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Discussion Starter #1
Hope you guys can help.
Here's the progression I'm working with:
|| D- | G7 | Cmaj7 | Fmaj7#4 | Bmin7b5 | E7#9 | A- | % ||
If you haven't guessed yet, it's the Bb part to Autumn Leaves from the Aebersold, I believe.

I'm having trouble going from the B half-diminished to the E7#9.
I think of chords as scales with the chord tones being the landing tones.
I know an E7 scale as:
E F# G# A B C# D E
And (to me) a E7#9 scale translates to:
E G G# A B C# D E

I don't know if I'm thinking about right, though.
Now the same chord progression repeats in the next part, except the E7#9 becomes an E7b9 instead.
I.e. (to me) E F# G# A# B C# D

What I've been doing right now is just treating them as normal dominant chords. But I don't want to be the kind of player that doesn't take the altered notes to his advantage. But I can't get that change to flow. And when I do try to take advantage of it, it sounds too forced, or the idea always end up being close to the same.
How do you guys practice hard changes? I don't mean harmonically, but creatively?

When I play the scales they sound funny to me. I don't know if it's just cause my ear isn't used to them. Also I know some of you guys will say, "Oh just play a Bb melodic minor scale over it." I feel I shouldn't be treading in those waters yet though. Is it ever too early to learn complex scales like that?

BONUS POINTS. I think of this song in Aminor
So would it be:
ii, V, I, IV, vii, iii, vi
or
iv, vii, III, vi, ii, V, I
?

I hope this all makes sense. Thank you.
 

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Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
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Others who are more sophisticated will no doubt chime in but to me that B half-diminished to the E7#9 to Aminor is just an Aminor cadence. I read the altered tones in the progression to mean "chromatic passing notes".

Another thing to bear in mind is that a chordal instrument should cover the #4 b5 #9 etc aspects. If you play the same it can sound a bit "square". You could even play C major over that entire sequence and if you use your ear it might well sound more "jazzy" than if you outline the notes of every chord. Having said that, I think working out the notes of each chord and arpeggiating them is extremely good preparation - because of the "goal note" aspect you mention. That is the basis of "change running".

That's all very much IMHO.
 

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There are many ways to go with the Bm7b5 E7#9 Am.

Someone can make it sound more Harmonic Minor like or more Blues like or more general minorish, depends on what the player wants to do and what came before it and what's coming up after it.

Getting thrown by the alterations in the harmony is not really necessary as the player decides what to do with alterations mainly through their own taste and style and also decides at what point all this happens once again depending on what came before it and what's coming up after it.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I know an E7 scale as:
E F# G# A B C# D E
And (to me) a E7#9 scale translates to:
E G G# A B C# D E

I don't know if I'm thinking about right, though.
No, sorry to say it, but you aren't. E7 is a chord, not a scale. Some people will say E7 is the scale you mentioned, but when you are in a minor key (or key centre) that theory goes out the window. There is no C# in A minor, that is what would probably sound most wrong.

Thinking about the harmonic minor scale of the key (A B C D E F G# A) will be a good starting point as Rooty points out. But then learn the chord tones so that instead of thinking of a scale, you thing of the outlined chord tone (try to get those on the beat rather than off (ie on beats 1,2,3 and 4) then the other notes from that scale can fall between them as passing ontes on the off beats (the "ands" = 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and)

So if you want to think in scales, don't assign a scale to each chord, assign a scale to the key centre and then think of the chord notes and passing notes.

BTW, beware the nomenclature:

To many people altered chord is an alt, which can mean a # or b 9 plus a # or b 5. In this case the 5 is not altered, only the 9th.

It's a bit confusing. In this case you would say E7 #9 (or E7 b9) as opposed to E7 alt. I know you didn't say that, I'm just making it clear on account of the word "altered" in the thread subject.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
OH I SEE!!! I just had an epiphany. I've been approaching this whole improv thing wrong (LOL).

I like to say that I'm very aware of theory. I understand it and it makes sense to me. But I guess what I was thinking about was that there's a slight modulation with each chord (I remember reading something like that somewhere a long time ago, but I probably misread.) So instead of treating each chord like a different key I should be treating them like a different mode (which is what they are I think.)

Thank you Pete for that note on Nomenclature.

And RootyTooty I don't think I completely understand the second paragraph in your post. I think it's a grammatical issue with antecedents (i.e., I don't know what the word "it" is referring to all the time.) It'll be great if you can clarify!
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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So instead of treating each chord like a different key I should be treating them like a different mode
No, I would not do that. Actually I used to teach that, because that's the Aebersold approach and is quite common, but I don't like it now, I find it "anti- musical"

Think in key centres, that's what i recommend. So for a Dm7 G7 C, you don't think "D dorian, G mixolydian, C Inionian" (Ouch), you just think "C scale to connect the chord tones D F A C, G B D F, C E C B etc."
 

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I am nowhere near the jazzer that you guys are, so I'm reading this thread as much to learn as to opine. But in my less-knowledgeable-but-humble-opinion (IMLKBHO?), I agree with Pete and Rooty. I think that thinking in terms of key center (American spelling) and those altered notes as chromatic passing tones is the way to go. I'm a very basic player, not outside or a bebopper at all, but the way I would approach a tune like Autumn Leaves would be to play through the melody and see WHY those chords are written as they are - which notes in those chords are relating to which notes in the melody - and specifically play those notes, maybe only as passing tones. My way of thinking is that those chords are written that way for a reason so if you want to take most advantage of the chords, play the #9 or b9 or #5 or b5 that makes that chord be what it is instead of being a Bm7 or E7. But it all has to be in the context of how the original melody moved with the chords. Ok, now tell me how limited my point of view is.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Ok, now tell me how limited my point of view is.
It's not, it's a great POV.

Look at these two scenarios re: Autumn Leaves (first 8 bars thinking in Bb pitch as per OP)

Dm7 |G7 | Cmaj7 | Fmaj7 | Bm7b5 | E7, Am

You have a choice of Aebersold method (A) or key centre method (B)

(A) =

D dorian | G mixolyidian | C Ionian | F lydian | B locrian | E mixolydian (with some bad notes) | A dorian (??? or should it be aeolian ??)

(B) =

Four bars of C then four bars of A minor

Granted, method B may have a few "avoid" notes until you know your chord tones and have developed good skill in voice leading (and developed your ears), but it doesn't do your brain in like method A.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Okay. I understand. And by the way, I meant "modes" just for communications sake. I can't think of G mixolydian, I think of G-B-D-F, instead. But I SAY G mixolydian cause it's easier to communicate that way.
 

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I would suggest that you spend some time working with just the 1-3-5-7-9 arpeggios. Practice connecting the chords using inversions and guide tones. Generally the guide tones are the 3rds and 7ths and may be used to connect chords through half-step movement. For example, the 7 on the minor chord leads (guides) to the 3rd on the dominant; the 7 on the dominant leads to the 3rd on the major chord. On a dominant flat 9 chord, the flat nine also serves as a guide tone leading to the 5 on the I chord (in the case of Autumn Leaves, that F on E7b9 to E on Am). With this kind of practice, you'll learn the ins and outs of playing within the tonal centers while accurately outlining the chords.

BTY, the sharp nine chord also includes a flat nine, and may be constructed using either the altered dominant scale (E altered dominant is E,F,G,G#,A#,C,D and is a mode of F melodic minor) or the h-w diminished scale, and usually depends on how the piano player voices it. When you use the alterations according to the added voice leading they create, there is a good bit of interchangeability between them.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
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Lesson Series:
Introduction to the Blues
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and more...
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
Rhythm Changes Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrT0Xw_y9d0
Rhythm Changes Lesson:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMOW7QAfpwo
 

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Really excellent posts above. I can't add anything important, except to second Pete's statement about focusing on chord tones and filling in with the scale of the key center.

However:

except the E7#9 becomes an E7b9 instead.
I.e. (to me) E F# G# A# B C# D
This is where the 'chord scale' approach can get you in some trouble. That scale doesn't really 'fit' E7b9. For one thing you don't even have the b9 chord tone (extension) in there. You'd want the F natural instead of F#. Also, the C# might not sound very good in A minor, although it would certainly work as a passing tone. I think with E7b9 you can avoid some pitfalls by first thinking of it as the actual chord:
E G# B D F.
 

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Something to think about is that the melody on E7 is E F# G#! So we go down Harmonic minor (like we now understand) and up Melodic minor?
You'll find that on Autumn Leaves, even though the melody on the "A" section includes a natural 9, almost all rhythm section players will alter the dominant chord on solos to make a minor ii7(b5)-V7(b9)-i progression.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Online Jazz Lessons and Books
New Lesson:
Making Sense of Jazz Improvisation
Lesson Series:
Introduction to the Blues
The Arpeggio Circle
Through the Keys
and more...
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
Rhythm Changes Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrT0Xw_y9d0
Rhythm Changes Lesson:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMOW7QAfpwo
 

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Reading this thread reminds me of Dizzy Gillespie's advice:

"Get a piano!"
 

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Considering: Bm7b5 E7#9

I would think this: Bm7b5 Bb7#11

Motives will come much easier for you after you've worked out the arpeggios with his thought in mind. The differences and similarities between one chord/scale and the next will be much more readily apparent to you. Or you can play the A harmonic minor scale over the E7alt.
 

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The question is mechanical in nature but psychological in point... The notes sounding 'correct or right' have to do with where you are applying tensions or resolutions or stuff and what your aim is... To warm or focus or cloud a momentary statement or theme or phrase... Ultimately you are the arbiter of what is 'with it' or 'not with it'...
 

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No, I would not do that. Actually I used to teach that, because that's the Aebersold approach and is quite common, but I don't like it now, I find it "anti- musical"

Think in key centres, that's what i recommend. So for a Dm7 G7 C, you don't think "D dorian, G mixolydian, C Inionian" (Ouch), you just think "C scale to connect the chord tones D F A C, G B D F, C E C B etc."
This is exactly how I am working with tunes now. I try to boil down the changes to key centers and play over those instead
of trying to memorize the countless key changes in a complicated tune. I just am not sure sometimes where a chord comes in
out of nowwhere and seems completely out of the key center. I wonder if I should try to think of it as an altered mode of the
key,,,I am stumped on that. Sometimes those odd changes are paramount to the tune and without them you miss a phrase or lyric that is important.
 

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No, I would not do that. Actually I used to teach that, because that's the Aebersold approach and is quite common, but I don't like it now, I find it "anti- musical"

Think in key centres, that's what i recommend. So for a Dm7 G7 C, you don't think "D dorian, G mixolydian, C Inionian" (Ouch), you just think "C scale to connect the chord tones D F A C, G B D F, C E C B etc."
Amen
 

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The reason i put the question mark behind my sentence is because i am little humble towards music, you see. People here seems to know everything although they had periods where they theached anti-musical things to there students or they have a piano but no good answer to your quetion. Look out what people say!
 

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b9(resolves to 5th) and b6(resolves to 9(not 100% sure)) are easy to resolve it just makes the progression go more smoother but I can't remember where the #9 and #5/b5 resolve to
 
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