Quick and Dirty Chord Tone Soloing (Part 2)

In Part 1, we looked at how to hit those chord tones when soloing over a blues to make it sound like you know what you’re doing. In Part 2, we look at a couple of other quick and dirty ways to get great results without breaking our heads.

Check out this ii-V-I in C:

ii V I in c major

You could just blow over this using the C Major Scale, but it’ll sound shit because this is jazz, and you’re supposed to at least acknowledge the changes. There are infinite options for playing over the above changes, but they all depend on one thing:


The law of second nature states that an improvisational morsel (scale, arpeggio, triad, lick, run etc.) is only truly useful when it has become second nature; that is, you can play it in a split second without thinking, searching for notes, counting frets, or generally fumbling around. For example, you may want to play the Dorian b2 scale over the Dm7, but if it’s not second nature to you, you’re shitting on your own doorstep.

Am I screwed then?

Not really, if you’ve gotten your pentatonic major and minor scales down you can quite happily play D Minor Pentatonic over the Dm7, G Major Pentatonic over the G7 and C Major Pentatonic over the Cmaj7. The strange thing here is that all these pentatonic scales can be found in the key of C Major (yes, all of them), so what’s the difference between this and just playing the C Major scale over the whole progression? Picking out the pentatonic scales gets you focusing on the right notes and changing scale when the chord changes, which makes you sound like you know what you’re doing; whereas, just blowing over the progression with the C Major scale is a little like slinging mud at a wall.

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