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from Mimi Fox's Jazz Anatomy
In this modal soloing session, we will be utilizing the basic arpeggios of the chords up and down the neck to give a “safety net” for more advanced harmonic substitutions. You gotta walk before you can fly, so practice these moves and get them under your fingertips before moving on to more advanced sessions.
In our first solo piece, we want to outline Dm everywhere on the fretboard with arpeggios. Once you have those Dm arpeggios down, you can also work off of the blues scale. Another concept you can use as you solo is to play off of chords in the key – the key being D Dorian or C major. So, in this example, you can move from Dm to Em, Fmaj, G7, Am, Bm7b5, etc. All of these chords are in the parent key, and we can play them melodically by playing off of fragments of the arpeggios.
Once you’ve mastered playing minor arpeggios and scales all over the neck, you’ll be ready to move on to compound lines, harmonic substitutions, use of poly-tonality and intricate phrasing. We’ll utilize all of these concepts to create hip solos over what is essentially one chord. By now you should be ready to tackle hundreds of modal tunes and jams.
Ok now we’re going to start having some more fun with this modal stuff and I’m going to talk to you about some of the cool ideas you can use to really color what you’re doing over a modal piece. We’ll keep building on the concepts we’ve been working on.
Building on what we did in the first solo – outlining the Dm, playing the other chords in the key of C and playing the blues scale – you can play off of these modal vamps as if there was what we call an implied V chord, which of course in D minor is an A7. Sometimes that’s a very cool sound to use – play as if there’s an A7 in there even though the bass player will still be walking in D. Because the dominant chord is so strong, it will sound great leading back to Dm.
The other thing you can experiment with is moving in different intervals up from the Dm. We discussed this a bit last month, and you might remember McCoy Tiner as one of the biggest proponents of this style. One way to use these intervals would be to move up from Dm to Fm to Abm and do lines. A common idea is to move in minor thirds, but you can certainly move up in half steps or utilize harmonic sidestepping (touched upon last month), which involves moving a half step above or below the Dm. When you find yourself soloing over a modal tune, you’ll want to utilize all of these concepts to keep it interesting and your audience hooked.
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