What would you primarly use over this chord progression Em7 B7 CM7 Am7 B7

  • 1
    There doesn't have to be (and often isn't, given avoid notes) one particular scale/mode that works well for any set of chords. Play the changes.
    – Tim
    Apr 17, 2021 at 15:20
  • 3
    Which is the question? That in the title, or the one in the body? Apr 17, 2021 at 17:08

4 Answers 4


it's in E minor. Where you sharp the 7 depends where you are in the progression and what melodic figure you're playing at that time. You might raise the 6 too if you're playing a melodic figure where that sounds good

So E, F# G A B C(#) D(#) E is a good place to start to pick out some melodies that sound nice, and whether or not those sharps in brackets are played or not depends on the musical context (what chord you're on, and what you're playing).

Also sprinkle in some B flats for a bluesier feel, if you like

edit: since I recorded the progression for my comments on another answers, I may as well include it here: https://vocaroo.com/1blSgLb12FN6. Stumbled on G after Am7 one time, oops.

Also, here is a (very loose and fumbled) solo on the weirdly strung Spanish guitar I have lying around here. https://vocaroo.com/1e8w68b8A5JX Partly a more "bluesy" approach, partly a more "melodic" approach, where the notes chosen to riff melodically are basically standard fare for a minor key. As listed above, which 7th is used largely depends on what the chords are doing. Obviously you don't want to play D# over Em7 (unless used as a chromatic passing note or deliberate dissonance to resolve).

There's also nothing to stop you just wailing on an E minor pentatonic over this, since D over B7 is a perfectly valid bluesy colour. It would sound great, but it won't sound terrible either.


CM7 disturbs me somehow ... but C7 would fit well as German6 (which is in Jazz equivalent for bVI) chromatically descending to the dominant.

The augmented 56th chord derived from c,e,g,a# (1st inversion of a#,c,e,g) - in jazz notated as C,E,G,Bb.

Anyway ... in e-minor your progression could be i-V-VI7-iv-V

  • 2
    CM7 sounds perfectly fine. C7 would give you a jazzier sound leading to the 5, but here would sound pretty odd. C7>Am7 (bVI7> iv) is a weird choice, and not a particularly pleasing progression.
    – Some_Guy
    Apr 17, 2021 at 19:27
  • A (not particularly well played, sorry) realisation to demonstrate. vocaroo.com/1blSgLb12FN6
    – Some_Guy
    Apr 17, 2021 at 19:33
  • It's a typical sort of indie/poppy acoustic chord progression. Easy to over-theorise, but if you want to wrap your head around how they are used in this sort of context, often these chords ( add9s. M7s, 6ths etc) work more like sustained pedal tones over the top of mostly diatonic triadic harmony.
    – Some_Guy
    Apr 17, 2021 at 19:34
  • If you want something to sink your teeth into that uses this type of suspended/extended minor diatonic harmony, try out "Day old hate" by City and Colour/Dallas Green. It has relatively simplistic diatonic harmony as bare bones, but uses these colour tones to add a real richness and interest to the harmony, in a way quite different to how such tensions would be used in classical music and jazz (I'm assuming from your language that you have a classical or formal jazz education, so I thought this might be interesting to you) youtu.be/ymcDMnofwJY
    – Some_Guy
    Apr 17, 2021 at 19:40
  • CM7 is the same as emin7, with the D changed to a C. It's actually IN the key of e minor. Apr 19, 2021 at 21:46

Okay forget trying to place the chords, and just look at the root movement. This is just playing around the V chord, B. The rest of the chord notes are texturing, not to be thought of as part of the key of E.

  • Downvoted because someone has never heard Flamenco. Apr 19, 2021 at 19:20

Easy to fit/solo in E Phrygian, E minor and, forcing a little, in C Major or Lydian (because of f# in B7 chord). But fits well and, specially good (at least to my ears), in C minor.

  • C minor? Is that a typo? Apr 18, 2021 at 1:04
  • No, C minor in reality. Assuming that progression in E minor, both key spaces have a distance of a mediant (or a PL transformation in a Neo Riemannian context); they're close enough to share and blend easily. I love stacking different keys mediant apart, I like the dissonances and the clashes generated by doing this. Also, is an efficient manner to create heavily tonal-centered chromatic music. Apr 19, 2021 at 19:54

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