How To Alter A Dom7 Chord

Hello guys! Welcome back!

One of the questions that are often asked me by my students or by people live on Facebook (every Tuesday around 10.30 EST on my page is just this: “Ok, playing the pentatonic and the various modes, but how can I “alter” my playing on a dom7 chord to make it sounds more modern? “.

Obviously, the question is very complex and opens up to different answers and solutions. In the lesson “5 Different Ways to Play Over an A7 chord” I showed how to use the same pentatonic in a “creative” way to create more of the “extensions” of the dominant seventh chord.

Today, however, I present you four harmonic solutions that I often use and that add “tensions” to your playing to make your sound more modern!

The solutions would be many more, but this is my “top 4”:

  1. Half-Whole Tone Diminished Scale
  2. Lydian Dominant
  3. Dominant Seventh Pentatonic up a 5b from the root
  4. Minor Pentatonic up a minor third from the root

Let’s see the characteristics of these scales at the level of intervals:

  1. Half-Whole Tone Diminished Scale: R b9 # 9 3M b5 5 6M 7m
  2. Lydian Dominant: R 2M 3M # 4 5 6M 7m
  3. Dominant Seventh Pentatonic: R 2M 3M 5 7m
  4. Minor Pentatonic: R 3m 4 5 7m

Here are the fingerings:


OK, as we saw in the analysis of the scales, the first two, the Diminished Half-Whole Tone and the Lydian Dominant (coming from the modes of the Melodic Minor Scale), already have interesting tensions within them. The Diminished has the b9, # 9, but also the 6M (or 13a) which creates a very particular tension. The Lydian Dominant instead has the # 4 (also called # 11) that together with the minor 7th creates a very interesting mix!

NOTE: However, remember that the most important thing to make tensions work is to always create a resolution! This means that it is always a good thing to go back to the minor / major pentatonic to create a sense of rest in the listener. Remember: Tension + resolution! One does not work without the other!

Sounds good? Well, let’s go on!
As I wrote above I also really like to use the Minor Pentatonic up a minor 3rd or the Dominant Seventh Pentatonic up a 5b from the root.
Let’s see what intervals we’re going to create in this way:

  1. Minor Pentatonic, up a minor 3rd from root (then C min pentatonic over A7):
    # 9 (C) b5 (Eb) # 5 (F) 7 (G) b9 (Bb)
  2. Dominant Seventh Pentatonic, up a 5b from the root (hence Eb Dominant Seventh on A7):
    b5 (Eb) # 5 (F) 7 (G) b9 (Bb) 3 (C)

As you can see we have many alterations and this allows us to create a lot of tension in our phrasing! But if we create tension, we must also create a resolution! So, once again, when you move on these tools, remember to often return to the base using the Pentatonic Minor or Magg of the root! Your ear will thank you!


If you enjoyed this lesson and want to deepen the study of the tools you can use on the Modern Blues, come and have a look at my courses on the GUITARlab – Modern Blues Guitar School!
Click on the covers to find out more!


No Comments

Post a Comment