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  1. #61
    Basic Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    Marc Sabatella's Jazz Improvisation Primer: Chord/Scale Chart

    And of course it should be entirely possible to have accidentals in any solo, for may different reasons.

    Gotta run, but this is interesting. I'll check in later.

  2. #62
    Free Member (Wimp!)
    Join Date
    Apr 2011


    Mkorsmo I just want to say did a good job explaining this. I was somewhat asking the same question to myself and when i came upon this i had to read it.
    Thank you very much

  3. #63


    Quote Originally Posted by David.Wallimann View Post
    Gary, that's a good question.
    You're right, it doesn't make sense. A C Major key won't have any sharps nor flats.
    The scales used are either scales used to sound out, or there is a mistake..
    You have your theory right, no problem on your side bro!

    When you say a C Major key won't have any sharps or flats that's true. However it is still possible to have sharps and flats in a solo, even if the song is in the key of C major. When you play a note that is "out of the key" these are called accidentals. Just a way to add more color to the sound. It's very common when doing grace notes or pickup notes for them to be a half step up or down from the target note in many cases these notes are not part of the key but still sound great. Jazz players love them :-)

    - Gizz

  4. #64

    Default Hope this helps...

    Quote Originally Posted by f14birdy View Post
    I hate to be the one to ask this... but what does the note you start on or end on in a scale have to do with anything? I keep hearing about how things are supposed to start/end on the first/last notes of the scale your playing. That really doesn't make much sense to me, and I know that's not everyone's approach. Why not start on say the 4th of the scale then 1st, 6th 5th or whatever. Does this change things?
    The note you start and end on (usually when we say "start" and "end" we're talking about a musical phrase, not necessarily the first and last note of a song (though that is very common also)) is important because starting and ending on different notes of a scale can provide varying levels of "resolution". I.E. when you're playing a song in the key of C major, ending a musical phrase on a C will sound "complete", for lack of a better term. If you end on a G (fifth degree of the scale) it sounds less complete, but still good. If you end on the E (third degree of the scale) it sounds less complete with more tension. If you were to end on a B (seventh degree) it would sound very unresolved. Most people say it sounds like the song or phrase NEEDS to return to the first (or maybe the fifth) to sound "complete". This can be used, however, to create tension. You don't have to end a phrase on the first degree, and if you don't you can use that as an artistic technique to leave the listener with a sense of a musical question mark. If you combine that technique with some rhythmic trick like ending the song suddenly it can highlight it even more. Listen to the end of "Stay or Leave" by Dave Matthews. He ends the song on a chord that isn't the tonic, and it's a sudden end to the almost sounds like there should be something ELSE.

    Quote Originally Posted by f14birdy View Post
    Also on the derivative approach. Wouldn't that make all the modes come out sounding exactly the same? Whats the point of that? How does it not conflict with chord progression if there is no real advance, and just playing a different part of the scale.
    When approaching modes using the derivative method you're correct. Soloing using the derivative modes would essentially yield a solo that would have all of the same notes as the major scale in the key of the song. I.E. it doesn't really sound very "modal". That's why understanding how to build the scales using the parallel method is important, that will really highlight how the different modes sound because they are all based on the same root note. You can hear the differences much more clearly.

    Quote Originally Posted by f14birdy View Post
    Okay and lastly. Does the key of the chord progression dictate what scales are "usable", or the particular chord within the progression... or do both ways work to a different end?
    Kind of. The key of the song will tell you one thing quickly. What scale you can definitely use to start with. If the key of the song is C major, then the notes in a C major scale all "fit". Like David Walliman said above, the chord progression moving behind the scale will create different "sounds" as that scale is played. So if you're playing a I, IV, V progression in the key of C, and you're playing a solo using the notes of a C major scale, the chord changes will create different sounds (really modal changes) behind the scale. But like you mentioned, this doesn't sound very modal, because the notes are all the same. If, however, you soloed using the C major scale over the C, the F Lydian over the IV (F major chord) and G Mixolydian scale over the V (G Chord) you'd get significantly different sounds. It's also much more complicated to do, but understanding it, and practicing your solo improv knowing these tricks can open up your soloing "options" a lot.

    I think of it like this. Once I know the key of the song, I know that I can play that scale and be pretty safe. If I know how to build the modal scales I can play those as well, however, as the scales become less and less related (I.E. they share fewer and fewer notes) it is more and more difficult to use them to solo over that chord progression. Which is why you'll see that some modes are more commonly used when soloing (of course this completely depends on the genre of music!).

    Quote Originally Posted by f14birdy View Post
    oh and lastly. Does a 5th (aka power chord) work like a major or a minor chord?
    A 5th is exactly that, the first and fifth degree of the scale you're playing in. So in C major, a C5 chord is C, G (note that this could be CGC also, you're just doubling up on some of the notes). So we know that a C major chord is C, E, G, and that a C minor chord is C, Eb, G. If you didn't know you do now that it is the third of the chord that dictates whether the chord is major or minor. So to answer your question. A 5 chord is neither! Which is what makes them so useful. They can be played over major AND minor scales.

    - Gizz
    Last edited by gizzmo0815; 09-08-2011 at 02:50 PM.

  5. #65
    Premium Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Smithtown, New York


    The thing about scales is that whatever the chord is (I assume its at least in the key I to VII) you could play the major scale and every other tone would be a chord tone. Ok, a solo based only on scales is going to be a little boring but it means you can use scale fragments in your solos without worrying about how it fits. It will fit.The last note of the sequence should be a chord note. You can also jazz it up a little by using a chromatic just before one of the the scale tones like, if we are in C, you could do something like C D E F G G# A C. That would work for either C or F chords. It could also be a C7 followed by F. Some would also argue that you play it against a Dm7 chord. If you like the sound, go for it.
    Last edited by blackgretsch; 01-10-2014 at 11:20 PM.

  6. #66
    Premium Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2012

    Default explaination i have heard yet. your addition of the explaination about playing from the same root using the derivative approach was exactly what i was needing. if you look on the forum i asked about using modes to set the mood for a song. i struggle with grasping modes, like everyone does, and your well written post was perfect for me. kinda like Forrest gump...."mkorsmo always had a way of splaining things so i could understand..."

    thanks for the help.

  7. #67
    Premium Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2017


    I liked where this thread went.. a lot.

    Chris Liepe in his course Pentatonic Precision has given some very worthy tips, in my opinion, making it very simple.

    Like most have said here, there are many approaches to soloing. I've started practicing and learning improv/scales about 8 months ago, so please bear with me.

    One of the approaches, would be to change scales when chord changes. Actually, even better when taking this approach, I find it more useful (although it's something I'm still practicing) to imagine the many ways to form such chord on the neck and solo around it, in either a major or minor feel (and notes).

    A few weeks I've been studying modes one step at a time, and Chris' tips went something like this (ps. he wasn't in a workshop about modes, just gave it something for us to work on without the need to know about modes at all):

    When a song is a i - IV progression (note that the "i" means minor as a capital means major), you could play the dorian mode of the key, and that would work because the dorian mode contains some of the IV chord tones. Example:

    Chord Progression: Am - D

    When using the A Dorian, it already gives a minor feel because it contains the minor 3rd. It will sound good in this progression (the best spots for each notes each player would figure for his taste according to what he hears and feels when trying out) specially because the Dorian mode contains a raised 6th for the tonic. The raised 6th for A is F#. F# is also the major 3rd for the D, the next chord in the progression, hence a chord tone. That's why it "fits".

    No need to change modes during the whole progression, but some of the notes might feel better on the D chord instead of the Am. If you feel like it, and like the sound of it, you could play A Aeolian while on the Am and then A Dorian when in D.

    Like some other have said, the pentatonics fit too. Pents have only 5 notes, instead of the usual 7 of the modes of major/minor scales. When you take away 2 notes to form the pentatonics, you reduce your chance to play a not-so-good-sounding note sometimes.

    Going back to that progression, you could play A minor pentatonic while in Am and then A Dorian when in D, which is basically just adding to the minor pent the two notes that are missing to complete the dorian: the 2nd and the raised sixth.

    If you want to go for the first road mentioned (Aeolian then Dorian), the only changes between then would be the 6th, from regular to raised when going from Aeolian to Dorian. It makes possibilities to use more semi/half tones licks, which creates tension. Sometimes you'll want that kind of tension, others not. Many players just add some of this halfsteps seeking for the tension and feel without knowing they're actually playing modal. Half tones are something that the pentatonic does not present you, so you'll need to go out of the pent box to get this type of sound.

    Then again, you could play A minor pent for the whole progression and it would work.

    Another example Chris mentioned was with Mixolydian. The Mixolydian mode is a major sounding mode (because it contains the major 3rd of the key), but also with the flat 7, not the regular one, as it would be in a regular major scale (Ionian), which is perfect to describe a Dominant 7th chord. If you're playing in the key of B, for instance, and throw a B7 chord in there instead of a simple B, it will sound good if you apply B Mixolydian mode. Also, if you're playing a groove that goes I - VII, it will sound good too because you'd be adding the flat 7 note from B, which is A, in your modal choice (Mixolydian), whereas the chord progression would be B-A, which takes the same notes. The flat seventh you add for the key will be the root for the next chord, then again no needing to change scale/modes during the progression.

    Well, hopefully that helps a bit. It sure helps me to try and organize this in my mind when writing.

    What I would love to get from Chris or somebody else, is this kind of approach to choosing modes and mostly which kind of chord progression it fits, for the other modes.




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