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The Altered Scale

The altered scale can be used to play over dominant chords that have altered tensions (b9, #9,b5,b13). Most of the time that would be dominant chords that go to a minor chord.

The altered scale is the 7th mode of the melodic minor scale, so the G altered scale has the same notes as the Ab melodic minor scale. It is also relative to the lydian dominant scale (the 4th mode of the melodic minor scale).

altered scale = melodic minor scale up half a step

For example: the G altered scale = Ab melodic minor scale

 

G altered scale G       Ab       A#        B        Db       Eb         F
1        b9        #9        3        b5       b13      b7

 

Here's the scale chart for G altered. The red dots are the roots. If you have troubles finding the other positions of this guitar scale, try the guitar scale finder.

guitar scales: altered scale

 

Have a look at the following altered scale ideas:

 

guitar scales: altered scale example 1

 

In the following example I use 2 major triads that are found in the altered scale. In case of the G altered scale those triads are Db (Db F Ab) and Eb (Eb G Bb), so triads build on the b5 and the b13 of the altered scale:

 

guitar scales: altered scale example 2

 

I told you that the altered scale is mostly used on dominant chords going to minor chords. You can also use the altered scale on dominants going to major chords, just look out for a clash with the one who's doing the comping behind you (if he's good, he listens to you and plays altered tensions in his voicings).

 

guitar scales: altered scale example 3

 

 

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