Playing the Changes

The major scale, harmonic minor and melodic minor scales are capable of yielding a vast array of modern harmonic sounds given the extensions and alterations that can be produced when they are harmonized.

Creating sounds with major scale harmony - Even though the major scale does not produce any altered tensions, when harmonized in thirds it produces a nice variety of useable harmonic colors.

The two types of major chords we will examine are the major sixth and the major seventh.

Major 6th sounds - The major sixth chord offers some versatility in that it can be used as a major chord, an inversion of a relative minor chord or as a substitute for a dominant chord.

1. The C Ionian mode is used to build the necessary harmony for the C major sixth chord.
2. The notes of a C Ionian mode scale are C D E F G A B C
3. The chord tones for the C major 6th chord are C E G A
4. Additional Arpeggios can also be built on third and fifth chord tones
5. A Cmaj 7 arpeggio can be played from the root as it resolves to the sixth degree
6. A Em7 arpeggio can be built off the third as it resolve to the root
7. A G7 arpeggio can be built off the fifth as it resolves to the third
8. An additional note, G#, can be added to the Ionian mode to form the major bebop scale.


Major 7th sounds

1. The C Ionian mode is also used to build the necessary harmony for the C Maj 7th chord.
2. The notes of a C Ionian mode scale are C D E F G A B C
3. The chord tones for the C major 7th chord are C E G B
4. Arpeggios can also be built on second, third, fifth and seventh degrees
5. A Dm7 arpeggio can be built off the second degree as it resolves to the major seventh.
6. An Em7 arpeggio can be built off the third degree as it resolves to the root
7. A G7 arpeggio can be built off the fifth degree as it resolves to the third.
8. A Bm7b5 arpeggio can be built off the 7th as it resolves to the fifth.
9. An additional note can be added to the Ionian mode to form the major bebop scale. C D E F G G# A B C


The two Dominant chords we will examine are the dominant 7 and the Altered Dominant chord.

The Dominant 7th Chord

1. The G Mixolydian mode is used to build the necessary harmony for the dominant 7th chord.
2. The notes of a G Mixolydian scale are G A B C D E F G
3. The chord tones for a G7 Dominant chord are G B D F
4. Additional Arpeggios can also be built on the third, fifth and flat seven chord tones.
5. Third degree bm7b5 produces a dominant 9th sound
6. Fifth-degree dm7th produce a dominant 11th sound
7. Flat seventh fmaj7th produces a dominant 13th sound
8. An additional note can be added to the Mixolydian mode to form the dominant bebop scale.


The Altered Dominant Chord

1. The Altered scale is used to build the necessary harmony for the altered dominant 7th chord.
2. The notes of a G altered scale, for instance, would be G Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F G
3. This scale is used to highlight altered tensions, namely the b5 #5 b9 and #9 tones of the altered chord
4. An altered scale can be created by playing a melodic minor scale one-half step above the root of a dominant chord.
5. Whereas the dominant chord worked in conjunction with dominant bebop scale, when descending the altered scale the fourth degree can be omitted. This is sometimes referred to as the ”cry me a river lick” because it is a melodic fragment of the jazz standard of the same name.


Some nice harmonic content can be created by pairing the 1 Major sixth chord with the ii Diminished 7

1. This approach combines the I major sixth chord and its inversions with the inversions of ii diminished 7th chord
2. When chord tones of these two arpeggios are combined they spell out the C major bebop scale.
3. As we saw earlier, The chord tones for the C major 6th chord are C E G A
4. Additional Arpeggios can also be built on third and fifth chord tones
5. A Cmaj 7 arpeggio can be played from the root as it resolves to the sixth degree
6. A Em7 arpeggio can be built off the third as it resolves to the root
7. A G7 arpeggio can be built off the fifth as it resolves to the third
8. The ii diminished 7 chord functions as an altered dominant chord
9. Because it is symmetrical, it moves up the neck in minor thirds
10. The ii diminished whole - half scale can be used over the ii chord and its inversions


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