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Jazz Piano Lessons: Altered Dominant Scales

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We've been working on our
altered dominant chords,
on our sharp nine chord in particular.
It's time to get up some stuff that
we will play with our right hand when
we're soloing over these altered
dominance sonorities here.
There's a G altered seventh chord with
the third seven, and the sharp nine.
What do we play on that?
It's pretty simple really.
We're gonna do the same thing,
the same principles and
the same ideas we did with
our regular dominant scale.
But we're just gonna take two of
the degrees of the scale down a notch.
So the regular dominant scale on this.
It's just a G Mixolydian scale which
is essentially the C scale
starting from the G.
And we have our little extra
passing tone between degrees seven,
[SOUND] and eight, or one.
if we've got this going in our left hand,
or if that's the harmony we're blowing on,
that doesn't really fit anymore.
But that does.
So we're going to take
our A down to an A flat.
And there's a configuration,
[SOUND] in which that actually
does work and it's kinda cool.
But for the purposes of blowing,
[SOUND] we're going to take
that down a half step too.
Essentially we're going from this,
[SOUND] which is a nice chord.
But it doesn't work with
[SOUND] those notes in it.
We're going to take that down.
So let's take a look at our
compiled altered chord.
One of the things that I really like about
this altered harmony, as I've mentioned,
is that it's a little bit more compelling
because we've got these half step
resolutions now.
That's pleasant.
But this,
that E flat really wants to go to that D.
And as you're playing your lines, you'll
find that that's a little bit more of
a compelling sound just because you've got
things that are more motivated to resolve.
[SOUND] We can sit there,
and it's not bothering me.
But [SOUND] that wants to go there.
And then again down with our A flat,
[SOUND] is somehow that needs to
go somewhere more than this does.
[SOUND] And I think that's why I
have such a strong preference for
playing altered harmony when I can.
It gives you a lot more places,
as I've mentioned,
to take the harmony that
are more of an expressive device
than working within
the natural dominant context.
So we're going to take the nine,
make it flat.
We're going to take the 13 and
make it flat.
Here's the scale all together then.
As contrasted
You can hear that this one,
to me it's just a jazzier sound.
And on the way down.
You can hear when I'm accenting on
the off beats.
The stuff that we're really putting on
the beat is all stuff that
needs to go somewhere, and
that gives our line a really
nice driving sound.
In this configuration,
the E-flat and the A-flat of course,
are passing tones,
rather than chord tones.
We still wanna outline
the G seven on the beat
to be most in sync with what we're doing.
Let's take a look here at how
we would finger these scales,
starting with this G altered.
Very familiar format, one, two,
three, one, two, three, one, three.
One, two, three, one, two,
three, one, three, one.
Same thing on the way down, one, two,
or one, three, one, three, two, one,
three, two, one, three, one,
three, one, two, three.
Well worth getting these things
really baked on into your fingering.
Let's get this going on our A seven chord
because that way we can slide it on
in to tune up, which we're working on.
In place of our regular dominant harmony,
we'll slide this in instead.
And our left hand will go here, so.
So finding and
fingering this on
our A seven chord.
That's how I do it,
very familiar.
It seems like almost all of my bop
scales have either this fingering or
something very close to it.
Two groups of three, one group of two, and
I'm not really using my fourth and fifth.
Believe me,
we're gonna get to those later.
One, two, three, one, two, one, two,
three, one, two, three, one, three, one.
Same exact thing on the way down.
One, three, one, three, two, one,
three, two, one, three, one,
three two, one, three, two, one.
I got the blues.
What can I say?
So we're gonna do these, work them up
the same way that we've been working on
most of our bop scales,
which is to say we'll play them.
We'll start just by playing them.
I'm gonna put up a little
A modal track here,
the A dominant modal track
at 110 beats per minute.
And just
we're gonna play them with
our articulations.
If it's the first thing
I'm doing in the day,
I often just play
I'm trying to just send a little message
to my hands that it's time to go to work
so I play nice and firm,
nice and consistently.
And that first chunk of my practice time,
my exercise time is the one that I use
to more or less get the muscles going.
And I start working on
the articulations later.
But I'm gonna play this over
the A seven modal track.
I'm gonna play it as we do,
[SOUND] from all the different degrees,
and we'll take it from there.
[SOUND] A one, two, three, four.
bit of laying
back there as
I tend to do.
I also fingered on the fly right
in the middle of that line, but
that's what we're here to do.
There I'm
doing something
that I often
do which is
really accentuate
the dynamics.
I've got notes that are,
you can't even hear them, and
I've got notes that
are really cranked loud.
One of the things that I really want
to accentuate here as we work on
these lessons is that the hand
isn't going like this.
We need to really work on
being able to do this,
to articulate without breaking
the smooth motion and
the control that we get from having
our wrist position correctly.
So, last degree here.
That's how
we practice
that one.
We're also gonna work up quickly
our G altered bop scale, and
our F seven altered bop scale.
And then we're in a position
where we play tune up,
we've got a bunch of different places to
go on our dominant chord.
That really opens up
your harmonic vocabulary.
I can sit there really all day
thinking of different ways
to alter up that dominant chord.
So this is a real kind of progress towards
getting to where it's really fun to
practice this stuff.
I'll see you for the next lesson.
Let's get some fingering
going on our G7 altered scale and
our F7 altered scale.
Then we're gonna continue to work these
into our vocabulary a little bit.
Let's start with the G 7 altered.
Very familiar grouping again, one,
two three, one, two, three, one, two, one.
Or one, three, one, I'm using.
The chord again, G, B, D, F,
the regular scale would have been
that little thing being our extra passing
tone that turns our seven note
scale into an eight note scale.
But we've taken these two notes and
made them flat so
that they work on an altered chord.
So the fingering again in slow motion.
One, two, three, one,
two, three, one, three,
one, two, three, one, two,
three, one, three, one.
Same thing on the way down.
One, three, one, three, two, one, three,
two, one, three, one, three, two, one,
three, two, one.
Let's go to our F7 altered scale now,
I think I know how we're
going to practice this,
we can put up a track and do it.
I'm going to do it for
just a second on the really,
really slow jazz track, the 80 beats
per minute G modal backing track,
play along track, just to get
an idea of how we would swing this.
Now we'll
go to the
on like
As always you can hear me
experimenting in there.
Trying to sort of let
the music come to me.
Instead of being in a hurry and
being like, come on, music.
Catch up with me.
Let's finger the F7 now,
our F7 altered, the dominant scale.
There's the natural scale or
here's the chord tones and
the basic chord.
We've messed things up here by adding
a sharp nine,
making this into an altered sound.
And within the spectrum of altered chords,
that really,
you can voice it this way with a sharp
you can also make it a flat nine,
all of this stuff is considered
to be an altered chord.
That thing there which is,
technically is a sharp 11, but
in this context I see it as a flat five,
that is an altered tension.
So our scale is composed of just
taking anything that looks like
a natural tone in here,
a natural extension, and making it flat.
So on the way up, this one's kind
of unusual because it is in fact
two groups of three and a group of two.
But whereas most of ours, you get to
put your thumb on the Beat at least to
start the thing off, this is when
the groups fall in a bit of a weird place.
So I finger this one.
Two, three, one, three, one,
two, three, one, two, three,
one, three, one, two, three, one, two,
three, one, two, one, two, three, one.
Let's end on the three there.
On the way down,
I kinda play a very unusual thing on this.
And it's an awkward thing to finger,
but I've gotten comfortable with it.
What it is, we're gonna go one,
four, three, two, one, two,
one, two, one, four,
three, two, one, two, one,
two, one, four, three, two,
one, two, one, two, one.
So at last, here at lesson hundred and
something, we're using our
fourth finger on a bop scale.
I can't really think of
a better way to finger this.
If you think of something
that works better for
you on any of these that you can really
if you can rip it off like that with
a different fingering, let me know.
I've been playing it like this now for
more years than I care to remember.
So, that's the fingering on the way up and
down on this.
Put up the slow modal play along track.
And just have fun with this.
It doesn't need to be a real dry exercise.
You can be swinging along with the band.
I'll see you for the next lesson.