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Tom Quayle - Soloing Over Chord Changes Part 5

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 21 **

Welcome back to my column for this issue guys - I hope you’ve been enjoying the ‘playing over changes’ topic so far and found the material useful. For issue 21 we’ll be doing a bit of revision to prepare us for the final few steps of our changes journey, revisiting some old material and learning some new things along the way.

In previous columns we’ve dealt with the II-V-I progression in both major and minor keys and we’ll be revising this most important idea here with an emphasis on learning how to solo over each chord in turn. Although we’ve previously looked at both progressions from a chordal perspective, I want to focus on the scales that are required for each chord giving us the tools to tackle both progressions so that we can move forward with a couple of fantastic tunes in the next issue.

Most of you will probably be much more familiar with the major II-V-I progression as we’ve dealt with this one recently and looked at the scales required in our previous studies. Let’s quickly recap the progression itself and the scales we’ll be using over each chord. The major II-V-I is built entirely from the major scale and consists of the following chords and scales: -

II Chord – Minor 7 – Dorian Mode

V Chord – Dominant 7 – Mixolydian Mode

I – Chord – Major 7 – Ionian or Lydian Mode

So for the key of G major for example, we would get: -

II Chord – Am7 – A Dorian Mode

V Chord – D7 – D Mixolydian Mode

I Chord – Gmaj7 – G Ionian or Lydian Mode

Using the ideas from my previous ‘Expanding Chords using Modes’ series in previous issues we can also add 9ths, 11ths and 13ths into these chords for more colour if desired using the relevant mode for each chord.

A further option for the V Chord would be to use a b9 (same as a b2 interval) over the V Chord, giving us a tension note that will always sound great and is safe to use in all contexts. This would replace the existing 9 or 2 interval in the Mixolydian scale giving us a ‘Mixolydian b9’ scale that you’ll find written out in the tablature. This will give you a more authentic ‘Jazz’ sound and is a tension that is very commonplace in Jazz and fusion playing over the major II-V-I.

The Minor II-V-I progression is at first glance a little more complex but it needn’t be, you simply need to learn the scale associations for each chord and spend some time becoming familiar with those scales and their layout on the fretboard. We’ll look at some great ways of tackling this in the next issue but for now let’s check out the required scales and where they come from. Here’s the progression with the scales listed next to the chords: -

II Chord – Minor 7b5 – Locrian Mode

V Chord – Altered Dominant 7 – Superlocrian/Altered Mode

I Chord – Minor 7 – Dorian Mode (can use Melodic minor scale too)

Here’s the progression in G minor

II Chord – Am7b5 – A Locrian Mode

V Chord – D7altered (b9/#9/b5/#5) – D Altered Mode

I Chord – Gm7 – G Dorian Mode

You’ll find each of these scales written out in the accompanying tablature for this lesson. I’m assuming that you’re all familiar with the Locrian and Dorian modes as we’ve looked at those before but the Superlocrian or altered as it is sometimes known may be causing you to break out in a cold sweat! Don't worry, it’s not that complex. An altered dominant chord consists of a Root note, major 3rd and b7th interval - the same as all dominant 7th chords. The difference with altered dominants is that they can also contain altered 5ths and 9ths, altered being either a b5, #5, b9 or #9 interval. The chord can contain one of these intervals or all four of them. When we combine these altered notes with the three chord tones mentioned before we get a seven-note scale as outlined below: -

Root, b9, #9, 3rd, b5, #5, b7

The reason that the 9th intervals come before the 3rd, 5ths and 7th is that they are in fact the same as 2nd intervals so you can imagine the scale being written out as:

Root, b2, #2, 3rd, b5, #5, b7

But, because we never refer to a 7b2 or 7#2 chord, we write these intervals as 9ths instead. This scale is known as the Superlocrian or Altered scale and sounds fantastic over the V chord in our minor II-V-I progression.

In preparation for the next issue I recommend that you learn each of these scales as written out in the Tablature and try to learn the intervallic formula or makeup of each scale as we’ll be referring to intervals in the next lesson as well as the name of each scale. We’re going to be using a chord progression from the beginning of this series as well as a fantastic progression that many of you will recognize and love to play over. See you there and good luck,


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