm7 chord in bar five. This progression can be heard in the playing of McCoy Tyner and other hard bop players of that era.