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  1. #1

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    How can something so easy be so difficult? I like to have an inventory of canned licks as the basis for true improvisation. But for some reason I can't seem to come up with anything "musical" over a secondary dominant with a b5. Any recommendations, guidance or referrals are greatly appreciated.

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  3. #2
    The juice of Lydian dominant is the #4 to nat5 tension/resolution. I think the easiest way to hear things in the beginning is to target the nat5 and use the #4 as the tension resolving up to it, but you can certainly hang out on the #4 once you learn to hear it.

    If you're coming from the standpoint of simply trying to transpose mixolydian licks to LD, it sounds crap, because the nat4 behaves very differently. 4-3 is the natural tension/resolution in mixolydian, but in Lydian Dom, it's more about #4-5 tension/resolution.

    A great shortcut to expand the tension/resolution relationships is to use the Dom9 a step above as the tension to target the dom9 chord of your 7b5. So C Lydian dominant would be a D9 to C9 tension/resolution.

    Watch Reg's videos.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by buduranus2 View Post
    How can something so easy be so difficult? I like to have an inventory of canned licks as the basis for true improvisation. But for some reason I can't seem to come up with anything "musical" over a secondary dominant with a b5. Any recommendations, guidance or referrals are greatly appreciated.
    I’m confused are you talking about b5 or #11?

    Can you give me an example in a tune of a progression you would like to be able to play over?

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I’m confused are you talking about b5 or #11?

    Can you give me an example in a tune of a progression you would like to be able to play over?
    Well, in my understanding when we talk about the chord it's #11 but when we talk about the scale it's b5 or, in this instance, #4. If we talked about #11 in the context of the scale it implies an octave up. That said, the most common occurrence of a non-resolving or secondary dominant is probably the third and fourth measures of Take the A Train. Also in All of Me among many others.

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    The juice of Lydian dominant is the #4 to nat5 tension/resolution. I think the easiest way to hear things in the beginning is to target the nat5 and use the #4 as the tension resolving up to it, but you can certainly hang out on the #4 once you learn to hear it.

    If you're coming from the standpoint of simply trying to transpose mixolydian licks to LD, it sounds crap, because the nat4 behaves very differently. 4-3 is the natural tension/resolution in mixolydian, but in Lydian Dom, it's more about #4-5 tension/resolution.

    A great shortcut to expand the tension/resolution relationships is to use the Dom9 a step above as the tension to target the dom9 chord of your 7b5. So C Lydian dominant would be a D9 to C9 tension/resolution.

    Watch Reg's videos.
    Great stuff. Appreciate you!

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by buduranus2 View Post
    Well, in my understanding when we talk about the chord it's #11 but when we talk about the scale it's b5 or, in this instance, #4. If we talked about #11 in the context of the scale it implies an octave up. That said, the most common occurrence of a non-resolving or secondary dominant is probably the third and fourth measures of Take the A Train. Also in All of Me among many others.
    I think you have to be a little careful about enharmony and spellings. #4 or #11 is one thing, b5 is quite another. If I see D7b5 on a chart, I am going to be thinking 'altered' rather than lyd dom.

    OK, so good example Take the A-Train... As far as I can hear from recordings Ellington/Strayhorn did not conceive is this chord as a Lydian Dominant originally (not sure if that was even a thing theoretically in the '40s) but rather a whole tone tonality, which is actually very closely related.

    (The II7 chord does resolve. It resolves to V7. Don't let the IIm7 confuse you, that's just a suspension of V7...)

    So, anyway, I think you have this backwards. The way that I've always found best is to transcribe lines on chords like this and work out what's going on.

    Firstly, going the other way - trying to turn scales into lines, usually does sound contrived unless you already know what you are doing - i.e, can hear it.

    Second reason is that I don't really think there's any point cultivating language over specific chords. It's best to know how to apply the language you've already got in many different harmonic contexts as possible. In the case of 7#11, as with minor chords, or half dim, you need good sounding true minor language.

    By true minor I mean minor key lines that don't accentuate the b7 as a chord tone - i.e. are not based around a m7 tonality, but a minor triadic or m6 tonality. Real jazz lines rarely stick entirely to one scale - but minor key jazz lines that use the 6th and major 7th and minor 7th in combination are pretty common. So you aren't really talking about using 'melodic minor' but a combination minor scale that features notes of the dorian, harmonic and melodic minor. Using the V arpeggio on minor key for instance to get a min(maj7) tonality is a common bebop cliche. Another are line cliches that run 1-7-b7-6.

    Now, if you learn how to do that, you can then put that on a related dominant (ii-V relation.) If I play on a G7 a line based on the Dm version of the Barry Harris '3' phrase, for instance, maybe descending from the 5th to the 3rd by step and then putting a little V arpeggio:

    A' G F A C# E

    On G7, that C# pops right out... So we say - G lydian dominant. But the melodic line is convincingly jazz, which is a separate consideration.

    Another good bop example of this sound are the phrases Parker plays on the D7 and A7 chords of the bridge on Moose the Mooche check 1:05 on.



    So: don't confuse language and harmony. Harmony is what we get when we prominently feature the C# on the G7 (G7#11!) BUT language is that little descending melodic thing that would work equally well on a Dm chord, or a Bm7b5 chord, or a Db7b5 - or even F major to give a lydian augmented sound... Theory is very much concerned with harmony, but rarely gives clues as to language, which is why most teachers advise transcription.

    I think you understand the harmony, but not the language, which is why your lines sound contrived.

    There are ways of going from basic materials into language, but I'll pass over that here.

  8. #7
    I very much appreciate your comprehensive and clear reply. I developed the "linguistic elements" of jazz in the context of jazz-blues, then progressed to rhythm changes, which seems very close to the blues conceptually if not structurally. So that's why my lines over a non-functioning dominant, such as they are, sound contrived. They may be "correct" but they're not "right." As for whole tone over the D7 in A Train, lydian dominant has a nice five note whole tone run landing on the b5/#4. So that's pretty close to what Duke and Strayhorn intended, as you mentioned. Also, as you point out, it's preferable to conform the line to the chord, which is what I do. That is, I'll record and loop a 7b5 chord without meter and then try to play something "musical" over it. Or sometimes I'll record a straight dom7 and play various scales/modes to hear the alterations more starkly. I think it's like you say, that is, it's not just modes of melodic minor etc. but rather a mash-up of scales covering the same harmonic zip code. It occurs to me as I write this that maybe I'm too locked into LD or whatever. I think I'll try to incorporate a chromatic passing tone to keep the chord tones on the strong beats. Not exactly sure where I'll shoehorn that in. Also I'll try the altered scale as well. Might be just what I'm looking for. In closing, my sincerest appreciation for your insights and assistance.

  9. #8

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    I find that if what I'm playing is "vanilla" (major, minor, dorian ideas), it is fine to play lines in a more "familiar" way... pieces of the corresponding scales that have no gaps, more melodically linear, starting or ending on their tonics, and similar simplicities that let the lines closely follow or match the harmony. This is what you might call a "cards face up" "full disclosure" kind to playing... easy to hear, easy to transcribe.

    However, for lydian dominant (as well as symmetric diminished, augmented, and some others), I find it often sounds better to match the complexity of the harmony by deliberately playing lines and phrases with "secrets and mystery" integral to their composition, using ideas like:

    - avoid starting or ending phrases on the tonic

    - avoid the tonic when the line passes through it

    - skip over notes that reveal too much too directly

    - take a more angular approach (zig-zag a little through the notes)

    - distinguish/destabilize some notes/lines with either a little more "push" (faster, louder, maybe stronger accents) or a little more "pull back" (slower, softer, weaker dynamics, ghosting the weakest notes, or ghosting the beginning and ending notes of phrases)

    - use "enharmonic ambiguity" - note sets that could melodically describe multiple chord harmonies (any of which would sound good at that point, but it is not clear which harmony you might be describing, at least immediately).

    Spend some time exploring the relationship between various chords and scales and LD.

    - play a sharp nine chord, find the LD that harmonically describes it

    - play a ninth chord, a flat five chord, find the descriptive LD

    - play any LD and look for the augmented and diminished scales that describe it

    Keep in mind that the LD is a chameleon; its scale inversions/modes describe multiple harmonies, which means that its self tonic is shifty with respect to different contexts (its immediate tonic depending on what particular chord harmony it is describing).
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  10. #9
    A lot of great advice, so let me try to address your suggestions in order, at least up to the level of my ability. First, I typically aspire to start/end phrases on notes other than the tonic, although sometimes I will if I'm playing a cliche tongue in cheek. I've actually found my playing to be a little too angular at times, overly reliant on arpeggios. Although it sounds OK to me as long as I incorporate more linearity. As for avoiding the tonic when the line passes through it, sometimes I look at the tonic as a quick V7-I if I can get away with it. I like your idea of keeping lines harmonically ambiguous. In this regard, I'd like to get further into fourths. Lastly, if I think of LD as the fourth mode of melodic minor, then I start finding melodic minor in places where I wouldn't necessarily anticipate it. I think maybe this is what you meant about LD being a bit of a chameleon. Many thanks!

  11. #10

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    Ask a theory question, you get a theory answer, which you think is the bees knees. It ain't, because it won't un-contrive what you actually play, and what you actually sound like.

    If your licks sound contrived then they probably are. That is, they're worked out on some kind of blueprint and then performed to rote. Or, worst scenario, they're generic and applied to any tune regardless. Your words:

    I like to have an inventory of canned licks
    They'll only sound like they're not contrived when they're not, when they're more or less spontaneous and in the feel of the tune they're in.

    Lyd Dom is the mixo with a sharp 4 or, more simply put, the minor melodic off the 5th of the dom - i.e. D mel m over G7 or G7 alt.

    Just play it is my advice, forget the theory ideas, they'll only make you sound even more contrived. Improv is tightrope walking. Being safe is to be dead.

  12. #11

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    Context? Are your lines going somewhere in a purposeful manner? Are your lines being used to create rhythmic phrases? Are you creating with your ear, your fingers or your brain?
    Yes I'm asking very general questions about very specific things, but maybe the focus on using an inventory of canned licks obfuscates the sense of purpose to what you play. Why are you playing that line? Where is it going? Where did it come from?
    Thinking along the lines of a "progression" actually progressing from a musical thought towards a conclusion might inspire you to phrase differently, with more space and brevity and imagination with which to create movement. That's where using a scale becomes subservient to actually saying something with urgency and intention. This is an entire discipline of practice in itself. Phrase thoughtfully; the qualities of the scale may reveal themselves and impart a living quality this way.
    Maybe
    David

  13. #12

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    Try messing around with a Coltrane 1-2-3-5 pattern a whole step above the Lydian Dominant, so for C7#11 a D shape, giving you the 9th, 3rd, #11 and natural 13

  14. #13

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    At first I thought, wait, is having lydian dominant licks a thing? Then I realized that I have one. I use it occasionally and it sounds contrived, at least to me, because I've heard it a lot and, typically, I'm tossing it in mechanically in a high tempo tune where I'm struggling to keep up. Some musicians hate licks in a general way. I remember one teacher yelling, "no licks, make melody!".

    Having a "lydian dominant lick" implies that you have a lick you're going to play on a LD chord, no matter what else is going on at the time. I'm aware that great players use licks, but, in my somewhat limited experience talking with great players about this, they never speak of it in this way, even when they admit to using licks. Most will tell you that they don't know what they were thinking when they played a certain thing, and they're being honest. I recall a great player being asked what he was thinking at a particular point in a solo he'd just played. His answer was "I was thinking darker".

    So, my answer to the OP question about making LD licks sound less contrived is not to play them. Instead, consider the harmony of the tune and try to make a suitable alternative melody. I think this is done in different ways by different players. But, clearly, some players sing to themselves (you can see Herb Ellis doing it during every solo, for example) and then try to play what they're singing.

    I'd suggest picking a tune with an LD chord. Then comp the tune while scat singing. After you sing a line you like, put it onto the guitar. In my hands, this technique produces much better results than thinking about anything in a more theoretical or mathematical way. I know that some great players have put in their time with the math, but I think it's to learn the sounds, not to be thinking about math during a solo.

    Licks are a different story. But, a good way to develop licks is to scat sing them and then write them down. That way, they're your own and it gets away from well worn ruts in your muscle memory on the fretboard. It's likely to be more melodic simply because you're singing. If you're committed to playing licks over LD chords you're going to have to surround them with compatible material.

  15. #14

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    rp, I agree OVER and OVER again. I used to try and play all the cool licks I knew at jam sessions. That never worked for me, it felt forced. Now I practice on listening "with my ear bent down to the ground" (as pauln would say) to what everyone else is doing, and shape my lines around what's happening on the bandstand. If a lick surfaces within a solo, great--but it has to emerge naturally.

    I'm an odd musician. If I were to think of a "lydian dominant" lick--I would think of the context of the chord in the KEY of the song. So, for instance, if I wanted to play an A7 with a sharp eleventh in the key of C major I would think of the A7 as follows:

    A -- 6th in C

    C# -- b2 in C (#1 makes me nervous )

    D# -- b3 in C (or #2, if you're into that kinda thing)

    E -- 3rd in C (Lage Lund says the major 3rd is really in with the kids these days)

    G -- 5th

    B -- 7th

    okay, four chord tones and two colors.

    Why did I relate it back to C? Well, I'm an odd bird. If you think of all of that in C, you can control how each sound responds to the chord progression. I've already gotten into arguments about how when you play a Dm7b5 with a natural nine in C major, you are actually playing a major 3rd in a minor context--which is incredibly hip and hard to hear (but possible). I know, I know--locrian natural 9 scale... that doesn't help me as much as thinking of that major 3rd against C minor when I am trying to hear it.

    If you think of the A7#11 as it relates to, I dunno, Abminor (where it occurs more naturally) you could do:

    A -- b2 in Abminor

    C# -- 4th in Abminor

    D# -- enharmonic 5th of Abminor

    E -- b6th of Abminor

    G -- natural 7th of Abminor

    B -- b3rd of Abminor

    Like I said, I'm an odd bird. I am using Contextual Ear Training to reteach myself all the theory I learned 15 years ago. If you practice singinig, like RP said, you'll figure out how lines over the A7#11 work. If all else fails, listen to how pro's solo over the A sections of "A Night in Tunisia"
    Last edited by Irez87; 06-10-2019 at 07:07 PM.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    rp, I agree OVER and OVER again. I used to try and play all the cool licks I knew at jam sessions. That never worked for me, it felt forced. Now I practice on listening "with my ear bent down to
    Like I said, I'm an odd bird. I am using Contextual Ear Training to reteach myself all the theory I learned 15 years ago. If you practice singinig, like RP said, you'll figure out how lines over the A7#11 work. If all else fails, listen to how pro's solo over the A sections of "A Night in Tunisia"
    I guess everybody has their own way of thinking about something like an A7#11 in Cmajor, although, right now I can't think of a tune that does that. But assuming there is a tune like that and A7#11 isn't the first chord, by the time I got to it in the tune I'd already be playing something. That is, on the preceding chords, hopefully, I'd already have had an idea and I'd be trying to develop it.

    Ok, so now comes the A7#11. If I can hear and feel it I wouldn't be thinking at all. But, maybe I've never played the tune before and the harmony is unusual, so I don't know what it's going to sound like and I have to play something.

    First do no harm. No clams. That principle gives me all the chord tones. I'll guess that the bassist is going to hit an A at some point, so I can outline the #11 quality of the chord by including an Eb. That's probably as far as I'd think about it.

    A7 is automatic so all I need to think about it how to adjust to the #11. I'd pick the other notes by ear, and if somehow the tonal center was Cmajor, I'd know that I can get the sound of the A7#11 by raising the C a half step to C# and playing the Eb . I also know, without thinking, that I can get some additional consonant tones sort of by thinking "all white keys except C and F".

    After that, it's all about the tune, what's happening in the band, and what I played in the preceding bars.

    If I was completely bereft of ideas I could go to my one 7#11 lick, but, for A7#11, I'd have to play it at the 11th fret, with a high F#, which might not sound good.

  17. #16

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    I can't think of a tune with a VIdom7#11 either, I was just using it as a random color tone. It fits more as a bII7--i progression, you get that b6 sound with the bIIdom7#11 (the #11 is the b6 in the minor key) which is indicative to minor.

  18. #17

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    Yep...

    Start learning "Christmastime is Here" now...you'll have Lyd Dom nailed by December.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    Having a "lydian dominant lick" implies that you have a lick you're going to play on a LD chord, no matter what else is going on at the time. I'm aware that great players use licks, but, in my somewhat limited experience talking with great players about this, they never speak of it in this way, even when they admit to using licks. Most will tell you that they don't know what they were thinking when they played a certain thing, and they're being honest. I recall a great player being asked what he was thinking at a particular point in a solo he'd just played. His answer was "I was thinking darker".
    Right, you are basically refuting your thesis' assumption that lydian dominant is for describing just LD chords. Part of what I was writing above is that lydian dominant is not just a scale; it is more like a primary jazz harmony strategy, and therefore a fingering system - much like many theory approaches that use the major scale as the conceptual basis and foundation for application and modification.

    That is what I meant about LD being used to describe multiple different harmonies - with an alert audiation to all that matter what else is going on at the time. The major scales and fingerings are so ingrained into most musicians that they become like water to a fish - they don't think about it, they just know how to move through it. For those that have taken a similar path with LD, it becomes part of the lowest level of harmonic substance, the basis from which other things are produced. Its advantage over major is that it describes and produces so many more jazz harmonies without modification, as direct inversions of the scale, like modes, reallocating the tonic.

    They don't know what they were thinking because they were not having to think "this is LD" any more than they were having to think "this is LD with it's local tonic on its particular self scale degree" or "this inversion of the LD is the altered scale". This too they don't think about, just know how to move through it.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  20. #19

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    I don't know how others approach this. I do know that great players do it differently.

    For me, it's something like this. A fundamental skill for a jazz player is the ability to hear a line in mind and instantly play it, without error. So, in my judgement, a player should be able to play the melody of any song he knows - in any key, starting on any string, any fret, any finger. Some tunes are harder than others, but that's the goal.

    So, if you're soloing and you hear, in your mind's ear, a line with a lydian dominant sound, you shouldn't (in this approach, anyway) have to think about the name of the scale or mode or any other verbally mediated approach (that is, using language to think about it). Rather, you imagine a line with that sound, you play it instantly, and, if it's good enough, some jazz student will transcribe it and explain to you what you played.

    Anyway, that's how I see the goal. Thinking this way suggests focus on ear training and working on playing melodies as major parts of a practice routine. Traditionally, ear training was done with transcription. That may still be the best way, but I think there's value in any approach that allows you to imagine more sophisticated lines.

  21. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    So, if you're soloing and you hear, in your mind's ear, a line with a lydian dominant sound, you shouldn't (in this approach, anyway) have to think about the name of the scale or mode or any other verbally mediated approach (that is, using language to think about it). Rather, you imagine a line with that sound, you play it instantly, and, if it's good enough, some jazz student will transcribe it and explain to you what you played.
    No.

    This is a constant, persistent assertion which is just wrong. And it's stated in thread after thread.

    When you play major, are you aware that it's major? Do you HAVE to think the words "major scale"? Do you assume that others think the words "major scale"? Are they/you LIMITED by the speed at which they think these words or is it just automatic?

    Now...Why do you assume that all others think this way re something as basic as Lydian Dominant? Who said that they HAVE TO "think the words" first? I just don't think that anyone did. It seems like an imagined problem.

    I'm not talking about beginners who can't otherwise play either. That's beside the point. But I can play Lydian dominant in multiple positions with multiple arps from melodic minor without any cumbersome thought process, and I'm not even really a jazz player.

    Many players are thinking combinations of pitch name, scale degree number, chord degree number, chord Roman numeral, lyrics, the person's name that we almost remember in the back of the room, what's for dinner after...all while actually playing. Labels aren't RESTRICTIVE to things which you already KNOW in a basic way.

    It just doesn't work that way. Being able to label something which you know already by ear, kinesthetically or otherwise is a separate issue. Yes, there are people who can also label things which they can't really play as well. But that's beside the point.

    Where are these imagined "word thinkers" among real players?
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 06-11-2019 at 11:08 AM.

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Ask a theory question, you get a theory answer, which you think is the bees knees. It ain't, because it won't un-contrive what you actually play, and what you actually sound like.

    If your licks sound contrived then they probably are. That is, they're worked out on some kind of blueprint and then performed to rote. Or, worst scenario, they're generic and applied to any tune regardless. Your words:



    They'll only sound like they're not contrived when they're not, when they're more or less spontaneous and in the feel of the tune they're in.

    Lyd Dom is the mixo with a sharp 4 or, more simply put, the minor melodic off the 5th of the dom - i.e. D mel m over G7 or G7 alt.

    Just play it is my advice, forget the theory ideas, they'll only make you sound even more contrived. Improv is tightrope walking. Being safe is to be dead.
    I want to emphasize my level of development which is, well, developing. Jazz is a style I've always had in me but have never played until relatively recently. In this context, theory helps me learn various sequences of notes or chords so that I can have a context for understanding. Nobody gets on the bandstand and plays "theory." At the same time, pure improvisation, as many of the responses have emphasized, is the product of assimilating and internalizing the various elements of music – melody, harmony, rhythm as well as feeling, vibe and imagination. So there are the concrete elements and then there are the abstract elements. Right now I'm striving to familiarize myself with the concrete elements in order to better express the abstractions, which is where the "magic" lies. So having an inventory of canned licks at least gives me a foundation to stand on. Everyone who has responded is orders of magnitude more knowledgeable than I am, and it's great to be able to have the support of so many gifted players. At the same time, I've learned over the years to play for the audience, not other musicians. So to someone hearing me for the first few times, whatever I play is going to sound fresh even if it's canned. Occasionally I have a measure or two of truly pure improvisation, and my goal is to be able to string (no pun intended) more of those together until it becomes seamless. Many thanks for your suggestions.

  23. #22

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    Ignorance is agony.



  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    At first I thought, wait, is having lydian dominant licks a thing? Then I realized that I have one. I use it occasionally and it sounds contrived, at least to me, because I've heard it a lot and, typically, I'm tossing it in mechanically in a high tempo tune where I'm struggling to keep up. Some musicians hate licks in a general way. I remember one teacher yelling, "no licks, make melody!".

    Having a "lydian dominant lick" implies that you have a lick you're going to play on a LD chord, no matter what else is going on at the time. I'm aware that great players use licks, but, in my somewhat limited experience talking with great players about this, they never speak of it in this way, even when they admit to using licks. Most will tell you that they don't know what they were thinking when they played a certain thing, and they're being honest. I recall a great player being asked what he was thinking at a particular point in a solo he'd just played. His answer was "I was thinking darker".

    So, my answer to the OP question about making LD licks sound less contrived is not to play them. Instead, consider the harmony of the tune and try to make a suitable alternative melody. I think this is done in different ways by different players. But, clearly, some players sing to themselves (you can see Herb Ellis doing it during every solo, for example) and then try to play what they're singing.

    I'd suggest picking a tune with an LD chord. Then comp the tune while scat singing. After you sing a line you like, put it onto the guitar. In my hands, this technique produces much better results than thinking about anything in a more theoretical or mathematical way. I know that some great players have put in their time with the math, but I think it's to learn the sounds, not to be thinking about math during a solo.

    Licks are a different story. But, a good way to develop licks is to scat sing them and then write them down. That way, they're your own and it gets away from well worn ruts in your muscle memory on the fretboard. It's likely to be more melodic simply because you're singing. If you're committed to playing licks over LD chords you're going to have to surround them with compatible material.
    Yes, being able to create spontaneous melodies is the goal and I'm confident that over time I'll be able to do that. My perspective on "licks" may be anathema to advanced players such as yourself and the many other contributors to this thread, but it's my perspective nonetheless. Licks, and their siblings cliches, are the "comfort food" of improvisation. Like meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy. Familiar, satisfying and easy to digest. For example, Carlos Santana makes extensive use of the line cliche (Evil Ways and others) and it still sounds good to me. As a player, I'm a "fan" of music first and foremost. So, to the extent I'm able, I play what's resonant to me as a listener. That works quite well in blues, R&B, rock, and even what jazz I'm able to play. Now that I'm at the point of incorporating more advanced harmonies, the "language" becomes a little more challenging. So that's what I meant when I said that what I'm playing here and there is "correct" but isn't "right." Looking back, I'm quite satisfied with the progress I'm making, and to be honest a year ago I couldn't have participated in this discussion. Thanks!

  25. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I don't know how others approach this. I do know that great players do it differently.

    For me, it's something like this. A fundamental skill for a jazz player is the ability to hear a line in mind and instantly play it, without error. So, in my judgement, a player should be able to play the melody of any song he knows - in any key, starting on any string, any fret, any finger. Some tunes are harder than others, but that's the goal.

    So, if you're soloing and you hear, in your mind's ear, a line with a lydian dominant sound, you shouldn't (in this approach, anyway) have to think about the name of the scale or mode or any other verbally mediated approach (that is, using language to think about it). Rather, you imagine a line with that sound, you play it instantly, and, if it's good enough, some jazz student will transcribe it and explain to you what you played.

    Anyway, that's how I see the goal. Thinking this way suggests focus on ear training and working on playing melodies as major parts of a practice routine. Traditionally, ear training was done with transcription. That may still be the best way, but I think there's value in any approach that allows you to imagine more sophisticated lines.
    When I'm improvising I don't have time to think "such and such scale," yet scales help me internalize sequences of notes so that when I'm soloing I have options. These days I'm exploring various applications of melodic minor, lydian dominant being one of them. So when I encounter a dom7#5 I naturally gravitate to whole tone which is available through melodic minor. But I'm not "thinking" fourth mode of melodic minor or whatever. I just want to play a whole tone run and having internalized the sound and mechanics of melodic minor give me the option to play that without thinking about it. As for imagining a line, I'm able to hear things more clearly and can begin to slow them down to the point where I can hear the individual notes. Executing them, though, is another story.

  26. #25

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  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by buduranus2 View Post
    When I'm improvising I don't have time to think "such and such scale," yet scales help me internalize sequences of notes so that when I'm soloing I have options. These days I'm exploring various applications of melodic minor, lydian dominant being one of them. So when I encounter a dom7#5 I naturally gravitate to whole tone which is available through melodic minor. But I'm not "thinking" fourth mode of melodic minor or whatever. I just want to play a whole tone run and having internalized the sound and mechanics of melodic minor give me the option to play that without thinking about it. As for imagining a line, I'm able to hear things more clearly and can begin to slow them down to the point where I can hear the individual notes. Executing them, though, is another story.
    Yes, one doesn't think 'such and such scale' but one's aware of certain note choices in front of one. Mind you, that must come from previous practice or one wouldn't be aware of them at all.

  28. #27

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    Pauln, are you talking about George Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept?

    I'll go back to my original point--you need to hear the notes, not the scales.

    I'm reposting this video here, I think I had it in the Performance Ear Training Journal:



    Greg Fishman, by the way, is the real deal. If you REALLY want some vocabulary, he has Hip Licks vol. 1 & 2 on his website. That's not the point.

    The point is that you learn how the unique colors of the 7#11 chord sound over the basic triad--one at a time. Jordan Clemons is all about this method of learning new colors/ sounds. Greg Fishman is all about "tasting" these sounds. I'm on the same wavelength--but a little broader. I like to think of these colors operating on the home key. That way, I know exactly how my ear wants to resolve back to the home key.

    For that A7#11 to Abmin6--I would pedal an Ab (and maybe a B natural) WHILE I play A7#11 sounds when I'm practicing in the woodshed (usually on the piano--at first, at least). Chords don't exist in a vacuum. Many of us already understand functional harmonic analysis, like how we analyze all of Autumn Leaves in Gm. Yet when we start our line studies, our melodic concepts, we automatically go back to an isolated chord by chord mentality. I think this needs to be seriously revamped, from the ground up. But, I'm an odd bird.

    That's how I study ear training. All sound operates in the broadest sonic context--the sound of the key. You build all harmony off the sound of the Key. Anything that operates outside of the key does so to create beautiful tension and release--movement. I think Coleman Hawkins said something along the lines of "I play harmonic movement, not chords".

    Let me go in even further. All sound operates within the sound of the key and the pulse of the tune. Notes and scales don't mean shite if you don't know how to use them in respect to the pulse. What happens when I place the #11 on the downbeat (I'm talking chord tones, not key tones--because this might resonate more)? What happens when I place the #11 on the "and" of 1? Where, in the measure, in the phrase, do I resolve my color tones (or altered tones)? How does this rhythmic placement of these altered notes effect the tension of my line? How does the rhythmic placement of my core chord tones effect the resolution of my line? How do I punctuate my line--where do I leave space? That's swing, bebop, hardbop, and beyond. Where we place the notes in time (pulse?) takes primacy over scales.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    No.


    Now...Why do you assume that all others think this way re something as basic as Lydian Dominant? ?
    Who said that?

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    Lot of theory flying around here. Nothing wrong with that, but...

    Just listen to what players do. That'll put everything together, can't recommend it enough really.

  31. #30

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    Common dominant chords that tend to feature a #11

    IV7 --> relates to I minor
    II7 --> relates to VI minor
    bVI7 --> relates to bIII minor (that's an interesting one)
    bVII7 --> relates IV minor

    BTW usually the #11 is featured because it is a diatonic tone - either to the major or related minor keys. This seems to not get mentioned very much...

  32. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Lot of theory flying around here. Nothing wrong with that, but...

    Just listen to what players do. That'll put everything together, can't recommend it enough really.
    Yes, I agree completely. When I first started learning I'd copy or emulate players that resonated with me. Jazz is a different animal than rock, R&B, blues etc. because the changes come so quickly and the chord structures and related harmonies are more advanced. So, on your point, I've been listening to Grant Green for years but I'm still having difficulty negotiating the changes at tempo. He's especially accessible to me because he's a single note player as am I. Kenny Burrell, Wes, Jim Hall, on the other hand, are unattainable for me.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    Pauln, are you talking about George Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept?
    No, I don't know a thing about that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    I'll go back to my original point--you need to hear the notes, not the scales.
    I focus primarily on hearing the progression shift harmonies, from which I determine which possible chords, scales, or notes I might play to describe them. I don't name functions, harmonies, chords, scales, or notes; I just recognize the sound of their relationships and do my best to sound like a jazz guitarist.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Common dominant chords that tend to feature a #11

    IV7 --> relates to I minor
    II7 --> relates to VI minor
    bVI7 --> relates to bIII minor (that's an interesting one)
    bVII7 --> relates IV minor

    BTW usually the #11 is featured because it is a diatonic tone - either to the major or related minor keys. This seems to not get mentioned very much...
    I like the bII7 to i minor, since the #11 becomes the b6 of the key.

    Ugh, Chris '77 you're getting wrapped up in this deep theory stuff too. Let's back up, and post actual tunes where there's a secondary dominant that functions as a true #11 harmony. I agree
    that in A Train, that IIdom7 is usually played with a whole tone--but I sometimes play it as a #11. Days of Wine and Roses comes to mind as well, but that's a #11 with a different function. I could post some examples from my Greg Fishman book, but I just played through some and he doesn't specify how they resolve (which is a huge part of making these licks work, at least functional harmony wise--I hate that term)

    So...

    A Train (maybe)

    Days of Wine and Roses

    Lady Bird

    So we could all pick one tune that has clear dominant #11 harmony, isolate the harmonic phrase (not the chord, the phrase), and post recorded examples of what each of us would play using those materials. Ragman almost did that with his post--I liked that he played something instead of rambling like I usually do
    Last edited by Irez87; 06-11-2019 at 05:32 PM.

  35. #34

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    Unfortunately when learning Music Language we get caught up in the technical aspects a bit too much. For me being mostly self taught, I look at Lydian Dominant as being part of Melodic Minor.
    By that I mean it comes from the Melodic Minor parent scale. So I have different arpeggios like a Min9/Maj7 that I've committed to memorize throughput the entire 12 fret fingerboard. i.e. C13#11 would be Gmin9/maj7 arpeggio

    Guitarist Scott Henderson has some lessons on how to use this as well as other arpeggios in interesting ways. Do a Google search.

  36. #35

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    so, no takers on the recorded examples?

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    so, no takers on the recorded examples?
    Here's how Clint Strong gets "the flat 5 sound." (Edit: the video link starts a few seconds early; go to 21:51)



    This isn't really a lydian-dominant-from-melodic-minor demo, but it is a good demo of the fact that you really need only the maj 3, #11 and b7 to get the "lydian dominant" sound. If you hang for a few minutes till he gets to the ensemble demo, you'll hear him throw a variety of color tones into the "vanilla dominant" to great effect.

    Though he does make a point of incorporating his instructional licks into the demo performances, you'll also hear that he improvises very freely and fluidly. Having some memorized vocabulary in your ears and under your fingers lets you avoid having to think too much, freeing you to express yourself. Yet, you don't want to be limited to only certain licks.

    So I think you want to approach this from two directions:
    - get the "lydian dominant sound" into your mind's ear, and learn a lot of ways to find that sound (see ragman's video for an excellent jumpstart)
    - get some good-sounding licks in that vein memorized cold, so that you can then use them as seeds for your own melodic ideas. I think that's what you are trying to do by asking for some recorded examples, and that's a great idea.

    Once you get the theory, the sound and some licks under your belt, your own lydian dominant ideas will grow organically.

    SJ

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57 View Post
    Unfortunately when learning Music Language we get caught up in the technical aspects a bit too much. For me being mostly self taught, I look at Lydian Dominant as being part of Melodic Minor.
    By that I mean it comes from the Melodic Minor parent scale. So I have different arpeggios like a Min9/Maj7 that I've committed to memorize throughput the entire 12 fret fingerboard. i.e. C13#11 would be Gmin9/maj7 arpeggio

    Guitarist Scott Henderson has some lessons on how to use this as well as other arpeggios in interesting ways. Do a Google search.
    I'm self taught and when I began exploring jazz I discovered Lydian Dominant but did not know what it was called... I found it before Melodic Minor, so I have always thought of it backwards - Lydian Dominant as the parent scale of Melodic Minor.

    As a result I play Melodic Minor and its modes like the Altered Scale all the time but never think of them as such; I think of those sounds as modes of Lydian Dominant.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by buduranus2 View Post
    Yes, I agree completely. When I first started learning I'd copy or emulate players that resonated with me. Jazz is a different animal than rock, R&B, blues etc. because the changes come so quickly and the chord structures and related harmonies are more advanced. So, on your point, I've been listening to Grant Green for years but I'm still having difficulty negotiating the changes at tempo. He's especially accessible to me because he's a single note player as am I. Kenny Burrell, Wes, Jim Hall, on the other hand, are unattainable for me.
    Ah ok, that’s interesting, I would say these players dont use LD so much. Really LD isn’t a sound that’s featured that heavily in bop. You do get it, but not that much.

    If that’s the type of music you want to play I would focus on the minor on dominant approach as it’s the ways those guys seem to think.

    For the LD sound itself I think you have to check out more recent players who grew up with chord scales.

    But you don’t have to learn about LD to be a strong Blue Note style player.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    I like the bII7 to i minor, since the #11 becomes the b6 of the key.

    Ugh, Chris '77 you're getting wrapped up in this deep theory stuff too. Let's back up, and post actual tunes where there's a secondary dominant that functions as a true #11 harmony. I agree
    that in A Train, that IIdom7 is usually played with a whole tone--but I sometimes play it as a #11. Days of Wine and Roses comes to mind as well, but that's a #11 with a different function. I could post some examples from my Greg Fishman book, but I just played through some and he doesn't specify how they resolve (which is a huge part of making these licks work, at least functional harmony wise--I hate that term)

    So...

    A Train (maybe)

    Days of Wine and Roses

    Lady Bird

    So we could all pick one tune that has clear dominant #11 harmony, isolate the harmonic phrase (not the chord, the phrase), and post recorded examples of what each of us would play using those materials. Ragman almost did that with his post--I liked that he played something instead of rambling like I usually do
    Limehouse blues - first chord

    The #4 is in the melody
    Chord lasts for four bars
    Tune represented by entire history of jazz
    A genuine non resolving dominant

    I think the 7#11 in DWR is a passing chord - I would probably ignore it for the purposes of blowing .
    Last edited by christianm77; 06-12-2019 at 05:30 AM.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    LD isn’t a sound that’s featured that heavily in bop.
    So what would you do for a line over a 7b5 or #11? Not a triad or arpeggio but a decent line? When I was doing A Train I remember the WTone thing became predictable and a bit bare so I used the Lyd Dom because it gave the right feel to it.

    Also bearing in mind that it's not what one 'does over a chord' that matters so much as the transitioning between one chord and another...

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    So what would you do for a line over a 7b5 or #11? Not a triad or arpeggio but a decent line? When I was doing A Train I remember the WTone thing became predictable and a bit bare so I used the Lyd Dom because it gave the right feel to it.

    Also bearing in mind that it's not what one 'does over a chord' that matters so much as the transitioning between one chord and another...
    Parker would often play a standard dominant on 7#11. There are examples of him using the sound (see above) but in general bebop players weren’t concerned about honouring the upper extensions of dominant chords. They played them however they saw fit. See Koko for a good example. Cherokee changes has an Ab7#11 chord. Parker plays Ab dominant/mixolydian every time.

    Conceptually I would stake money on the ‘minor on dominant’ connection (i.e. ii on V) being the source of any #11 sounds. You can hear this in Django, Charlie Christian etc. If you play the major seven on the minor, you obviously get #4 on the dominant.

  43. #42

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    Whole tone is common in Bud Powell

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Cherokee changes has an Ab7#11 chord. Parker plays Ab dominant/mixolydian every time.
    Lazy buggah!

    but Cherokee is very fast so maybe no one noticed

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Lazy buggah!

    but Cherokee is very fast so maybe no one noticed
    Well koko is just blistering

    But I remember Barry Harris saying you could choose whether or not the play the #11 in Cherokee.

    But players got up to all sorts of stuff. Even pianists playing a 9 in one hand a b9 over it.

    Jazz wasn’t the study of chord symbols back then.... and I think bop was more interested in the changes, treating each chord a bit more independently than before. Swing players often took a more key centric, generalised approach on the changes which would actually encourage some more of those 7#11s I guess...

    I suppose bVII7#11 is the most common 7#11 sound in jazz.... it’s so closely related to IVm(maj7) that gives a good way into those sounds. You can hear plenty of examples of this sound in the swing era even...

    On reflection I guess that was what Irez was talking about with respect to Days of Guns and Roses....

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    There’s a good version by the Nikelson trio (Lage Lund on guitar)

  47. #46

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    Well, that was a lotta videos.

    I went through a few versions of A Train coz the 7b5 has two bars and you don't have to wait for it. Most play WT, a few ignore it. Probably doesn't matter.

  48. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Ah ok, that’s interesting, I would say these players dont use LD so much. Really LD isn’t a sound that’s featured that heavily in bop. You do get it, but not that much.

    If that’s the type of music you want to play I would focus on the minor on dominant approach as it’s the ways those guys seem to think.

    For the LD sound itself I think you have to check out more recent players who grew up with chord scales.

    But you don’t have to learn about LD to be a strong Blue Note style player.
    Thanks very much for your support and encouragement. I've actually figured out a way to make sense of it, which is to be more motivic. So for example in A Train, the Cmaj7 phrase becomes the template for the D7#11, and perhaps the Dmi7 after that. This approach provides more rhythmic shape and melodic continuity. I can see that shortening my phrases and leaving a little breathing room makes it much easier and more "musical." On reflection I realize that I tended to run on a bit. I'm sure there are other approaches, but at least now I have a concept to work with. Appreciate you! p.s. What, exactly, is minor on dominant approach?

  49. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I think you have to be a little careful about enharmony and spellings. #4 or #11 is one thing, b5 is quite another. If I see D7b5 on a chart, I am going to be thinking 'altered' rather than lyd dom.

    OK, so good example Take the A-Train... As far as I can hear from recordings Ellington/Strayhorn did not conceive is this chord as a Lydian Dominant originally (not sure if that was even a thing theoretically in the '40s) but rather a whole tone tonality, which is actually very closely related.

    (The II7 chord does resolve. It resolves to V7. Don't let the IIm7 confuse you, that's just a suspension of V7...)

    So, anyway, I think you have this backwards. The way that I've always found best is to transcribe lines on chords like this and work out what's going on.

    Firstly, going the other way - trying to turn scales into lines, usually does sound contrived unless you already know what you are doing - i.e, can hear it.

    Second reason is that I don't really think there's any point cultivating language over specific chords. It's best to know how to apply the language you've already got in many different harmonic contexts as possible. In the case of 7#11, as with minor chords, or half dim, you need good sounding true minor language.

    By true minor I mean minor key lines that don't accentuate the b7 as a chord tone - i.e. are not based around a m7 tonality, but a minor triadic or m6 tonality. Real jazz lines rarely stick entirely to one scale - but minor key jazz lines that use the 6th and major 7th and minor 7th in combination are pretty common. So you aren't really talking about using 'melodic minor' but a combination minor scale that features notes of the dorian, harmonic and melodic minor. Using the V arpeggio on minor key for instance to get a min(maj7) tonality is a common bebop cliche. Another are line cliches that run 1-7-b7-6.

    Now, if you learn how to do that, you can then put that on a related dominant (ii-V relation.) If I play on a G7 a line based on the Dm version of the Barry Harris '3' phrase, for instance, maybe descending from the 5th to the 3rd by step and then putting a little V arpeggio:

    A' G F A C# E

    On G7, that C# pops right out... So we say - G lydian dominant. But the melodic line is convincingly jazz, which is a separate consideration.

    Another good bop example of this sound are the phrases Parker plays on the D7 and A7 chords of the bridge on Moose the Mooche check 1:05 on.



    So: don't confuse language and harmony. Harmony is what we get when we prominently feature the C# on the G7 (G7#11!) BUT language is that little descending melodic thing that would work equally well on a Dm chord, or a Bm7b5 chord, or a Db7b5 - or even F major to give a lydian augmented sound... Theory is very much concerned with harmony, but rarely gives clues as to language, which is why most teachers advise transcription.

    I think you understand the harmony, but not the language, which is why your lines sound contrived.

    There are ways of going from basic materials into language, but I'll pass over that here.
    I find this all pretty interesting. Reg talks a great deal about related dominant or related ii-V "relationships". It's such a fundamental chord pattern to jazz that you can basically play off of each... over the other in almost any context. At least in a blue note context or g tension/release relationship to the target chord.

    I don't know if it's just a more modern take, but he's more often talking about doing the opposite: using A7#11- Lydian dominant to target Dm- Dorian or vice versa. As opposed to playing "D melodic minor" over A7.

    *************
    Re other posts about tempo and easier to hear, more modern Lydian dominant sounds etc, Jeff's recommendation of Christmas time is hear is a good one. Slow, lots of LD opportunities over multiple chord often, and easy to hear with lots of #11 melody notes as true accented chord tones.

    If you want to woodshed more Lydian Dom over something like A train, for sure sub the bII7#11 for V, just to get more reps on it one fret away from you're II7.

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by buduranus2 View Post
    Thanks very much for your support and encouragement. I've actually figured out a way to make sense of it, which is to be more motivic. So for example in A Train, the Cmaj7 phrase becomes the template for the D7#11, and perhaps the Dmi7 after that. This approach provides more rhythmic shape and melodic continuity. I can see that shortening my phrases and leaving a little breathing room makes it much easier and more "musical." On reflection I realize that I tended to run on a bit. I'm sure there are other approaches, but at least now I have a concept to work with. Appreciate you! p.s. What, exactly, is minor on dominant approach?
    Just what I described above. So for A Train play Am on D7. As in Am phrases. Hit the major 6th and you have the major third of the dominant. You hear Django doing this in his version of Limehouse above.

    Emphasise the major seventh and you have LD, use the minor and you have a standard dominant sound.

    Obviously D Lyd Dom = A melodic minor, but solo lines aren’t usually that obviously chord scaley unless they are played by Berklee grads like Lage Lund ;-)

    Even b6 sounds good in context.

    Check the music.

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    I find this all pretty interesting. Reg talks a great deal about related dominant or related ii-V "relationships". It's such a fundamental chord pattern to jazz that you can basically play off of each... over the other in almost any context. At least in a blue note context or g tension/release relationship to the target chord.

    I don't know if it's just a more modern take, but he's more often talking about doing the opposite: using A7#11- Lydian dominant to target Dm- Dorian or vice versa. As opposed to playing "D melodic minor" over A7.

    *************
    Re other posts about tempo and easier to hear, more modern Lydian dominant sounds etc, Jeff's recommendation of Christmas time is hear is a good one. Slow, lots of LD opportunities over multiple chord often, and easy to hear with lots of #11 melody notes as true accented chord tones.

    If you want to woodshed more Lydian Dom over something like A train, for sure sub the bII7#11 for V, just to get more reps on it one fret away from you're II7.
    I would never analyse Regs lines as having anything to do with CST. He doesn’t sound like that type of player. Kurt, 100%, Reg, no.

    That’s the way he thinks harmonically but he plays quite old school language.

    He has his own way of talking about what I just posted above. I think we think quite similarly, I just tend to convert everything to the simplest scale description because I find it easier to deal with. I reckon Reg played the way he does before he went to Berklee and retroactively analysed and developed his approach after taking CST classes.