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Home Alt Forums Music Theory Question about Improvising over Chord Changes in a Major Scale

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    Michael Bishop

      Hi Johnny,

      I had a question about Improvising over Chord Changes. If I’m playing in a Major Scale and I’m Improvising over a Major Chord, it’s a no-brainer to use the Major Pentatonic Scale over Major Chords. But what about Improvising over a Minor Chord, like the 2nd, 3rd or the 6th of the scale? Could I use a minor pentatonic scale over those chords instead? If the Blues Scale is nothing but a minor pentatonic scale with the addition of a flat 5, and we can use it in a major scale, then I was thinking it would fine to use minor pentatonics over minor chords. Is this something I would have to use my ears to judge?

      The other question I had was about Improvising over the 5th of the scale. Seeing how it’s a dominant chord, it’s okay to play a flat 7 on that chord? If I remember correctly, it’s the 5th of the scale where 7th chords are really great to use in Improvising? Thanks for your help 🙂


        yes you’re pretty much on the right track in the way you’re thinking about it…and not to dodge the questions but this exactly what the Major Chord Improve course is all about (modes). you should be doig that course right now! it’s actually available for you in the “Improvisation” section of Premium.

        Michael Bishop

          Yeah, I had see your Major Chord Improv. course there/had purchased when it first came out. Before I jump back into that I’m spending the first few months to re-boot my embouchure, finger dexterity, etc.. I’m taking NO CHANCES of something going wrong right now… way. I can feel everything getting a little bit stronger each day, so it’s encouraging. The one thing that’s helped the most is playing with the MP only…talk about a workout LOL

          At my current pace, my goal is to start back with Improvising in the Spring. Come mid/late March, I’m scheduled to resume lessons with my local Sax Instructor, had so much fun learning from him! 🙂 He really opened my eyes to so many things on the Saxophone. As good as he is, he’s a really nice guy too, very ‘down to earth’ and fun. The last time I worked with him, he had given me an Improvising assignment with Van Morrison’s ‘Moondance’ to apply some Improvising techniques with the minor scales, starting to throw in some ‘diminished’ licks/riffs, etc..

          The one thing he always told me was we wanna get Inspiration from other players by watching them/listening to them, but at the same time we should put our own personality into our Sax playing too. In other words, learn from others, but don’t be a carbon copy of someone else’s playing. Even with the assignment he gave me for Improvising over Moondance, I still wanted to throw in my own kind of ‘Bluesy’ licks and riffs in there and told me ‘go for it’ 🙂 He always told me it’s my voice on the Sax, my concept of sound, the sound I hear in my head, etc.. that makes my sound ‘my sound’ and not someone else’ sound 🙂 Super cool & fun stuff when you think about it! 🙂 🙂

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