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Author Topic: Interesting ways to improvise over a 7th chord vamp?  (Read 13431 times)
Buffered
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« on: June 06, 2014, 08:28:27 AM »

Hey all,

The trio is playing "Hard to Handle" and we're taking it in a funkier direction for the jam, but I find myself sounding a little generic playing blues/dorian over it the whole time. I've done the Coltrane Ascent in practice, which I feel alright with but would definitely like some additional exercises for keeping it interesting! We're playing it in B, so a B7 chord is the foundation for that jam. The 7th gives a lot of options, I'm just having trouble pinning down solid ideas...

Any suggestions and insights are greatly appreciated!
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Jkendrick
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Re:
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2014, 09:23:10 AM »

I'll chime in though I know there will be better suggestions than mine. If it were me, I'd be using Mixolydian as my basis. I'd throw in the Major 7 for the bebop scale and some chromaticism. I use chromatics a lot. I'd also experiment with the Diminished scale and the Lydian-Mixolydian scale. These have "out" tones so you need to be able to resolve, but it could add some tension and interest to your playing.

Take this all with a grain of salt and experiment. I'm definitely not as knowledgeable as some around here, so perhaps others could chime in and correct me if I'm wrong about any of this.
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Hans Moleman
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2014, 09:30:07 AM »

I agree with what you're saying about vamps. Without chord movement, it's very easy to sound stale. You definitely will want to use Mixolydian more than Dorian, as it's a dominant, not minor, chord.

One idea I use is altered and/or diminished sounds from the V of the tonic at the end of phrases. It gives the song a little tension/release when done right and can really build up the solo. So if I'm in B I'll play F# diminished altered lines that lead back to the 1.
Scofield is a real master of this, if you want to take some ideas from someone. He does this a lot in his stuff with MMW or his Uberjam Band.

The other thing I like to use is the idea of 'cycles' of either a major or minor third. I'ts sort of a Coltrane idea. If you're in B, playing an 8-bar phrase, on the start of the 7th bar  you play a 2 beat phrase in B, move up a minor third to D and play the same phrase, then to F for 2 beats, then to Ab, then on the 1 of the next phrase you're back in B and can either play the same phrase again to give it kind of a cyclical unity or play something that's 'derived' from that phrase, for lack of a better word. You can do this in reverse to, down a minor third.

Lydian dominant, at Kendrick mentioned, is a great scale to try.

Hope that helps.

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Jkendrick
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« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2014, 09:54:01 AM »


The other thing I like to use is the idea of 'cycles' of either a major or minor third. I'ts sort of a Coltrane idea. If you're in B, playing an 8-bar phrase, on the start of the 7th bar  you play a 2 beat phrase in B, move up a minor third to D and play the same phrase, then to F for 2 beats, then to Ab, then on the 1 of the next phrase you're back in B and can either play the same phrase again to give it kind of a cyclical unity or play something that's 'derived' from that phrase, for lack of a better word. You can do this in reverse to, down a minor third.


Why start on the 7th bar? Wouldn't this sequence then end leading into the 2nd bar?
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« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2014, 11:51:23 AM »

If it's 2 beats a phrase that's 8 beats, i.e. 2 bars, therefore comprising bars 7 and 8 and leading back to the 1.
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Jkendrick
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Re:
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2014, 01:09:12 PM »

Duh, I think I hadn't had my coffee yet.
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Buffered
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« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2014, 02:32:13 PM »

Thanks for the tips guys, Hans you're the man! Just the stuff to work on this weekend. I'm sure I'll have more questions once I start getting this under my fingers. I have some jimmy herring lessons I should look at again.

I should've mention I've been doing the minor 3rd cycles which work well, and I meant to type mixolydian instead of dorian.
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IamWILSON
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2014, 02:41:00 PM »

You can still use the Dorian mode over B7 as well.  The only note difference between that and Mixolydian is just minor 3rd, which can be played over dominant chords.  Isn't that what happens in the blues all the time?  At that point, it's essentially a #9, as in B7#9, you know, the Jimi Hendrix chord!  

So if you're vamping over B7, try drawing from any and all of these options:

B Mixolydian (E maj) Here's the notes of B Mixo so you can see how the rest relate, chord tones in bold:

B C# D# E F# G# A

B Dorian: same as above, but with D natural

B Blues: B, D, E, F, F#, A

B min Pent: B, D, E, F#, A (It's also pretty cool to play B min Pent, and just add in the 6th/13th (G#)

B Maj Pent: B, C#, D#, F#, G#

E Maj Pent: E (11th), F# (5th), G# (13th), B (root), C# (9th)

F#m Pent/A Maj Pent: A (b7th), B (root), C# (9th), E (11th), F# (5th)
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