Scales & modes
This blog section contains jazz guitar lessons related to the practice of scales and modes.
One of the fundamental theoretical elements to understand music is the harmonization of the major scale. Harmonizing scale is building chords with notes. For this, you have to stack thirds (It is also possible to harmonize the major scale in fourths). If you are wondering why thirds and not seconds or sixths for example, the reason is mainly historical: our music today is based on harmony in thirds. Once you have read this lesson, you will be able to find the tonality of a song simply by looking at its chords, you will know which scale to play on which chord progressions.
When you want to master the jazz language, one of the first thing to do is to learn scales and modes. Memorize the fingerings on the fretboard. Memorize their names, their compositions. Make the difference between a major, a minor, an augmented or a diminished scale. How many tones in this one, how many half-tones in this other one. Knowing which scales work with which chords. In the long run the practice of scales can be confusing and seems a never ending. Here are some tricks and tips to work out on scales while developing your musical ear, your guitar technique and your theoretical knowledges.
The first thing to know before starting exploring the twelve different scales shown in this lesson is how to build a basic dominant 7th chord and what its role is.
Dominant 7th chords are made up of a root / tonic (1), a major third (3), a perfect fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7). It is the most versatile of any chord. It is considered as a major chord because of its major third (3), indeed the 3rd tell us if the chord is minor or major. The minor seventh (b7) indicates whether the sound wants to move or not (resolve) to another chord. Usually dominant chords tend to resolve to a chord down a prefect fifth (or a chord up a perfect fourth).
|C dominant 7th chord||C||E||G||Bb|
The seven modes of the major scale | Greek modes | Ecclesiastical modes | Jazz guitar lesson with diagrams
Ecclesiastical modes, also named "Greek modes"or "church modes" or "Gregorian modes" formed in the Middle Ages a set of scales whose use has weakened because of the appearance of the major / minor tonal system. Several centuries later these modes have reappeared. They are very used in jazz improvisation as scale of chords and modal playing.
Pentatonic scales are commonly played in all styles of music all over the world. Present in jazz and blues music since their origines, they are the most important scales in jazz music.
The minor pentatonic scale is the fifth mode of the major pentatonic scale (there are five different modes). It is the first scale to master for a guitarist exploring the world of jazz and blues improvisation.
You can now visit the following link to access this new lesson about the minor pentatonic scale. This free lesson contains five guitar fretboard diagrams and three example licks :
- Minor pentatonic lick, Kenny Burrell solo transcription.
- How to play the minor pentatonic scale over a II-V-I chord progression.
- Soul jazz guitar lick taken from the 25 soul jazz guitar licks eBook.
Here is the fouth part of the bebop scales section. This is about the locrian bebop scale. This scale has the same notes as the locrian mode including a passing tone (5) between the flat five (b5) and the minor sixth (b6). It is commonly played over half diminished (m7b5) chords (in a minor 2-5-1 sequence for example)
You will find guitar fretboard diagrams and a minor II-V-I lick using the locrian bebop scale in the locrian bebop scale page.
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