This page provides a starting point for all improvisation students who have asked me about our improvisation clinics and functional harmony discussions.
Currently and as my schedule permits, I am finishing this functional harmony and improvisation book which will be available on this website. This book will illustrate and demonstrate a variety of chord-scale applications and functions for improvisers and students of functional harmony of diverse ability and background.
The focus of my research and subsequent book is to attempt to serve students of improvisation and functional harmony by generating a straight-forward and practical reference manual that explores traditional and alternate approaches derived from my love and study of music and mathematics. As a result of my background, experience and research, I am fascinated by the science of improvising, or creating music spontaneously, compelled by a theory that music is science, and more specifically mathematics, expressed as art in a spontaneous form.
Please refer back to this page often for updates and
book release information. I will also be posting a series of video and
audio clips that illustrate specific examples as well as practice tips
and excersises. It is my sincerest hope that the information found on
this page will help students of improvisation and functional harmony
save time and assist them in the process of finding their unique voices.
The beauty of music is to be shared with listeners. So many have much
to say and often lack the tools with which to say it. Humbly, I hope
this page will help all of you say what you want to say and afford listeners
new voices and stories to hear and enjoy.
|Chord||Chord scales||Starting point|
||Any Maj7 chord = Apply the major scale from the root of the chord.|
|CMaj7 (#11)||Any Maj7 (#11) chord = Apply the major scale from the 5th of the chord .|
|CMaj7(#5)||A melodic minor scale||Any Maj7(+5) chord = Apply the melodic minor scale from the 6th of the chord. This is also the same as playing a melodic minor scale starting a minor 3rd below the root of the chord.|
|C dorian||Any min7 chord = Apply the Dorian scale from the root of the chord or the Major scale from the 7th of the chord.|
||C melodic minor||Any min (Maj7) chord = Apply the melodic minor from the root. Note: Use the ascending mode exclusively.|
|F melodic minor||Any min7(b5) chord = Apply the melodic minor from the 3rd
of the chord. This scale, when starting from the root of the m7(b5) chord,
is called the super-Locrian scale.
One can also use a Locrian scale from the root of the chord. Note that this is equivalent to using a Major scale from the b9 of the m7(b5) chord.
The melodic minor scale from the 3rd of the chord and the Locrian scale are exactly the same scale except for the 9th degree of the chord. The Locrian scale provides a b9 in the chord.
For me, the b9 of the m7(b5) chord is not as "good" a choice, especially when playing longer notes, as the natural 9th provided by the melodic minor scale.
|G7||G mixolydian =
C Major scale atarting on the 5th degree
|Any 7 chord = Apply the Mixolydian mode from the root of the chord.|
|G7(#11)||D melodic minor||Any 7(#11) chord = Apply the melodic minor scale from the 5th of the chord.|
|G7alt. or G7(b9,+9,b13)||Ab melodic minor||Any 7(b9, +9, b13) chord = Melodic minor from one-half step higher than the root. Melodic minor from the b9 of the chord.|
|G7(b9,+9,13)||Ab diminished scale. When playing the Ab diminished scale starting with G natural, this scale is called the G auxilliary diminished scale.||Any 7(b9, +9, 13) chord = Apply the diminished scale from one-half step higher than the root of the chord or apply the auxilliary diminished scale from the root of the chord.|
|C7(#5)||C Whole-tone scale||Any 7(#5) chord = Apply the whole-tone scale from the root of the chord.|
|Cº7||C diminished scale||Any º7 chord = Apply the diminished scale from the root of the chord.|
|F/G or FMaj7/G||G mixolydian scale||Any bVII/I chord = Apply the mixolydian mode from the root of the chord. This is another way of describing or notating a dominant seventh suspended fourth chord (X7sus4).|
|"Stella by Starlight" chord scale application lead sheet. This lead sheet contains most of the information covered in our clinics in Texas and Minnesota. This lead sheet is written for concert instruments and can be transposed for use with your specific instruments using the transpose button on the Sibelius Scorch plug-in. ¨|
Why use these scales? The fact of the matter is that even though the chord-scales mentioned here are not the only possible choices, they do provide excellent choices when attempting to find the "correct" or most "inside" notes for their respective chord(s). The chart below illustrates various chord-scale applications and functions in detail.
Dr. Calle's clinician links: