In this lesson we are going to talk about adding Chromatics to your lines. If you don't know what Chromatic means -- it means tones that add color. More specifically, it means moving in halfsteps. For example: (C, C#, D, D#, E, F etc). You can add these passing tones to the scales you are using. You can approach any chord tone a half step above or below. Or, you can target the note a whole step above the chord tone. When using this concept, the object is to resolve on a scale or chord tone. I will introduce this with a few lines I wrote for you. Here goes......
Here is a Legato line using the C dorian scale (C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb). If you notice on beat 3 in the first bar, I added the B and the Db to the scale. Also, in the 2nd bar I added a extra note in the middle of the F and G (F, F#, G). The F# is the passing tone. Again, don't forget to resolve on a scale or chord tone, if not your lines will sound weird.
This is a jazzy line that is based off the C Melodic minor scale (C, D, Eb, F, G, A, B). You will see in bar 2 there is a 4 note phrase decending in halsteps. In bar 3 and 4 we have more added passing tones. We resolve on a Bb, which is the b7 of C. Play this line over a Cm7 chord, so you can hear how it relates.
Heres a bluesy line for you. We start off using a A7 arpeggio (A, C#, E, G). Then we fill between the chord tones C# and E with the passing tones D and D#. The rest of the line is just the A Blues Scale (A, C, D, Eb, E, G), except the Major 3rd, C#. Play this lick over a A Blues rhythm.
Our last Line is based off of E minor. In Bar 1, we have a Em7 arpeggio (E, G, B, D). On Beat 2, I added a lot of chromatic passing tones, filling in between the scale and chord tones. A basic rule is, any chord tone can be approached by four ascending or descending half steps. In bar 2, there is a 4 note sequence descending down the chromatic scale. In Bar 3 we wind down the line with more passing notes and finally resolving to Root, E.
Okay, that wraps up our lesson. Make sure you use these simple concepts to make up your own lines. You will begin to see that every note works, as long as you resolve on a chord tone. I use chromatics a lot in my playing!
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