Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by windfeld, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. windfeld

    windfeld Senior Member

    Oct 8, 2008
    Hi Guys

    I am playing this funk/pop song with a new band I am in, and I need help soloing over these chords.

    Em9 - C7-5 B7+

    A9 - Em9

    I am not sure how to treat extended chords like these?

  2. JonR

    JonR Member

    Sep 24, 2007
    This is clearly an E minor key sequence - with the kind of scale variation common in a minor key (with a hint of blues).
    The chords could be broken down individually, but I think that would be a mistake. (But see below if you want to go that route :) )

    Em9 and A9 together suggest E dorian, which would be a good scale overall (E minor pent with added F# and C#).

    C7-5 (C7b5) and B7+ (B7#5) are a standard minor key bVI-V sequence - only with altered 5ths - resolving back to Em. (You can also think of C7b5 as a secondary dominant, F#7b5, altered V of B.)
    A simple solution (theoretically!) is wholetone scale on each chord, a half-step apart:
    C wholetone: C D E Gb Ab Bb
    B wholetone: B C# D# F G A

    But as it's funk, E blues scale might be a better bet. C7b5 contains the Bb from E blues scale as well as E and G; and D and A would fit too. The only note to be avoided (in the blues scale) would be the B natural.
    Likewise, B7#5 contains B, G and A from E blues, and D would work too (as a #9 on the chord, maybe bent up). "Avoid notes" would be E and Bb.
    This is the way I'd go - stick with E blues, and bend to fit (following chord tones).
    Then on the dorian sections (Em9-A9) - if E blues got a bit samey! - make the most of the distinctive chord tones (F# on Em, C# on A9).

    If I was feeling really jazzy - and depending on how long those C7 and B7 chords are - I might go for C lydian dominant and B altered. That's G melodic minor on C7 and C melodic minor on B7.
    C lyd dom = C D E F# G A Bb (check shared notes with E dorian and E blues; contains perfect 5th, but F# takes care of the b5.)
    B altered = B C D D#(Eb) F G A (NB: b5 as well as #5 in this scale)
    Warning: this might cause a few raised eyebrows - esp if you don't manage to carry it off... ;)
  3. Jon

    Jon Member

    Oct 20, 2004
    Birmingham, UK
    LOL - that just about sums up my normal live playing experience!!!
  4. kimock

    kimock Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    Where the Palm Tree meets the Pine
    You don't have to "think in E" if that's what's screwing you up, B minor pent or even better B blues will sound cool over those first three chords.

    You could even "Think in D major" for some blues sounds on those first three chords.

    No issue with JonR's ananlysis, the E blues approach is fine, and you can see how that works with the chord roots.

    As an alternative kind of sound to that root based blues thing, I look at the upper extensions of the chord, and use the blues scale that fits the top of the chord.
    So for that E minor 9, E G B D F#. I say "B minor blues scale". That's a little different start.
    Anyway, you can find some blues scale sounds bottom up or top down.

    So, B minor D major, whatever, you might hear one of those sounds as being a more natural fit with your playing to get through that altered sequence, so check it out.
    Or just tell the keyboard player it's your solo, play it straight, and rock it down.

  5. stevel

    stevel Member

    Apr 6, 2008
    Hampton Roads, Virginia
    And actually, the b5 of C7b5 is F# - still in the key (assuming you'd be going for an E minor or E Dorian scale to draw notes from).


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