This lesson is all about dominant 7 chords leading to minor chords.
V7 Minor Key Example
See how the G7 is resolving to Cminor? In this lesson I will show you how to improvise over that V7 chord.
By now you should know that a dominant chord’s role is to build tension that pulls towards the tonic chord. We can add further extensions to our dominant chord to add even more tension. Cool, right? You have three great options for V7 chords leading to minor chords. Each one has a different sound, let’s use our ears and check each one out.
V7 Chord Options (in a minor key)
- 5th Mode of Harmonic Minor Scale | dom7b9 (traditional sounding)
- Altered Scale (or diminished whole tone scale or super loci ran scale) | dom7Alt (modern)
- Half-whole diminished scale | dom13b9 (more modern)
Which Scale Should I Use?
For beginners, I recommend you start with the harmonic minor option. Why? In my previous iim7b5 lesson, you learnt that the locrian mode of the ii chord has the same notes as the aeolian scale of the tonic minor chord.
To outline the V7 chord, you only need to change ONE note from your Locrian/Aeolian scale. For sure, there are better options, but when I started out I found that the simplicity of this approach served me well. I hope you find this approach helpful too.
Lets see an example of what I am talking about:
Aeolian Fingering (Root on 5th string)
Harmonic Minor Fingering (For V7 chord)
Can you see how we can change just one note on the V7 chord? That single note creates the harmonic minor scale (or more specifically the 5th mode of harmonic minor) which is a good way to outline the V7 chord. Check out my lesson on the 5th mode of the harmonic scale here.
A Sneaky Trick for Dom7b9 Chords
I recommend beginner guitarists start out with the 5th Mode of the Harmonic Minor Scale over V7 chords. The associated chord for this scale is the dom7b9 chord. Now for my cool trick.
The upper part of a dom7b9 chord is a diminished chord. Diminished arpeggios and chords are REALLY EASY TO PLAY.
Why? Because they are 1) Symmetrical, which means 2) their shape is easy to remember and 3) you can move them up and down 3 frets. Check out the the diminished arpeggios below – you can play any diminished arpeggio starting from the b9, 3, 5 or b7 of a dom7b9 chord.
V7 Modern Options
If you would like a modern approach to playing on a V7 chord in a minor key – check out my lesson on the Altered Scale or half-whole diminished scale. Those scales are much more hip and modern sounding. I recommend checking them out once you have a good grasp of the dom7b9/harmonic minor option.
The Simplest V7 Option; Chord tones
Chord Tones (3rd and 7th) outline the CORE sound of any chord. Playing the 3rd and b7 of a dominant chord is your easiest and most inside sounding option.
V7 Guide Tone Examples
Here are some simple guidle tone lines for you to check out. On the right is an example of how you can extend any lick you know by simply changing the rhythm.
Congrats on making it through this lesson! Return to my minor ii V i lesson here to see how the V7 chord fits into context.
Thanks for stopping by, feel free to leave a comment below with any suggestions or questions.
~ Sam Blakelock | pickupjazz.com