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Low-Rent Jazz For Rockers Pt. 5

Chris Adams (440) · [archive]
Style: Jazz · Level: Intermediate · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1 2 3 4

Welcome back. In parts 3 and 4 we explored the relationship between diminished and dominant 7 chords. While the diminished scale yields many possibilities for a dominant, it doesn't exhaust them. This time, let's look at some other ways we can realize the dominant in our playing.

So let's begin at the beginning. A dominant is the chord built off the V of the major scale. In the key of C, that's G7: G, B, D, F. So what do we have? A major triad plus a minor or b7. We could reduce G7 to a simple major chord avoiding, for the moment, F#. By doing this we lose some of its color but sometimes the music calls for us to be this far inside.

If we bring b7 back into the picture, we're dealing with the V7 chord and its associated mixolydian mode. You can look at this as the major mode from the V degree or as a major scale with a b7. Either way, this fully expresses a dominant 7 chord and you're still "in". Each alteration you make from here takes you a little further "out".

Before we move on too far, let's look again at F#. At first, this seems like an awful note to play over G7. It would clash with both the F and the G. And you probably don't want to play F# over G7 and stay there. Still, we shouldn't throw it out entirely because it gives us a third option, the "bop" scale.

The "bop" scale is a major scale that includes both b7 and 7. G(bop) looks like this: G A B C D E F F# (G). It's used for descending lines. Why is it cool? By using both b7 and 7, when we play a descending line, all our chord tones fall on downbeats. This is one way to get those Parker-esque lines that seem to go on forever. Try it. You won't be disappointed.

OK. Let's look at some ways we can take that dominant chord outside. We already looked at the diminished scale in pt. 3, so let's check out the augmented scale.

The augmented scale is a symmetrical scale based on whole tones. It has 6 notes per octave, not 7. Gaug looks like this: G A B C# D# F (G). Because of its symmetrical construction, there are only 2 augmented scales/chords. Build a chord from any degree and you get an aug7 (or 7+5) chord. As with diminished chords, any note can be the root and the chords "self invert". You get 6 for the price of one.

So the available chord tones are 1, 3, +5. and b7: tensions are 9, #11, b13 (same as +5). This one is pretty simple to apply. For a 7+5 sound, play the augmented scale from the root or play one of its inversions. So for G7, we could play Gaug, Aaug, Baug etc. Simple enough?