Two Essential Chords Hiding in Every Scale

May 06, 2021

So, you've taken time to learn your major and minor scales.  In this lesson you'll learn the secret to using these scales to improvise intelligently and musically over any key.

Here's the way I learned my scales at first, probably the way you learned them too - starting on one and going up to seven.  Hey, we already know how to count in that order, so why not?

Well, take a listen to me trying to improvise over the i and V7 chords of the key just going up and down like this - it's not too good!  Our ears can tell us that I haven't been given all of the information needed to compose using those seven notes.

The fact is, every scale contains two chords which, when separated from one another, create perfect improv lines over i and V7 of any key.

You are likely aware of the first chord, made from scale degrees "one" "three" and "five" - the A minor chord, the root chord of the key.  But what about the other four notes?

Before we put this new chord in the spotlight, let's first change the order of our scale notes to be more musical, by putting the seven BELOW one.

This enables us to perform a much more musical exercise using the scale notes.

And, now you are ready to divide the scale into 1-3-5 (A minor triad) and 7-2-4-6.  This chord formed by the scale "rejects" is called G#o7 and it sounds PERFECT over the E7 chord.  In fact, it nearly IS an E7 chord.

The same exact system works for major.  But in major, this "new" chord hiding entwined around the root chord ends up being G#ø7, or G# "half-diminished."  It also sounds ideal over E7, but this time in the key of A major.

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