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Playing Over Changes (Part 1) Scale Choices - Minor Chords

Tom Quayle 164 lessons

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When soloing over minor chords and their derivatives we end up with three scale choices. These are our three minor modes - Dorian, Phrygian and Aeolian. As with major chords we have a 'Go To' scale choice that works best over the majority of modal progressions involving minor chords. This is Dorian which will usually sound best over the chord types listed below.

Again, the exception is if the chord symbol expresses a chord tone not contained within the Dorian mode such as a b6 or a b9. For example, if our progression contained the chord Gm7b6 then the dorian wouldn't work as it contains a natural 6 not the required b6. To fulfil the requirements of the chord symbol we would use Aeolian instead.

One to bear in mind here is the phrygian chord - it contains the intervals of a b9 and b6 but is never written as min7b6b9. Instead it's written as a Slash Chord. This is something I want to cover in the final part of the Playing Over Changes tutorial. Also bear in mind that once again we are not dealing with functional harmony but modal, non-functional harmony. Diatonic, functional harmony would require a different approach which we'll cover later.

Here are the minor chords available to us and the scale choices we can use.

Chord Scale
Min triad Dorian/Aeolian/Phrygian (Dorian 1st choice)
Sus 2 Dorian/Aeolian (Dorian 1st choice)
Sus 4 Dorian/Aeolian/Phrygian (Dorian 1st choice)
Min add 9 Dorian/Aeolian (Dorian 1st choice)
Min6 Dorian
Min7 Dorian/Aeolian/Phrygian (Dorian 1st choice)
Min9 Dorian/Aeolian (Dorian 1st choice)
Min11 Dorian/Aeolian (Dorian 1st choice)
Min13 Dorian
Min7b6 Aeolian/Phrygian (Aeolian 1st choice)
Min7b6b9 Phrygian (this chord is never written this way)
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