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In this second lesson on the altered scale I want to focus on using some of the diatonic triads when making lines on altered dominants. Since the altered scale is best understood and used in a context where it resolves I have made three example lines on a II V I in G major to demonstrate how the triads sound when used as arpeggios.

The Cadence

A II V I in G major is this progression: Am7 D7 Gmaj7. The scales we need for this lesson are a G major scale for the Am7 and Gmaj7 chords and Eb melodic minor for the D altered scale.

Altered Scale Lines - part 2 ex 1

The lines

When you make lines over a D7 altered there are two triads that can work really well (there are more of course, but for this lesson I am mostly using these two):

Eb minor : Eb,Gb,Bb which related to D becomes b9, 3rd, b13

Ab major: Ab, C, Eb related to D: b5, b7, b9

In the first example the Am7 part of the line is a small scale run followed by a descending Am7 arpeggio. On the D7 the line is first an open voiced Eb minor triad followed by an open voiced Ab major triad that is then with a 2 note scale run resolved to the 3rd(B) of G

Altered Scale Lines - part 2 ex 2

The second example is using open voiced triads on the Am chord, starting with an open voiced C major triad followed by a descending Am triad. On the D7 part of the line it is an Eb minor triad at the 11th position played with a leading note (which is the root of the chord: D) After that it resolves to the 5th of G via a small Fm pentatonic pattern.

Altered Scale Lines - part 2 ex 3

In the last example the line starts out with a chromatic encircling of the 3rd of Am7. This is followed by an A minor triad. The D7alt line is first a Ab major triad in open voicing. It is followed by a visual pattern in the Eb melodic minor scale which is playing a string skipping series of whole steps. The sort of thing that is easy to play and in this context just happens to sound cool!

Altered Scale Lines - part 2 ex 4

I hope you can use the ideas and examples I presented here to make your own lines with the altered scale. If you want to really be good at using the scale you need to also be good at writing your own lines, since composing is like improvising only you can go back and fix the stuff that doesn’t sound good.

If you want to download the examples for later study you can do so here:

Altered Scale Lines – part 2

Guitar Lesson Video Transcription

Hi guys, in this lesson I’m going to show you how to use some of the triads in the altered scale to make some 2-5-1 lines.

In this lesson I’m going to give you 3 lines. They’re all in the key of G major, and they’re all 2-5-1 progression. That means that it’s A minor, D 7 altered, to G major, and just to place it a bit in context, the position of the G major scale where I’m trying to stay in in this lesson is this one:

[guitar playing]

The fingering for the altered scale will be this one:

[guitar playing]

When you’re making 2-5-1’s, or when you’re making lines with the altered scale, there are 2 triads that are very useful because we’re using – if you look at this D 7 altered chord, then the top of that chord is in fact an E flat minor triad. That’s a good triad to use.

Another way to look at this is also all this D 7 altered is in fact an A flat 7 with a 9, so an A flat triad will probably work well, too. If we break it up, then our E flat minor triad contains the flat 13, the flat 9 and the 3rd, and the A flat major triad – we’re playing an open voicing here – is a flat 5, flat 9, and 7 if you relate it to the D chord.

There are good structures to use. Triads are always melodically quite strong, and you can make some interesting lines with that. Let’s just get to those lines.

The 1st example sounds like this:

[guitar playing]

For the A minor, it’s a small scale one, then down the arpeggio. Then on the D 7 altered, I’m using first an E flat minor arpeggio, triad arpeggio, and then an A flat major triad arpeggio.

The way I’m playing them, you might not be familiar with this type of voicing. It’s just a triad, but it’s an open-voiced triad. I have another lesson on that – I actually have 2. I have one about using them for chorus; I have one about using them in solos that you can check out if you want to learn more about them.

It’s a very useful way to keep the strong sound of the triad, and then get a larger range, because you spread them out so that they’re over an octave and a 3rd, and you get some nice intervals.

The line on the altered dominant is first this triad:

[guitar playing]

And then this triad..

[guitar playing]

..and then running down the scale to result to the 3rd of G major 7.

The 2nd example sounds like this:

[guitar playing]

What’s happening here is now I chose to use the open voiced triad on the A minor chord, so it’s a C major triad played from the 3rd, so you get E, C, G, and then I’m just running down the scale, and then step ways up the scale.

On the D 7 altered, this root position E flat minor triad, and then skipping around and using something that actually is kind of F minor pentatonic thing, and then resolving to the 5th of G major.

The 3rd line sounds like this:

[guitar playing]

So, chromatic encircling, and just a triad – A minor triad. And then on the D 7 altered, first I’m playing this open-voiced A flat major triad. It’s like a symmetrical visual thing, actually, that you can do in this position, and it sounds nice because it’s skipping around a lot and has a 2nd interval happening, then I’m resolving that to major 7 of the G major.

That was 3 examples of how you can make some altered dominant lines using some of the triads that I found in the scale. I hope that you can use it to make your own lines.

These are some of the most common devices to use when you’re making altered lines, because you don’t really have the picture of the altered chord itself, because the diatonic pitch you want, that part is actually half diminished arpeggio.

If you want to download a PDF of the examples that I went over here, then you can go to the Fundamental Changes website and download it there. There you can also subscribe to their newsletter. They publish new lessons every week.

There’s a lot of stuff, a lot of good writers making lessons for them. It’s well worthwhile to check out. You can of course also go to my website and check some of my lessons and subscribe to my newsletter there if you want to. Of course, if you like the lesson and want to stay up to date, feel free to also subscribe to my YouTube channel.

If you have any comments or requests or ideas for topics something like this, feel free to get in contact with me on any of the social media places where I’m that. That will be Twitter, or Google Plus, or Instagram. Let me know there, it’s always nice to hear what you guys think. If I get some feedback or some input, I can usually use that for something.

That’s about it, until next time. Thanks for watching.

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Author - Jens Larsen

Jens Larsen is a guitarist composer based in the Netherlands but has toured and recorded in Europe, North America and Africa. With his band Træben he has released three albums all recieved well by audience and press alike. He also won honourable mention at the International Songwriting Contest for his composition “Top Dog” of the 2nd album…

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2 responses to “Altered Scale lines – part 2”

  1. Ben says:

    Awesome lines 🙂 I played this today the hole day long!

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