Minor 7th Substitutions for Improvisation
As you progress as a jazz improviser, you gradually become more and more familiar with new scales, different arpeggios, idiomatic vocabulary and a whole multitude of other ways to enhance your soloing skills. I’m now going to add chord substitution to the list, but hopefully in a new and musically productive way for you.
In this lesson I’m going to examine more advanced jazz improvisation techniques with a particular emphasis on chord substitutions. For musicians who play a harmonic instrument (e.g. guitar, vibes, piano etc.) chord substitution is sometimes thought of more in the context of accompaniment or ‘comping’ than single-line soloing, but as we’ll see it is an equally powerful tool for creating new melodic lines.
Minor 7th Chords
In this minor 7th substitutions jazz improvisation lesson we are going to employ a previously composed melodic line that was originally written for use over a C minor 7th chord. Please note that the line itself isn’t just a straight diatonic scale run either, as it has several bop style embellishments within it. I generally prefer to write melodic lines like this as they are more representative of real-world jazz vocabulary and in my view help the substitutions sound more idiomatically appropriate. (n.b. I originally wrote this line for an article in Guitar Player magazine a few years ago and it seemed a good choice to return to it for this post)
Here is the original line:
This Cmin7 line will be our ‘melodic template’ (it’s the first one on the audio recording below) as we then explore some of the various substitution possibilities that can be achieved with a minor 7th line.
Now have a listen to this line being employed (and sometimes transposed) over other chords in the audio examples below in the MP3 file. These five examples are all fully explained in the minor 7th substitutions PDF too:
OK that’s it for this first advanced jazz improvisation lesson..take it all slowly too. Minor 7th Substitutions are really a wonderful addition to your soloing arsenal.