How to Use Scale Tones in Comping With Thomas Berglund

Learn to create melodic lines using various chords to improve your improvisation skills.

Ultimate Guitar
While playing chords you can think in modes (scales) instead of the chords in different positions. I'll start from Gm Dorian in this lesson.

G minor Dorian mode:

Then you'll have the tones G, A, Bb, C, D, E and F to work with and you can form chords from these and improvise your comping with various chord shapes, rhythmically and with chord melodies. It will be a varied and dynamic playing in that kind of comping. So what you do is forming the scale tones to chords from the Dorian scale in this case. Start to experiment and find chords in the scale and when you have a bunch of them you'll try to comp with those to a tune or the backing track to this lesson (below).

After practicing it for a while you will find yourself improvising with chords the same way you improvise with single notes.

Putting chromatic chord lines and melodic lines on the top will bring even more variations and dynamics to your comping.

Down below I have examples of playing with diatonic, melodic lines on top and chromatic chord lines.

Here's a diatonic example in the Dorian mode that you'll find in my 1st playing example in the video lesson:

You can also play melodic lines with chords.

Here's a melodic line example that you'll find in my 2nd playing example in the video:

Another thing you can do is playing chromatic chord lines. It means you play chromatic lines with full chords.

Here's a chromatic chord line example that you'll find in my 2nd playing example in the video:

This way of playing chords works very good to modal tunes but you can also use it to a jazz standard or any tune in any style actually. The important thing is to use your ear and listen to how it sounds to the tune that's being played. One can say that you're playing the same way you do when you improvise with single notes but with chords and after practicing this for a while you will be more free in the chord thinking and also get a new library of chords.

In this lesson I'm in the Gm Dorian mode but you can of course bring this idea to any mode and key. You can also use the idea in your soloing by mixing shapes from the soloing scale in phrases you´re playing.

Good luck!

About the Author:
Thomas Berglund is a musician that has played in many different styles through the years and he has his heart in music with improvisation. He also works as a guitar teacher and has a YouTube channel with guitar lessons, releases and concert videos. Here's his guitar lessons website. Feel free to subscribe to his YouTube channel to get the latest from Thomas.

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