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scales for V chord in minor ii-V's

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Robin Ruscio, Aug 19, 2005.

  1. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    How do you decide which scales to play over the V chord in a minor ii-V?

    I have used the diminished h/w over V7(b9) or #9 chords and the alt scale (aka diminished whole tone) over chords with anything with a #5 over it (i.e. #9 #5 or alt chords), but as i'm understanding the fluid nature of harmony better i realize that almost any alterations or combinations thereof can be applied to the V chord in this context. It seems that alterations can be more or less at the discretion of the harmonic instrument. So much of the time alterations aren't included on a typical lead sheet.

    One pianist i worked with suggested that i just use the alt scale all the time as it avoids the cliches of the symetrical diminished scale. I'm leaning in this direction.

    What's the current thinking on this for a modern jazz context?
  2. VTDB


    Oct 19, 2004
    I use chord/scale stuff a lot in the practice room because I think it really helps in understanding what note "A" sounds like over chord "B" and let's you really experiment with chord alterations in a controlled environment but when I'm actually playing I'm not really thinking "wholetone scale, now lydian dominant" et cetera. So I would say experiment with every possible scale you can think of in the shed but then just use your ears when you're actually playing.
  3. topbassman

    topbassman Banned

    Mar 3, 2005
    Are we talking about soloing or walking?
  4. anonymous8547j7d7b

    anonymous8547j7d7b Guest

    Jul 1, 2005
    The Altered scale was what I was taught to use. From what I can make out the 1/2-W & W-1/2 Diminished as primary scale choices on b9 & #9 chords comes from the "Aebersold" school if you like (I may be wrong :confused: ), which kind of suggests that there's a scale for every chord. My teachers have always looked puzzled when asked "What's the scale for this chord?" & eschew a much more relative approach. The guy who suggested the altered scale spent some time with Eddie Gomez on the subject. The idea he shared is to build every possible triad from the scale & use the ones you favour as melodic motifs - especially useful on a minor blues type of prog where the V chord in question only occurs for a bar (eg Mr PC).
  5. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    I was thinking soloing, but walking as well. I understand that there are always several choices, just curious what your preferences are. Is it safe to say that the alt scale will work over any of those chords but that dim h/w will work only on b9 or #9? I really like Eddie Gomez harmonic vocab, is it more alt then diminished? Patitucci speaks of using both in one of his videos.

    I think more than which scales i was wondering was whether all these possible alteraions can be applied freely and interchangeably at any time over any V chord leading to a minor chord. Sometimes the alterations are implied by the melody but often not.
  6. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    I don't know if this sounds dumb or not, but how about a simple minor pentatonic or blues scale?

    It's got the #9, it's got the b5 (blues scale).

    Sure, it sounds corny if played for endless choruses in a bad blues rock bar jam, but for one bar in a minor ii V i it screams alt7.
  7. anonymous8547j7d7b

    anonymous8547j7d7b Guest

    Jul 1, 2005
    I suppose it could just come down to one answer i have heard to the age-old "What scale...?" question - "It depends on how much or little tension you want to create with your melodic line." Now that just clears things right up, don't it! My own feeling & experience is also that alterations in this context tend to be pretty fluid - I get pretty overwhelmed by the potential rights & wrongs of the situation as well. Maybe if my ears were better @ spotting alterations as they happen I would have a more concrete opinion? I suspect it's a case of not necessarily playing "wrong" notes as such; but with more ear training my choices might change??
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    There's some pertinent info on this topic in This thread.
  9. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004

    I like the Aebersold books because they're a great way to practice without embarrassing myself in front of others.

    I have to admit, when I'm actually playing, I'm thinking,

    "dum dum dum dum, dum dum dum dum, dum dum dum dum" or "diddly diddly dum de diddly, diddly dum de dum de diddly, dum de dum..."

    rather than

    "dorian, mixolydian, ionian" or "locrian, half diminished, harmonic minor"
  10. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    I should mention that i have been playing minor ii-V's for a long time without really thinking much, but sometimes rexamining these things opens up my ears to new sounds i may not have come up with on my own.

    Haven't thought about Mr Aeberesold in about 10 years either, outside of his anti smoking tirades which i love.
  11. VTDB


    Oct 19, 2004
    I usually try to practice this kind of stuff at the piano, it's nice to be able to play chords and melody at the same time.
  12. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    my favorite is the V7 b9, b6.
  13. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    I think this recent post also addresses the issue you speak of:

    1/2 W is a more "neither/nor" scale as is WT, that is, a minor major character. On a 1/2 W scale you can construct 4 different chords on each of the steps of the I diminished chord for example: G 1/2 W diminished =G7(b5) G-7 G-7b5 and Go. The WT has a major 9 but a b13 (#5). For me the harmonic minor and altered dominant have the strongest minor cadence tendencies because they have the minor 3rd and b6. In G7 this would be Ab and Eb. These are strong Cminor tendency notes. You can see how this differs from WT and 1/2Wdim. In many regards this is more pertinent in terms of cadence and linear constructions

    In a general sense how ever--especially in piano voicing, voice leading and arranging you can freely move from one alteration to another. For example the famous "bossa nova" inner voice movement on VI-II: A713-b13 / D79-b9
  14. Interchangeably, yes. However, in theory (and of course I mean only in theory) it would defy the natural order to go from more tension to less tension within the V chord, then resolve. For example, you would have to be pretty creative to justify going from b13 to 13 on the V chord to (I dunno, resolve to the 11th of the i). Or #9 to 9 on the V chord.

    Then again, rules were made to be broken!
  15. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I use altered dom for most of that stuff.