In my previous lesson series on melodic minor scale licks I gave some you some tools and ideas for making lines over a tonic minor chord using the melodic minor scale. A natural extension of this seems to be makein a series on one of the most used modes of the scale: the altered scale.

Since the altered scale is best understood in a tonal context I have chosen to make major II V I cadences and then use altered dominant chords on the V.  In this lesson all the examples are in the key of Bb and are around the 6th fret area of the guitar, though not strictly in a position.

Let’s first look at two scale fingerings that we need. One for the Bb major scale and another one for the F7 altered (which is the same as F# minor melodic).  My notation of the scale is a bit inconsistent because sometimes it is easier to think as an F7 with flats, and sometimes it is easier to think as an F# minor melodic, with F# minor triads and B7 arpeggios etc.

Altered dominant lines

The first example starts off with one of the chromatic encircling patterns that I talked about in a previous lesson for Fundamental changes. It then continues up a diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord: Ebmaj7. On the F7alt the line is a combination of two arpeggios: Amaj7 shell voicing and a F#sus4 voicing, before it resolves to the 5th(F) of Bb.

In the 2nd example the line on the Cm7 is a Cm add9 arpeggio that is very nice to use as a sort of symmetrical figure that can be moved every 2 sets of strings. From there the line on the F7alt is again made by pairing two arpeggios, an F#m triad inversion and an inversion of B7 arpeggio. The B7 is of course also the tritone substitute of F7 which is why it works so well in this context. The B7 resolves from Eb to the 3rd(D) of Bbmaj7.

The 3rd example is using an Ebmaj7(9) arpeggio on the Cm7 and the a small scale run up to the b9 (Gb, written here as an F#) on the F7alt. The F7 alt line is first a triplet figure of a B major triad (which is why I’ve written F# and not Gb) and then a cliché F#m melody resolving to the 5th(F) f Bbmaj7.

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 1

Guitar Lesson Video Transcription

Hi guys, in this lesson I’m going to give you some examples of how you’re going to apply the altered scales in 2-5-1 lines.

[guitar playing]

In my previous lesson series, I was talking about the melodic minor scale, and I gave you some examples of the kind of lines you can make with the melodic minor scale on a tonic minor chord.

I thought it would be a good idea to continue along with some modes of the melodic minor scale. One of the most important ones is of course the altered scale. In this lesson, I’m going to give you a few examples of how you can make some 2-5-1 lines with altered dominance, and show you some structures that you can use when you’re making lines on altered dominance.

The 1st thing we need to look at is just to have some scales and put it all in a bit of tonal context. The 2-5-1’s are all in the key of B flat, and that will be in this scale:

[guitar playing]

We’re going to stay pretty much in this area, we’re going to move a bit around, but around this area of the neck, and the altered scale will be this:

[guitar playing]

The 1st line sounds like this:

[guitar playing]

The 2-5-1 is of course C minor 7, F 7 altered, B flat major 7. And on the C minor, I’m playing this chromatic instruction of the 3rd, so…

[guitar playing]

These 4 notes leading up to E flat. From the E flat I’m playing the diatonic arpeggio, that’s just an E flat major 7. The line on the F7 altered,consists of A major rising and F sharp sus triad, before it resolves to the 5th of B flat.

The second line sounds like this:

[guitar playing]

So on the C minor, I’m playing this C minor at 9, or at 2, or kind of arpeggio, which is nicely symmetrical across the fret board, because you can move it up,

[guitar playing]

So I play a bit of that, then on the F 7 altered, I’m just playing an F sharp minor arpeggio, triad arpeggio, and then I’m running down a B 7 arpeggio, which is the tri tone of F7, and also a diatonic arpeggio in F sharp minor melodic. Then we’re resolving that to 1/3 of B flat major 7.

The 3rd example sounds like this:

[guitar playing]

On the C minor, I’m first playing an E flat major 7 with a 9 arpeggio, and then I’m running up the scale from the 7th of that arpeggio, up to the flat 9 on the F 7 altered.

Here I’m using again a B triad, and then I’m using this F sharp minor cliché line, and then I’m resolving that to the 5th of B flat in the 7.

That was 3 examples of 2-5-1 lines with altered dominance. I hope that you can use some of these ideas in your own lines, and use some of the structures and ideas for suggestions for arpeggios when you’re improvising yourself.

If you like this lesson, you can of course like it here in YouTube, and you can also subscribe to my channel. If you want to download a PDF of the examples, you can use the link in the description and go to the Fundamental Changes website, where you can download as a PDF.

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Thank you for watching.