Common Jazz Chord Connections

April 28, 2017:
Common Jazz Chord Connections

PART ONE:  In example one, a study of two progressions operate using both linear and fixed upper chord tones over the same harmony. The first progression (example 1a), applies the chord tones ascending along the second string through seventh chords of, Dmaj7, Bm7, Em7 and A7. The second example, (example 2b), maintains a fixed position upper chord tone at the second string's 5th at 7th frets. Chord types have been extended out from the 7th to include; 9th, 11th and 13th.

Example two is another study of two progressions that operate to show how a typical seventh chord jazz progression can be expanded upon to use both extended and altered chord types. In example 2a, the progression is based upon using standard seventh chords of; "Dm7, A7, Bb7, B7 and Cmaj7." Example 2b expands upon that sound with an enhanced harmony that include the augmented and diminished 5th (altered chords), along with 9th and 11th extensions.

PART TWO: In the second half of the lesson, we begin in example three by working on a popular trick in jazz harmony that fools the listener into thinking there are more chords in the harmony than there are. The example three progression uses a combination of chord extensions and chromatic bass note movement to demonstrate the sound of passing chords. The harmony includes seventh chords, minor 11th, and diminished 7th chord types.

In example four, we wrap things up by combining multiple connection techniques. These include seventh chords, the half-diminished, triad over bass-note, and the dominant 7th (b9). The upper chord tone position concept (demonstrated in example one), is also in play using both the fixed and the linear application

Paid members can download the handout along with the MP3 jamtrack in the members area at:



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The Deceptive Guitar of Johnny Marr

If you've ever tried to learn a Johnny Marr guitar riff one thing that will happen rather quickly is a realization that the part you're working on is not as simple to play as it may sound...

Johnny Marr is one of the best players out there - able to execute a flawless groove on a guitar riff, yet keep the part both simple and in the pocket enough to have it remain under-stated within the song. 

His playing is both busy and smooth yet comes across as simple enough to keep in your memory - even when you first listen to one of his parts. 

However, you'll quickly discover how solid a player he truly is when you try and play a guitar riff from one of his hundreds and hundreds of recordings. 

Right away, you'll quickly discover layers upon layers of deceiving rhythms, double-stop lines, and complex syncopated small arpeggiated chord patterns.

When you begin digging through the various layers of how Marr plays his parts, you'll need to begin by getting an understanding for his overall approach and the style of his playing.

This area has a lot to do with gaining an appreciation for how Marr's "simple sounding" arpeggiated guitar style is not actually very simplistic after all. 

In fact, his playing (and especially his studio playing), is far more technical than what most of today's pop-rock guitar players are writing on the instrument (or even thinking about) when presently recording in the studio.

A big part of the "Johnny Marr" guitar style is how he approaches his sound. He uses a ton of layering through additional guitar tracks - both in the studio and live.

Plus, he also takes a lot of consideration for how the sound of his guitar will be affected by things like; tuning, the use of a capo and especially how guitar effects like reverb, delay and chorus will shape his final sound.

Johnny uses a lot of different guitars including: 

- Rickenbacker 330
- Rickenbacker 360 12 String
- Gibson 355
- Gretch 6120
- Gibson Les Paul Standard
- Fender Telecaster
- Fender Stratocaster
- Gibson 330 12 String
- Martin D-28 Acoustic
- Martin D-28 12 String Acoustic.
- Gibson ES-355

Johnny's amp's include:
-  Fender twin and a Roland JC120
- Roland Jazz Chorus
- Fender Pro

Johnny is a big fan of the Boss effects line of pedals. 
- Boss CE-2
- Boss GE-6
- Boss OD-2
- Boss pedal case /board (see below)

Johnny Marr's early pedal board:
From right to left is a PSM-5 followed by a GE-6, OD-2, TW-1, HM-2 and the CE-2 on the end.

In the 1980's he moved into using more rack-mount effects. Below is a shot of his 1986 rig:
Korg SDD 2000, 1000 and two 3000's(top to bottom)

Presently he uses the Boss GT-100:
Picture below of his home studio set-up

click image to enlarge as full-screen

When Johnny Marr works out chord harmonies, he tends to stick quite close to home on using chord changes that reflect more diatonic progressions. 

After examining a large group of his songs, the overall consensus shows that he leans into the favoring of more minor key centers rather than the major keys. This makes sense due to the more popular sound of pop-rock song compositions used across of a majority of his pieces.

Some of his more famous progressions, such as the one from the Smith's hit "This Charming Man," apply a Minor tonality color while bringing in some of the relative major tonality (in the bridge section).

The chord changes follow a fairly basic Minor Key harmony as shown in example one, of "Tonic chord" (Bm), to the "III-chord," (D major), into the "VII-chord" (A major) and wrapping up on a major "IV-chord" (E major). Note that the major "IV-chord" (E) promotes the subtle effect of the Dorian Mode. 

While his progressions may be mostly diatonic, he does not always remain exclusively within the basic major or the natural minor formats.

Example 1). A fairly typical Johnny Marr chord harmony, (key of B Minor / Dorian mode)

click image to enlarge as full-screen

In the Bridge section of "This Charming Man," the harmony shifts to a relative major idea with a collection of interesting sounding suspended and seventh quality chord types. 

Once you spend some time listening to the Johnny Marr guitar style, you begin to notice that the sound of the suspended chord, (as well as the "add" chord), is a fairly common part of his guitar style. 

This makes a lot sense to his style, since these chord sounds will lend themselves to the application of all those lush reverb's and chorus sounds. See example two.

Example 2). Major tonality shift example with suspended and seventh chords...

click image to enlarge as full-screen 

While a good deal of his songs feature minor tonality riffs and phrases, he also enjoys the tonal characteristics of the basic major tonality as well. 

Take a run through progressions as straight forward as the major riff "I-IV-V" in a song like, "Golden Lights," Here, he dominates the harmony and the groove by way of a basic key of "E Major," "I-IV-V" progression.

Example 3). Typical "I-IV-V" chord changes...

click image to enlarge as full-screen

The lead guitar style of Johnny Marr is certainly unique. His approach incorporates an almost never ending cascade of arpeggiated chords, that are combined with a very syncopated rhythmic style of performing the picking patterns across the chord outlines.

He combines this syncopated rhythm concept with a wide range of chorus and reverb settings dialed in to match each of his songs. And, on top of all that, he does a great deal of experimentation with alternate tunings, and the use of capo's plus he uses a vast array of layering effects in the studio. 

In fact his Smith's song, "This Charming Man" had a whopping15 guitar tracks layered in the studio, (including; three tracks of acoustic, a backwards guitar with a really long reverb, and the effect of dropping knives on the guitar — that comes in at the end of the chorus).

Johnny's very different approach to his "rhythmic picked style" of playing, (which he referred to as "high-life" sounding runs), is established by way of how he incorporates all of the matched picking patterns used to outline each of the chords.

His technique can be made more concise by re-tuning the guitar into other tunings. Once the new tuning is in place, the open strings (of the new open tuning) can match the key center better and will allow him to apply more open string lines around his parts.

This is quite evident in the Smith's song, "The Headmaster Ritual." In this piece, the guitar has been re-tuned into an, "Open E Major" chord tuning. Once the 5th, 4th and 3rd strings have been re-tuned the access to more open string patterns can be applied around single-string riffs. Try playing the part shown below in example three.

Example 3). Open "E Major" tuning Johnny Marr style riff...

click image to enlarge as full-screen

Chord changes that are used in his songs may be fairly common, (from a harmony and theory stand point), but the individuality for how he performs them can be very difficult to duplicate. 

This has a lot to do with the amount of syncopated rhythmic feel that he adds across the chord changes using small arpeggios.

In my final example below, I've organized a rendition of his "syncopated arpeggio" approach based off of a riff found in his song, "This Charming Man." 

The picking pattern is organized around outlining the chord changes. However, the groove of the part follows a never-ending amount of small chord changes into the cycle of the rhythm parts.

Example 4). Johnny Marr style chord outline technique with syncopated rhythm approach.

click image to enlarge as full-screen

Johnny Marr is one of those guitar players who is able to produce guitar parts that have a noticeably unique sound and style to them. From the varied types of open tuning that he applies, how he incorporates the capo, as well as his array of effects (that create a wash of chorus and reverb over his sound), he has a style and a guitar tone that is recognizable regardless of the band he's playing in.

Over the years, he's worked in several top industry bands like; The Smith's, The Pet Shop Boys, Talking Heads, The Pretenders, Beck, Modest Mouse, as well as the legendary Sir Paul McCartney.  

In working on his sound and his style of playing, focus on his use of syncopated rhythm picking by way of arpeggiated chord outlines. And, practice playing diatonic major and minor key progressions with that smooth strumming approach for which he is so well known for.

Experimentation with the use of different open tunings and with the application of chorus and reverb are also a must. 

- Andrew Wasson

Watch for the lesson video:



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How to Express & Develop More Feeling in Your Music...

How easily can you express your feelings through music? Are the musical connections you create strong? Can you use your knowledge of music theory, scales and chords to manipulate how your listener feels?

There's nothing more frustrating than having a "feeling for a song" and not being able to get it out. When a musician has a strong connection to a lot of emotional thoughts about a life experience they become inspired. But, once you're inspired the real trick is to take those feelings of inspiration and produce music that reflects well through those ideas.

Generally, guitar students will copy songs from their favorite players. They pick a song that inspires them, and then they work on that song for hours and hours until they can play it. And, this is perfectly fine. However, it doesn't offer them very much by way of learning specifically "why" that song produced those types of feelings within them. This is where music theory comes into the framework.

Playing what another guitarist has done can be a lot of fun, but it won't help you gain the control that comes from thoroughly comprehending music. When you learn why certain chords 'flow well' from one into another. And, when we learn how certain musical scales will end up leaving us feeling in a specific emotional way - then you gain the real secrets to developing how to express more feelings in your own music.

Selecting certain scales to play or certain chords to use has more to do with emotions than you might think. 

A scale has a set series of tones that interact with all of the other tones around the tonic. And, these tones will cause us to feel certain ways under a group of chord changes. Even learning something as simple as "How to Harmonize the Major Scale," will go a long way to allowing a musician to gain more control over musical sound and the way it affects others.

For example, the Natural Minor scale has a certain sad, negative musical effect, but Dorian mode changes that effect with its raised 6th. Learn more about Dorian Mode.

Phrygian mode changes the minor effect yet again (with its unique lowered 2nd). And, it also helps to keep in mind that these tones (that are moved around scale to scale) also affect the chords that are related to each of them.
Learn more about Phrygian Mode.

Sound actually does have a color. There is a shade of emotion for how every group of chords will fit together and how the scales are used under them. 

Some scales produce a sad feeling and other scales will produce a happy effect. This means that a musician needs to learn what these effects are and how they can be applied to control the listener's emotions within songs.

Expression of sound is translated through notes, through intervals and through larger harmony. Once we start recognizing these effects and how we can control them, we can better comprehend how we want to apply these sounds in music. My video lesson, "Melody Notes from Chords," helps with explaining this topic.

It is important that these tools are well understood and that we have tested them in our music. Once they can be applied into a piece of music - at will (in order to generate the desired musical effects), we can start to take more control over how our listeners respond to music.

Remember, music is fluid and it has an up-side and a down-side (controlled largely by intervals). When music feels up, it applies specific intervals and patterns, (generally major or possibly augmented). 

When music is dark and negative it will generally contain more minor or diminished interval combinations. Learn these sounds and develop as much control over them as possible.

So, what exactly is the benefit of knowing music theory and how can it become a tool for organizing the musical production for greater feeling over our music composition? 

Music theory is an involved topic, (and takes many years to learn well). Music theory relates to having an understanding for how notes react within keys and chord progressions. 

Once we understand how to apply the elements of music theory, will we ultimately have more control over our listeners emotional effects.  

NOTE: The "Music Theory" section of my website contains a nice collection of free lesson videos (most come with handouts) on the topic of music theory. 

Uneducated musicians will often feel like music theory is just a bunch of rules that they will "have to" follow - and show me an artist that wants more rules - I completely understand why this is so unappealing. 

Sadly, this is not an accurate break down of what music theory is all about, since music theory is more like a box of tools with names for musical sounds and nothing more.

Once a musician begins to consider music theory as a group of names and options for taking music into various stylistic and emotional directions, the musician can better control the music that they compose. 

Music theory contains the tools that help with connecting one’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions together through musical expression.

Those tools allow us to use our natural musical creativity to recreate our emotions through sound. 

VIDEO SERIES: My "Two-Part Developing Creativity" series is an excellent way to start learning more about expanding your own potential for creative ability.

What it all boils down to is, the more we understand about music notes, names of musical processes, harmonic sound, keys and notes, intervals and chords, etc... the more we'll be able to control how well our music affects others.



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3 Methods for Overcoming Guitar Challenges...

All of us have struggled with improving something in our guitar playing and the frustration that can come from feeling like our guitar practice is doing very little to help with our problem. 

When we reach the crossroads - there are two choices - abandon trying to learn the guitar issue at hand, or keep trying to get better but, “accept” that reaching success may take awhile...

The decision you make when you reach this "frustration crossroad" will affect how the following weeks unfold for you. 

Making the best call for how you'll internalize and ultimately treat the learning situation ahead will determine not only your feelings, but also your rate and your speed of success as well.

Obviously, it is not realistic to suggest that there is some magical guitar practice routine that will work for every person who is trying to learn guitar. However, there are several critical steps that all great guitarists will tend to use when they are solving their guitar challenges.

Learning these strategies will make a huge impact on how quickly any guitar player reaches their success.

In order to consistently make progress with our musical skills, we need to have a system. In this post, I've created a short list of these steps along with an explanation of how to best apply them to your guitar practicing every time you face a difficult problem in your musical development.

What specifically is the challenge that you find difficult to overcome? What are your restrictions? Are there specific limitations that are holding you back?

It is important to force yourself to pay attention to the most effective ways of solving each of your guitar playing issues. Most importantly the original problem needs to be well defined. You must be clear on what it is that is causing you to have the difficulty in the first place.

Doing this involves being creative and thinking about how to place well defined parameters and restrictions on your study time in order to "zero in" on problems. Or, possibly even clarify what the added difficulties may be upon the guitar improvements that you are trying to make.

By isolating all of the main problems that you face, and then prioritizing how each problem can be stretched into other directions, (then solved on various levels), you will begin learning more specific details about how to solve each of your personal guitar playing issues.

Study my practice and training video on the, "Top 5 Guitar Practicing Habits." That video will work well to help you understand many of your foundational guitar "practice habit" issues.

The greatest guitar players on Earth always managed to successfully solve their guitar challenges because of their habit to consistently apply a ton of work to the mastery of polishing their skills, their theoretical knowledge and their technique.

If guitar playing seems to improve very slowly for you, just keep in mind that your next powerful burst of progress may only be one or two practice sessions away from where you are right now. 

All it takes is never giving up, and having the perseverance to take one more step on the practice path while applying the most effective guitar practicing approach available.

If you study with a guitar teacher or use another very effective and proven resource for learning guitar, (such as the proven systems in the Creative Guitar Studio course), your rate of progress will become faster and more predictable.

When you consistently follow an orderly step-by-step approach you will find yourself feeling a lot more confident about your potential to become the guitarist that you want to be. Plus, along the way, you will enjoy the process of reaching your goal.

Putting in the time and using a "work-flow" method that connects one relevant idea into another (a chapter by chapter method) will consistently produce results.

However, wasted time (that's time spent on material that doesn't help contribute to expanding your skills), combined with having a poor learning system and learning methodology will leave you spinning your wheels for a long time.

With work, (good work, well planned work) you can improve far more rapidly. If you have a study plan that you can follow daily, along with an orderly working method - progress will be swift and it will come to you more immediate.

To successfully overcome any guitar playing challenge in front of you, it is important to isolate exactly what the problem is. 

Although this seems simple, you would be surprised how many guitar players are not able to accurately define what it is that is giving them trouble in their guitar playing. 

A guitarist needs to go beyond highly vague descriptions similar to: “I can’t play rhythm guitar,” or, “my speed is too slow,” or “I can’t write songs very well.”

The fact is, such generalized statements will do little or nothing at all to help you find the solutions you need to take your guitar playing to the next level. 

In contrast, the best guitar players observe what is happening in their playing every time they have trouble and they will then define their challenges by completing some variation of the following process:

Problem = ________________
Solution = ________________
Pass / Fail
Start Again / Move on

Isolate any issue that is causing you problems. Focus on what needs to be done to solve it and create a plan set out over a defined amount of time to solve it. 

Once that "Testing and Operating" period is finished, regroup and determine if you have achieved a decent level of success. If not, extend the practice period and time frame. then, re-assess your skills down the road.

Watch my discussion on "Things I Wish Someone Told Me About Practicing Guitar" for more info on how to polish-up your practice time.



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The Secret Behind Power Chord Riff Tonality...

Power chord riffs are a staple sound of rock guitar. However, if you don't have a clear understanding of how power chords can be applied in both major and minor applications their use within tonalities can become a little confusing... 

In this post we'll learn the basics behind creating Major or Minor Power-Chord Riffs...

Whether you play electric guitar or acoustic guitar, at some point you’re going to run into power chords. While the concept behind these “chords” has been around for ages, they are a staple of most guitarist’s playing, being used in music of all genres and styles.

Here’s a primer to help you understand the tonal application of the power chord and how you can apply it in different ways.

As you may already know, power chords are not "really chords" at all, they are intervals, (dyads). Power chords only use two notes; the root note, with the fifth note of the major or minor scale in order to create their 2-note structure.

However, standard major and minor chords are "true" chords and have three notes, (the Root, 3rd and 5th). It’s the third note of the triad that creates our choice of using either the major or minor third to make a triad sound as either major or minor.

Power chords (also known as “5” chords, as in “C5” for example), technically, are not chords. They are dyads, (a two-note interval composed of the root note and the fifth note of the major scale). Because there is no third, the sound of a power chord is neither major nor minor. It’s ambiguous, until you begin moving it around.

Once the Power Chord starts moving around, it begins to form its major or minor color by way of the scale tones from the key signature. The shifts that the chord makes from one location on the neck to another will determine the tonality of the power chord progression.

The most popular power chord progressions are minor since so many power chord riffs are based in rock and the principle tonality of rock is minor.

However, there are also quite a number of power chord riffs that are based in major keys as well. These progressions are found in a lot of the pop-punk songs and some pop-rock riffs.

Having a good understanding for composing either major or minor power chord riffs is essential to every guitarist.

In order to create a "Minor Tonality" Power Chord riff, we must learn to use the notes of the minor scale in building progressions with power chords.

The critical scale tones for creating the "Minor" color are the, "Minor 3rd," the "Minor 6th," and the, "Minor 7th." There is no justification of the minor color for the 2nd, 4th or 5th tones.

Make a study of the minor tonality power chord riff shown below, (see; Riff #1). The key center is "G Minor" and the tonality is made to be Minor due to the "Bb" power chord.

Riff #1). "G Minor" Power-Chord Riff - Minor 3rd focus...

Minor tonality power chord riffs can also function by way of the minor scales degrees of the "Minor 6th" and the "Minor 7th" tones. Make a study of the "G Minor" power chord riff shown below in example riff #2. The lowered 6th and 7th degrees are off of the steps of "Eb" and "F."

Riff #2). "G Minor" Power-Chord Riff - Minor 6th and 7th focus...

In order to create a "Major Tonality" Power Chord riff, we need to learn how to use the notes of the major scale in building progressions that apply the power chords.

In the major scale power chord riffs, our primary focus needs to be on the color tones of the scales "Major 3rd" and the "Major 6th." These tones are the principle "Major" color tones and once they can be utilized in riffs, out power chord ideas become "Major."

Make a study of the major tonality power chord riff shown below, (see; Riff #3). The key center is "G Major" and the tonality is made to be Major due to the "B" power chord.

Riff #3). "G Major" Power-Chord Riff - Major 3rd focus...

Major tonality power chord riffs can also function by way of their major scales degrees of the "Major 6th" (and to a lessor extent the "Major 7th" tones). The "Major 7th" - while being the strongest Major resolution color, cannot produce a "Perfect 5th" Power Chord. This degree of the scale is Diminished and produces a lowered fifth degree. Therefore, it may be used, but the interval off of this step would have to be "Diminished" instead of "Perfect."

Make a study of the "G Major" power chord riff shown below in example riff #4. The major 3rd and 6th degrees are off of the steps of "B" and "E."

 Riff #4). "G Major" Power-Chord Riff - Major 3rd and 6th focus...

When you play a power chord on an electric guitar with the distortion cranked up on the amplifier, you generate overtones that give the Perfect “5” sound more depth and tonal color.

Depending on the other chords played in a particular progression, power chords can trick your listeners’ ears into hearing them as being either basic major or minor chords.

While you don’t get the overtones produced by an amplifier on an acoustic, the use of power chords on an acoustic guitar can create some very nice tonal ambiguity that adds to the mood of a song.



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Using Guitar Scales Musically

Using Guitar Scales Musically...

Takes both the Major Pentatonic and the 7-tone Major scale melodically  across common playing situations. The various musical principles described in the lesson can  later be taken into use within any other scale or mode...

The lesson demonstrates the value in breaking scale patterns away from their common fingerboard shapes. Exercises and melodic examples present scale segments into more flowing melodic passages. 

The first half of the lesson is dedicated to taking uncommon scale layouts into varied rhythmic duration and getting them to provide strong melodic scale flow. In the second half, our study shifts to learning the value of both 'along the neck' melodic applications and how to produce (and build upon) melodic themes.

PART ONE: In the first example, the Major Pentatonic scale from the key of "E" is used to explore extended note duration in a melody line by focusing on quarter and 8th-note phrases. 

Example 1a, uses a custom (Pattern #2) 6th position "E Major" Pentatonic scale shape between the 5th to 1st strings. Example 1b, applies the Pattern #2 shape (from example 1a), into a phrase over a group of chords from the key center. 

Example two begins with a customized segment from an 8th position "E Major Scale," (Pattern #3). The application of the scale segment is organized into a busy melodic line that relies on a mix of quarter, eighth and sixteenth note duration.

PART TWO: Example three uses a Major Scale (in the key of "C Major") to introduce the effects with how melodic passages can sound more interesting when they are used more laterally along the fingerboard.

Moving melodic ideas along the guitar allows for more phrasing devices to be applied. In particular, (as noticed in this example), the application of position finger slides. The abundant use of these slides allows for smooth transitions along the span of the fingerboard while dramatically affecting the sound of a melodic guitar part.

Example four takes a short melodic run from an "F Major" scale (in tenth position) and builds on the statement by gradually expanding the part into a more involved line.

This effect (of melodic expansion) is a valuable melody composing concept that can help musicians begin using their scales in more musical ways.

By expanding melodic phrases (and thus building more involved melodic themes), guitar players will better understand how to stretch lines further, use more technical devices and ultimately achieve greater tonal range.

Using Guitar Scales Musically

Related Videos:

Using Guitar Scales Musically...

Scales, Melodies and the Fingerboard

Pentatonic Scales and Melodic Improvisation



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Guitar Chords | F Chord | Guitar Notes | G Chord | C Chord | D Chord | Guitar String Notes

Core Principles of Modes

Modes are as easy to play as the major scale, but you need to know how they work to play them correctly. Once you have the ability to control their sound, and where they can fit, you'll have an brand new range of sound at your fingertips...

Using the Modes is all about note selection and how those notes are tied to the chords that are being played in a progression. Since the Modes are derived from the major scale (and contain the same exact notes), musicians need to take stock in why and where a mode might be more valuable to play rather than the basic major or natural minor scale.

Why learn new names for the same set of notes? 
One of the most common questions from music students is, "why should I bother learning about modes since they're the same notes as the major scale?"

The main reason that modes can be helpful is that sometimes the effects that a chord progression might produce will not make it very easy to play basic major or natural minor scale sounds. The player will be left with only one solution to cover the harmony, and that will generally fall back on the use of the Pentatonic scale.

Being able to make the shift in thinking (over to a mode) will help a musician unlock new sounds directly related to the chords in use. having control over modes will also help musicians when they are playing over unique chords, especially those obscure ones that pop up, (i.e., extended chords, triad over bass-note chords and altered chords).

Modal Purpose: 
All of us want to be able to improvise over any chord. and, we want it to sound good. However, when new chords are introduced, they will often cause musicians harmonic problems with trying to align the best scale sounds over the chord harmonies.

Improvisational ideas over new /unique chord progressions can often start to sound the same with players taking the easy road of performing their old "standby pentatonic scales" in order to be able to cover new harmonic situations.

Learning to apply modes becomes an excellent way for musicians to better connect into chords and they help musicians break out of the, "Pentatonic Rut."

The best thing about learning how to use modes, is that the modes are as easy to play as the major scale, (in fact; they are the major scale). Plus, learning modes also helps the musician with gaining a better understanding of chord harmony.

This carries over to helping musicians develop a better grasp over the use of arpeggios. So, when you stop and think about it, learning modes helps with improvising, with learning new chords and with developing arpeggios. That's a "Win - Win - Win" situation.

There are a number of ways that musicians set out to learn the modes. However, learning their application from the perspective of arpeggios and how the arpeggio relationship relates to the chords being used in a progression is still the best way.

Before learning each mode, the musician needs to comprehend basic major and minor key chord harmony.

Study the example below:

Example 1). "C Major Scale" harmonized into diatonic chords

The chart above demonstrates the chords found in the major key /scale. These chords can be expanded to larger intervals. Their degrees will play a role in helping us determine when specific modes can be applied in music.

Expanded Harmony:
Make a study of the chart below. Take note of how our diatonic chords can become further expanded through 9th's, 11th, 13ths and altered tones.

Listen and Learn:
Modes are able to cover a "sound" that ties into a specific harmony. Usually modes are applied when the sound (through the use of unique intervals) of a chord progression will require modes to cover a unique group of chords - not normally performed together. Often the chord types will contain extensions, such as; 6th's or 9th intervals.

Other times, modes will be required when chords appear that are considered "triad over bass-note." These situations present very different tonal characteristics that will have us leaving the standard diatonic chord harmonies, (shown above in example one).

Due to these factors, we need to be able to closely listen to how new chords interact in progressions. If the chords are unique, we will need to decide what makes them unique. What tones are new and how might those new tones be affecting the other surrounding chords. Everything in a harmony is colored by what happens ahead and after the chords in a progression.

Even though this sounds complex, it can be made a lot easier by learning a handful of common modal situations that occur over and over again in music. Once those situations are able to be recognized, musicians can start to notice them and react to them easier.

- The keys, major scales, degrees, chords, and modes are all related
- Diatonic chord progressions, within a key, gravitate toward specific chords
- Notes in a chord play an important role in determining scale coverage
- Modes highlight a chord’s harmony and relationship to surrounding chords
- Scale tones tie into the chord tones and the arpeggios are the link between them

Modal Table:

Basic modal theory revolves around the degrees of the major scale that create each mode. In the modal table above, the degrees are related to each step of a "C major" scale. However, this principle applies to all of the musical keys.

Once you know the degree that creates the mode, and the chord that relates to that degree, you have the basic foundation for using the major scale modes.

Learn more about modes by studying my modal video series and take your understanding of the modes up to the next level with my eBook "Using the Major Scale Modes."



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