Here is an added jazz guitar lesson relating to the recent series of blog posts and video lessons on the pentatonic scales for Jazz guitar.
In summary, we’ll discover three different “solutions” to improvising on the ii-V-I cadence (in C major) using nothing but pentatonic scales. Note that the materials in this lesson can be applied on any instrument. See video above. Enjoy! 🙂
First Solution: Ascending Pentatonics a Half-Step Appart
As described in the video, simply use Am, Bbm and Bm pentatonics on the progression Dm7 – G7 – Cmaj7. Here’s the analysis of chord degrees:
Special attention must be given to the last pentatonic scale: applying Bm pentatonic on a C major chord means that we well hear the #11 note, making the line sounding like the Lydian mode. Please do resolve that note (in our case an F#) to the 5th of the chord (in our case, the G note) if you hear it. 🙂
Second Solution: Pentatonics “up and down” a Half-step
Another simple, elegant and “modern” solution here: on Dm7 – G7 – Cmaj7 chord use Em, Eb7 and Em pentatonics. Analysis:
Third Solution: the Tritone Sub!
This is my favorite, and it is quite similar to our first solution above. We simply change the pentatonic scale choice for the V chord. On G7, we use the dominant 7th pentatonic a tritone away. Simply put: on G7, use Db7 pentatonic.
The tritone substitution is an infamous one! We can hear these types of sound throughout recorded Jazz history, but especially since the Bebop era. The beauty of this simple and effective sub is that both chords share their tritone (i.e. 3rd and 7th, the guide-tones are the same).
When examined closely, we can even go as far as saying that the altered chord (or scale) is simply a tritone substitution. Also see this jazz guitar lesson page for interesting chord subs…
Once again, be careful with the Bm pentatonic on Cmaj7 chord. We have the F# note (#11), which might steer you to resolve to G if needed.
Jazz Guitar Lesson: Pentatonics Wrap Up
That’s it! Shed those ideas and see what works for you. Examine where and when you could apply the pentatonic scales on tunes and progressions … and don’t forget to check out the Pentatonic Series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 …)