6 thoughts on “How to find scale(s)/mode(s) to improvise in over chord progressions in jazz music?

  1. pianojazz man

    learn chord scales—every chord type has a scale to use against it
    Cmaj7 chord scale= C D E F# G A B
    Dm7 chord scale= D E F G A C
    G7 chord scale= G Ab A Bb B C# D Eb E F

  2. Soulmate

    I have answered this question several times in this very forum. Try searching Yahoo Answers on “scales modes chords improvising”

    Here’s one of my past answers, voted best:


    Here’s another:


    And another:


  3. tonyp128

    Read about modes and chord/scale relationships first. Any good jazz theory book will have it. Look at Mark Levine’s jazz piano book for one that is a great example. Ask your teacher, that is what he is for. No teacher? Get one!

  4. Juan Luis S

    First of all, learn Gmaj7 chord, use the G major scale over this chord, and the G maj 7 arpeggio
    Learn g dominant 7, use the mixolidian scale

    Learn g minor 7, use natural minor (also known as aeolian) or Dorian scale

    Learn G half diminished chord, use locrian scale,

    Remember to learn ALL POSITIONS, to fully improve your improvisation range,
    Then change the keys or root notes of the chords, the scales start with different position but are the same
    For example: Gmajor7 use the G major scale, now use the C major 7 chord, since C is the 4th note of G scale, you start using the 4th position of G major 7 as your first position, (quite confusing) but hey, it’s quite difficult.

    Tip: if you have an IPhone or ITouch, I recommend you to download an app called guitarist reference lite, it’s quite useful,

    I you have any more questions, just ask me

  5. J. Frost

    Learn all your major and minor scales first. You have to know them. When you want to improvise, look at the piece first and listen to it. Maybe there is just a 2 chord vamp or something. Say Dm7 G7 etc etc. You could improvise with just the notes from the C major scale here (like a D dorian mode). You should try to match the scale you pick your notes from with the ‘main’ chord changes (you dont have to follow every single chord change)
    heres a possible option, but its up to you in the end, what you like the sound of best and what style you prefer. The only way to know this is practice!
    These are obviously not hard rules, but just a starting point.

    If the chord is a major chord, use notes from the major scale starting on that note, or from the major scale one fourth above (so a C major chord, you could use the notes C D E F G A Bb)
    If the chord is a major 7 (or 9) chord, use notes from the major scale starting one fourth below, or use a ‘pentatonic’ or ‘blues’ scale starting on that note.
    If the chord is a minor or minor 7 (or minor 9) chord, use notes from the mjaor scale starting one tone below

    If the chord changes are simple, its easy to pick just a single scale or set of notes to work with. Filling between notes chromatically can be effective too.


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