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Advanced Scale Forms/Fun

Bradley Smith (202) · [archive]
Style: Theory/Reference · Level: Intermediate · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1 2

No tab with this lesson, but only because I think you'll get what I'm talking about without it. Have some advanced minor scales already under your belt and find you don't really have enough ideas for applying them? One way to get more happy with them is to apply them in chord passages that are major or which are in non-minor modes. I'll only discuss the major idea, but by applying what follows you can also try putting them to use where other greek modes might be your normal choice.

So you've probably learned about the relationship of a major key to its relative minor key. Teachers often talk about that when they're teaching pentatonic scale box forms to give students an idea how to move any of the boxes up or down three frets to get the relative major or relative minor with the pentatonic scales when soloing. In C major the relative minor key would be A minor, the 6th tone of the C major scale. Playing from A to A within the C major scales gets the notes of the A natural minor scale, which is the Aeolian mode. You probably know all of that and all we care about is the "major key has a relative minor" idea.

Against a Major key an advanced minor scale (like for example we can use A harmonic minor or A melodic minor, but it could be any minor scale where the third note of the scale is a minor third from the root... if you don't already know harmonic and melodic minor scales patterns, go learn them and come back) try playing from the third note of the A harmonic minor scale (C) to the next C. This might be the same as to say play the third mode of the advanced minor scale you're using and start on C. Now do the same thing but break it up by playing a C major chord against what you're playing, or play over a recording of that C major chord. The sounds from your phrase you're playing are new ways you can play over C major, especially if you alternate playing from your third mode of your advanced minor scale with notes from the C major scale (C Ionic mode), or from the third mode of another advanced minor scale. If you knew the chord scale for the A advanced minor scale you picked to work with, the chord starting from the third tone of the scale (C) could be used as an advanced substitution chord for the C major chord. We're using the same idea. I should caution you, the sounds you get won't be all-pleasing, but audiences that like jazz will be happy with them. Just return to the major scale more or less frequently depending on your audience.

You will want to try to learn all the modes of your advanced minor scales. Then when you want to phrase in new ways start from what we did and apply other modes of your advanced minor scales as substitutions for the corresponding modes derived from C major and use the trick we did to reference the advanced minor scale's third mode to the root of the major scale you want to substitute for. If you want to try for substituting other modes in some cases you will need to be aware that the mode you're substituting from the advanced minor scale will sometimes actually start a half step below or above the corresponding original mode from the major scale, depending on how the scale is constructed.

This is a pretty simple and clumsy way to start doing these substitutions but it works and uses an idea you probably already know. Better substitutions using these advanced minor scale modes can be studied by actually analysing their intervalic construction and comparing them to the Greek modes you want to substitute for. Frank Gambale's books do this "better, more thorough" way of understanding substitutions and are pretty easy to learn from as long as you already understand the basic theory. Take a second and give me a rating mark on this lesson so I get some feedback. Best, Newbie Brad