Jazz Guitar Corner: Using Three Different Scales to Improvise Over Minor Key ii-V-i’s

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Joe K

I disagree that the one-scale approach "falls flat". The Harmonic Minor has been used since the days of bebop, an approach endorsed and taught by the great Barry Harris in fact. A whole lot easier than trying to remember 3 scales!

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Mattwarnockguitar

Joe, I agree that you can use the one-scale approach over the ii-V and it will work out, but using HM over a im6 chord or ImMaj7 chord is not a common thing, at least in my experience. I'd agree that you can use HM over ii-V but it's not the best choice for a im6 chord in a ii-V-i progression. Maybe you've explored it over that chord and can share your thoughts on using HM over the im6 chord.

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Joe K

Matt, since first commenting on this lesson I have subscribed to your Facebook page and I want to congratulate you and thank you for the very generous approach to sharing material and your ideas. I get the sense you have a love for helping others grow, and this is very refreshing.
As for the minor ii-V-i topic, I mainly mentioned the single-scale approach because it works for me. I don't often encounter a situation where the i chord in a minor key is a im6, but with a imMaj7 HM seems to work as all the chord tones are present. Just as you wouldn't sit on an F natural over a Cmaj7, you wouldn't likely sit on an Ab on a CmMaj7. Further, most folks I've played with play im7 in a minor ii-V situation, and for this chord a HM or, more commonly, dorian sound work well to my ears, especially when emphasizing the chord tones, which ones hopefully does anyway. What do you think?

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Mattwarnockguitar

Hey,
Thanks for checking out my pages, glad you are digging them. To be honest, I've never found a good use for HM over m7 chords in a jazz context, it seems that Dorian and Melodic Minor sound more in the genre than HM, but I do love the 5th mode of HM over 7alt chords. Just a matter of taste I guess.

I would say that the m6 chord is used a lot as a im6 chord in jazz, especially on guitar, but not notated as such. So you would see it written as im7 on a lead sheet but cats would just play im6 or imMaj7 or im9 or im6/9 instead. Lead sheets often write m7 for tonic chords but it's up to the player to find the right sound for the moment. And of course the melody can often dictate the chord for you, if the note is A on Cm7 in the melody, the it's going to be Cm6, if it's Bb then Cm7 and if it's B CmMaj7.

Just my two cents, if you can make HM work over im7 in your playing go for it, I just hear MM or Dorian as being more in the sound of the jazz tradition, but that's just off the top of my head, I'm sure you can find examples of cats using it from time to time.

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parkerjohnson

Great lesson! I like these Jazz Guitar Corner's. They make my head hurt but great info!

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Mattwarnockguitar

Thanks Parker, glad you are enjoying the column so far!

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