What Are Guide Tones and How to Use Them
- By jazz-guitar-licks
- On 2016-12-14
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What Are Guide Tones?
Guide tones are the notes in a chord which leads or gives harmonic pull toward the next chord, these are an excellent way to study and absorb the sound of any chord progression.
Guide tones are used to outline chord progressions in an improvisation. They are most of the time the 3rd and the 7th because this is what determines whether a chord is major, minor, or dominant.
This jazz guitar lesson explains how to solo over common jazz progressions using and connecting the guide tones.
Guide tones are made up of the third and the seventh degree of the scale they belong to. This charts shows you the relation between the main scales, triads, seventh chords and their guide tones.
|C Major scale (Ionian)||C||D||E||F||G||A||B|
|C major triad||C||x||E||x||G||x||x|
|C major seventh chord||C||x||E||x||G||x||B|
|C Dorian mode||C||D||Eb||F||G||A||Bb|
|C minor triad||C||x||E||x||G||x||x|
|C minor seventh chord||C||x||Eb||x||G||x||Bb|
|C Mixolydian mode||C||D||E||F||G||A||Bb|
|C major triad||C||x||E||x||G||x||x|
|C dominant seventh chord||C||x||E||x||G||x||Bb|
|C Locrian Mode||C||Db||Eb||F||Gb||Ab||Bb|
|C half diminished triad||C||x||Eb||x||Gb||x||x|
|C m7b5 chord||C||x||Eb||x||Gb||x||Bb|
|C diminished scale||C||D||Eb||F||Gb||Ab||A||B|
|C diminished triad||C||x||Eb||x||Gb||x||x|
|C diminished seventh chord||C||x||Eb||x||Gb||x||A|
Depending on the quality of some chords, notes other can be made guide tones as the sixth, the fifth or the ninth.
This basic II V I chord progression demonstrates how guide tones work. As you can see, the 7th degree (C) of Dm7 leads to the third degree (B) of G7 by a half step. The 7th of G7 (F) leads to the third of Cmaj7 (E) by a half step again.
While comping it is important to play the Guide Tones because they spell out the quality of the chord and that is what the soloing musician is basing their approach on.
The guide tone technique can be applied to any progression to outline the harmony. Here are some easy examples of jazz lines based on one of the most important and commonly used guide tones, the b7 to 3 movement into a II-V-I progression. The b7 of Dm7 is C which moves to third of G7 (B) then the b7 of G7 (F) moves to the third of Cmaj7 (E).
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