DOMINATE 7 CHORDS: Which Scales Go with Which Chords?

This is the fifth in a series of articles entitled “Which Scales Go with Which Chords?” covering the Dominate 7 Chords.

When improvising, it’s important to know which scale(s) to use.  Traditional Harmony usually has one scale for the entire song (or section). When the song modulates (changes key), the scales used are also changed.

Jazz improvisers use any scale they feel sounds best. You still cannot violate the “laws of harmony” – there’s simply more freedom in selecting compatible notes from alternative scales.

Besides the standard Dominate 7 (1 ▪ 3 ▪ 5 ▪ 7), there are two other versions of dominate chords that behave similarly. (We’ll discuss “why” later).

  • Standard 5th Dominate 7 (1 ▪ 3 ▪ 5 ▪ 7)
  • Diminished 5th Dominate 7 (-5) (1 ▪ 3 ▪ 5 ▪ 7)
  • Augmented 5th Dominate 7 (+5) (1 ▪ 3 ▪ #5 ▪ 7)

In Traditional Harmony there are no scales that include the Dominate 7 (-5) or Dominate 7 (+5) – however Jazz Theory allows the use of enharmonics to create equivalent chords.

When improvising against a Dominate 7 (1 ▪ 3 ▪ 5 ▪ 7) these are your four traditional scale choices:

dom 7 scales

When improvising against a Dominate 7 (1 ▪ 3 ▪ 5 ▪ 7) these are your three additional Jazz (enharmonic) scale choices:

dom 7 scales

Your selection process when improvising:

Major and minor chords can choose more freely when selecting scales for improvisation. However, Traditional Harmony is “correct”; dominate chords are closely tied to the NEXT chord(s) in their chord progression. Choose a scale with a close relationship to the subsequent chords in your progression.

SPECIFIC CHOICES: While all of the (above) scales can be used with a standard Dominate 7 chord, your scale choices become specific when adding alterations and extensions.

dom 7 scales choices

THE “OTHER NOTES”: What to do with the “other notes” not found in the (above) scales?

PASSING TONES: The “other notes” allow you to move (transition) among the notes within your chosen scale. When the “other tone” is sharp (#) it usually moves- up to the next scale note. When the “other tone” is flat (I ) it usually moves-down to the next scale note.

USE YOUR EAR! Please do try breaking the (above) ancient “passing tones” rule. However, you’ll quickly discover “passing tones” really do sound better when their next move is to a scale note.

Posted in Chord Theory, Harmony, Improvisation, Jazz, Music | 3 Comments

MINOR MAJOR 7 CHORDS: Which Scales Go with Which Chords?

This is the fourth in a series of articles entitled “Which Scales Go with Which Chords?” covering the Minor 7 Chords.

When improvising, it’s important to know which scale(s) to use.  Traditional music usually has one scale for the entire song (or section). When the song modulates (changes key), the scales used are also changed.

Jazz improvisers use any scale they feel sounds best. You still cannot violate the “laws of harmony” – there’s simply more freedom in selecting compatible notes from alternative scales.

When improvising against a Minor ∆7 (1 ▪ 3 ▪ 5 ▪ 7) these are your two scale choices:

c minor major scale

Your selection process when improvising:

ONLY TWO SCALES: Because there are only two (2) scale choices, your selection is based upon using the major versus minor 13th.

c minor major scale

USE YOUR EAR! Regardless of “proper key” – do you like the sound of the major or minor 13th?.

THE “OTHER NOTES”: What to do with the “other notes” not found in the (above) scales?

PASSING TONES: The “other notes” allow you to move (transition) among the notes within your chosen scale. When the “other tone” is sharp (#) it usually moves- up to the next scale note. When the “other tone” is flat (I ) it usually moves-down to the next scale note.

USE YOUR EAR! Please do try breaking the (above) ancient “passing tones” rule. However, you’ll quickly discover “passing tones” really do sound better when their next move is to a scale note.

Posted in Chord Theory, Harmony, Jazz, Music | 1 Comment

MINOR 7 CHORDS: Which Scales Go with Which Chords?

This is the third in a series of articles entitled Which Scales Go with Which Chords? covering the Minor 7 Chords.

When improvising, it’s important to know which scale(s) to use.  Traditional music usually has one scale for the entire song (or section). When the song modulates (changes key), the scales used are also changed.

Jazz improvisers use any scale they feel sounds best. You still cannot violate the “laws of harmony” – there’s simply more freedom in selecting compatible notes from alternative scales.

When improvising against a Minor 7 (1 ▪ 3 ▪ 5 ▪ 7) these are your five (5) scale choices:

minor-chords

Your selection process when improvising:

FIVE? SCALE CHOICES: While there are five (5) scales listed, you can quickly narrow your scale choices.

Minor 7th with standard 9th? Only three (3) scale choices.

  1. BMajor
  2. EMajor
  3. G Harmonic Minor

Minor 7th with diminished 9th? Only two (2) scale choices.

  1. BMelodic Minor
  2. AMajor

SPECIFIC SCALE CHOICES: Each scale has specific minor chord attributes.

minor scale choices

USE YOUR EAR! Regardless of “proper key” – do you like the sound of the altered notes from a different scale?

THE “OTHER NOTES”: What to do with the “other notes” not found in the (above) scales?

PASSING TONES: The “other notes” allow you to move (transition) among the notes within your chosen scale. When the “other tone” is sharp (#) it usually moves- up to the next scale note. When the “other tone” is flat (I ) it usually moves-down to the next scale note.

USE YOUR EAR! Please do try breaking the (above) ancient “passing tones” rule. However, you’ll quickly discover “passing tones” really do sound better when their next move is to a scale note.

Posted in Chord Theory, Harmony, Improvisation, Jazz, Music | 2 Comments

MAJOR 7 ALTERED CHORDS: Which Scales Go with Which Chords?

This is the second in a series of articles entitled “Which Scales Go with Which Chords?” covering the Major 7 (-5) and Major 7 (+5) Chords.

When improvising, it’s important to know which scale(s) to use.  Traditional music usually has one scale for the entire song (or section). When the song modulates (changes key), the scales used are also changed.

Jazz improvisers use any scale they feel sounds best. You still cannot violate the “laws of harmony” – there’s simply more freedom in selecting compatible notes from alternative scales.

In traditional music there is no scale that includes a Major 7 (-5) Chord – however Jazz Theory allows the use of enharmonics to create equivalent chords.

When improvising against a Major ∆ 7 (-5) (1 ▪ 3 ▪ 5 ▪ 7) these are your three scale choices:

Major 7 Minus 5

Your selection process when improvising:

ONLY ONE SCALE: While there are three (3) scales listed, there is really only one (1) scale choice.

  •  G Major / A Melodic Minor / E Harmonic Minor

C Scale F Sharp


When improvising against a Major ∆ 7 (+5)  (1 ▪ 3 ▪ #5 ▪ 7) these are your two scale choices:

Major 7 Plus 5

Your selection process when improvising:

ONLY TWO SCALES, However…: Traditional harmony’s melodic minor ascend as written (above), however it descends as a natural minor. Jazz theory seldom uses the harmonic minor and recommends using the melodic minor the same ascending and descending.

Regardless of “proper minor key” – do you like the sound of the augmented 11th? (Only found in the recommended melodic minor scale).

c scale f and g sharp


THE “OTHER NOTES”: What to do with the “other notes” not found in the (above) scales?

PASSING TONES: The “other notes” allow you to move (transition) among the notes within your chosen scale. When the “other tone” is sharp (#) it usually moves- up to the next scale note. When the “other tone” is flat (I ) it usually moves-down to the next scale note.

USE YOUR EAR! Please do try breaking the (above) ancient “passing tones” rule. However, you’ll quickly discover “passing tones” really do sound better when their next move is to a scale note.

Posted in Chord Theory, Improvisation, Jazz, Music | 2 Comments

MAJOR 7 CHORDS: Which Scales Go with Which Chords?

This is the first in a series of articles entitled Which Scales Go with Which Chords?

When improvising, it’s important to know which scale(s) to use.  Traditional music usually has one scale for the entire song (or section). When the song modulates (changes key), the scales used are also changed.

Jazz improvisers use any scale they feel sounds best. You still cannot violate the “laws of harmony” – there’s simply more freedom in selecting compatible notes from alternative scales.

When improvising against a Major 7th chord (1 ▪ 3 ▪ 5 ▪ 7) these are your four scale choices:

image

Your selection process when improvising:

ONLY TWO SCALES: While there are four (4) scales listed, there are really only two (2) scale choices.

  • C Major / A Natural Minor
  • G Major / E Harmonic Minor

C and G Scale

USE YOUR EAR! Regardless of “proper key” – do you like the sound of the augmented 11th? (Only found in two of the scales).

THE “OTHER NOTES”: What to do with the “other notes” not found in the (above) scales?

PASSING TONES: The “other notes” allow you to move (transition) among the notes within your chosen scale. When the “other tone” is sharp (#) it usually moves- up to the next scale note. When the “other tone” is flat (I ) it usually moves-down to the next scale note.

USE YOUR EAR! Please do try breaking the (above) ancient “passing tones” rule. However, you’ll quickly discover “passing tones” really do sound better when their next move is to a scale note.

Posted in Chord Theory, Harmony, Improvisation, Jazz | 2 Comments

SCIENCE: Harmonics – you can’t fight Mother Nature

When ancient man struck a hollow-log with a stick they discovered certain parts of the hollow-log hurt their hands (and made a “thud” sound). They also discovered other parts of the log were louder, had a more resonant sound AND did not hurt their hands!

  • Painters mix blue and yellow pigments to create green.
  • Chefs wait for water to reach 212° to boil.
  • Dancers deal with the laws of gravity.
  • Music is defined by rules of nature – even if we don’t understand the science.

Sound is a physical property of the vibration of molecules in an atmosphere. Yes, when a tree falls on an alien planet with an atmosphere and nobody is around to hear it … it made a sound. (Of course the density of the alien air affects the pitch).

When we listen to a musical note, we hear the fundamental tone – and give it a letter name. However, as soon as anything begins vibrating besides its fundamental tone lots of additional tones are generated. Musical instruments are designed to enhance the mathematically generated tones. Each additional tone is softer in volume than the previous notes. These additional notes are called harmonics or overtones.

clip_image002

The presence of natural harmonics mean when a flute, piano or trumpet plays a note – a string is plucked or bowed; those fundamental tones also include lots of other notes too.

The natural distribution of harmonics from open in the base clef, closed in the treble clef, clustered in the high-treble clef, is also how we later learn to voice chords.

When a trombone plays a C3 you basically get an entire C Major triad too (see “Music Equivalent” above). The 5th harmonic (the chord’s 3rd) is faint, and thankfully we don’t usually hear the 7th harmonic (the dominant 7th). However, you always hear the first few harmonics of a note (along with the harmonics of other notes of a chord).


MAJOR CHORD = When building a C Major triad, the harmonics of all three notes support the “major” quality of the Major triad with extra Major 3rds (E) and Perfect 5ths (G).

image

MINOR CHORD = When building a C minor triad, the harmonics of all three notes are not as supportive of the “minor” quality of the minor triad. The minor-third (E) clashes a bit with the natural third (E) harmonics.

image

CHORDS WITHOUT A 5th = When building any chord you can omit the Perfect 5th because the Root harmonics already prominently includes the Perfect 5th.

image

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DEFINE: Western versus Eastern Thinking

Two people walk into a museum room and comment on the tile on the wall.

clip_image001

Person from the West: “Hey look, that tile is broken!”

Person from the East: “No, that’s beautiful – it’s Art!”

Person from the West: “Oh yeah, I can see that too…”

As Westerners, we like things balanced and symmetrical. A single tile “out of place” catches our eye as something wrong. The Easterner is not “bothered” by the misplaced tile.

There are many rules in Western Music that seem ridged to students – and 100’s of years ago, those rules were indeed ridged. However, rules are meant to be broken (or expanded) and as long as it “sounds good” there will be a new rule to follow justifying the new “good sound”.

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DEFINE: Art Versus Science

ART = Art is the field of “creation” and “searching”

SCIENCE = Science is the field of “recreation” and “researching”

The whole point of recreating a scientific experiment is to always get the same result. If you receive a different result, the experiment would be invalid. The old adage: “The exception proves the rule” makes no sense – an exception disproves the rule.

We use science to analyze and understand music written in the past. Music theory can only be written after many years. We create rules to gain an understanding of our musical history.

EXAMPLE: When Bach used a IV chord, he usually followed it with …

Commonly Used:

        • IV ⇨ I (“Plagal Cadence)
        • IV ⇨ V

Sometimes Used:

        • IV ⇨ ii

Seldom Used:

        • IV ⇨ iii
        • IV ⇨ vi

Rarely Used

        • IV ⇨ vii°

I sincerely doubt Bach selected a particular chord because of a mathematical, statistical distribution. He chose a particular chord because he liked it – later educators analyzed his music, determined the above statistical distribution, and created new rules to explain Bach’s choice of chord movements.

Bach’s harmony books helped him understand the music history of his time. The rules of music theory can help you recreate the music of the past, but does not necessarily give you the tools to create “new” music.

The science of music will help you to become a much better musician. Music Theory helps provide a framework for your composing and improvisation. However, at some point you need to ignore some rules and simply use your ears.

If the musical rule (science) is correct – but it sounds bad … Who cares about the rule?

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JAZZ 101: A New Fork in the “Road to Know Where”

Welcome to a new direction for the “Road to Know Where”. My pursuit of documenting the ongoing nooks & crannies of Microsoft’s Windows and Office has taken a back-seat to my other passion: Musical Improvisation and Jazz Harmony.

I’ve been (re)studying and performing at two local colleges and continually struck with a few BIG misunderstandings among my fellow students (and some teachers). I’ll be posting detailed information on these topics – but I wanted to get the conversation going:

Thinking “Playing by ear” is a bad thing is wrong! – Most people apologize when admitting they only “play by ear”. As children we learn to speak by imitating the speech we hear (aka “playing by ear”). Later we learn how to read and write our native language. It’d be great if all music students began by “playing by ear” then learned how to read and write music. Similarly to being able to read a book, or write a letter – without learning how to read and write music you are musically illiterate. That sounds harsh, but the musical world opens-up when you learn to read music. It’s also important to express yourself by creating and improvising your own music.

Having “perfect pitch” would make me a better musician, yes however… – There’s no question having “perfect pitch” would be immensely helpful. However you should already be “playing by ear” (see previous). You can later be trained to have “relative pitch”.

Why do we learn the Circle of 4th and 5th? – Most music students (and some teachers) do not study the technical history of Western Music, or science of sound (aka Acoustics). This is understandable; to become a great Bread Baker you needed know the ancient history of yeast. However, knowing the science behind harmonic overtones and history behind Pythagoras’ Circle of 5th are crucial to truly understanding the construction and movement of chords.

Jazz Harmony is different than Traditional Harmony – I hear students say they don’t need traditional harmony, because they’re going to study Jazz/Rock harmony.

NO – Our Western Harmony has a 2000+ year old history that evolved alongside the development of our alphabets, languages, religions, calendars, mythology and sciences. Jazz Harmony is nothing more than a very minor extension of Traditional Harmony.

YES – There are some differences between Jazz Harmony and Traditional Harmony. However, they are very minor yet still seem to be a point of contention.

Jazz has no double-sharps or double-flats – Not sure if Jazz musicians were being lazy or simplifying the reading of music; however double-sharps and double-flats are converted to their “easier to read” enharmonic. Example: A traditional diminished chord consists of 1-b3-b5-bb7 however in Jazz the double-flat seventh would be written as a sixth 1-b3-b5-6

Jazz Diminished

Jazz Uses “Enharmonic” Chords – Example: There is no G7-5 or G7+5 in the Ab Melodic Minor scale. However, enharmonically there are – so in Jazz we’ll play the Ab Melodic Minor scales against either the G7-5 or G7+5 chords (as well as a standard G7).

G7 Enharmonic

Jazz Rhythm is not “strict” – Yep, that’s true. Example: Eighth notes are not played straight they are “swung”. You’ll see books trying to explain eighth notes either as a form of triplet or using a 12/8 time signature. Both are close approximations to explain swing – however swing is something that needs to be learned by doing (not reading). Kinda like trying to learn to drive a car by reading a book.

Improvising is not only a “Jazz” thing – Throughout human history all musicians have improvised portions of their music. There are Biblical references to music, and Jewish Cantors became some of our first organized musical improvisers. Early musicians improvised against a cantus firmus (“fixed song”) – followed by many years of composers writing “Variations on a Theme”. Most historic musicians and composers were also known for their improvisation:

    • Bach (1685-1750)
    • Handel (1685-1759)
    • Mozart (1756-1791)
    • Beethoven (1770-1827)
    • Schubert (1797-1828)
    • Chopin (1810-1849)
    • Shumann (1810-1856)
    • Liszt (1811-1886)
    • Debussy (1862-1918)

Silent movies were accompanied by improvised piano – so no, improvisation is not a recent Jazz thing.

Chord Voicings – This can be confusing because some chord voicings have omitted notes that “seem” to be needed.

Example: There is no “G” in this common left handed G7 chord voicing of F + B + E – Traditional Harmony and science explains a great deal of how to voice chords, however Jazz adds an enharmonic element (see above). This will make more sense in future postings.

G7 No G

Chord Substitution – Similar to the confusion on Chord Voicing (see previous), Traditional Harmony and science explains a great deal of how to substitute chords, however Jazz adds an enharmonic element (see above). This will make more sense in future postings.

Which scale goes with which chord? – Similar to the confusion on Chord Voicing & Substitution (see previous), Traditional Harmony and science explains a great deal of which scale goes with chord, however Jazz adds an enharmonic element (see above). This will make more sense in future postings.

Example:

  • G7 is IV of D Melodic Minor
  • G7 is V of C Major
  • G7 is V of C Harmonic Minor
  • G7 is V of C Melodic Minor
  • G7 is VII (enharmonically) of Ab Melodic Minor
  • G7 is I of G Diminished
  • G7 is I (enharmonically) of G Whole Tone

Modal Harmony is complicated – Yes it is, and shouldn’t be. Modal harmony began in ancient Greek, who did not call them “modes” nor yet have any types of “scales”. The Greeks had groupings of four “harmonious” tones with local geographic inspired names (i.e. Dorian, Lydian Phrygian). Two pairs of four-tones created eight-note scales, which still retained their modal names. Early Catholic Church “chant” music was written using these scales still with modal names. Many years later those modes were distilled into the two Major and Minor scales we use today. Today, you’re welcome to memorize various names for the modes – however, the names and theory have little to do with today’s music. Just learn to play scales starting from any note, and leave memorizing modal names to Jeopardy contestants.

I’ll never be able to play Giant Steps, Take Five etc. – Not with that attitude! 🙂 There will always (repeat always) be music and musicians beyond your technical capabilities. Great music and musicians should inspire and challange, not frustrate you. Find the style of music you love and simply find easier pieces to master. However, if you wish to improve there’s sincerely no substitute for practice.

I’ll be tackling each of these topics; along with other supplemental lessons to support musicians and students needing the proper tools to understand Jazz Harmony and successfully improvise.

Let the lessons (and your questions) begin!

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Microsoft Releases Bing Desktop Beta

While not as cool as “Bing Automatic”, Microsoft’s Bing Desktop delivers the beauty of the Bing homepage to your Windows desktop each day. Plus, get easy access to the Bing search box right from your desktop. Turn your searching into doing with Bing.

Download –> Bing Desktop Beta

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