In my last column, I talked about the altered scale and provided some shapes in order to help emphasize and exaggerate the altered sound. This time around, we’re going to elaborate on those ideas by playing licks built from some of those previous shapes.
As you may recall, C altered is directly
related to Db melodic minor—it contains
the exact same notes as Db melodic minor.
Therefore all of these examples can be
used not only in the context of C altered,
but also in the context of any mode related
to, and including, Db melodic minor.
For an altered sound, simply play these
licks over any kind of altered C7 chord.
As I mentioned last time, you may want to
start by playing over a C7#5 chord, since
the chord itself is altered and will initially
sound very complimentary.
Another way to use this scale effectively
is in a typical ii–V–I chord progression,
which, in this case, would be in the key
of F. A typical version of this progression
would be Gm9 (ii) to C7#5 (V) to Fmaj7 (I).
Remember, the idea is to build tension
over the dominant 7th chord and release
it over the I chord. Without resolution, the
tension just sounds unfocused and not as
melodic as it could be.
For a Lydian dominant sound, try playing
these licks over an F#7 chord. In doing so,
you will effectively be playing the notes of
the F# Lydian dominant scale (F#–G#–A#–B#–
C#–D#–E). When applying the licks in this
manner, I personally get the best results by
going back and forth between Mixolydian
and Lydian dominant. For a melodic minor
sound, simply play these licks over a Db
If you’re unfamiliar with the sound of
altered scales and chords, these concepts
will help you get oriented. There is much,
much more to this subject, but this is a
good place to start getting acquainted
with the sound of altered licks. We’ll see
you next time.
Greg Howe has enjoyed a successful recording career
since bursting onto the scene in 1988, and his talents
have been sought after by some of the biggest names
in the music entertainment industry, such as Michael
Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and Enrique Iglesias.
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