Okay, so I have been studying the music of Joe Pass and he loves to substitute minor seventh chords for dominant seventh chords. For example take a typical vi-ii-V-I progression on C, instead of playing a minor he would substitute for it perhaps a A 13 flat ninth chord. If I am soloing over this type of progression I know I can use the whole-half-step diminished B flat scale over the A altered chord (A13 flatted ninth with the following voicing: A-G-C#-F#-A#). What other scales can I use over this and other sorts of altered chords?


Conveniently enough, the altered scale, sometimes called "Super Locrian", which is the 7th mode of jazz minor.

1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7

So, in C:

B C D Eb F G A

Relative to A:

A Bb C Db Eb F G

This gives you, functionally: 1, b9, #9, 3, b5, #5 and b7. (If you played this against a C7)

In your case, over A13b9: A Bb C# D E F# G.

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    That's wrong. The super locrian wouldnt work because it has a minor third. A13b9=A-C#-E-G-A#-F#. – Chris Olszewski May 30 '13 at 11:17
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    It doesn't function as a third in this case, it functions as a #9. – JP Doherty May 30 '13 at 12:16
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    If you want to strictly play it in a chord-scale sense, Dominant b2 is what you're looking for. 1 b2 3 4 5 6 b7 (Harmonic Major, 5th mode). But that's going to sound pretty vanilla, and at that point, you might as well just play an arpeggio. If you want color, and don't want to fly in the face of about 70 years worth of people using it, the altered scale is the best choice for altered dominant chords. Tailor to your needs in terms of the extensions (9ths and 13ths). – JP Doherty May 30 '13 at 12:35
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    the only other scale that would work is the whole-half step diminished scale for a dominant flat ninth thirteenth as the 'altered scale' lacks a natural thirteenth – Chris Olszewski May 30 '13 at 12:38
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    Incorrect. See above. – JP Doherty May 30 '13 at 12:40

A great ressource for 'which scale over that chord' in a jazz context is http://www.jazzbooks.com/mm5/download/FREE-scale-syllabus.pdf‎ from Aebersold.

In your case, the only scale listed is the Half-Whole step diminished scale. This does not mean it is your only choice, only that it is the reasonable scale implied by the composer when writing A13b9.

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