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Harmonic Analysis - Scale Selection

Vertical and Horizontal scale selection.

PUBLISHED: Apr 6, 2012 UPDATED: Apr 6, 2012 • VIEWS: 0 • LESSON CODE: MLRMAe-10

Instruments: ukulele ANY music Subjects: advancedintermediatetheoryscalesimprovisation

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Harmonic Analysis - Scale Selection

Harmonic Analysis is the understanding of the functional sequence of chords. It is the process used to analyze the harmonic structure of a progression, song or composition. This analysis is then used to make scale selections for improvisation and chord substitution.

This lesson covers the vertical and horizontal scale selection.

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Once a harmonic analysis has been completed then scale selections can be made. These scale selections can be either vertical and horizontal choices.


Vertical Scale Choices


This is a scale per chord approach. When a new chord is encountered the scale is changed based on the chart below. This is a basic scale selection approach. Additional scales can be played against these chords using the same principles that are used with chord substitution (see the Substitution Principles chapter).

Chord Type

Basic Scale (Starting on Root)


Major

Ionian (Major)

Ionian (Major)
 Lydian


m7

Dorian

Aeolian (Natural Minor)

Harmonic Minor


mL7

Tonic Minor


m6

Dorian


7

Mixolydian (Dominant)


Diminished 7

Diminished


Augmented 7

Whole Tone

Horizontal Scale Choices


Scale choices can be made based on the overall tonality of a progression or portions of a progression using horizontal scale choices. The scale will stay in effect until the analysis requires a different scale.


Here are the scale choices applied to the six harmonic principles.

Full Diatonic Chords


Full Diatonic Major


  • Use the Major scale of the I chord


Full Diatonic Minor


  • Use the Natural Minor scale of the I chord on I and III chords
  • Use the Harmonic Minor scale of the I chord on V and VII chords
  • Use the Natural Minor scale or Harmonic Minor scale of the I chord
 on II, IV, and VI chords


Sample Scale Choices for II V of a II V I


  • Harmonic Minor of the I chord traditional sound

  • Locrian of the II for a more contemporary sound


Partial Diatonic


Use the vertical scale per chord approach.


  • For Seventh chords resolving up a perfect fourth (or down a perfect fifth) to a major chord type use a Mixolydian scale.

  • For Seventh chords resolving up a perfect fourth (or down a perfect fifth) to a minor chord type use a Mixolydian -2 -6 scale.


Internal Modulation


    Use a Full Diatonic or Partial Diatonic solution.


Unresolved


    Use a Full Diatonic or Partial Diatonic solution.


Cycle


    Use a Full Diatonic or Partial Diatonic solution.


Chromatic


    Use a Full Diatonic or Partial Diatonic solution.

  • For Seventh chords functioning as a bII7, bIII7, bV7, bVI7 or bVII7 use a Mixolydian +4 scale.


Alternate Scale Choices


Alternate scale choice should be based on the same principles as chord substitution.


The Lydian Scale Uses vs. Ionian Scale


If a major chord is not in a full or partial diatonic progression then the Lydian scale is the better vertical scale choice.

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Harmonic Analysis ( HA ) is the process used to determine the harmonic function of chords within a chord progression. A chord progression is defined as a sequence of chords, each chord has a root and has a particular chord type. The relationship of a chord's root to a scale determines its function within that scale's tonality. Once a chord's function is identified, scale selections along with chord and scale substitutions can be made. This process is called Root Movement Analysis ( RMA ). This series of lessons are extracted from my book for use with individual private and on-line students. Each lesson directly corresponds the chapters in my book Harmonic Analysis for Scale Selection and Chord Substitution by Curt Sheller (me).

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