Improvising Over Chord Changes Part 2

In the previous lesson Playing Over Chord Changes I talked about laying out chord tones on strong beats (1 and 3) and then approaching them with a triad that ‘encircles’ the target chord tone.

In part 2 I take the same basic chord tone outline but do a few different things to approach the chord tones. Over the Fm7 we do the same thing as last time but then approaching the Bbm7 we descend from the root (F) down to the 5th (C) then up to the min7 (Eb) then to the Db (3rd of Bbm7). Also note we have added an anticipation so we play the upcoming chord tone on the ‘and of beat 4’. Also note the Db is approached from below and above.

Same thing basically happens over the Bbm7 at the end of the measure. We encircle the upcoming 3rd of Eb7 (G). Notice it’s slightly different from what we did over the Fm7. First we did F, C, Eb, Db which is Root, 5th, min7th to min.3 of Bbm7. For Bbm7 we did Bb, Ab, F, Gb which is Root, min7, 5th, #5 to maj3 of Eb7 (G). So at this point you have 3 ways to approach chord tones.

For a fourth way to approach a chord tone that works great over dominant 7th chords, check out measure 3 over the Eb7. The idea can be broken down into two pieces – from maj3 to root (G to Eb), then from Eb to the Ab (3rd of Abmaj7). The idea is G, F, Gb, E, Eb (maj3, maj2, #9, b9 to root) then to Db, Bb, B to C which circles the chord tone with a chromatic ascent. The first part is a bit out there with the #9, b9 – it take a while for you to get used to this if you haven’t heard that before. I like to think in 4 note groups including the target tone.

So now you have 4 ways to approach chord tones. Try writing our chord tone outlines (use 5ths and 7ths as well in various combinations) and then approaching them with these 4 techniques. Mix and match, add anticipations, compress the rhyhtms (delay the start and then add a triplet for example). Most of all have fun!

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