Thomas Berglund
Thomas Berglund
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Using scale tones to form chord shapes

When playing chords you can think in modes (scales) instead of the chords in different positions. I`ll start from Gm dorian in this lesson.

G minor dorian mode:

G minor dorian mode

Then you´ll have the tones G, A, Bb, C, D, E and F to work with and you can form chords from these and improvise your comping both with various chord shapes, rhythmically and with chord melodies. It will be a varied and dynamic playing in that kind of comping. So what you do is to form the scale tones to chords from the dorian scale in this case. Start to experiment and find chords in the scale and when you have a bounch of them you´ll try to play with those to a backing track with a modal comp as in this lesson.

When you have practice it for a while you will find yourself improvise with chords the same way you improvise with single notes.

To put in chromatic chord lines and melodic lines on the top is giving the comping even more variations and dynamics. Down below I have examples of playing with diatonics, melodic lines on top and chromatic chord lines.

Here´s a diatonic example in the dorian mode that you´ll find in my 1st playing example in the video lesson:

Chord scales comping diatonic

You can also play melodic lines at the top of the chord.

Here´s a melodic line example that you´ll find in my 2nd playing example in the video:

Chord scales comping melodic

Another thing you can do is to play chromatic chord lines. That means you play chromatic lines with fully chords.

Here´s a chromatic chord line example that you´ll find in my 2rd playing example in the video:

Chord scales comping chromatic

This way of playing chords works very good to modal tunes but you can also use it to a jazz standard or any tune in any style actually. The important thing is to use your ear and listen to how it sounds to the tune that´s played. One can say that you´re playing the same way you do when you improvise with single notes but with chords and when you have practice this for a while you will be more free in the chord thinking and also get a new library of chord shapes.

In this lesson I´m in the Gm dorian mode but you can of course bring this idea to any mode and key. You can also use this idea in your soloing by mixing shapes from the soloing scale in phrases you´re playing.

Good luck!

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Joseph Lopez
@josephlopez   4 years ago
Great video Thomas! This is very useful stuff, I know a lot of guitar players who are stuck playing the same block chords when comping (I was once guilty of that too). I find that kind of comping boring, limited, and repetitive. But this approach allows you to be more creative and interesting about your comping, especially when you're in a modal vamp.
Thomas Berglund
@thomas-berglund   4 years ago
Thanks for the comment Joseph! Your explanation is right on point why I did this lesson. it´s also very interesting and creative for oneself to work with this kind of thinking in chords when one see chords in another perspective and find new shapes to use in the playing.