Introduction: Jazz Line No.2 Part 2: Harmonic Approach

As always, we will first analyze the line and then you will play a series of self evaluating exercises viewing the lick from different perspectives. You can only go to the next exercise once the current one has been mastered in all twelve keys. I suggest watching Part One of this instructable first, where we introduce the line and concepts on how to think intervalically.

Ah, one more thing…. Don try playing licks when you are improvising. Let you ears guide you. Be in the moment. The concepts you practice should and will surface naturally once they’ve become part of your vocabulary.

OK let’s get started.
So, in this part we are going to use a harmonic perspective considering chords and chord-scales

This line is based on the altered scale. So, lets look at the scale.The altered scale is the 7th mode of the melodic minor So the C altered scale share all the notes with the Db melodic minor.

Since the line we are playing is contained in the C altered scale it is a good approach to think of the melodic minor a half step above the root of our dominant chord

So here’s our first challenge.
Play the root of your dominant chord and then a half step above. (C in red and in F in blue)

We will be using a dominant workout with the V7s from the minor mode in Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro with 1 bar per chord which goes around the Circle of Fifths.

Try to play along with the piano player in our demo

Step 1: Challenge 2

So, how did you do?
OK. So, we’ve seen how the C altered scale is the Db melodic minor which is also C#

Now if we look at these last notes on the line from a Db melodic minor point of view we get 1 2 b3 and 5.

So here’s your next challenge.

We play the 1 as reference then go a 1/2 step above and think about the melodic minor over that note. So, with the new root in mind we play 1 2 b3 5.

Remember it is a half step above our chord root So here it is in C and here in F

Play this line in all twelve keys around the Circle of Fifths.

Step 2: Challenge 3

OK. The previous note in our line is the b2 or b9 again which is our root a half step above.

So, here’s your last challenge

We are just adding the root of the melodic minor and resolving back a half step down to the 1 of our original root for reference. So, we are playing the root of our dominant going up a half step and then playing a 1 , 2 , b3, 5, 1 on the new key. In C we play C and then in Db minor 1, 2, b3, 5, 1 then we go back to C.

Try to play along.

Step 3: Challenge 4


So far we’ve played lines that are not even close to our original but we’ve practice looking at our original line as a minor chord a half step above our root with the 2 of that minor chord as a passing note.

The original lick is just that chord played backwards. Notice that it also starts on the 2 of that chord. It is 2 1 5 b3 2 1 on the minor chord a half step above our original root so Db minor in C7alt

That’s it!

We’ve analyzed and looked at the lick from a harmonic & chord-scales perspective using and defining many concepts that are essential in the jazz language such as:

  • Altered Scale as the 7th mode in the Melodic Minor
  • Target notes: the b9 or b2
  • Playing a minor chord with a passing tone 1 2 b3 5
  • Thinking of a different root and chord when improvising: The minor chord over the b9 for altered dominants

We are ready to play the entire lick. In the process, we’ve done lots of ear training and clarified all those concepts.

Try to play along.

Remember we are using a two bar workout IIm7b5 V7#9 resolving to a I major7 modulating by major thirds and then linking by 1/2 step If you do not understand how these modulations were constructed please check part 1 where we explain the entire progression.

Pay attention to the starting key. The track sounds a whole step bellow what’s written. If you play a non-transposing instrument the track starts with the lick in F7.

Also do not forget to check Part One where we take a look at the lick from an intervalic point of view

Don't forget to check out Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro by mDecks Music. It is a great tool to study all these concepts and practice improvisation using its play-along feature.

You can download the piano sheet music in pdf for this lick here: Lick 2 Free Piano Sheet Music Download