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Chris Spencer >> Evolution of Jazz Guitar >>
guest teacher - Chris Spencer

ChrisS: Welcome to the second live lesson installment for the jazz guitar series. This week we will be expanding on the II-V-I progression we covered last week. For a refresher, you might want to take a look at the last weeks material, since we'll be picking up from that point. This week we will be adding the VI minor chord to our progression to yield two different variations; the I - VI - II - V, and the III - VI - II - V. We will also look at substituting a dominant sound for the II chord as well as a complete tritone substitution for the II and the V chords. We will do these things in the same order as last week; chord shapes and progressions, scales and arpeggios with examples for each.

ChrisS: lets get start off with some chords...

ChrisS: All chord progressions and examples will be in Bb today. So the Bb chords you see throughout the lesson will be defined as "the I chord". The first two examples add the VI chord to the II - V - I progression we covered last week. What you will see and hear is a I - VI - II - V progression (ex 1) followed by a similar III - VI - II - V progression (ex.2). The VI chord can be either minor or dominant and both are used to illustrate that point. Like the II -V - I progression, its important to practice these chords as a grouping or "cell" because they appear so frequently in jazz. By isolating these chords you are also able to focus on the changing chord tones and then begin to incorporate them into your lines.

ChrisS: Now let's substitute a dominant seventh sound for the II chord. Last week we used a minor sound which is the fundamental chord choice. You would make this type of substitution in order to add more color to the II chord. For even more contrast you may want to add some altered tensions.

ChrisS: Use Jam 2 for the 3rd chord progression, lets look at the 4th chord progression, and to top off the chord voicings, let's look at a tritone II - V progression. In this example we are substituting a set of II - V chords whose roots are a tritone away from the original II -V. Without getting into too much of a theoretical explanation, this substitution is a short cut for implying an altered dominant sound.

ChrisS: Use Jam 3 with chord progression 4.

ChrisS: Now lets look at some of the scales that you would apply over these substitutions, in particular lets look at chord examples 3 and 4. Naturally, you can use a Bb scale to cover these progressions, but it doesn't accent the changing tones in the new chords. Here's last weeks Bb scales

ChrisS: During chord example 3 we substituted a dominant seventh sound for the typical minor sound over the II chord. This new chord requires a different scale in order to agree with the harmony. You can think of this scale as C mixolydian or the 5th mode of the F major scale.

ChrisS: Basically, this chord implies a temporary departure from the home key of Bb, into the key of F. When you play along with the jam track you only have four beats to work with this scale. Try to include the one note that is not found in the home key of Bb, the 3rd degree of C7 (E). Here's a lick that illustrates the C7 mixolydian scale,

ChrisS: Remember, you have to switch back to the key of Bb after the C7 has gone by. Pop quiz -anyone know the key signature for Bb?

EC: 2 flats

ChrisS: Alright EC you got it, which ones, anybody?

Steve: Bb Eb?

ChrisS: Yup, Steve you got it. For chord example 4 we have the chord progression Gbmin7 - B7 - Bbmaj7. Since the first two chords are the II - V chords in the key of E, you can certainly use an E major scale over the two.

ChrisS: There is another choice that this next scale example illustrates, the Gb melodic minor scale. Melodic minor scales are incredibly interesting in all sorts of situations, although we won't be able to get into all of them today.  As I mentioned earlier with a tritone II-V we are actually implying an altered dominant sound. In this example the Gbmin - B7 chords reflect a similar sound to an altered V chord ( F7alt, or F7b9#9b5#5). Now say that 5times to yourself fast. The Gb melodic minor scale includes all of those notes and creates a very interesting pull to the I chord. To me, the melodic minor scale is one of the most useful scales to work on.

EC: instead of plain E major scale would you play E flat scale instead

ChrisS: No actually you play Gb melodic minor in place of the E major.

Steve: Eb major is relative to Gb minor?

EC: yes, it is the six degree of the scale

ChrisS: That's right EC!

Steve: melodic minor has a natural 7?

ChrisS: Yeah Steve it does.. It has a natural 7 and 6th degree. Here's a lick to go along with the last scale..

ChrisS: So, you play Gb melodic minor over the last progression, until you reach the Bb chord, then you switch to a Bb maj scale. Let's check out some arpeggios. Here are some examples of arpeggios for the VI chord found in chord examples one and two. The first is a minor 7 arpeggio and the second is a dominant 7 arpeggio with a b9 thrown in the middle. Try connecting these to the arpeggios we covered last week.

ChrisS: So these two arps will outline the six chord. The second of the two is a little more interesting, if you like altered tensions. Try combining these with the Bb maj, Cmin7 and F7 arpeggios we covered last week. For the new II7 chord (C7) we have a new arpeggio...

ChrisS: You can use this arpeggio over a C blues as well, Just plug it in whenever you hear a I chord, Here's a Gb minor arpeggio to go along with the last chord progression.

ChrisS: To help with the C7 F7 Bb progression, here's a jam track

ChrisS: This will help you work on the both the C7 mixolydian scale and lick, as well as the C7 arpeggio, To help with the Gb melodic minor scale, as well as the Gb minor scale use the following jam track.

EC: that is nice if it's well together, it has a very melodic sound

ChrisS: I think so too. Finally, Here's a B7 arpeggio. Use it on chord progression 4 along with the Gb min arp. After you've done this stuff a bit, you should try merging both the arpeggios and the scales.

ChrisS: So you could start out with the C7 arpeggio and work your way into the C7 mixolydian scale. After all, the arpeggio is really just a more selective form of a scale.

EC: it builds chord voicing

ChrisS: The arpeggio is really just the 1,3,5 and 7th degrees of its parent scale.

Tim: Does this progression work with any scale, major. blues ...

ChrisS: which progression in particular?

Tim: The 1357 or am I misunderstanding

ChrisS: The 1357 are actually scale tones

Tim: Ok Got ya

ChrisS: Thanks folks, see you next week.

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