Inside and Alternative Soloing Scales to the Maj7 Chord

In this lesson I'll show inside and alternative scales to the maj7 chord and it's over the Gmaj7 chord!

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When playing inside you can use the G Ionian scale that's the common major scale (Root - 2nd - major 3rd - perfect 4th - perfect 5th - major 6th - major 7th). When you choose a scale you can find other scales within that scale.

I think of scales that way and it's open up to find new ways in the "searching of scales." In the G Ionian scale you'll find the G major pentatonic scale (Root - 2nd - major 3rd - perfect 5th - major 6th).

You'll also find the G major triad and the Gmaj7 chord tones.

When playing alternative scales you can use the G Lydian scale as the base scale. The tones in the G Lydian scale are (Root - 2nd - major 3rd - augmented 4th - perfect 5th - major 6th - major 7th). When you choose the G Lydian scale you'll find the F# minor pentatonic scale (Root - minor 3rd - perfect 4th - perfect 5th - minor 7th).

You'll also find the A major triad and the Dmaj7 chord tones.

I think with the Lydian scale as the base scale you get more tension in the sound. You can also say that it'll be a more jazzier sound. The augmented 4th or 11th as I say in the video is what gives that tension and it's interesting that this tone is the only tone that differs from the Ionian scale that has the perfect 4th.

These scales are my suggestions and the intention with this lesson is to give you a tool to find your own scales. I will also say that the inside and alternative scales are most individual depending on what style you play and how you want it to sound. So ... choose a diatonic scale and find pentatonic scales, triads and 7th chord tones within that scale and you'll find new ways to choose scales to a particular chord. I found the Dmaj7 chord tones over the Gmaj7 chord in that way. You don't need to like that combination but as I said you should find your own scales.

A chart over the scales I show in this video lesson look like this:
  • Inside
  • Diatonic scales Pentatonic scales Chordtones
  • Ionian G major pentatonic G major triad
  • Gmaj7 chord tones
  • Alternative
  • Lydian F# minor pentatonic A major triad
  • Dmaj7 chord tones

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About the author:
Thomas Berglund is a musician that has played in many different styles through the years and he have his heart in the improvisation. He also work as a guitarteacher and have a YouTube channel with guitar lessons, releases and concert videos. Feel free to subscribe to that channel to get the latest from Thomas.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I think it's also important to understand the function of the chord you are playing over. A diatonic maj7 chord can be either I or IV, or in a minor key III or VI. Whether you should use lydian or ionian over the chord has to do with its function. Lydian does work over the I chord of course, but sometimes it can sound a bit off. Same with playing ionian over the IV chord - it can sound good but it can also sound off. It depends the song. But of course experiment. For example if our chord progression was Gmaj7-Cmaj7, you could just play G major over both chords and it would give the same results as playing G major over Gmaj7 and C lydian over Cmaj7. It's just an I-IV progression in G major. Of course playing lydian over both chords would sound a bit different, same with playing ionian over both chords. But the most normal way would be to play the key scale over both chords, because they are in the same key, or if you want to think in chord scales, G major over Gmaj7 and C lydian over Cmaj7.
    Yes, you have absolutely right about this. When you put the chords as you say in context in a tune it´ll be different. My starting point is the modal way of thinking when it´s more open to choose scale apart from the basic key. The intention with the lesson is to open up the choosing of scales and experiment within the basic scale to find stuff to use as other pentatonic scales or chord tones. But the listening of how it really sounds as you say is very important and sometimes it works in a tune and sometimes it´s not. I really appreciate your comment though it´s kind of complex when you start to go a little bit outside the ”correct” way to play because you cannot lean on the rules but it´s good to know the rules so you understand what´s happening.