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September 2010 \ Premier Clinic \ Fierce Guitar \ Altered Scales and Chords

Altered Scales and Chords


Greg Howe

A look at popular altered chords, scales, and arpeggios.


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One of the subjects I get asked about much more frequently these days is the subject of altered scales and chords. It is a fairly large and sometimes
confusing subject, due to the ambiguous nature of certain definitions describing many associated musical terms and concepts. For our purposes, we will
categorize an altered chord as simply a dominant chord in which either the fifth or ninth has been raised or lowered by a half step. The most popular
altered chord played on guitar is probably the #9 chord, commonly referred to as the Hendrix Chord, shown in Fig. 1.

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Fig. 2 shows a three-note-per-string C altered scale. The easiest way to play the altered scale is to move up a half step from the established root and
play the Melodic minor scale.

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Fig. 3 enables us to play the notes of C altered simply by playing Db Melodic minor. It can also be helpful if you preface the scale by playing an altered
chord. Fig. 4 is a C7#5 chord, which is altered and sounds very compatible with the C altered or Db Melodic minor scale.

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In this scenario, we will also focus on two arpeggios that can be very effective in emphasizing the tonal characteristic underlying the altered sound. The
shapes in Fig. 5 and Fig. 6 are very similar to shapes weve seen before, in that they are based off a 5th string root with the exact same format as
those in previous articles.

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Altered Scales and Chords - Premier Guitar

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http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/2010/Sep/Altered_Scal...

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The simplistic version of whats happening here is that we are playing Db Melodic minor over a C altered chord. Though this is not the only method that
can be used in addressing altered chords, it is certainly one of the more popular methods and definitely my favorite. I will discuss typical chord
progressions that enable us to use altered chords and scales in my next article.

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My next article will also focus on modifying this months shapes, so becoming familiar with them will help you see the logic in the design of the
upcoming licks. In the meantime, have fun with these shapes and work on getting your ears accustomed to these tonal qualities. See ya next time.

Greg Howe
Greg Howe has enjoyed a successful recording career since bursting onto the scene in 1988, and his talents have been sought after by some of the
biggest names in the music entertainment industry, such as Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and Enrique Iglesias.

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Comments

(9 comments)

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Brian Morgan
on 10/11/2010

Where can i find more!?!?!

warren estrop
on 09/22/2010

greg you the man !

Mike
on 09/17/2010

Thanks for sharing. Don Mock also has some great info on this subject. To me, it's too much work to think
Melodic Minor half step away, when you can just remember the altered formula as its own scale. Six of one, half
dozen of the other I suppose. Still good to see from others' angles, and it obviously works for Greg.

rob
on 09/04/2010

cheers greg!

carole
on 09/03/2010

thank a lot Greg

petepachio
on 09/02/2010

Another great one Greg!

Ray
on 09/01/2010

If you think this is cool check out Scott Henderson Jazz-Rock Mastery DVD it goes into a lot detail about scales
and phrasing.

Darby
on 09/01/2010

Good Stuff. I dig this.

Conrad Malave
on 08/31/2010

Very cool tips!!! mostly if they come direct from Greg himself.

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