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.

About blakehandler

BLAKE was a Microsoft MVP and award winning programmer with over 20+ years experience providing complete Windows and networking support for small to medium sized businesses. BLAKE is also Jazz Musician and Instructor for residential clients on the Los Angeles West Side.
This entry was posted in Chord Theory, Improvisation, Jazz, Music. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to MAJOR 7 ALTERED CHORDS: Which Scales Go with Which Chords?

  1. Pingback: MINOR 7 CHORDS: Which Scales Go with Which Chords? | The Road to Know Where

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