Weekend jazz jam

Hello everyone,

in earlier lessons we talked about the pentatonic scale and it´s notes in different keys all over the neck. Today I´d like to give you an example to use the minor 7 pentatonic scale over a dominant 7 chord.

In jazz the dominant 7 chord is an important chord when it comes to all kind of tension in the underlying harmony of a tune. The formula of a dominant 7 chord is:

1 – 3 – 5 – b7

The spice of the dominant 7 chord belongs to the third and the flat seven. The tritone adds the tension between those so called „guide tones“. The guide tones of a major scale are on the 4th and 7th degree. In case of C major it´s the F and the B natural (H auf deutsch). As you can see, the G7 (chord on the 5th degree) contains both guide tones.

There are mainly two qualities of dominant 7 chords in jazz world. Type I does not resolve. Type II does resolve. In our todays jam we talk about II.

Let´s pick a II – V – I in the key of c major.

Dm7 / G7 / Cmaj7 / Cmaj7

The dominant 7 chord G7 resolves to the tonic Cmaj7. Now, what does that mean? From the listeners point of „view“, the tension created with the G7 gets lost progressing to the I. In theory the guide tone F resolves to the E of the C maj7 and the B natural to the C. The guide tones are supposed to function in that way. As a formula, the guide tone on the 4th degree of a major scale resolves to the 3rd degree´s note, the guide tone on the 7th degree resolves to the 1st degree´s note.

In jazz, we are going to add more tension to the V chord by using notes within the key such as the 13. The other option is to add alterations, notes that are not in the key such as b13 (b6, #5), b9, #9 or the combination of those notes.

Dm7 / G13 / Cmaj7 / Cmaj7

Dm7/ G7(#9) / Cmaj7 / Cmaj7

Dm7 / G7(b9 b13) / Cmaj7 / Cmaj7

If you like to solo over type II chords, you can use a lot of scales that often depend on the alteration of the dominant 7th chord. A popular way is to play the 7th modes of the melodic minor scale over the V chord. This 7th mode is often called „altered scale“. On dominant 7 b9 b13 chords, you can use the 5th mode of harmonic minor (HM5). You can also create this tension playing minor major 7 arpeggios over the dominant chord.

What I want you to do today is not as easy as it sounds. I want you to solo over the chord progression II-V-I in the key of c major. Dm7 for one bar, G7 for one bar, c major 7 for 2 bars.

Over the dm7, play the a minor 7 pentatonic. Over the G7, play the Bb minor 7 pentatonic and over the Cmaj7, play the E minor 7 pentatonic. Use the Bb minor 7 pentatonic really careful and figure out which notes do sound good and resolve nicely to the next notes of the a minor 7 pentatonic. It needs a bit of work, but it´s a great way to add a jazzy sound to this progression without knowing all the advanced jazz scales such as harmonic and melodic minor.

Please contact me for questions by mail info@learn2rock



Pentatonic workout

Hello everyone,

I´d like to take some time to respond a question that reached me about how to practise minor 7 pentatonic scales. For the guys who don´t know what a minor 7 pentatonic is:

Let´s talk about a minor 7 pentatonic in A minor. The following numbers show the relation of the particular notes to the root A of the Aminor 7 pentatonic scale.

1 – b3 – 4 – 5 – b7

As you can see, the notes of the minor 7 pentatonic are pretty the same as the notes of the corresponding chord A minor 7 ( 1 – b3 – 5 – b7). Only the perfect fourth isn´t in the scale.

The following exercise applies an underlying harmony of minor 7 th chords that move up chromatically. To practise the notes of the scale in a workout, play the pentatonics moving up as notated in the downloadable PDF.

Download PDF

Please comment or mail for further questions or a lesson about this stuff.