In Position Soloing Over Cmaj7 Abmaj7

In Position Soloing Over Cmaj7 Abmaj7.

Today we’ll talk about some advanced improvising with the 7 in position scale fingerings.
If you don’t know those scale patterns yet, you can learn them here: The 7 C Major Scale Fingerings

You will be soloing over this chord progression.

||: Cmaj7 | Cmaj7 | Abmaj7 | Abmaj7 :||

The Ab here is a modal interchange chord. Learn more about Modal Interchange Here.

This whole chord progression is in the key of C.
You might wonder how this can be possible, when after all there is no Ab chord in a C major scale. C major scale consists of all the white keys of the piano: no sharps, no flats.

The above link about modal interchange chords clarifies this. The Abmaj7 chord is borrowed from a C minor scale, to be used in the C major song.
Since Ab is borowed from another C scale, the whole chord progression is in the key of C.

We can however not solo with a C major scale over the Ab chord, because the A and E notes in the C scale will clash with the Ab and Eb notes in the chord. So here’s something you want to memorize: over maj7 modal interchange chords, you always use Lydian. Over Abmaj7 in the above progression in the key of C, you use Ab Lydian scale.

So in this chord progression you will solo 2 bars C major/Ionian scale and 2 bars Ab Lydian scale

Why Ab Lydian? Why not just use Ab major scale?

The answer to those questions can be found looking at the notes.

Ab major scale = Ab Bb C Db Eb F G
Ab Lydian = Ab Bb C D Eb F G

Ab ionian has 4 flats
Ab Lydian only has 3 flats.

Ab Lydian has more common notes with the C major scale than Ab Ionian.
As a result, both the C major scale and the Ab Lydian scale connect better than C Ionian and Ab Ionian.
More common notes between the 2 scales, results in smoother transition from scale to scale, and hence better flowing melodies.

That is why you always play Lydian over all maj7 modal interchange chords.

Using The Closest Scale Fingerings for C Ionian and Ab Lydian.

Now this is where the fun starts.
Chord progressions with modal interchange chords or key changes are fantastic resources to drill your scale knowledge.

Top level guitarists know how to solo over various complex chord progressions or key changes keeping their hand in 1 location.
That is what we will be practicing today.

This is challenging, but once you get the hang of this, you become a much more free, much more advanced musician.
There is a certain level of expanded freedom that comes with not having to jump all across the neck to safety zones.

Fingering combinations for this chord progressions

So here’s the drill: you will be soloing with following scale fingering pairs over the Cmaj7 Abmaj7 chord progression.

  1. C Ionian fingering → C Aeolian fingering
  2. D Dorian fingering → D Locrian fingering
  3. E Phrygian fingering → Eb Ionian fingerin
  4. F Lydian fingering → F dorian fingering
  5. G Mixo fingering → G Phrygian fingering
  6. A Aeolian fingering → Ab Lydian fingering
  7. B Locrian fingering → Bb Mixo fingering.

Solo 3 min per position = a 21min daily drill.
It’s only challenging in the beginning. After a couple of days this will get easier.

This is an amazing exercise to drill your scale fingerings. Every jazz guy spends a lot of time on those types of improvisation drills.

More importantly: since you learn how to move back and forth between 2 scales, while staying in 1 position with your hand (or at least moving as little as necessary) your scale changes sound less “jumpy”, better connected, and you better connect your melodic phrases over the changes.

This is all showcased in following video.

Hit me up anytime at [email protected] if you would like me to send you backing tracks of the above chord progression, if you have any questions, or if you would like to book a lesson.
You’re on your way to becoming a great guitar player.
Have fun! 🙂


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