How to Solo on a IV – IVm Chord Progression

In this lesson will show you the easiest and most effective approach to improvising over the IV to IV minor chord progression.

One of my favorite chord progressions is a Lydian IVmaj7 chord becoming a IVm chord. I like the sound of this progression, it is softer than a V7 I cadence but still has a nice push and pull. This a common jazz guitar progression so spend some time getting to know it.

This is Part 4 of my Top 5 Chord Progression series.

IV Ivm Example

So this song is in the key or C. The IV chord is Fmaj7 and as you can see, turns into a IVminor chord – the menu for today’s lesson.

Before we get started, let’s take a step back. Why do jazz composers change a IV chord to a minor chord, can’t they just be happy with a normal IVmaj7 chord? Why, why, why!?!

The answer is MOVEMENT.

The new IV minor chord leads our ear back towards the I chord. Jazz is about pushing and pulling the listeners ears with interesting chords. Dominant chords are our most powerful tool for this. A IVm chord is softer option for leading back to a I than a V7 chord. But soft is good. Ok, now lets get into detail. I will examine each chord one at a time then put it all together.

free lessonsThe IVmaj7 Chord

Scale: Lydian
Chord: Maj7#11
Extensions: 9, #11, 13
Chord Tones: 3rd and 7th

So we play the 4th mode of the major scale – Lydian, over a IV chord. Your target notes are the 3rd and 7th and you can add colour with the 9th, #11 (very colorful), and 13th. The root and 5th are pretty plain sounding.

Play through your lydian scale and maj7 arpeggios now. Highlight the 3rd and 7th. These are your base notes.

Lydian Mode


The IVm Chord

Scale: Melodic Minor (or Dorian if the chart specifically says minor7 – implying a b7)
Chord: Min-maj7
Extensions: 9, 11, 13th
Chord Tones: b3 and major 7th
Avoid note: none

The most important note for you to target is the flat 3rd. The b3 is what the IVm chord is all about. It leads the listeners ear back towards the 5th of the tonic major chord.

Review your Melodic Minor Scale here.

Putting It All Together

Follow these 5 steps to get your ears and fingers around the IV IVm chord progression:

  1. Play 2 measures of Fmaj7#11 chord, 2 measures of Fmin-maj7 chord. Listen.
  2. Chord tones: play the third and 7th of Fmaj7#11. Play the b3 and 7 of F min-maj7.
  3. Arpeggiate each chord.
  4. Play 2 measures of F lydian then 2 measures of F melodic minor scale.
  5. Record yourself comping the two chords then have some fun: Improvise! Play around with it. Let your ears be your guide.

Congratulations you made it to the end of the lesson! Take a break; you deserve it. Return to top 5 progressions to check out some more cool progressions.

Thanks for stopping by, feel free to leave a comment below with any suggestions or questions.

~ Sam Blakelock |

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