Hi there.

I cant get used to the altered dominant scales. Lots of the jazz songs i learn of course uses these scales, but i cant seem to get it to sound good. Trying to use it on the V in major II-V-I.

I am talking about the one that is "the same" as the melodic minor, and the half-whole scale.

Any tips on how to apply these scales, or ways to get used to them?
I would advocate learning vocabulary over the V chord instead. Some other jazz and fusion players might disagree with me, but i don't see the point of practicing chord-scales over tunes. It is a system has been made up to easily teach improvisation, but it doesn't work. I'm not saying "don't learn these chord-scales" i am saying don't rely on the scales for improvisation, use them as a reference point.

What i do, and lots of other jazz players do, is learning vocabulary for different situations. For example over a V chord, or a ii-V, or a ii-V-I. So what should you do? Listen to the players you love, find phrases in their solos that you like (because there is no point learning things you don't like) that are used over a V chord, learn them by ear, play them until you got them under your fingers, sing them until you got them in your head, then repeat in all twelve keys. THEN when you have internalized it, analyze it. What is this phrase? Is it a steady eight note phrase? Does it come from the Altered scale, Lydian Dominant or Mixolydian? Take concepts from the phrase and build your own phrases and change up the existing phrase. I believe the great Hal Galper once said "it's better to know 20 phrases and 100 ways to use them than 100 phrases and only being able to play them as is".

Scales are good to know so you can see what the vocabulary is coming from. Scales are the letters, musical vocabulary (phrases) are the words made up by those letters. And you won't be getting better at coming up with sentences (solos) if you just keep throwing letters around.

Best Regards,
I agree with Sickz ... it's the lines you make out of the scales ... but I guess this is where you're heading towards?

Altered is one of my favourite note sources.

The altered scale (JM7, 7th mode of mel.minor) often sounds better when resolving to a minor (7) chord in the harmony ... try it over the V in i ii m7b5 V7#9 i m7.

(There are better choices against major ii V I)

Up to you where in time you start playing notes from the scale from. E.g, suppose above is played with 2 bars on i, and 1 bar each on the other two chords. Yoiu could just throw in a few notes right at the end of the V7#9, while playing the rest how you nromally handle soloing over minor. Or, you start as early as the beginning of the m7b5 (even earlier if you really want to push the boat out).

A couple of simple ideas, using minor pentatonics:

if you have E7#9 (or any altered chord (i.e. some combo of b9, #9, b5, #5)) then you can think of this as the VII of F mel minor. So, you can play G m pent. licks (ii of mel.minor is a m7(b9)), or you can play F m pent licks, just don't emphasise it's b7 (Eb).

This is not the best way to bring out the sound, but it'll get you going.

And then resolve to a chord tone in Am7. Or to E min pentatonic against the Am7.

You can also use it against a simple groove, say in A minor. Just pretend an E altered chord is occurring every 2 or 4 beats, and throw the altered line in as the chord "comes up", and again resolve.

This is a wonderful scale to get to grips with melodically.

If I get time tomorrow, I'll post a few examples.

cheers, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Nov 9, 2014,
Here's an example using A altered -> D m11

It's 4 bars.
For the first A altered, I used a simple A altered pattern, repeated an octave higher, and to link it to a D min blues lick, I started that lick on E (the 9th of Dm11 chord) in bar 2.

For the second A altered, I used Cm blues, and then repeat same D min blues lick.

cheers, Jerry
Thank you for the advice!

Using c-min blues on the A-altered seems like a good way to get familiar with the sound, jerrykramskoy. Thanks

Great advice, sickz. I will continue to learn from records and work harder to internalize vocabulary.
there are 2 common uses of the jazz minor scale (MM)
on is in on the V7 chords which does not resolve to its I - in this case you play the MM 5 steps below the root of the V7 e.g. D7 you play A melodic minor , the other is on a ii/V7 alt/i progression you play the MM minor a half step above the root of the V7 chord e.g. A7 -> A# MM