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.

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, Harmony, Improvisation, Jazz, Music. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to DOMINATE 7 CHORDS: Which Scales Go with Which Chords?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s