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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 25, 2012 | 7th Chord Streams

In our five part series on chord vamps, we featured a progressive look at how you could spice up some stagnant chord sections of music. Let's say you had 2-4 measures of a G chord, you could enhance the energy of the song by simple diatonic triads, inserting fleeting V7 chords (scurry dominants), manipulating the Circle of 5ths, and even juicing up similar minor chord patterns.

Don't make the mistake of looking at this as making the simple more complex. It's really taking something stark and injecting systematic, repeatable enhancements to make accompaniment more engaging to yourself and the listener. In each lesson, we give something that will not distract from, but propel the existing harmonic structure.


We're introducing you to a stream of 7th chords. In our Mandolin Sessions article Static Changes: V7 chords we showed how you could play 4 different inversions of the same V7 chord in 3-note patterns. You can play these up and down the fretboard, but leaping more than 3 or 4 frets at a time is awkward to hands and ears. In the accompanying PDF pages, we'll connect these chord with a passing chord to smooth the movement.

Understand, mastering these streams gives you the capability of generating some interesting V7 patterns in all 12 keys. We're just giving you four, but you can move them around yourself, up a fret or two, down--you have the whole ball of string.


Print PDF: 7th Chord Streams

Try these out on your favorite simple blues song. You can turn 4 measures of G7 into something that sounds complex, yields energy, but doesn't change the harmonic integrity of the music. If theory isn't your thing, just play the blocks. They sound good enough on there own, even if you don't understand the mechanics of why.

Let us know how this helps your playing!

Vamps Pt 1. Creating energy with Diatonic triads
Vamps Pt 2. Expanding the Diatonic triads
Vamps Pt 3. Scurry Dominants
Vamps Pt 4. Circle of fifths
Vamps Pt 5. Minor modal

Posted by Ted at October 25, 2012 9:02 AM

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