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Sage Wisdom

"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."

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October 13, 2011 | Best of JM: Cool sounds with a simple new scale

Enjoy the popular archive material below.
From July 29, 2010: "Cool sounds with a simple new scale"

Scale degrees can be like characters in a drama. Some you feel an affinity with and like, some you'd rather avoid. Some propel the action in the story, and still others will bring a sense of familiarity--completeness and belonging. What's interesting is how they can have a different subjective impact on the audience and our scale degrees have varying personal effects on your ear.

We've mentioned the power of the 4th and 7th, the notion that in a major scale, these lead to the defining notes of the scale, the lead of the 7th to the tonic (1) and the gravitational force of the 4th pulling to the 3rd. The remaining "supporting characters" of the scale can lead you to other notes, especially the chord tones of 1, 3, and 5.

We also mentioned a delicious little scale we call the Augmented 11th, sometimes referred to as the Lydian Dominant. Varying from a Major Scale you get:
1, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, b7, and 1. Let's look what this does "psychologically" to the music when we play solos based on it.


First of all consider what the lowered 7th (F) does in the key of G. In the key of C, the F would lead to the 3rd scale degree. You could almost say varying the note pushes the sound from the key of G to the key of C.

The raised 4th (C#) could be a leading tone (7) in the key of D. So now combined, you have a G tonal center with a sort of split personality, one that can't decide if it wants to be a C tonal center because of the F natural, or a D tonal center because of the C#.

In the end, the theory really doesn't matter. What's happening is a tense, but fun little sound you can build off of, especially in long passages of dominant chord. Sometimes restlessness and instability is a good thing. Keeps things interesting.

For now, let the personality of the sequence of notes tell its own story. But first, get to know it on your fretboard.

Explore: Augmented 11th FFcP Exercises

Hungry for music theory
Aug7th FFcP
New FFcP! Augmented 11th Exercises
Fresh Material for the V7 Chord; Django's Castle.
Mando ModeExplorer and the Lydian Dominant

Posted by Ted at October 13, 2011 4:53 PM

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