Jazz Improvisation Techniques: Simple Scale Hack

jazz improvisation techniquesWould you like to learn how to upgrade your jazz improvisation techniques with a simple scale hack? You’re in the right place.

In the video below, Steve teaches you how to use jazz improvisation techniques to play great-sounding solos.

This scale hack sounds neat over any tune. It can be used to create variety in solos that makes your audience pay attention.

Take 3-1/2 minutes and watch the video below. Steve breaks down the jazz improvisations techniques for you.

Jazz Improvisation Techniques Video Tutorial

4 Tips To Master This Jazz Improvisation Techniques Strategy

Now that you’ve taken a few minutes to watch the video above, let’s get further into these jazz improvisation techniques.

How To Use Substitution Techniques To Grab Attention

jazz improvisation techniquesAnything that’s called a standard is great. That’s why they’re called standards in the first place.

The problem is that when you hear those standard chords too much, they get boring. What if you can make it more interesting?

You can use the substitution technique to break that “monotony”.

In music, substitution means using something different from the standard but still works great.

Let’s take the Justin Bieber song, “Baby”, as an example. This song uses the classic I-vi-IV-V chord progression:

Cheesy Version Of The Tune (The Original)

Now, how do you make a radio-friendly pop song a lot more interesting? Jazz-pop fusion band Dirty Loops was able to jazz up “Baby” with a lot of substitution techniques:

Much Hipper Version Of The Same Tune

In the above example, you can hear how substitution can turn a simple song into interesting, virtuosic music.

Dirty loops used plenty of these jazz improvisation techniques via substitutions such as:

In the next few sections, you’ll learn two powerful substitution methods that will skyrocket your jazz improvisation techniques fast.

How Pros Perform Chord Substitutions In Less Than A Second

jazz improvisation techniquesThis is the fastest chord substitution technique you can learn: replace the ii chord with a II7 chord.

In Steve’s video, he replaced the Dm7 chord with a D7 chord.

Now, how will this reharmonization technique work properly? It’s all about creating contrast.

In any jazz tune, play the ii chord for the first few bars. Don’t change anything at first.

After going through the tune in a standard way, substitute a dominant 7th chord for the minor 7th on the next run.

If you use chord substitutions this way, your audience will notice the difference from before. This is because they heard the conventional way of playing the tune the first time.

Changing it up with a chord substitution afterwards creates that nice contrast.

jazz improvisation techniquesWant to know more about how pros use chord substitutions? Check out the Jazz Improvisation Super System.

Inside the Jazz Improvisation Super System you’ll discover:

  • The most cutting edge chords, scales, and harmony secrets that today’s top musicians must know.
  • How to simplify complex chord progressions so you can easily play every chord you see.
  • Rarely revealed harmony formulas from greats like Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver, Cedar Walton, & More.

Now that you’ve learned a chord substitution method, you can create more tension with the next related tip.

How To Use Dominant 7th Chords To Improvise More Interesting Melodies

jazz improvisation techniquesSubstituting a dominant 7th chord for the ii chord opens up more jazz improvisation techniques.

Why? It’s because you can use the most number of scales over dominant 7th chords.

The open-ended nature of any dominant 7th chord leads to a lot of interesting possibilities.

Want to see what I mean? Look at the list below.

Example of scales you can use over dominant chords include:

  • Mixolydian
  • Pentatonic
  • Chromatic
  • Whole Tone
  • Lydian Domianant
  • Diminished
  • Bebop Dominant
  • Altered

Since you can use a lot of different scales over a dominant 7th chord, you can improvise tons of interesting melodies.

In Steve’s video, he used the altered scale. This scale always sounds great over dominant 7th chords.

The altered scale also resolves nicely into any chord tone of the next chord.

jazz improvisation techniquesIf you want to learn more ways of creating interesting melodies, check out the Jazz Masters Method.

Inside the Jazz Masters Method you’ll discover:

  • Incredible jazz licks from Bud Powell, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Diana Krall, Oscar Peterson, Ray Charles, Barry Harris, and Red Garland.
  • How to navigate through the most common jazz chord progressions so you’ll never get stuck improvising over your favorite jazz tunes.
  • How to incorporate simple rhythmic endings that will propel your groove and jazz phrasing.

Check out the Jazz Masters Method here.

This scale might seem hard to understand. However, there’s one hack that will help you learn how to play the altered scale fast. Read on.

The Secret To Learning The Altered Scale Fast

jazz improvisation techniquesSo, what’s the secret to learning the altered scale? It’s the melodic minor scale.

How so? The altered scale is actually the 7th mode of the melodic minor scale.

The next question is how do we use the melodic minor scale to play an altered scale?

All you have to do is start your melodic minor on its last note and you already have an altered scale.

For example, if you have a G7 chord and you want to play an altered scale over that, just play an Ab melodic minor scale. However, emphasize the note G.

Let’s write down the scale to see what I mean. Look at the notes of the Ab melodic minor scale:

Ab – Bb – Cb – Db – Eb – F – G

To convert your Ab melodic minor scale to a G altered scale, all you have to do is start the same set of notes on G:

G – Ab – Bb – Cb – Db – Eb – F

As you’ve just seen, if you can play any melodic minor scale, you can play any altered scale over matching dominant 7th chords.

Using this simple scale hack will expand your jazz improvisation techniques.

Why Your Improv Sounds Awkward (And What To Do About It)

jazz improvisation techniquesDo you feel like you’ve hit a wall with your improv? Do your solos sound boring?

It’s not so bad when you’re just messing around by yourself at the piano.

However, you’ll humiliate yourself while performing on stage. And your performance feels disappointing & inferior.

Never fret though. The best solutions are inside the Jazz Improvisation Super System.

jazz improvisation techniquesThe Jazz Improvisation Super System has tour-tested hacks that will skyrocket your jazz improvisation techniques like a pro.

You’ll learn the most sophisticated methods guaranteed to work in any playing situation.

Most of all, you’ll learn improv tricks that will lead to great-sounding, jaw-dropping solos.

This course features legendary jazz keyboardist David Garfield. His long list of credits include work with artists like George Benson, David Sanborn, Eddie Van Halen, The Rippingtons, Michael McDonald, and Earl Klugh.

Inside the Jazz Improvisation Super System you’ll discover:

  • How the best players really use scales to create beautiful melodies & improvisation.
  • David’s trick for playing confidently over fast chord changes.
  • Simple scale hacks that let even total newbies play solos that sound fluid, creative, & musical.
  • And much more.

Check out the Jazz Improvisation Super System here.

I hope that you’ve gotten some useful information out of this lesson to improve your skills. Enjoy learning jazz improvisation techniques using our simple scale hack.

If you found this lesson to be helpful or want to share something, feel free to leave a comment below.

Thank you for your time. I’m here to help you become the musician of your dreams.


About The Author

Mark A. Galang

Mark Galang is one of our contributors at FreeJazzLessons.com. He loves teaching all styles of music especially jazz, blues, rock, classical, and Christian music.