Diatonic Arpeggios - Superimposing and Altered Chords With Jens Larsen

author: jenslarsen date: 07/04/2014 category: soloing
rating: 8.3 / votes: 11 
Diatonic Arpeggios - Superimposing and Altered Chords With Jens Larsen
In this lesson I'll discuss a standard approach to get more arpeggios you can use over a chord, using the diatonic 7th arpeggios.

I'll also go over how I use diatonic arpeggios over altered dominants.




I guess I can assume you already read this lesson: "Diatonic arpeggios: how to use and practice them," so you should at least know you what a diatonic arpeggio is and how it is constructed and be able to play them in a few positions and a few keys.

Superimposing - a way of adding extensions to your lines

Hopefully you have some idea on how to make a line using the arpeggio and the scale, so this next idea should help you develop a lot of new lines.

Let's look at a Fmajor7(9): F A C E G, if you take away the F you have the notes of an Am7 so if you apply that so f.ex a II V I in F major: You have the chords: Gm7, C7, Fmaj7 and you can use the arpeggios Bbmaj7, Em7b5 and Am7 over them in you lines.

Obviously this works because the notes that make the color of the chord (3 and 7) are still being played so the overall sound of the chord is still there.


Using other arpeggios that have a lot of chords in common with the chord you play them over will often work to so you could look at the one that is from the 5th and the one that is from the 6th which is the same as a third under the root. In some cases they are not working too well, f.ex a C7 arpeggio is very strongly sounding like something that is not a Fmaj7 sound, and something similar could be said about using Em7b5 over Gm7.

Here are two examples using the diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord:



I am not going to write too much about the examples I'll explain a bit in the video. What you can learn from them is analyzing what arpeggios I play and how I use them melodically.

Altered dominants and diatonic arpeggios

In jazz you often come across altered dominant 7th chords, which are not a stack of diatonic 3rds in so you need to approach them differently. Let's take a C7altered. Usually we play the altered scale on a chord like that, so the same notes as C# melodic minor. But in C# melodic minor the diatonic chord on the C is a Cm7b5, not a C7altered chord so we don't have a built in diatonic arpeggio for that chord and the system of taking the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord is not as strong.

Let's first play an altered scale, i.e. Melodic minor. In this case C# melodic minor:


So here's a practical solution to that problem: If you look at a C7altered chord voicing like one of these:


You can see that they are identical to F#7 voicings so if we think of the C7altered chord as a F#7(#11) with a C in the bass, we can use the arpeggio from the 3rd of that one: A#m7b5. That arpeggio contains the 3rd and 7th of C7, the b9 and the b13 so it gives you a pretty good set of notes for C7 altered lines.

The C7alt/F#7 relationship is what is called a tritone substitution, but I won't go into the theory on that here, it is explained in various places on the net so you can easily look it up, and is for the rest not that relevant in this context, since we are just looking for an arpeggio to play over an altered dominant.

You get these arpeggios:


Here are a few examples where I use an A#m7b5 arpeggio over C7alt.



As an experiment I have recorded a backing track of me playing 0:30 seconds of II V I in F major. If you follow me on Soundcloud you can download it to practice the lines you make. If you post a recording or video of you playing lines using the material in this over the backing track and let me know I'll try to leave you a comment on what you've come up with and maybe give you some advice.


I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video.

About the Author:
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