#1
I've been working with a lot of alterations lately, that is 7th flat 9s, sharp 9s, flat 13th etc and I can improvise over them pretty well, but only in the sense that I know what type of scale to use over a particular type of chord. I still have NO IDEA how to figure out WHAT KEY an alteration is in. Obviously an Em7b9 isn't in the key of D like it should be, because the b9 isn't in D. Any tips?
#2
To solo over a dominant chord, you have to play the altered scale.

That is...the last mode of melodic minor.

So start melodic minor on the b9 and you should be good.


There are other ways to solo over alterations.
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#3
so that means that the alteration is the tonic of the melodic minor scale. Does that mean that EVERY minor 7th alteration is a scale tonic?
#4
Well, I thought that an altered chord was a dominant chord with added tension(s).

In that case, you can use the altered scale as scheck suggests. However, it would probably be in the key of the note a fifth below it. So for example, an A7#9 would be the V in the key of D. It might not be the key of the whole song, but that would probably be the tonal center at that time.

Also, Em7b9 would be the iii in the key of C (the phrygian mode has a flat second).
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#5
I think in Em7b9 would be E G B D and then, the 9 is a 2nd up an octave so its a b2, F.
E G B D F would be in the E Phrygian mode of C major.

I didn't even read that part of your post psychodelia. Darn you.
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#6
Quote by matt101
I've been working with a lot of alterations lately, that is 7th flat 9s, sharp 9s, flat 13th etc and I can improvise over them pretty well, but only in the sense that I know what type of scale to use over a particular type of chord. I still have NO IDEA how to figure out WHAT KEY an alteration is in. Obviously an Em7b9 isn't in the key of D like it should be, because the b9 isn't in D. Any tips?

The whole idea of alterations (mainly over dominant chords) is to spice things up, to create extra tension etc.

How you can figure out what scale/mode to use over a chord? Break the chord down, and see which modes have that degrees in them! You really have to think scale degrees instead of notes here. A little example with your Em7b9:

Em7b9 has the notes 1 b3 5 b7 b9. If you line those up, you get: 1 b2 b3 5 b7. The next step is to see what modes have those notes in them. The ones I can think of at the moment are Phrygian, Dorian b2 (a mode of melodic minor) and the half-whole scale which 'official' name I forgot.

Quote by scheck006
To solo over a dominant chord, you have to play the altered scale.

'Have to'? Imo, the altered scale is one of the hardest scales to let it 'sound good'. I trust that you know this, but for the ones that don't know: The altered scale could be played over any dom7 of alt chord. It contains all the extra tension notes in it, and therefore it creates an enormous dissonance and most people can't handle it. The dom7 chord is already dissonant, but with b9, #9, b5, #5 over it, it really can't get much more dissonant! It takes a lot of trial and error, but once properly learned (I never say mastered), one can get pretty cool sounds out of it.

Quote by matt101
so that means that the alteration is the tonic of the melodic minor scale. Does that mean that EVERY minor 7th alteration is a scale tonic?

Explain please?

Quote by psychodelia
Well, I thought that an altered chord was a dominant chord with added tension(s).

Correct.

Quote by psychodelia
In that case, you can use the altered scale as scheck suggests. However, it would probably be in the key of the note a fifth below it. So for example, an A7#9 would be the V in the key of D. It might not be the key of the whole song, but that would probably be the tonal center at that time.

Imo, that's a limited way of thinking about it. If I'm playing over a A7#9, I'm not thinking 'oh, I'm in the key of D'. I'd think 'hey, I'm playing Amixolydian' or 'Adorian' or, the best 'I'm playing over a dominant chord based of A'.

For further notice, I refer you to this thread I started a while ago. I had pretty much the same questions as you've had and they were properly answered by the helpful people here!

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=372950
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