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  • miles davis

    Using Altered Scales in a Jazz Blues Progression

    by Simon James

    Altered Scales can be complicated if you learn them just as they are because at first glance they do not conform to an obvious pattern when laid out on the fret board. I recommend that you learn the altered scale by remembering that it is the 7th mode of the Melodic Minor scale. It is other wise known as the Super Locrian Mode. In this study we are going to look at how to apply the Altered Scale to a solo.

    In a blues progression we typically play the chords, I, IV, V. Take All Blues by Miles Davis as an example of a Jazz Blues Progression, where we play I, IV, V, #V, V, I.

    miles davis  

    Throughout the first 8 bars we can improvise using some fairly standard Jazz Blues Phrasing but when you move to the V in bar 9 and then the #V in bar 10 things become a little more complicated and it is necessary to do some extra work to avoid running into a dead end whilst soloing. It is at this point that i suggest trying an Altered chord as they can be played over any 7 chord including extended chords such as the #9s that we have here. Have a look at the scale and lick below to examine how this works in practice:

    D Altered Scale

    altered scale  

    In the D Altered Scale lick below, I have simply played the D over the V7#9 and then as we move to the #V run up the Altered scale before finishing the run on the D as we move back to the V. This creates a good amount of tension which is resolved by finally dropping into a Minor to Major Blues Lick by way of a C when we return to the I for the Turnaround.

    altered scale  

    Remember: Altered Scales can be used over any 7th and altered chord and as you can see over the V chord in Jazz Blues they add a good amount of tension and release to your phrases. Give them a try and see how they sound!


    Related Posts:

    1. Jazz Blues Licks

    2. Introduction to Jazz Blues

    3. How To Play 12 Bar Blues

    4. Introduction to Symmetrical Scales

    5. Playing on Two Strings: Double Stops and 6ths