New podcast episode now available! It's time to Discover, Learn, and Play Jazz with Dr. JB Dyas
May 5, 2020

Chord Family Scales

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Welcome to JazzPianoSkills; it's time to discover, learn, and play Jazz Piano!

Every JazzPianoSkills weekly podcast episode introduces aspiring jazz pianists to essential Jazz Piano Skills. Each Podcast episode explores a specific Jazz Piano Skill in depth. Today you will discover, learn, play the Chord Family Scales. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:

Essential Chord/Scale Relationships

How to see these relationships when grouped By Chord Families 

The correct (most common) scales for the 5 Primary Sounds of Jazz

For maximum musical growth, be sure to use the Jazz Piano Podcast Packets for this Jazz Piano Lesson. All three Podcast Packets are designed to help you gain insight and command of a specific Jazz Piano Skill. The Podcast Packets are invaluable educational tools to have at your fingertips while studying and practicing the Chord Family Scales.

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Episode Outline
Discover, Learn, Play
Invite to Join JazzPianoSkills
Exploration of Jazz Piano Skills
Closing Comments

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Warm Regards,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music



Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Last week's lesson was definitely a brain teaser. The study of chord scale relationships will drive you nuts, at least initially. One moment the concept is crystal clear, as clear as it possibly can be. And then second Later, it's as clear as mud. it's maddening. Just know that this is totally normal. So how we combat this phenomenon is to attack the skill from multiple perspectives. And that is exactly what we are going to do today. But before we do, I want to thank everyone for the kind emails and speakpipe messages regarding all of the nifty changes to jazz piano skills that I announced last week. The addition of two more educational podcast guides plus the bundle packages and subscriptions have been a huge hit and I am thrilled. I must admit, I think it's pretty cool that there are now three educational guides available for each podcast episode that reflect my discover, learn and play teaching approach. The illustration guide is perfect for helping you discover the jazz panel skill being taught in the podcast episode, especially the imagery of the skill, which is so vitally important to grasp, it magnifies the significance of understanding and the ability to recognize the shapes and sounds of jazz, to recognize those shapes and sounds visually, physically, and of course, orally. And likewise, the lead sheet guide takes you right by the hand literally, by using traditional music notation to help you successfully learn the jazz panel skill being being taught in the podcast episode. The lead sheets are perfect to have sitting on your piano as a quick reference, when you are getting the harmonic shapes or melodic lines sorted out under your fingers. Having the lead sheet for all 12 keys is simply invaluable. And last, but certainly not least the play along guide which are Play along tracks and again for all 12 keys are perfect to help you successfully play the jazz panel skill being taught in the podcast episode. As I mentioned last week, the play long tracks will help you develop the aspects of playing that no jazz teacher can teach you. Time, feel articulation, right? You must experience these elements of playing jazz in order to properly develop them. And no better way to do this than to use quality play long tracks. Anyway, I am thrilled that the addition of these three educational guides discover, learn and play guides have been met with your overwhelming support and approval. My entire goal is to provide you with the best jazz piano lessons in jazz piano educational materials and support that's available anywhere today. You can check out the guides

that are ready to go for this podcast episode and all of the guides all of the the bundles and the subscriptions, all of that you can check out at jazz panel skills calm. Again, just simply go to the website, the menu bar that runs across the top of the page, you'll see the podcast link, simply click on that and you're good to go. Everything is there. Also while you're there at the site, check out the jazz panel skills courses. I'll give you more information on those at the end of the podcast and also the jazz piano skills forums, which are now starting to get some traction which is fantastic. I love to see the interaction in there. So check it all out at jazz piano skills, calm all of the educational podcast guides that are available, the the courses, the jazz panel skills courses and the jazz piano skills forums. panel I want to stress as I always do that, regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner intermediate player, an advanced player or even if you're an experienced professional, you will find this podcast this lesson today to be extremely beneficial. So this week, we are exploring chord family scales. This is an extension of our chord scale relationship study that we embarked upon last week. And in this lesson, you are going to discover essential chord scale relationships. You're going to learn how to understand these relationships when grouped by chord families and you are going to play the correct and most common scales for the five primaries. Sounds of jazz, Major, dominant, minor, half diminished, and diminished. So let's get started. To begin, I want to briefly discuss the importance of understanding chord scale relationships. Why is there so much emphasis placed on this skill? Why do you hear about this skill over and over and over again, when you begin studying jazz, in short, because it allows you, it allows me It allows anyone studying jazz, to successfully categorize the 12 notes of music appropriately, to categorize those 12 notes of music into three specific groups for any given group At any given time in any given song, which is absolutely essential, if you want to be able, if you want to be successful at improvising, heck, it's absolutely essential if you want to be successful developing jazz vocabulary, which is needed before you improvise. Here's a quick story to illuminate the point that I'm trying to make years ago, and I mean years ago, when I was enrolled in the graduate program, the Jazz Studies graduate program at the University of North Texas, North Texas State University at that time, I attended a master class being taught by a prominent jazz saxophonist, in the jazz world. A young man attending the master class and sitting in the front row. In kitten Hall I remember it as it as if it were yesterday. kitten Hall right named after the great jazz legend Stan, Ken. This young man asked a very simple and logical question. He asked when you're playing over a C dominant chord, what notes are you thinking about? What notes are your primary go to notes for C dominant? I thought that was a great question right. Very simple, very straightforward, very logical question. This famous saxophonist looked at at him with complete befuddlement. He was shocked, confused and he said what are you talking about? He said, we have 12 notes and music. Pick one 12 notes pick one. I remember thinking,

Man, you you're absolutely correct. However, you are also a horrible teacher 12 notes, pick one. Seriously. Wow. That's like throwing a dart at a dartboard while being blindfolded and hoping to hit something. Heck, it's hard enough to hit the dartboard when you can see it. Why in the world would I put a blindfold on? Listen, I know it and you know it. improvising is not as simple as there are 12 notes. Pick one. This is why we study chord scale relationships. Now, going back to my original point, when we study chord scale relationships correctly, we learn how to categorize the 12 notes of music into three specific groups. And these groups are as follows. group number one, we must out of the 12 notes, we must be able to recognize the chord tones. Number two, we must be able to out of the 12 notes recognize the scale tones, which are the inside notes inside the harmony and number three out of the 12 notes. We must be able to recognize the non scale tones or the outside notes the notes that fall Outside the harmony, we learn how to improvise using those note groupings. In fact, we do so using that specific order as well. For example, let's answer that young man's that young man's question that he asked the prominent jazz saxophone player years ago at the University of North Texas. Once again, his question was, when playing a C dominant, what notes are you thinking about when improvising? Simple question, the answer should have gone something like this. Number one, the first thing I do is I start with the chord tones. For Sophie for C dominant seven, I would start with C e G and B flat. So I have my C chord. And I'm gonna improvise thinking about those four notes. Those are my those are, those are my safe points, right? It's a safe bet those four notes. No tension at all. In fact, I can't go wrong, play in any one of those four notes, right. So I start with the chord tones. Number two. Once I have a command of the chord tones, I expand my vocabulary to include the scale tones. So now, I go from this to this. So we've added the addition of three, three more notes, the note D, the note F, and the Note A. So now I have the entire scale. I went from four to now seven. So I got those seven notes that cluster that clump right there. And finally, once I have a command of my four core chord tones, I have a command of my scale tones. Finally, I can embellish my ideas with non scale tones. So I can bring in the D flat, E flat, the G flat, a flat and the B. So now we have all 12 notes,

core tones to scale tones to non scale tones. It's a building block approach, a building block approach that eventually gives you the entire 12 node Arsenal to work with whenever improvising. So, see it, it comes down to this. If you are unable to identify the correct scale tones for a chord, then you cannot identify the non scale tones. Another way of saying it, you have to know the seven inside notes. So you can see the five outside notes. That is why 12 notes pick one doesn't work, you have to be able to identify inside versus outside. And today we focus on seven inside notes for each of the primary sounds of music, Major, dominant, minor, half diminished, and diminished. Today's lesson presents a different perspective of chord scale relationships that I took In last week's lesson called key dependency, same data, different perspective, which by the way, is how you gain a command, a mastery of any jazz panel skill, your ability to identify it, hear it and play it using various and multiple perspectives, variations. So today, we discover, learn and play chord scale relationships within a chord family. So in other words, we're going to take a C major sound, a C dominant sound, C minor sound, C half diminished sound, and C diminished sound. And we're going to explore each of those sounds using the appropriate scale or the most common scale Most common chord scale relationship. So, sit back, relax, turn on your ears. Here we go. Okay, so a chord family is made up of five primary sounds major, dominant, minor, half diminished, and diminished. I want to just quickly and briefly go over how each of those sounds are constructed. Okay, based upon the C major scale. So first, the C major scale there are seven notes, C, D, E, F, G, A, B, the major sound is constructed by simply taking the root, the third, the fifth and the seventh. Now, we have our C major seven Now, if we lower that seventh one half step from that bead to be thought, we now have the root, third, five, and flat seven, C eg B flat, or C dominant. Now if we lower our third from E to E flat, so now we have root, flat three, five, flat seven, or C, E flat, g B flat. We now have C minor seven. And if we lower our fifth one half step, RG down to G flat. We now have one, root, flat three, flat five, flat seven, or C, E flat, G flat, B flat, C half diminished. And if we lower are seven, one half step again, from our B flat down to a. We now have our root, flat three, flat five, our double flat seven, our A, C, E flat, G flat, A, C diminished. So that's a brief, very quick overview of the construction of the five chords or the five sounds that make up a chord family, the C chord family, and it's the same blueprint that is utilized for all 12 notes to build the chord family.

I actually did a whole podcast episode on this back in November of last year, November 24 2019. On chord families, so if you want to dive a little deeper and and refresh your memory, go back and read Listen to that podcast episode November 24 2019. Just a real quick side note, we are dealing with four note chords or harmonic shapes in order to get to the five primary sounds major dominant minor, half diminished and diminished. Why there's no such thing as a dominant triad. The first three notes of the major seven, C eg, are the exact same three notes of the dominant seven c eg. So in order to produce the five primary sounds of music major dominant minor, half diminished and diminished, you have to begin with four note chords. Okay, so let's, let's deal with C major, the C major sound first. Okay, so we have our C major chord cGb right and our C major scale the chord scale relationship we're going to use for all you academic folks out there, Ionian mode, don't get, don't get caught up in the don't get caught up in the modes and the labels right now, right? But just so you know Ionian mode, so it's going to be C, D, E, F, G, A, B. There's our scale. We have our C major chord, we have our C major scale. You notice, I never play scales from the root to the root, right? My entry point, my destination point, is always going to be different. And this is for ear training purposes. I never want to play from octave to octave from toe to toe. Right. I always tell students don't be dodos. I know. I think it's funny, but most people don't. But anyway, in this lesson I'm going to be playing my entry points always going to be the root And my destination point is going to be the seventh. So I want to hear this relationship route to seven. Okay? And then I descend the same way. So I'm traveling from the root to the seven. And then from the seventh back down to the root. So what I want to do is I want to bring in the ensemble, and I'm going to practice this chord scale relationship, this major chord scale relationship, Ionian mode, right. It's classic, it's classic. And as I play my scale, my chord and my scale, again, I'm going to focus on digesting the chord scale relationship, the sound, what it sounds like to go from the root to the seventh from the seventh back down to the root. This is not a speed contest. I'm not trying to impress You was speed because that is not the objective. The objective here is playing that CT scan relationship, understanding that intellectually understanding that visually understanding that physically and orally, okay, and I want to play it with great musicianship, I want to have it sound like jazz, I want to, I want this to sound like a piece of music. So my objectives here, are, are really to play jazz using this chord scale relationship. This should sound very musical. So here we go. Let's bring in the ensemble. Let's hear this chord scale relationship, this major Ionian mode, chord scale relationship. Here we go.

When you're ready to play this scale in your left hand switching voices, your right hand scale in your left hand

Pretty nice, right? It's fun. I could do that all day. Literally, I could do that all day. It's just great to hear. Hear the chord scale relationship to hear that major seven sound to get that under my fingers and in my ears to focus on musicianship. Right. So important. So now, let's turn our attention to our dominant sound. Remember, we're going to lower our seventh one half step. So now we get seen e GB flat. There's our dominant sound. And we're going to do the exact same thing with the scale. We're going to go from our C major scale. That'd be Natural to now we're going to lower it to B flat. Now we get that dominant sound. I simply refer to that as the C dominant scale. But for the for you academic folks MixoLydian mode, right? It's actually the F major scale starting on C, the F major scale starting on C.

And, you know, it's, it is important to understand where that comes from. It. What it does is it justifies it, it validates why you're practicing what you're practicing. But the reality of it is you want to get to the point to where you just see that as the C dominant scale, you do not see that as a MixoLydian mode, you do not see that as the F major scale starting on C. You just see that and hear that as the C dominant scale. But those other perspectives are really important and that knowledge is important so you can you can have like I said validate where the sounds are coming from and and why they're important and in why you should be practicing them. In fact, I always say modes are kind of like a really fancy Every Good Boy does fine, right? Beginning panels, students always learn that nice little catchy phrase to help them learn the lines of the musical staff Every Good Boy does fine. But the objective is the teacher wants that student to forget every good boy does fine as quickly as possible. And just see the lines on the musical staff as egbdf right? Well, it's the same thing here with modes when you start looking at CT scan relationships and you understand the modes and and their origins. All of that is fantastic and they can serve as really great crutches and and bridges to help you understanding Connect the dots, right? But sooner or later, we want you to at least I want my students to be able to just play the C dominant chord and play the C dominant scale. Just that simple. So now, let's bring in our ensemble. And let's listen to this chord scale relationship. Let's listen to this sound. And again, the objective is making music here, right, a nice balanced sound from the bottom of the scale to the top of the scale, entry point being the root, the destiny, the destination point being that dominant seventh, getting that into our ears, under our hands, and understanding it intellectually as well. Okay, let's make music let's make this sound like a piece of music, not like an exercise. So here we go. C dominant. Here's the chord scale relationship MixoLydian mode for the C dominant sound. Here we go.

Again. Switching to the left hand when you're ready scale left hand voice

Very nice love it. Wow. So okay, so so far right, the C major sound chord scale relationship, the C dominant sound chord scale relationship. Now, let's turn our attention to the C minor sound in the courts relationship. For today, I'm going to use the Dorian mode. Alright, in which simply that means we're going to play the B flat major scale. Starting On the notes, see, that's all the academic understanding. Now, here's the st perspective, you got the C dominant chord that we just played cGb flat, we're going to lower the third to E flat. Now we get our minor sound. And we're going to do the exact same thing for the scale, right? We're going to take our C dominant scale, which was C, D, E, C, D, E, F, G, B flat. Now we're going to lower the third of that scale. There's my E flat. Now I have my minor sound.

Fantastic. And yes, it is the B flat major scale starting on C. And yes, we call that the Dorian mode. But we want to quickly see and recognize and hear this as the C minor scale.

Beautiful. So now let's bring in the ensemble again, I'm going to focus on playing this as musically as possible I want to play with a nice jazz feel from the bottom of the scale to the top from the entry point being the root to the destination point being my minor seventh. I want to digest that sound orally, I want to digest it physically and visually, and I want to make music I do not want this to sound like an exercise. I want this to swing. I want this to sound like jazz. So here we go. C minor chord scale relationship, Dorian mode, C minor sound. Here we go.

Left hand right hand or right hand

Very nice, great sound, always love minor. So now we move on to the half diminished chord scale relationship. And the half diminished sound comes from the seventh mode of the major scale, right, we call that mode the locrian mode. And so obviously, we're going to flat are five now to get that half diminished. So we're going to go from our C minor chord, which was the same E flat, G, B flat. Now we're going to lower our fifth so that g goes down the G flat so we get a nice c half diminished sound. Now, our scale for that half diminished sound. It's going to go C, D flat, E flat f F, G flat, a flat, B flat. Keep in mind, it's the D flat major scale starting on C. And this is a great example of understanding mode function where the chord comes from, with being able to construct and determine what the seven notes of the scale are right? Without that understanding, you're not going to get to that half the many sound. But once you get there, you're playing this scale. Once you know the shape, and the notes for the C half diminished scale, that's how I want you to think about it. Yes, it comes from the key of D flat scale. It's the D flat scale starting on C. But eventually we want to just see that and hear that as the C half diminished scale. Nice, great sound. So now let's bring in our rhythms. And let's hear how this chord scale relationship sounds in a musical context. And again, I'm going to stress it again, right? We're not focusing on speed, right, we're focusing on producing a really great half diminished sound, from the bottom from the entry point in the root to the seventh, at minor seventh or half diminished seventh, if you want to think of it that way to the top of the sound, and we want to play with a great jazz feel. We want to digest this sound orally, physically, mentally, visually, right, we want to make this sound like music. It's not an exercise. So let's bring our rhythm section in and let's swing the half diminished sound from root to the seventh, and from the seventh to the root. So here we go. Let's check it out.

Very nice, awesome. So, look so far we've done C major Ionian mode, C dominant MixoLydian mode, C minor, Dorian mode, C half diminished locrian mode. All of these are simply major scales from a different entry point, right? The C major is is the C major scale. The C dominant is the F major scale starting on C. The C minor is the B flat major scale Scale starting on C and C half diminished is the D flat major scale starting on C, all major scales being applied to a different sound right to a specific sound, therefore becoming that scale. So the B flat major scale, when applied to C minor becomes the C minor scale. The F major scale when applied to C dominant becomes the C dominant scale. The D flat major scale when applied to the C half diminished chord becomes the C half diminished scale. Does that make sense? That's how we eventually want to be thinking about this. Hearing this and playing. Now, the diminished sound comes from the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale the seventh mode harmonic minor scale. And just a really quick tip, the easiest way to think of a harmonic minor scale, if you take a major scale and you flat the third and you flat the six, you have a harmonic minor scale. So if I take my C major scale and I flat, the E, the third, and I flat the a the six, right and now I play that I have the C harmonic minor scale. Alright, that that will be a whole different podcast at another day in time. When I talk about harmonic and melodic minor scales, just know that for today, the C diminished sound or the diminished sound period comes from the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale. So the C diminished scale is going to be C, D flat, D flat, a flat, G flat A flat and B double flat, which is the A, so we get this.

So now let me put the C diminished chord underneath that.

Beautiful. Okay, so seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale, which would be the D flat, D flat harmonic minor scale. So if you take that D flat major scale, and you lower the third and you lower the seventh, I'm sorry, the six. If you take the third and the sixth, the D flat major scale and lower one half step, you have the D flat harmonic minor scale, which is the C diminished scale. You see how crazy that gets when you start studying modes, right? That's why eventually you just want to get this there's my C diminished scale. So once you do it The thinking and you get to the shape the hand shape, you want it to quickly become the C diminished scale. So now let's bring it in our rhythm section. And let's hear this beautiful scale this beautiful chord scale relationship in musical context. And let's make this sound like jazz, right? Again, entry point being the route. The destination point being the seventh the scale. Nice sound from a from the bottom to the top, from the top to the bottom, relaxed and a good jazz sound. Let's Let's check it out. Here we go.

Wow, how cool is that sound? Huh? Fantastic. So look today, we have looked at chord scale relationships based on the chord family. All right, so we took the C chord family, C major, C dominant, C minor, C half diminished, and C diminished. And we constructed and looked at the appropriate scale that goes with each one of those chords. And again, we need to know those seven notes of the scale that go with each of those chords because we have to be able to identify the inside notes before we can start incorporating notes that fall outside the harmony into our improvisation. So today, in essence, we looked at the first two groups that I mentioned earlier in the podcast. We looked at chord tones that make up that sound, that specific sound, whether it be major dominant minor, half diminished and diminished. And we also looked at the scale, the most common scale relationship that goes with that sound. Right? So this study, again, is so necessary because you have to be able to identify inside harmony versus outside harmony to ever get to the point that we could agree with that saxophone. saxophone is that university in North Texas who said 12 notes, pick one. Yes, we want to get to the point to where we understand music at that level. But we can't just jump in and start doing that without the study of chord scale relationships. So I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson on chord family scales to be insightful. And of course, I hope you've found it to be very beneficial. Now. One thing I want to stress is that there are the podcast the educational guides that are available for this episode. At jazz panel skills calm. There are three guides the Discover Guide, which are the illustrations of the chord scale relationships for all 12 chord families for all 12 keys. Those illustrations are mapped out beautifully. They are excellent. And they give you a really great imagery of the shapes of each of the sounds major dominant minor, half diminished and diminished and the appropriate scale relationship for those sounds. So I would encourage you to check out the illustrations. The lead sheets are also available and they're fantastic. They have all the chord scale relations, relationships mapped out using music notation, and some nice voicings in there as well and again, for all 12 keys. They're great The lead sheets are great to have on the piano at your fingertips as you're digesting as you're practicing and getting these shapes and sounds under your hands and in your ears. And of course, the the podcast they play along tracks right. So now the play along tracks are available for this episode as well. And the play along tracks are again in all 12 keys not just for C not just for the C family, but there are play long tracks for all 12 chord families. There are a total of 60 play along tracks that you can have access to and download and utilize while practicing.

So head on over to jazz piano skills comm go to the podcast link, hit the podcast link in the menu bar and go check it out and get the educational guides to help you practice chord family scales. Also while you're there, check out the jazz panel's skills courses. They are available and ready for you to utilize as well very sequential learning. If you're looking for a sequential learning process program, the jazz panel skills courses are for you. And each course is packed with comprehensive lessons, detailed instruction at illustrations, educational talks, interactive learning media, traditional guides and worksheets that you can utilize and download high definition video demonstrations of me playing the jazz panel skills and all 12 keys so you can see fingerings and hand movements very beneficial the play along tracks of course right and lead sheets that you can download to and of course professional and personal educational support and all of my courses and lessons as well. And yes, mobile access making it easy to practice at any time on the go. And you can access these through your desktop laptop computers. tablets, phones, your TV and yes, I even have some folks doing it on their watches, which totally cracks me up. And also the jazz panel skills forums, get out there. be an active participant and member and get to know some folks. Introduce yourself. make some new friends answer some questions, ask some questions, become part of the community. And don't forget speakpipe is now a part of jazz piano skills. You can send me a voicemail message at any time. Send me a message with any questions that you may have or comments. And I will respond right back to you with a voicemail message of my own. It doesn't get much easier and simple that a single mouse click for you and me to interact and communicate and engage with one another is fantastic. I love it. And I look forward to hearing from you. I look forward to hearing your voice. So listen, that's it for now, and until next week, I want you to enjoy This amazing journey, and most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano