Jazz Guitar Music For Real Men Part 3: Bebop For Beginners - Substitutions

author: Jake Jeremy date: 03/15/2013 category: guitar techniques
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Jazz Guitar Music For Real Men Part 3: Bebop For Beginners - Substitutions
In part 2 of this series we looked at enclosures and targeting notes within the context of a 1 chord vamp, here, we'll go through a technique known as substitution, also known as superimposition. This technique can be used as an extension of targeting notes and enclosures, with a wealth of tonal possibilities that can be explored and developed. The premise of superimposition is to 'super-impose' the tonal qualities of one chord over another, as can be seen in this example: Dm7
As you can see the arpeggio in the example implies an Abm7 chord, with the notes Ab (root), Cb (minor 3rd), Eb (5th) and Gb (minor 7th). If you play the example under a looped Dm7 chord you'll notice a very dissonant quality, which leads us onto the concept of Tritone Substitution. Tri-Tone Substitution was a technique that was used extensively throughout the Bebop era, it's most prominent use was through the 2, 5, 1 (II, V, I) cadence. To find the Tritone of any note, simply play the root (preferably on the low E for simplicity), followed by the sharp 4th/diminished 5th of the root, for example:
You can hear the tension and dissonance between those two notes alone. A chordal example of Tritone Substitution can be seen in this example, set in the key of C, over a II, V, I progression:
Original Progression:      |    Dm7    |     G7    |    C    |

Tritone Substitution:      |    Abm7   |    Db7    |    C    |
Tension is the key word here, with many bebop (horn) players creating dissonance in their improvisational techniques to create a tension in their lines that leads back to the Tonic (or home) chord. A popular technique used in bebop was to use this technique of substitution over the V (or 5) chord, to create this feel of tension that would lead back to the I (or root) chord. Going back to the II, V, I example of Dm7, G7 and C, where the Tritone substitution of the V chord G7 would be Db7, looking closely at both the G7 and Db7 chords shows their relationship in that both contain the notes B and F (where it is enharmonically correct that the Cb of Db7 is in fact a B), the B and F notes act as the 3rd and 7th of both chords, just switched around.
G7  -  B (3rd), F (7th)
Db7 -  B (7th), F (3rd)
"This is all great, but what can I play over these chords?" Well, for the first time in these lessons we will look modally to answer this. Aside from the use of the C major scale for the entire structure, over the Db7 chord, you can use what is known as the Lydian Dominant scale, which is in practice a Mixolydian scale with a sharp 4th note. Lydian Dominant: 1, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, b7 In the context of Db7 from our original structure: Db Lydian Dominant: Db, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, Cb Although the examples we have looked at are more steeped in the jazz idiom, the 12 bar blues also contains opportunities to embellish with the use of Tritone substitution. If we look at a standard 12 bar blues progression as C7, F7, G7 like this: | C7 | F7 | C7 | C7 | F7 | F7 | C7 | C7 | G7 | F7 | C7 | G7 | You can add Tritone substitution to this progression as a way of adding more tension to your lead lines, the way to do this would be: | C7 (F#7) | F7 (B7) | C7 | C7 (F#7) | F7 | F7 (B7) | C7 | C7 (F#7) | | G7 (Db7) | F7 (B7) | C7 (F#7) | G7 (Db7) | What you can try here is; first create a loop of this twelve bar sequence, then, learn these arpeggio shapes: F#7
Then try to use them in your own improvisational style, interweave them between pentatonic licks as they will give you new harmonic qualities to target and try to include some enclosure techniques to diversify your playing even more. Thanks for reading, UG Fans Jake Jeremy
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