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Improvising on Dominant Chords

Improvisation on dominant chords is maybe the first to be learn by improvising musicians. Dominant chords are frequently embellished by all kinds of extensions so any musician must be familiar to the modes he/she would play on them.

•  The blues scale may be played on chords that include the 9th and the 11th and on the 7#9 chord.

•  The most popular mode on 7,9,(11, 13) is the mixolydian mode . For instance, on a C9 chord you may play C mixolydian (the 5th mode of the F major scale).

How to Listen

As books are not written for professional writers,as paintings are not painted for professional painters, so music is not made for professional musicians. Music is made for people. Its aim is to transmit a certain kind of feeling between the musician and the listener that can't be communicated on other channels.

Get Ready!

A reliable musician must be ready to play in any situation. Including jams where the musician was not told the tonality or the chord sequence, not even the tonality. Can you do this?


Any improvising musician knows how important concentration is. Let's talk about several things that may disturb your focus:•  The other musicians in the band. You don't play with them for enough time to get used to what they do, they surprise you from time to time, you have to listen to them more than you listen to your own ideas.•  The instrument. It's not comfortable enough, you have to fight with it. Or: there are some dead spots where the sound is buzzing or doesn't sustain and you avoid them.

Dedicated Technique

Last night I heard an interview with Al di Meola . He recognized that he had a period when he was studying guitar 8 hours/day in his youth. I thought of Steve Vai . They say Vai was practicing 11 hours/day. It seems a lot but it's enough to practice for 3 hours/day  when you are still a beginner and didn't make your mind yet about a musical career. Then, when you're determined to make a living playing an instrument, you should consider practicing as your job.

The Seventh and the Second

The seventh spans seven diatonic scale degrees, the minor seventh contains 10 semitones, the major seventh contains 11 semitones. The pitch ratio of the minor seventh is 9/5 or 7/4 and of the major seventh is 15/8.

The seventh are the first extensions of the diatonic chords: