Th e "Minor 2 5" - aka IIø V7 or IIm7b5 V7b9 - PAGE 2
The same idea also works over the E7(b9) chord:
The notes in the E7 chord are:
E7: E G♯ B D
As mentioned earlier, the b9 in the chord relates to the note F, which is the b9 in E7 and is the 6th note of the A Harmonic Minor scale.
It’s good to start with memorising the positions or fingerings of the E7 chord notes and to use those as a foundation. After these notes have been learned on the instrument, we can add notes ‘in between’ those arpeggio notes:
Between E and G♯: F, F♯ and G
Between G♯ and B: A and Bb
Between B and D: C and C♯
Between D and E: D♯
(D♯ is commonly played as a passing or chromatic approach note, but rarely as a note to dwell on because it would clash with the character of the E7 chord. Although D♯ appears in the bebop type scales, see below, it’s usually played as a short passing or approach note.)
These are all the notes in relation to E7, the arpeggio notes are marked in green, the ‘in between’ notes are white:
|E||F||F#||G||G#||A||A# / B♭||B||C / B#||C#||D||D#||E|
|1||♭9||9||b3, here #9||3||4 or 11||#11 / ♭5||5||♭6 or #5||6||♭7||7||8 or 1|
Use your own taste and awareness of the musical style and situation to decide which of these in between notes you would like to play.
Also, since dominant chords are considered tension chords, it is quite common to increase tension further by not playing the 5 of the chord, but the b5 and/or the ♯5.
One way to organise the scale options is to look at the first gap between E and G♯ and consider some typical note choices:
1) Only adding F, the b9.
2) Adding both, F and G:
F is the b9. Since G♯ is the major 3 of the arpeggio, G is often thought of as a ♯9 and not a b3. F♯ would be the natural 9 in E7. Sharpening F♯ further would make it F♯♯, i.e. “F double-sharp”, usually written as F𝄪.
3) Only adding F♯:
F♯ would be the natural 9 of the E scale. It is not in the key of A Harmonic Minor, and therefore brings with it a slight shift in
tonality, a new kind of tension which may be desired or not, obviously depending on the situation and your personal taste.
A few common scale choices, made by adding in between notes as well as not playing the 5, are listed in the table here.
|E||F||G#||A||B||C||D||E||Phrygian Dominant||5th mode A Harmonic Minor|
|E||F||G#||A||B||C#||D||E||Mixolydian b9||5th mode A Harmonic Major|
|E||F||G#||A#||B# (C)||D||E||Wholetone b9||Subset of Super Locrian|
|E||F||G#||A#||B||C#||D||E||Lydian Dominant b9||Subset of Halftone-Wholetone|
|E||F & G||G#||B♭||C||D||E||Super Locrian||7th mode of F Melodic Minor|
|E||F & G||G#||A#||B||C#||D||E||Halftone-Wholetone||Messiaen’s 2nd Mode|
|E||F & G||G#||B♭||C#||D||E||Super Locrian nat 6||Subset of Halftone-Wholetone|
|E||F#||G#||A||B||C||D||E||Mixolydian b6||5th mode of A Melodic Minor|
|E||F#||G#||A||B||C#||D||E||Mixolydian||5th mode of A Major|
|E||F#||G#||A#||B# (C)||D||E||Wholetone||Messiaen’s 1st Mode|
|E||F#||G#||A#||B||C#||D||E||Lydian Dominant||4th mode of B Melodic Minor|
With the dominant 7th arpeggio, it is also possible to avoid playing the original 5th and play a ♯5 or b5 instead. The ♯5, B♯, is enharmonically the same as C, which is already exists in the A Harmonic Minor scale and therefore would sound ok in the context of A Minor. The b5, Bb, is a semitone above A, the root of the tonic minor chord. Bb does not appear in the A Harmonic Minor scale and therefore might sound a little unusual, but it wants to resolve to A, which adds to the melodic motion.
Remember though, that you can choose in between notes wherever you like without having to memorise these scales here.
In fact, simply by experimenting and adding some notes here and there you will automatically be playing “a” scale or a part of a scale. So, just go for it, and if you find some note combinations you like, have a look in the table to see what scale you might have discovered. 🙂
By adding D♯ you enter the realm of the Bebop scales. Bebop scales have 8 notes, and they are structured so that arpeggio notes and passing notes alternate. This enables playing continuous 8th note phrases where the arpeggio notes always fall on the beats and the passing notes on the off-beats. Which is why the note combination “F and G” is not used in Bebop scales, as that would mean that the following arpeggio note G♯ would be knocked off the beat position.
Obviously, this is just theoretically speaking. In practice a player could play “F and G” as quick 16th notes, which would leave G♯ on the beat, or one could leave out F when ascending or G when descending, etc.
|E||F#||G#||A#||B||C#||D||D#||E||Bebop Lydian Dominant|
|E||F#||G#||A||B||C||D||D#||E||Bebop Mixolydian b6|
|E||F||G#||A#||B||C#||D||D#||E||Bebop Lydian Dominant b9|
|E||F||G#||A||B||C#||D||D#||E||Bebop Mixolydian b9|
|E||F||G#||A||B||C||D||D#||E||Bebop Phrygian Dominant|
I hope you found this little excursion into using chord notes as a basis for improvisation and scale options useful.
If you have questions, or want to make suggestions for topics, feel free to get in touch. 🙂
PS Have you noticed the difference between the # “hash” symbol, and the ♯ “sharp” symbol?