I've written a song that's based largely around G major, with some C major parts. However, the G major progression utilizes a B7 chord, so it sits outside a normal G major scale.

I've heard lots of songs take the vi chord and turn it into a 7 as well.

I'm wondering how to approach writing leads over this or improvising over it. Is there a scale that typically fits well with this? Or should I just spend time figuring out how to adapt a the G major scale when the B7 hits, so I slide some of the? fingers down a half step?

3 Answers 3


You are just using the dominat chord of E minor which is the relative minor or V/vi if you were looking at it in Roman numeral analysis.

When improvising you would most likely use a variant of the E harmonic minor scale. One you could use is B Phygian Dominant which is the 5th mode of the harmonic minor scale. These scales are very related to the G major scale and the only note diffrent will be the D will be raised to a D#.

For the vi chord if it's just a minor 7th chord as I think you are describing you can just use the G major scale. However if is a dominant 7th which in the key of G would be an E7 you could look at it a few diffrent ways. It could be taking you to Am which in that case you could use a mode of the A harmonic minor to improvise similar to the B7 above.


Assuming that after the B7 you return to chords in G major, as Dom mentioned, the ear normally likes the minimum number of note differences.

If you are doing pop/rock type of music, I would suggest the E ascending melodic minor scale, { E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D# } to keep the number of new notes at a minimum while avoiding the minor third leap between C and D#. Just in case there is any confusion, ascending melodic minor scales may be played ascending or descending!

Style is another consideration. Harmonic minor scales have a leap of a minor third, which you may or may not want.

In modal jazz and serious music, the composer/improvisor may sometimes wish to stay on a chord for a while, treating it like a "harmonic island", and try to use a scale or mode that differs as much as possible.


There are loads of tunes that do just this. The B7 either goes straight to a C, or goes 'round the houses' up in 4ths via E, to A, to dominant D, back home to G. Music tends to gravitate a semitone so going to C does just that. Or, it'll move in 4ths, as in the oft quoted ii-V-I in jazz. That B7 as suggested in another answer, will move to the relative minor, Em. Notes to be used will basically be from G/Em

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