View Full Version : improvising with altered chords

01-04-2003, 01:05 PM
Hi - I'm totally new to this site, it looks really excellent. Am a sax player, but figure this topic applies to most solo instruments.

I've been playing jazzy/bluesy/funk in a band for about 6 years, and have managed to develop a lot in that time, but still have a long way to go.

I initially started by playing basic scales, and transcriptions eg. charlie parker omnibook. After learning about jazz harmony & analysis i did some practical impro courses for a year.

These days I work on playing chord progressions eg. diatonic voicelead arpeggios in all keys, using different modes etc. I also use the keyboard to help me 'hear' II-V-I and related changes in all keys before playing same on my instrument. I've composed some tunes based on stuff I've discovered.

As i said, this has really helped my impro. But i feel kind of stuck when it comes to impro on altered dominant chords. I really want to be able to fully exploit the fascinating melodic lines I believe these harmonies underpin, but most of the time the chords scare the hell out of me! I usually just fuddle around a #9 or #5 and hope for the best... but I really want to be able to pre-hear complete phrases that incorporate these tones.

I've tried experimenting with the altered scale in various forms (e.g playing dim. whole tone scales in triads, using passing notes), but it somehow sounds academic and i can't seem to use the material in a performing situation.

Can anyone give tips on this, or reference some past postings?

I would like to hear from people who have crossed this bridge, and what they found helpful.

01-04-2003, 02:27 PM
There are methods that use the melodic minor scale from four different possible roots to execute phrases over altered Dominant chords.
The thing I have experimented with over b9 is a hybrid scale with the Harmonic Minor and the relative major overlapping, I have a couple of examples here in a thread called hybrid scales.
We have a thread started here relating to this.
http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=319I beleive this thread may belong in either this or the theory thread.
I would like to see you post some of your example in staff.

01-06-2003, 01:44 AM
Here is a great link to help you with altered chords...

Altered Dominant lesson (http://chrisjuergensen.com.hosting.domaindirect.com/chords3.htm)

01-06-2003, 01:48 AM
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Bongo Boy
01-09-2003, 07:52 AM
Originally posted by schofie1
Hi - I'm totally new to this site, it looks really excellent. Am a sax player, but figure this topic applies to most solo instruments.I can't help because I'm not there yet. But, I wanted to welcome you to the site, and because your main instrument in NOT guitar, wanted to make a special request that you stick around for a while. I'm thinking one thing that will really go a long way toward enriching this great site is the even broader perspective that can come from, say, sax players.

Thanks for coming on board....welcome again!

01-09-2003, 02:03 PM
How about a different approach? Pick a diatonic melody line over II-V-I that you like. Instead of thinking of altered scales alter the diatonic line.

say ya have the notes b, a, g, f over G7 resolving to e (Cmaj7).

try: b, ab, g, f
try: b, a#, g f

make up your own - combine them - add chromatic approach notes, etc .... what sounds good to you? - what do you like?

Working into this direction was helpful to me as you more think about where the entire line is resolving to instead of randomly playing altered stuff.