Okay, right off I want to give you a few basic tools to get you improvising over harmonic structures.
*This article assumes a couple of things about you. 1) you know your scales 2) you know your 4 basic triads and their inversions. If you do not, find a teacher, or contact me for some theory lessons :)
We are going to take one of the simplest elements of any harmonic structure and use it to create cool solos which imply complex harmonic ideas. And all you need are your 4 triads (Major, Minor, Augmented, and Diminished).
First, let’s start by choosing a chord to solo over. (Yes, only one chord for now!) How about C7? Okay, great! Now, let’s play the triad and its inversions with connecting b7th’s.
Work this out for each major and minor triad. This alone is not particularly jazzy. However, it can be used as a device in itself within the context of a solo, and can be quite effective over certain chords. But we’ll get to that later! It is necessary though for you to understand the next step: playing triads with the b7th, replacing the root and connecting them with the 9th of the chord.
Now this is were we start to get some really cool sounds! All you are doing is playing the triad inversion with the 7th replacing the root, and the 9th connecting each inversion.
Work these runs out in every major and minor key through the circle of 5ths, then apply this concept to chord progressions commonly found. The first progression you should work out would be the ii-V-I.
You can make use of this principle, triad inversions with note substitutions, to play some really cool stuff: Replace the Root with the 7th; replace the 5th with the 9th; make the 9th sharp or flat; add a connecting sharp, 11th, or a 13th. In the next article we will begin to look at how you can play off of the upper structure of the chords using these same principles. We will also analyze what implied harmonic structures are happening with these triads which have substituting 7ths and connecting 9ths.