by Mick Goodrick
If you’re into improvising, you understand the importance of scales. They provide a discipline for your fingers and expose your ears to melodic possibilities you might otherwise ignore. Of all the chord types, dominant 7ths seem to support the greatest number of scales. Let’s explore some of them.
Play through Examples 1-9, slowly at first. Gradually increase the tempo as you determine workable fingerings and begin to hear each scale. Play the examples backward too, resolving to whatever Cmuj7chord tone that sounds best to you. (That’s why I use so many accidentals. When you play the exercises forward, the extra accidentals seem redundant. But when you shift into reverse, they come in very handy.)
As you work through the scales, keep these points in mind:
– Examples 1-7 are derived from seven-note scales, while Ex. 8 comes from an eight-note scale and Ex. 9 from a six-note scale
– Example 6 is Example 5 transposed up a minor third
– Examples 5 and 7 work best against a G7sus4
Read on for the full guitar lesson including audio, tab, notation, and more.
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These scales represent the typical “inside” choices you’re likely to encounter.
Now let’s touch on some “outside” options. Before you tackle these lines, notice that Examples 10-13 are derived from seven-note scales, while Ex. 14 is from an eight-note series. The nine previous scales plus these new examples encompass some of the usual sources for melodic material, as well as a few atypical possibilities to keep you thinking.
To put these scales to use, I’ve written a pair of tricky blues heads. “Inside” (Ex. 15) employs our first nine scales, while “Outside” (Ex. 16) tests the stranger-sounding options. Start these exercises slowly, then work up speed so you can hear the color of the scales.
The sound of these typical 12 -bar blues chords should be familiar to you, but recording the changes to play over will be a big help when the scales get more outside. When you get the sound of the scales in your head, cut loose with some improvising and play your brains out!