How to improvise over 7 chords.

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How to improvise over 7 chords.

Postby BachelorNo2 » Wed Jun 28, 2006 5:27 pm

Hi. I've been trying to get my head around improvising and found that I find it really hard to improvise over 7th chords. I've been working from the stephane wrembel book, but i can't seem to be as melodic when I'm playing over, say, a G7 when compared to a G chord. Although they are fairly similar, all i seem to be doing is playing scales and hitting notes! Does anyone have any kind of approach to playing these?
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Postby cap_django » Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:06 pm

One of the key elements to have a strong melody is to outline the changes. For the dominant chord, the b7th interval is key. Think of the major "shapes" that Wrembel talks about and relate that to the dominant chord. In other words, add that b7th interval so your lines. See how dominant chord shapes relate to major chord shapes.

Extensions that are frequently used on dominant chords in major keys are 9ths and 13ths. The diminished arpeggio over dominant chord is also important and it outlines the chord tones plus a b9 extension. Django would sometimes use major dominant ideas over minor key dominants and minor key dominant ideas over major key dominant chords in order to create interest. Watch out though, if your rhythm player uses extensions in his chords as they might clash - use your ears!

Another idea is the whole tone scale. This will give you a 9th, #11, and #5. A little more modern sound.
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Postby nwilkins » Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:32 pm

If you are playing scales then when you see a G7 chord you should be using the Cmajor scale, not the G major scale. Just wanted to make sure you realize that :)
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Postby justjack » Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:41 pm

I think the diminished idea is going to be the easiest thing to start with; it's really simple and you'll hear it fit right off the bat. For G7 you'd use a G#dim arpeggio, which can also be thought of as G7b9. Basic example (this one uses G as the first note before falling into the diminished pattern):

------------------------4--7---------------------------
------------------3--6---------------------------------
----------------4-------------------------------------
----------3--6-----------------------------------------
----2--5-----------------------------------------------
-3---------------------------------------------------

Since you can start the arpeggio on the b9, 3, 5, or b7 of the G7b9 chord, you could do something like this (again starting/resolving on G):

-----------------------------------------------4-3-----
-----------------------------3------------3-6-----------
-------------4------------4------------4----------------
--------3-6----------3-6---------3-6--------------------
---2-5----------2-5--------------------------------------
-3----------------------------------------------------

Simple but effective...hope that helps a bit.

Best,
Jack.
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Postby BachelorNo2 » Thu Jun 29, 2006 12:00 am

What each of you have posted here has really helped! Thank you guys, I shall need to practice a lot more.

Any other exercises are most welcome. :D
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Postby b0b1919 » Sat Aug 12, 2006 2:20 pm

another idea is working off diminished scales from each of the scale tones of the 7th chord

if we take an E7 chord, you could play a G# dimished arpeggio (G# B D), B diminshed (B, D, F), D diminished (D, F, bA). These work well in pieces like minor swing because when you are playing over the A minor and D minor chords you can use the same notes for both chords (albeit emphisising different chord tones over the different chords) whereas the E7 has an added G# so to keep in continuity with the rest of the tune, you want to use ideas where you're adding in the G# without adding in other sharpened notes that you'd normally get in E mixolydian (F# and C#)
salut

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Postby b0b1919 » Sat Aug 12, 2006 2:23 pm

nwilkins wrote:If you are playing scales then when you see a G7 chord you should be using the Cmajor scale, not the G major scale. Just wanted to make sure you realize that :)


you don't wanna go right ahead and just play a C major scale over a G7 chord though. That's where your mixolydian mode comes in (ie using the notes of C major but starting on G, giving you f (b7) instead of f# as you'd have in G major)
salut

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Postby nwilkins » Sun Aug 13, 2006 12:59 pm

G mixolydian is the same as the C major scale - you're not going to want to be running scales starting on the root while improvising, so for all intents and purposes they are exactly the same thing. Jimmy Bruno's tonal circles approach more accurately describes the improvising process than does the modal approach. It is a bit of a moot point anyway since for this style arpeggios are used far more frequently than scales.
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Postby b0b1919 » Tue Aug 22, 2006 12:41 am

yeah, but you're going to want chord tones from the G7 chord. Playing a C major arpeggio will just sound kinda weird over a G7 chord. you want to work off chord tones (not necessarily the root). As discussed before, a B diminished would work lovely (starting off the third of a G7 chord and using notes from a B locrian ie root, b3rd, b5 and even adding in a b7 to make a m7b5 arpeggio over a 7 chord)
salut

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Postby nwilkins » Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:14 pm

b0b1919 wrote:Playing a C major arpeggio will just sound kinda weird over a G7 chord.


but we were talking about scales, not arpeggios.

b0b1919 wrote: As discussed before, a B diminished would work lovely (starting off the third of a G7 chord and using notes from a B locrian ie root, b3rd, b5 and even adding in a b7 to make a m7b5 arpeggio over a 7 chord)


yes, the gypsy jazz approach to 7 chords is most frequently to play a diminished arpeggio. however, I just wanted to make it clear to the original poster that the G major scale is not used for G7 (ie G7 is in the key of C)
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Postby Gmajor » Tue Aug 22, 2006 6:53 pm

Try using the 2 chord for your G7 play D minor arp.
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Postby Swing This! » Tue Aug 22, 2006 8:16 pm

You can also play the 5th minor over any dominant 7th chord...so if it's G7 then play a Dm run.

Cheers

Phil
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Postby Gmajor » Tue Aug 22, 2006 10:59 pm

Have alook at the chords that everyone plays Minor Swing you have a E7 in it. Some rules change d minor to g7 is the 2 chord in the key of cmajor.that would mean from the last message playing b minor over the E7.give it a go see what you think.
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Postby Ganondorf » Tue Aug 22, 2006 11:17 pm

:shock: :?:
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Re: How to improvise over 7 chords.

Postby troychapman » Wed Aug 23, 2006 12:09 am

BachelorNo2 wrote: i can't seem to be as melodic when I'm playing over, say, a G7 when compared to a G chord. Although they are fairly similar, all i seem to be doing is playing scales and hitting notes! Does anyone have any kind of approach to playing these?


I've got two ideas/comments for you:

1) Gmaj and G7 are about as far from being similar as you can get. Don't let the fact that they both have "G" in their names fool you. It's like saying a lemon and a banana are similar because they're both yellow and both fruits.

G7 is dominant/tension. Gmaj is tonic/release. Tension-release. Tension/release.

The ability to differentiate these two sounds is paramount in jazz of any style.

2) Everyone has given good suggestions on what to play over a G7 chord
except:

Learn to play a G7 arpeggio. Learn to play it everywhere on the neck, up to 3 octaves.

Then add a 9th to the arpeggio and learn that everywhere.
Then change the 9th to a b9 and learn that everywhere.
Etc.

You'll be learning one large concept, then making small alterations to fit different situations (i.e. b9 for minor keys).

This is no quick fix answer, but this is the true answer to your original question.
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