How to improvise over minor chords

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How to improvise over minor chords

Postby Swing This! » Thu Aug 24, 2006 2:29 pm

I found the "How to improvise over 7 chords" thread very informative and an interesting discussion. I'd be interested in hearing how others approach gypsy-jazz improvising over minor chords?

I often find that I get caught napping when the Am chord suddenly appears in the middle section of "For Sephora" - which I tend view as a
II-V-I progression in G. Perhaps looking at the progression the minor chord is in, is the way to approach it?

~ cheers, Phil
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Postby shultzerdugen » Thu Aug 24, 2006 4:12 pm

I will usually play natural minor or Dorian phrases over minor chords, but I have tried playing in a modal fashion over Minor Swing using A harmonic minor with some cool results. The key is to touch on chord tones, especially the 3 and 7, as they pass, rather than playing in a totally linear/scalar manner. Of course, the best thing to do is let your ears be your guide.

The difference with soloing over minor and major chords compared to dominant chords is that they don't lend themselves to dissonance as well. One well known exception that the hair metal/shred guitar cats latched onto is the Lydian mode with its sharp 4th over major chords (i.e. G major scale over C major chord). This can sound very hip if used with taste and discretion.
Last edited by shultzerdugen on Thu Aug 24, 2006 9:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby cap_django » Thu Aug 24, 2006 5:04 pm

The most common solution to minor chords in gypsy jazz is the min6/9 sound. This means the dorian mode which gives you the 6/9 extensions on the minor chord. Another common one would be harmonic minor scale (though more common in dominant chords) and diminished ideas over minor chords. You can also superimpose half-dimished (on the sixth) ideas and dominant 9 (on the 4th) ideas as well.

A more modern approach would be to play the min7. Again this would mean dorian.

The minor chord and major chord both do fine with dissonance. Remember, the important thing about dissonance is that it should be resolved in a logical manner. Listen to bebop and you'll find that they're capable of using any of the twelve notes and making it sound like it fits on any chord.
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Postby shultzerdugen » Thu Aug 24, 2006 6:24 pm

Listen to Ornette Coleman and you'll see that harmolodics require no release of tension, and can make you sound like a wild animal trying to hump the music with your notes, which is important for any player. :wink: (I kind of dig The Shape of Jazz to Come)

Or you can take the Eric Dolphy approach and play flute marching band music over anything you please!
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