Last year I have published two lessons on the altered scale: Melodic Minor – Altered Scale and: The Altered Scale: Three Approaches. Both are more concerned with the general approaches and how the scale works in a cadence than what I play on them. In this lesson I decided to just go ahead and give you 10 lines with different types of altered lines. Different in what type of arpeggio I use as the altered sound. Simply trying to give you some ideas on what to use.
All the examples are II Valt I in F major and I won't really spent too much time discussing what is happening on the II chord, since the subject of the lesson is the Valt line. My main reason for including the II and the I is just that I find that it is clearer what is happening if you have a context for the altered line.
The 10 II V I linesIn the first example I am using a C7b5 arpeggio which is one of the C7 arpeggios you can find in the altered scale (If you check there is no diatonic C7 arpeggio). I basically play the arpeggio and then skip up to the b9 to resolve stepwise down to the 3rd(A) of F major.
The second example is one of the arpeggios that I use the most: The m7b5 arpeggio from the 7th of the dominant, so that would in this case be the Bbm7b5 arpeggio. The melodic structure of this line is similar to the one in the first example since I ascend using the arpeggio and then resolve it scalewise down to the 5th(C) of F major.
Altered sounds are very closely connected to the tritone substitution sound, which the 3rd example illustrates. In this example I use the arpeggio of the tritone dominant (Gb7) and make a melody with that to resolve it to the 5th of F major. You should notice that Gb7 is in face a diatonic chord in C altered (or Db melodic minor).
A good variation of the altered scale sound is to use the one pentatonic scale you have in Db melodic minor: Eb minor (or Gb major) pentatonic. That is what I do in example 4, the line is quite simple since I am just playing the scale ascending and make a small twist at the end of the bar to resolve it.
This pentatonic scale has an interesting sound because it has all the alterations but a major 3rd so it makes it vague in a certain way.
The 5th example is a demonstration of the approach I talked about where you think Db melodic minor instead of C7 altered. This line is build on a Db triad arpeggio which is then resolved scalewise to the 3rd of F major.
The other type of C7 arpeggio you can construct in a C altered scale is a C7#5 arpeggio which I am using in example 6. The line is a triplet descending arpeggio followed by a scale run down to the 5th of F major.
Another good place to look for arpeggios is to go through any scale in quartal harmony. I did a lesson on this here: Quartal Harmony in Solo lines
The line ascends up a stack of 4ths from the b7 of C7 and then descends the scale and encircles the 5th of F major which it resolves to.
The 8th example is another take on how to make a Dbm line and use that as a C7 altered line. So in this case it is a line base on a Dbm triad in the 2nd inversion and then moving between the Dbm notes with passing scale tones before resolving to the 9th(G) of F major.
Another really useful arpeggio that is often used as a chord voicing is an Emaj7(b5) (or harmonically correct an Fbmaj7(b5).. ) This structure when related to a C root gives you a 3rd(E), b13(G#), b7(Bb) and #9(D#) so all good notes to convey a C7alt sound. The line that I am using in example 9 on the C7 is also only using that arpeggio and nothing else. This is a good example why you want to learn all your b5 and #b arpeggios for dominants and maj7th chord.
You can see other good uses of this chord in this lesson: Maj7b5 Chords and Arpeggios
The final example uses a triad pair, something that I have recently started a lesson series on here: Triad Pairs – Part 1. One of the triad pairs that work really well for altered dominants is the one consisting of the major triads on the b5 and b13 of the chord. In this case that gives us a Gb and an Ab triad. In this example I am moving from one to the next by playing three notes and then continuing on the closest note of the next triad. This make a line that moves up quite fast and a (to me anyway) a bit surprising. The last two notes are used to resolve from the #9 via the b5 to the 5th of F major.
I hope you can use the examples and ideas in this lesson to get better at playing altered dominants and also to give you some new ideas for melodies you can use as altered dominant lines.
If you want to download a PDF of the examples I went over here you can do so here: 10 Altered dominant lines
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make the fit what you want to hear.
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By Jens Larsen. There are more lessons on his website. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Subscribe to his YouTube channel and feel free to connect with him via Instagram, Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.