Scales & Arpeggios
Learning scales and arpeggios on guitar is a very important part of jazz's apprenticeship. You will find a whole load of free guitar resources on this blog section as guitar neck diagrams, licks, TABs, formula charts and theory. These jazz lessons don't follow a sequence, you can jump into them in any order you choose.
When a jazz beginner starts to improvise over a II-V-I progression, he generally plays arpeggios corresponding to the chords of the sequence. In other words, he learns to play minor arpeggios over the minor chord (II), dominant 7th arpeggio over the 7th chord (V) and major arpeggio over the major 7 chord (I). This way the harmony is highlighted without taking risks. Then, comes the modes, the basic rules concerning modes is that to play dorian over the minor chord , mixolydian over the dominant and ionian over the major chord. In short, in the long-run there is nothing exciting. That's why there is a nice trick used by number of jazz players to add smoothness to a line over a dominant 7th chord. This is a little tip that makes all the difference, simply play the notes of a major 7th arpeggio over the V7 rooted on its b7 degree.
The minor pentatonic scale is by far the most used scale in the world all styles taken together (jazz, blues, rock, reggae, pop, country). One of the explanation is given by the structure. Indeed, there are no semi-tones in it. It is easy to play on the guitar and it can be used in a whole lot of very different contexts. This lesson will show you eight ways to use the minor pentatonic scale over a dominant seventh chord. The principle is easy to understand, this consists in playing the minor pentatonic scale starting on each tone of the Mixolydian scale (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7). This method helps to highlight certain notes and brings interesting colors to your jazz guitar lines depending on you want to play outside or inside.
Arpeggios are surely the most important devices to master when you want to start improvising. Every jazz players use arpeggios in their improvisations. Great guitarists, all kinds of styles use arpeggios : John Scofield, Kurt Rosewinkel, Birelli Lagrene, Django Reinhardt, and many more. Arpeggios are played extensively because they use only the notes found in a single chord. Therefore, they create a more harmonized sound when played with their corresponding chord. Arpeggios are very helpful to easily outline the chord changes. This lesson is focused on the most basic form of arpeggios made out of three notes called "triad arpeggios".
In jazz music, there are two main different ways of improvisation, the use of scales and the use of arpeggios. Great jazz improvisers as Wes Montgomery, George Benson, John Scofield, Mike Stern, Pat Martino or Barney Kessel master both scales and arpeggios. Arpeggios are very helpful devices to easily outline the chord changes especially in tunes with fast tempos as bebop tunes for examples. The basic use of arpeggios is to play them over their related chord, for example play a Gm7 arpeggio (G-Bb-D-F) over a G minor 7 chord or a C7 arpeggio (C-E-G-Bb) over a C dominant 7 chord. Over a classic II-V-I progression in C major (Dm7-G7-Cmaj7) you will play Dm7 arp, G7 arp and Cmaj7 arp. This way you take no risks and you are sure to underline and hear correctly the harmony. Unfortunately, this can be boring in the long run, that's why, in this article, we will see how to superimpose diatonic arpeggios to open new paths and create original and interesting jazz lines.
In this lesson we will see how to use the minor pentatonic scale over a II-Valt-I sequence. The principle is simple, it consists in playing three minor pentatonic scales spaced apart of 1 semitone one from the other. This way you will bring out interesting colors to your jazz lines.
- II chord: Play the minor pentatonic scale starting on the 5th degree of the II chord. This way you will highlight the fifth (5), the minor seventh (b7), the root (R), the ninth (9) and the eleventh (11) of the minor II chord. (Exemple for Cm7 play G- pentatonic).
- V chord : Play the minor pentatonic scale up a half step starting on the #9 of the V7alt chord (Ab-pentatonic over F7alt for example). Therefore, you will play the main altered tones of the V7alt namely #9, #11, b13, b7, b9.
- I chord : Play the minor pentatonic up a half step again starting on the 7th of the I maj7#11 (Example with A minor penta for Bbmaj7#11). Thus, giving the 7, 9, 3, #11 and the thirteenth of the I chord.
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.
Mastering arpeggios is inevitable for anyone who wants to improve its sense of improvisation and bring more musicality to its playing. Practicing and mastering them is a necessity for all jazz guitarists, arpeggios are great tools to improvise over chord changes and jazz standards.
Tips and Tricks To Help You Practice Scales
When you want to master jazz language, one of the first things to do is to learn scales and modes. Any guitar student need to memorize the fingerings, the names and the composition of each scale. It is important to make the difference between the main types of musical scales (major, minor, augmented, symmetric and diminished), important to know what scale works with a particular chord. In the long run the practice of scales can be confusing and seems a never-ending. Here are some tricks and tips for practicing scales while developing your musical ear, your guitar technique and your theoretical knowledge.
The first thing to do before starting exploring the twelve different scales shown in this lesson is to understand how to build a basic dominant 7th chord and what its role is.
What's a dominant 7 chord?
A Dominant 7th chords is made up of a root / tonic (1), a major third (3), a perfect fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7). It is one of the most versatile chords. It is considered as a major chord because of the 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 perfect fifth (or a chord up a perfect fourth).
C dominant 7th chord C E G Bb Intervals 1 3 5 b7 Related Arpeggio 1 3 5 b7
What Are Ecclesiastical Modes?
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. This lesson explains how are built modes and how to play them on guitar.