Improvising Over Emaj7 | B7alt
Before moving on, you want to learn the melodic minor scale first.
Learn the fingerings for the melodic minor scale here:
If you’re still a bit shaky on the major scale fingerings, you would want to get these down as well.
Once you have all the above fingerings down, you’re ready for the next level.
Soloing over ||: Emaj7 | Emaj7 | B7alt | B7alt :||
Over the Emaj7 chord, you would simply play the E major scale , also called the E Ionian scale
Since the above major scale fingerings are all in the key of C, you would have to move all of them up 2 whole steps (4 frets) to transpose them to the key of E.
If you’re a bit shaky on the 7 major scale fingerings, you would want to spend some more time on them till you can pretty effortlessly transpose them to the key of E without getting lost in any of the fingerings.
The B7alt chord , is what you call an “altered chord”. It’s the V chord in the key of E, but with altered tensions added to the chord.
“Altered chords”, are dominant chords that have any combination of b5, #5, b9 and #9 tensions.
i.e. B7b9, B7#5, B7#9, B7b5#9, B7#5#9 etc.
The scale of choice over altered chords is the altered scale .
When you study the above fingering hand-outs, you notice that the B altered scale, is the 7th mode of the C melodic minor scale.
In other words: when you play a C melodic minor scale starting from the 7th note in that scale, the new scale this gives you is the B altered scale.
Quick recap: in this 2-chord progression, we will switch between 2 different scale types, E major scale going to B altered scale.
A Really Important Guitar Improvisation Exercise
All this leads us to an important improv drill that really advanced guitarists, specifically jazz guitarists, practice a lot: switching between scales while staying in 1 spot with your hand.
This is called “In-position” soloing”.
It’s an important concept in the art of improvisation on the guitar.
The ability to play through constantly changing keys, and scales without having to move your hand out of position, gives you a lot of freedom on guitar.
Melodies also tend to sound more fluent and together when the guitar player can connect them all in 1 location.
Melody lines tend to sound more fragmented and disconnected when you constantly jump all across the fretboard to scale fingerings you are only comfortable within certain locations on the fretboard for certain keys.
Soloing over the ||: Emaj7 | Emaj7 | B7alt | B7alt :|| chord progression, here’s what the 7 closest connecting fingerings are for the E Ionian scale and B Altered scale.
- F# Dorian fingering (= E major scale) –> F Lydian b7 fingering (= B altered scale)
- G# Phrygian fingering (= E major scale) –> G Mixo b13 fingering (= B altered scale)
- A Lydian fingering (= E major scale) –> A Aeolian b5 fingering (= B altered scale)
- B Mixolydian fingering (= E major scale) –> B Altered Scale fingering (= B altered scale)
- C# Aeolian fingering (= E major scale) –> C Melodic Minor fingering (= B altered scale)
- D# Locrian fingering (= E major scale) –> D Dorian b2 fingering (= B altered scale)
- E Ionian fingering (= E major scale) –> Eb Lydian #5 fingering (= B altered scale)
These are the 7 closest (in-position) fingering pairs you need to solo over that chord progression.
It’s a ton of fun when you get to the level where you can start soloing combining different scales.
That is where improvisation really gets colorful, interesting, and rewarding.
Hit me up anytime if you would like me to email you a backing track to practice all the above.
If the above does not entirely make sense, you might not be ready for this more advanced material yet, or you might need to meet for an in-person guitar lesson to become really good at all the above, in no time.
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