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Thread: Keeping it to Modes - Jazz Improv

  1. #1

    Keeping it to Modes - Jazz Improv

    Okay, what should I be thinking about?

    Cmaj7 I - C lydian
    Dm7 II - D Aolian
    Em7 III - E Aolian[C lydian]
    Fmaj7 IV - F Lydian
    G7 V - ?
    Am7 VI - A Aolian
    Bm7b5 VII - ?

    What do you suggest? Keeping it simple.. I've read whole tone is good over the V, but i'm crap at playing through that scale.

  2. #2
    Jazzman Poparad's Avatar
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    Simple?


    Cmaj7 I - C major
    Dm7 II - C major
    Em7 III - C major
    Fmaj7 IV - C major
    G7 V - C major
    Am7 VI - C major
    Bm7b5 VII - C major


    With Dm7, for example, only D dorian will work with it, because it's the ii chord. If you play any other kind of minor scale, it's not a ii chord. If you play D aeolian, then you're making it a vi chord in Bb, and not a ii chord in C.

    With the V chord, it is true that you can fit other sounds over it to create more tension, but for most of the other chords, when they are used in a progression that is in one key, it's not appropriate to randomly play different modes. Just treat it all as being in the same key and play just that one major scale. Jazz gets its chromaticism by taking chord progressions (such as a ii V I progression) and placing them in different keys.
    Last edited by Poparad; 04-14-2007 at 10:46 PM.

  3. #3
    I can do the major scale all day, but everything I read and watch, they are doing something else. So, if I take d dorian for the ii, what about the rest?

  4. #4
    Jazzman Poparad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rizla
    I can do the major scale all day, but everything I read and watch, they are doing something else. So, if I take d dorian for the ii, what about the rest?
    D dorian is C major. All that changes is that you're emphasizing the notes of a D minor chord rather than a C major chord.

    Chromaticism is a big part of the jazz vocabulary, but that's not everything. Most of the time jazz players aren't just running a scale up and down, but rather, they're breaking it up in a less linear way.

    I'd recommend just simply learning some jazz lines from some standard jazz tunes that you know or are learning. See how other people play over it, and then go from there. Theory is an explanatory tool, not a predictive one.

  5. #5
    Hmm... I can play modes over changes and ii V I's, but it's boring not to know anything else if you get my drift, I don't want to do the same thing all the time. I watched a video of Al Di Meola, and he says, ohh I would use C Lydian here, then D Minor, then another minor scale for E, then F lydian, etc.. So, what you say contradicts a little what he says. He does talk about something else with the V, but I don't get it, and he's going into his own preferrence, I want to expand, but not to go to far out at first, you know? I just want to expand on what I already know, but with modes and scales, instead of saying, ok, play some b3s on chord x, they work, and maybe try some #5s over chord x, but it's harder to think that way to begin with..

  6. #6
    Jazzman Poparad's Avatar
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    When he says that he'll play C lydian here or D minor there, that's because the situation calls for C lydian or D minor, not because he arbitrarily picked those scales off the top of his head. The song itself already dictates most of what you can play.

  7. #7
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    Hey
    I found some useful links a while back might be of use to you:

    - http://www.petethomas.co.uk/jazz-modes.html
    - http://www.outsideshore.com/primer/p...rimer-5-3.html

    regards
    Marius

  8. #8
    Bedroom metalurgist LaughingSkull's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rizla
    Hmm... I can play modes over changes and ii V I's, but it's boring not to know anything else if you get my drift, ... So, what you say contradicts a little what he says. He does talk about something else with the V, but I don't get it, and he's going into his own preferrence, ...
    I think you didn't really understand what Poparad was saying.
    When your harmony is set, your choices of scales are limited (or you can always break the rules.

    Lets use G7 as example:
    what you wanted to hear is G Myxolidian, but that really is C major.

    Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 -- Cmajor
    Dm7b5 G7 Cm -- C harmonic minor

    There is variety of scales you can play over a dominant chord, depending of its tensions. For excellent overview see:
    http://chrisjuergensen.com.hosting.d...om/chords3.htm

    Mode is implied by underlying harmony, not the scale used!

    Another good overview of modes from the same source:
    http://chrisjuergensen.com.hosting.d...om/modes_1.htm


    As for boring playing or progressions check out Miles Davis on "So What".
    Two chords only! in the composition. That is Dm7 for several bars which goes to Ebm7 for several bars and back. That is a lesson of creativity.

  9. #9
    Artistically Bankrupt
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    Rizla, let me see if I can confuse the matter completely.

    When playing or writing a song, one doesn't "use" modes as a tool for construction. After the song is written and one hears it, then there are music theory terms which exist to explain and otherwise remark on the song. One might recognize a melody against a harmony and identify the mode they are hearing, for example.

    To be succinct, most music theory exists to dissect a song - not to build one. Of course some knowledge is needed for construction, but, to be blunt, a monkey with a hammered dulcimer will compose music, eh? Doesn't mean he consciously planned the theory even if we can dissect it and catalog all the elements "used" by the monkey.

    From your post, it sounds like you are thinking of modes as scaled finger patterns, and want to know when to change from pattern to pattern based on the single chord of the moment. That strikes me as being akin to improvising by arpeggio. On a piano, that gets old quick. On a guitar, doubly so.

    Perhaps I misread you though.
    "If a child learns which is jay and which is sparrow, he'll no longer see birds nor hear them sing."

  10. #10
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    I beg to differ. Nearly all jazz up until 1950 was arpegiated. And even then. Bebop is mostly arpegios as well. Just like playing scales up and down gets old unless you make up motives and rhythmic phrases arpegios can become boring if all you do is play them up and down. However, that doesn't mean that either a scalar or arpegiated approach is "boring" or "wrong". I believe both approaches are valid.

    You can use modes as songwritting tools. You can set a lydian color here or a dorian color there and arrange your chords accordingly. Just like you can decide you want to write a song in a minor tonality or in a major tonality. You can decide to use a phrygian mode or a Mixolydian mode as your basis.

    That alone won't give you a song though. Either way you will have to be creative and play around with the sounds in a pleasing way.

    I hope this helps.

    -Jorge
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  11. #11
    Artistically Bankrupt
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    "Boring" is a matter of opinion, Forgottenking. Differ all you like, but I'll not be changing my mind soon. I didn't indicate that it was "wrong" or "invalid."
    "If a child learns which is jay and which is sparrow, he'll no longer see birds nor hear them sing."

  12. #12
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    I did not say you should change your opinion either. My reply was merely stating a different point of view and and it's up to the original thread poster to decide what he thinks works best for him.
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  13. #13
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    I'd like to suggest that you record a chord progression....you make it up. Then I propose that you play what ever note you want so long as is from the parent scale and the root of the underlying chord is played on beat 1. Just do this for awhile. By parent scale I mean if the progression is in A then you paly the A major scale. If it's in Bmino then you play the bMinor scale.

    Next I want you to try doing the same thing except this time I want you to make sure you hit the 3rd of every chord on beat 1.

    repeat with the 7ths.

    now repeat the entire process but this time focus on hitting chord tones on beat 3.

    You should get the drift by now. The point of this is NOT to make you always play chord tones on beat one. The goal is to get you thinking about targeting chord tones in your solo. They are your saftey net.

    If it doesn't make sense just try it anyway. I think if you give it a couple of hours worth of practice you will notice how this method will improve your improvising.

    The book I learned this approach from is chord tone soloing

  14. #14
    Hacked Account widdly widdly's Avatar
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    That book drove me nuts. It's like a recipe for becoming the most boring soloist ever. I get the point about targeting chord tones on different beats but honestly thats not that big a concept to take in. What about accents, dynamics, rhythm, repetition, melody and motifs?
    Last edited by widdly widdly; 01-26-2015 at 05:04 AM.

  15. #15
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    That's completely off base. Neither myself, nor the book, is proposing that you always solo that way. If you do then I agree you are prtty boring sounding.

    As for it not being that big of a concept to take it...that's laughable. I know very few guitar players that have the kind of mastery over the instrument to say that it's an easy thing to do. Conceptually sure it's very easy. Practically it takes quit awhile to engrain the instrument to the point of making it second nature. Also perhaps you are way past that point...that's good for you. For the other posters who have a hard time with improvisation and understanding modes this approach is a very good method.

    It's only a practice method. there is nothing to say that you have to hit chord tones when you actually solo...but I'd sure like to see someone improvise over a complex progression without doing this...and sound good.

    Also I'm curious if you have a better method of soloing? I mean surely you don't advocate that the budding guitar soloist not follow the changes? The last thing the world needs is one more guitar player wailing away on the parent scale with no clue where the rest of the band is.

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