Thinking chords vs scales

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by slackandsteel, Jun 25, 2006.


  1. slackandsteel

    slackandsteel Member

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    I'd originally posted this in Tomo's excellent thread about using triads as the basis for soloing and am hoping prof2915 or others will expand upon this:

    Originally Posted by prof2915
    I´ve always found it to be more musical to think in terms of chords (not just triads) instead of scales when improvising.

    If I think: "F melodic minor" over a E7 (altered) it never sound as good as when I think: "Bb13" - and play pretty much whatever lick related to this chord that comes in mind - over the same E-dominant.


    Originally Posted by slackandsteel
    Hey Prof, in your example I think F melodic minor over E7 for an altered dominant sound, but I like your idea of thinking Bb13 chord.

    How did you come up with Bb13 in this example ? I get the tritone sub concept, but why 13th chord a b5th up from the root of the dominant for the altered sound?

    Can you please hip us to the concept and/or provide more examples of this type of substitution method? I'm really intrigued!

    Thanks!


     
  2. Kingpin

    Kingpin Member

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    Excellent post Old Tele man, you're setting off lightbulbs in my head. This is a much easier way for me to visualize it. Thanks!
     
  3. slackandsteel

    slackandsteel Member

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    Thanks for your posting Tele-Man! Beautiful explanation and graphic.

    I also think of it as stacking thirds (1-3-5-7-9-11). Same thing I guess.

    However, this does not explain the example that Prof brought up - namely, the b9/#9 altered dominant/play melodic minor a half step up from the root of the dominant chord/play a 13th chord a b5 up from the root.

    Or maybe it does? In the example of "play Bb13 lines over an E7 chord instead of thinking F melodic minor" you could stack thirds beginning on the root of the F melodic minor (F):

    F Ab C E G Bb

    I "see" the Bb13 chord lurking in there if I'm thinking about finding a Bb
    chord (tritone substitution for E) and thinking F melodic minor.

    Does this make any sense????
     
  4. slackandsteel

    slackandsteel Member

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    Thanks Tele-Man!

    Looking at the Bb13 chord over an E chord (Prof's example) I see Bb (b5), D (b7), F (b9), Ab (#9) plus you can add the C natural (#5) etc. Cool! The altered dominant tones are there.
    :rotflmao

    Now, anyone with more chord "tricks" like the this for soloing? Prof???
     
  5. willhutch

    willhutch Member

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    I had a couple lessons recently from a great jazz teacher. He said that it is now commonly accepted that the great jazz players thought mostly in terms of chords as they improvised.

    To get me thinking along these lines, he had me write jazz blues etudes, with some specific rules. I had to hit chord tones on every beat. Between these chord tones (on the offbeats), I could throw in notes that were either a half step away from the chord tones or that were the adjacent notes in the scale. Result: it sounded like jazz. Chromatically approaching chord tones that land on the beats is the secret.

    Hey Tele-man. Nice post. I've been using the ideas you talk about for years, but conceptualized slightly differently. I'm going to try visualizing it your way and see what happens.
     
  6. willhutch

    willhutch Member

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    Tele man: I visualize chords in different ways at different times. Usually, when I'm actually in a playing situation, I tend to think of chords in terms of "grips" on the neck. That is: "It's a C blues and we're on the I7 chord, I happen to be playing around the 3rd fret, I'll grab my ever-convenient C9 grip."

    Other times I have more of a voice leading approach where I'm making the voices flow into each other as the chords change. In this mode, I'm seeing the individual lines move. But... I'm not that smart and can't keep track of too many lines. I basically will focus on the top or bottom note and try to make a melody line with the other notes reflecting the chord changes. But still, I rely on various grips that serve to links my melodies together.

    I'm not sure if this is what you were asking about. If not, ask again and I'll give it another try!:)
     
  7. willhutch

    willhutch Member

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    LOL! You weren't after a deep answer? Why didn't you say so?? :jo

    I always assume people want the deep answers and I go straight to the metaphysics.
     
  8. gennation

    gennation Member

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    This might be helpful here...

    This "chord on chord", "chord super-imposing" is VERY relavent in Modal playing, or when changing keys in a tune.

    Take the progression below from Stanley clarke's tune, Song for John.

    It's Diatonically in one Key until the Bb7 chord of the progression, where it changes Keys. At this point, the Dominant chord
    is considered the V7 of a Major Key...Bb7 is the V7 of Eb Major.

    Now, because it's only one chord for a short time, this opens up a lot of Diatonic possibilities.

    You can play almost ANY Diatonic Substitution, or play a relative Diatonic chord with the written orignal Root in the bass.

    IOW...this is the progressions:

    Code:
    ||: Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 | Am9 | Am9 | Bb7 | Bb7 | Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 :||
    
    For that Bb7 chord, you get easily say that chord is the V7 from the Key of Eb Major, since a Dominant chord only happens
    once in a Diatonic Key.

    Since the chord is only there shortly, you can actually use any chord from the Key of Eb Major as it's replacement, which
    means the tonal-center could be directly from anywhere in the Key of Eb Major, not just Bb.

    And, they all fall into the "chord on chord" idea based form Bb7.
    Look at these chords based around the Bb7 in the Key of Eb Major:

    Code:
    Bb7
     
    E--6--
    B--6--
    G--7--
    D--6--
    A--8--
    E--6--
     
    Or, a great Diatonic/Dominant substitution for a V7 chord:
     
    Bb7sus11
     
    E--6--
    B--6--
    G--8--
    D--6--
    A--8--
    E--6--
     
    Once you do this you can see a number of chords stacked on top of each other, without adding ANY other notes:
     
    Fm7
     
    E--x--
    B--6--
    G--8--
    D--6--
    A--8--
    E--x--
     
    Fm11
     
    E--6--
    B--6--
    G--8--
    D--6--
    A--8--
    E--x--
     
    Ab6/9
     
    E--6--
    B--6--
    G--8--
    D--6--
    A--x--
    E--x--
     
    Now here's another common Diatonic/Dominant substution for V7 chord:
     
    Bb13sus11
     
    E--8--
    B--8--
    G--8--
    D--6--
    A--8-- (this note can be ommitted to make it easier to play)
    E--6--
     
    Now you start really pulling out some nice coloration, again with out changing ANY notes:
     
    Fm9
     
    E--8--
    B--8--
    G--8--
    D--6--
    A--8--
    E--x--
     
    Abmaj7
     
    E--8--
    B--8--
    G--8--
    D--6--
    A--x--
    E--x--
    
    So you could say...for the Bb7 chord in the progression, you can play Bb7, Bb7sus11, Fm7, Fm11, Ab6/9, Bb13sus11, Fm9, or
    Abmaj7.

    Wow!

    What it boils down to is...since the the progression changes Keys for ONE chord, and more so that that chord happens to be a
    Dominant chord, you've opened up EVERY chord from the new Key as a possiblility!

    Of course this is basic Diatonic Theory stuff, but the Dominant chord gives it even more "free-will" so to speak.

    I call this nothing more than Modal Chord Grips for guitarists. Here's some common ones that could ALL be used individually
    or stacked on each other, or played as a line of chords, a chord solo, etc... And, they are EASY to grab on the fly, plus
    they are nice full-figured chord harmonies:

    Code:
     
    E---3---4---6---8---10---11---13---15--
    B---3---4---6---8---9----11---13---15--
    G---1---3---5---7---8----10---12---13--
    D---1---3---5---6---8----10---12---13--
    A--------------------------------------
    E--------------------------------------
    
    ANY of these can be played in place of the Bb7 chord!

    Of course you can spend time learning the names of all of them from which ever modal Root in the Key you desire. But, it's
    easier just to say, "these are harmonies of the Key of Eb Major". And, they work for pretty much every chord over the Key of
    Eb Major.

    So, now that little three chord progression can be spiced up to an endless amount of possiblities over the Bb7 chord, without
    losing any of it harmonies/tension/modal flare.

    And, you can use those chord grips above (amongst any Diatonic substitution) as part of your comp'ing...like so...

    Code:
    Some basic Diatonic Gripping for all of the chords...
        Cmaj9   Cmaj7    Am9      Am    Abmaj7    Bb13   Cmaj7   Cmaj7
    E-||-------|-------|---7---|---5---|---8---|---8---|---7---|-------||
    B-||---3---|---5---|---5---|---8---|---8---|---8---|---5---|---5---||
    G-||---4---|---4---|---5---|---5---|---8---|---7---|---5---|---4---||
    D-||---2---|---5---|---5---|---7---|---6---|---6---|---5---|---5---||
    A-||---3---|---3---|-------|-------|-------|-------|-------|---3---|| repeat...
    E-||-------|-------|-------|-------|-------|-------|-------|-------||
     
    Here's one that uses the grips for even more movement...
     
        Cmaj9   Cmaj7    Am9      Am    Abmaj7      Bb7              Cmaj7   Cmaj7
    E-||-------|-------|---7---|---8---|---10--|-----8------4---6---|---7---|-------||
    B-||---3---|---5---|---5---|---5---|---9---|-----8------4---6---|---5---|---5---||
    G-||---4---|---4---|---5---|---5---|---8---|-----7------3---5---|---5---|---4---||
    D-||---2---|---5---|---5---|---5---|---8---|-----6------3---5---|---5---|---5---||
    A-||---3---|---3---|-------|-------|-------|--------------------|-------|---3---|| repeat...
    E-||-------|-------|-------|-------|-------|--------------------|-------|-------||
                                               beats 1   2  3   4
    
    Personally how I wrote the Abmaj7 in both of those, and Bb13 in the first, I would really just call it Bb7, regardless of the
    Grips I'm grabbing. It really is just Bb7 and the harmonies within the Eb Major Key.

    You can see all kinds of Diatonic Substitution thoughout it all. There one particual chord in there I called both a Camj7 AND
    an Am9.

    No reason to get to complicated, especially when the possibilities are pretty much endless. ;)

    If anyone needs to start this stuff out at a slower pace, you can stop by my lesson site (http://lessons.mikedodge.com) and
    follow the links for Modal Chord Grips.
     
  9. willhutch

    willhutch Member

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    Tele man: You are one of the most helpful guys who hangs out on this forum. You're usually saving people from blowing up their amps. But here you are showing people how to actually play, too!

    I'll let you know when I need advise on home renovation, fixing cars or performing brain surgery.

    The stuff provided in your link I have under my belt already. But that site has a lot of other great stuff!

    I'm more interested in expanding on your earlier post in this thread about polychordism. I use polychords a lot to get chord extensions. What I haven't worked on very much is how to use them to create alterations.

    The thing I like about this approach is that it lets you leverage what you already can do. Your same old grips come alive again when used in novel ways.
     
  10. DrSax

    DrSax Member

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    Gennation and TeleMan: this is great great stuff! Awesome posts/lessons. Thank you!
     
  11. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Coker's written some great books. Thanks for the Triad Pairs for Jazz recommendation, I may check that one out. Also, Bergonzi's new book, the 7th in his "Inside Improvisation" series is on Hexatonics and it's about combining triads to create hexatonic scales. It's probably another good one worth checking out.
     
  12. gennation

    gennation Member

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    I got into them first from Ted Greene's Chord Chemistry.

    Once the initial idea made sense, I saw them everywhere.

    I use them for solo'ing I guess, due to just playing, but they are really handy when you have to comp for a longtime and get sick of playing the same thing everytime.

    I'll grab any superimposed chords directly within the chord or venture out into the modal chord thing.

    It's a great way "re-focus" movements by not really reharmonizing the lines.

    Actually, a lot of fun starts when you start super-imposing scales too.

    I think what helped me back in the days was, there was no Internet...so instead of flooding my brain "reading" the stuff piled on other stuff...I ended up writing most of the little ideas on paper.

    I used hand drawn blank fretboard, wrote out note names, etc, etc...

    I think that really helped a lot in visualizing this info as opposed to reading it and taking it right to the guitar.

    Writing the stuff out really opened up things from a different perspective.

    I'm not sure how many people do that these days.
     
  13. gennation

    gennation Member

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    You got it. Writing the stuff out either on fretboards just lays the road map in front of you.

    It's a great habit to get into.
     
  14. CNOTE

    CNOTE Member

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    Thanks Tele man.

    I knew there was something going on in those chords. Your explanation opens the door!!
     

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