Dave Clews shows you how to formulate jazz scales
When writing melodies or soloing over backing tracks, one of the most puzzling things to figure out is what notes to pick so that what you’re playing works over the chord in question. An almost guaranteed key to success in this area is to use notes from a scale that matches the chord in the track at that point; and the scale you use depends largely on the type of chord – for example, minor 7th, dominant and so on.
Essentially, a scale is just a sequence of notes with a specific pattern of intervals – whole tones or semitones – between the pitches. For instance, we all know and love the major scale, but that’s just one of many different types of scale, and there are loads of sophisticated alternative scales favoured by jazz musicians, all built using different patterns of intervals between the notes. Selecting the notes you play from these is not only useful for jazz, but also comes in handy when applying a dash of jazz flavour to other genres like drum ’n’ bass, house, funk or fusion.
In this month’s edition of EasyGuide, I’m going to spotlight a quick way for you to work out which scale to use, based on the type of chord you’re playing over the top of, which is almost guaranteed to provide you with a usable result – as well as adding a touch of jazz flavour to your project.