Altered jazz guitar lick - II-V7alt-I

This II-V-I jazz guitar lick contains notes from two modes. The D dorian mode over the Dm7 and the G altered scale over G7alt.

  • The first bar contains a D minor ninth arpeggio (D-F-A-C-E) from the dorian mode. The Dorian mode is the second mode of the major scale. It is made up of a root (1), a second (2), a minor third (b3), a perfect fourth (4), a perfect fifth (5), a sixth (6) and a minor seventh (b3). This is the most obvious choice when you want to improvise over a minor chord. A minor seventh arpeggio is built by taking the first, the minor third, the fifth and the minor seventh of a minor chord (or a minor scale). You just have to add the ninth to get a minor ninth arpeggio.
  • The second bar starts with a descending Db major triad (Db-F-Ab) from the G altered scale. The altered scale is the seventh mode of the melodic minor scale. It is also known as "super locrian mode". It is generally used over dominant 7th chords (alt) when you want to add a sense of tension. Indeed, the altered scale contains all the altered notes that a scale can have. Namely b9, #9, b13 and #11.

When you want to play altered lines over a dominant 7th chord, instead of playing the entire altered scale, a nice alternative is to play a major triad starting on the #11 of the chord on which you want to improvise. This way you highlight the b7, #11 and b9 and bring a little bit of tension to your playing. In the example below, you can hear a descending Db major triad. Db is the # 11 of G7. 

Altered jazz guitar lick - II-V7alt-I

Related scales

D Dorian mode D E F G A B C
Formula 1 2 (9) b3 4 (11) 5 6 (13) b7
Intervals W H W W W H W



 G altered scale G Ab Bb B Db Eb F
Formula 1 b9 #9 3 b5 (#11) #5 (b13) b7
Intervals H W H W W W W



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Last edited: 22/05/2017


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