Here are two concepts that will
add surprise and color to your
improvised lines. Ex. 1
shows a scale composed of alternating whole- and half-steps. In this
instance, we start on D, but you can apply the whole-half (W-H) formula
to any starting note. Notice the Ddim7 arpeggio (D, F, A, B) within the scale? This diminished arpeggio gives the
scale a bluesy sound.
moods. You can play the whole-half (or diminished) scale over a
minor chord with the same root, as in Ex. 2.
With their rolling sound, the triplets at the ends of bars 1 and 2 push
you from one measure into the next. This momentum is enhanced when you
anticipate the downbeat by a triplet eighth-note, as shown here.
The second concept is to create rhythmic accents by slipping chords
into your single-note lines. I find that two- and three-note chords
work best for this kind of harmonic punctuation. Ex. 3 enhances
the diminished lines with three-note voicings in bars 2 and 3 and a
four-note finale. Again, notice the triplet eighth-note anticipations.
Pay attention to the chord shape on the fourth, third, and second
strings. It moves up and down the fretboard in minor thirds, yet stays
within the D diminished scale. Experiment with different fingerings
than those shown here, and -- above all -- make the line swing.
FYI: Squeezing the Minor 7
tones within a minor-7th chord, you can create piquant new structures.
Lower the 5 by a half-step, and you get a min75
(see chart). In certain harmonic settings, this is called a
half-diminished-7th chord. When you squeeze a minor-7th chord by
lowering the 5 and the 7 by a half-step, you get a diminished-7th chord. -- Andy
Selected Chord Formulas
Listen to Example 3
JANZON_EX3.AIF (for Macintosh)
TOMAS JANZON performs, records, and teaches in
Los Angeles. Visit tomasjanzon.com for more info on his gigs
or recent CD, X-Changes.
Photo: Bob Berry