Friday, February 21, 2014

Dorian b2

    Teaching at Musicians Institute certainly has its advantages.  Sharing knowledge with younger folks can be a hoot and I certainly love the enthusiam of students as they traverse the musical landscape and discoveries that awate them!  I too still am very much a student and am always looking for new musical ideas so sharing knowledge and ideas with other teachers is really great!  So having said that, while I would love to take full credit of the concept Im going to share with you, I must give full credit to the great Dave Hill!
    Dave is a killer musician and super great guy.  I never pass up an oppurtunity to poke my head into his open counciling.  One day I had a few minutes and grabbed my guitar and sat in on Dave's class and jammed a little.  Now Dave is much more of a jazz player and he has many more tricks up his sleeve in this genre than myself.  The idea he shared with me was using Dorian b2 over an altered 5 chord when resolving to a major 1 chord.  I was like huh??  Then he elegantly explain to me why it worked because after trying this with him over a 2-5-1 vamp, I was sold!
   Dorian b2 is the 2nd mode of Melodic Minor.  I have tried this mode on occasion jamming over a minor 7th chord vamp, but it really didn't tickle my ear enough to persue it.  Maybe a little more time with it let my ear except it but that is for future persuits.  However, when used in the context I described above, it is very melodic.  I encourage you to stop reading and go try it and hear how it sounds then come back and read on as I will explain how/why it works.
   Back?  Sounds nice doesn't it.  Of course good phrazing and some heart and soul can make just about everything sounds good but it doesn't hurt to know why it works.  So, let me explain... If you think about the extensions that can be added over a functioning 5 chord(b2/9, #2/9, b5 and #5), two of those will be represented in the Dorian b2 mode.  Let's spell out an A Dorian b2 mode... A(1), Bb(b2),
C(b3), D(4), E(5), F#(maj6/13), G(b7).  We have the b2(Bb) and the b3(C) which is the enharmonic equivilent of a #2/9(B#).  Thats 2 of the 4 altered extension we could apply to our dominant chord.  The cool thing is, the maj 6th in the Dorian b2 is the major 3rd of your 1 chord.  This is why this mode is so melodic when applied this way!
   So, grab a friend and vamp over a 2-5-1 lets say in the key of D.  Em7/A7/Dmaj7.  Over the A7 chord try Dorian b2.  I gaurentee it will surprise you and put a smile on your face.  In application you could just play Melodic Minor from the b7(G in this case) as Dorian b2 is the 2nd mode of Melodic Minor.  As Dave described, it also implies a minor 4chord which once he mentioned it, I heard it right away.  Very Cool!
   This one is a little long winded but I wanted to give credit where credit is due!  Check out Dave Hill!!  Amazing musician!!  Cheers!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Penta and Tonic on the Rocks!

  Ok we all love pentatonic scales right?  When you first started diving into lead guitar playing or improvising I'm willing to bet the first thing you learned was a pentatonic pattern. We all know the blues box pattern that has been used by every player regardless of style preference.  The 5 note scale has been used in music for millennium for good reason, it has been scientifically researched that it is the most pleasing sound to us humans being.  Physically, they are easiest forms to learn on the guitar so super bonus!
  However... Let's face it, we sometimes yearn for a new harmonic sounds. I personally have been on this quest since if first picked up the instrument many moons ago.  Lucky for us seekesr of sounds there are so many palettes to choose from that we should never grow tired of our search.  Let's take a look at a way we can manipulate our basic pentatonic scale to better fit the harmony of certain chord types.  
  A major pentatonic scale contains the intervals 1,2,3,5,6. Which will work nicely over any chord containing a major triad(maj7 and dom7). But notice the 7th is not represented in the major penta scale. Let's say, just for fun, we raise the 6th up a 1/2 step to a b7. We then have a pentatonic scale(5 notes) that will address the sound of a dom7 chord quite nicely.  Since the mode that is most commonly used over a dominant chord is the mixolydian mode, I like to refer to this as a mixolydian pentatonic. You also may hear this refered to as an altered pentatonic scale(a bit of a generalization as there are a number of ways to alter penta tonics).  Ah but let's not stop there, let's take it one step further!
  There are different ways to use this "mixo penta" that actually step outside of the normal mixolydian sound. For example, try using it up a whole step from a maj7 chord.  This will now give you Lydian sound against that chord. Let's break it down...
  A D mixo penta contains the notes D,E,F#,A, and C. If we analyse those same notes against a Cmaj7 chord D=2(9), E=maj 3rd, F#=#4, A=6th and C=tonic. This is the same as a Cmaj penta but instead of the 5th we have a #4 and we all know that this note is the quintessential Lydian sound(maj with #4).  Kool!  So actually we don't need to retool our pentatonic to address the Lydian sound all we have to do is reuse our mixo penta up a whole step and it will already contain the alteration we need for that glorious Lydian sound. (Steve V. and Joe S. would be so proud)!  Ok let's see if we can find another application for our mixo penta...
  "Jeff is there way I can use this in my jazz improvising" you ask?  Well just so happens there is a really cool way you can reuse your mixo penta to address and alt dom7 chord. Let's take a look... 
   Most jazz is based off of the chord changes 2-5-1. The majority of jazz standards will contain these chords in at least one of the sections of the tune. Because of the tension created by the Tritone interval(b7 and maj3rd respectively) found in a dominant chord this create tension and resolution when finally resolving to the 1 chord. However, we can add even more tension to our 5 chord by adding alteration or tension notes not found in the key in said 2-5-1. These tension notes are b2(9), #2(9), b5 and #5 against our 5 chord. So let's say you are playin a 2-5-1 in the key of C. (Dm7-G7-Cmaj7).  Over our G7(5) chord if we play a mixo penta from the Tritone(b5) the we will get 3 of the 4 tension notes that give us an alt dom sound. So over the G7 chord we would play a Db mixo penta. A great and easy way to to get some of that outside tension and resolution once we resolve to our 1 chord!
  This is the tip of the iceberg I assure you, if you would care for me to elaborate further then hit me with a message but for now this has been a bit long winded but always a pleasure share knowledge with fellow music lovers!  Until next time...Cheers!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

5 of 5?!

  Ok this addition to the "All That Jazz" blog is going to require a leap off faith. It will take a sharp wit and strong will to pull off this concept but with a little confidence and an adventurous spirit you might just find it quit inspiring!
  One thing that is common in jazz is to play a whole tone scale over a functioning five chord. This will give a tension of a b5 and a #5 which will beg for resolution. Now lets suppose you are improvising over a static m7. In this case we will say Bm7. You can imply an alt five(F#7#5) by playing a F# whole tone scale over the Bm7 chord. This will give you an outside sound against said Bm7 chord that will surely perk your listeners ears. Of course it will be up to you how long you want to stay there and you will surely want to eventually get back into that Bm sound preferably something with some strong chord tones such as a simple B minor pentatonic for example.  Now this is nothing new but if this is a concept you have yet to explore I suggest you start there. Btw, since the whole tone scale is a symmetrical scale you can start by simply playing a 1/2 step up from the root of your Bm7. 
  To go one step further you can imply the 5 of 5! In other words the five of F#7 is C#7 so you can play a C# whole tone scale into the F# whole tone scale and THEN resolve into the Bm penta sound. What we have done here is justified both whole tone scale(yes there is really only 2) over your Bm7 chord and as fate would have C# whole tone is also B whole because of the whole step symmetry of the scale. So that means you can play a B whole tone, move up a half step and play a C whole tone(which is also an F# whole tone) and resolve back into a Bm pentatonic. (Ouch my head hurts!)
  As I said at the beginning of this blog it will take some courage and a strong will to pull this off. This is where phrasing and resolution really comes into play but with a little guts and determination you will have the ear of everyone in the room!!  I suggest you stair step into this concept and make sure you have a strong knowledge of chord tones so you can bring this sound back "inside" as not to fall flat on your face. This of course is one of many of these types of concepts. Let me know how you fare and I will try to share more of these ideas in the future!  Rock on!!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Aeolian b5

Continuing the quest for new sounds lets take a look at Aeolian b5. This the 6th mode of Melodic Minor. This mode is just as it sounds, a minor scale with a flat 5(hence the name). This mode can be used in place of the standard minor scale and just gives you a little different flavor. The great thing is, once again you've introduced a new "parent" scale and can draw on some of its harmony to superimpose over a minor chord.
Lets say for example your Rockin over on Am7 chord and you want add a little spice. Try superimposing an Ebmaj#5 over the top of that chord. This will certainly bend the ear a bit but that's the whole point! The parent scale in this case is C melodic minor(the relative major scale turned melodic minor). If you harmonize this scale you will certainly end up with an Ebmaj7#5 chord as its b3 chord. It's is really close to a standard minor blues scale in the application but I promise you it does not sound like a typical blues scale. How long you stay in this mode is up to you of course but I usually just mix it in here and there and it makes for some interesting lines.
One more example is to simply play a Cmin/maj7 arp over your Am7 chord. This is the 1chord in C melodic minor and should also highlight the b5 tone against the Am chord. Lots of possibilities here but I think you get it. That's all for now but check back for some more nuggets and please feel free to leave comments or questions! Make sure you check out the new Bleeding Harp tune "Live to Ride" now available on iTunes! Cheers!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dorian #4

  Ok so I mentioned how to "Jazz Up Your Blues" but what about other styles??  Well we all love to rock but after you have explored all of the diatonic modes where do you go from there?  Let suppose that you improvising over an Em chord using the E Dorian mode.  If your reading this I hope you understand the E Dorian is really the second mode of D major.  So in essence your playing a D major scale over an Em chord.  Well isn't D major also B minor(relative minor)?  So I guess you could say your playing a B minor scale over an E minor chord and that would also be correct.  
  Stay with me here.  Ok what about B harmonic minor?  That is really only one note away from B natural minor(minor scale with a major 7th) so there for if you played B harmonic minor of the Em chord you would only be one note away from E Dorian where we started.  In fact if you were to harmonize a B harmonic minor scale Em would indeed be the 4 chord of that scale!  So how would that effect my E Dorian mode?  Well the raised 7th of the B harmonic minor(A#) would be the #4 in relationship to the E Dorian giving you Dorian #4.  Ta da!
   The great thing about this is you have dipped into another resource because B harmonic minor, the parent scale of E Dorian #4, is indeed its own scale with it's own harmony that you can use to superimpose over the E minor chord!  For example if you were to harmonize a B harmonic minor scale the 7th chord would be A#dim7.  Try playing and A#dim7 arp over your E minor chord!  Delicious!  Of course dim7th arps are symmetrical in minor 3rds so you could repeat this process in minor 3rd up and down the neck!  Good times!  Now you can play your Yngwie licks in unsuspecting places implying a whole other sound!  Fantastic!!  Give it a try and let me know how you fare!!  Feel free to leave comments or subscribe.  I will try to put nuggets up every now and then!  Cheers!!!

Make sure you check out the new Bleeding Harp vid!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jazzin Your Blues!

  I have to admit, when I was younger I didn't care much for Jazz.  I was way into rock and blues and such but couldn't get much into jazz.  I am a bit older now and must admit, I don't spend a lot of time listening to jazz but I certainly enjoy playing a realbook tune with a friend or a student and some of that knowledge has certainly spilled over into my blues and rock playing and that's just fine.
  A few tricks you can do to make your blues a bit more jazzy when you are improvising is to imply a 2-5-1 lick in the 4th measure of your 12 bar blues.  For example, if your in the key of A in the forth measure imply an Em7 and an A7alt in your lines and it will create nice tension as you traverse to to your 4 chord.  Of course there are many ways you can imply the A7alt sound.  An altered scale, whole tone, dominant diminished, b5 sub arp, are great devices for this sound.  The combinations are vast thus making this technique a fun and seemingly endless supply of fresh lines to jazz up your blues.  Robben Ford, Scott Henderson, John Scofield, Mike Stern, are some resources to hear this in context.  I think these guys are good examples of jazzy/blues guys maybe leaning a little towards jazz.
  Give it a try and let me know how you fare!  Cheers!

Stop by and check out the new Bleeding harp Video!