Soloing with Dominant and Lydian Dominant Scales

The dominant scale is used mostly in jazz blues. But it needn't be! Get creative! There's really no reason to think of scales and chords always in terms of genres. These days, anything is game, and you will hear rock and pop artists combining just about every style of music under the sun.

FIGURE 8-11 shows you one way to use a dominant scale with added chromatics on upbeats. In this example, the dominant scale is used over a I7 chord in C major. That means you're soloing over a C7 chord. Notice how many chromatics are “hiding” in between the diatonic pitches.

If you combine this scale with a blues scale, you have the beginnings of jazz phrases. FIGURE 8-12 shows you how you might do this. The first half of this four-bar phrase is based on a dominant scale. However, the second half falls squarely into blues scale territory.

FIGURE 8-11: Using a Dominant Scale on a I Chord


FIGURE 8-12: Bluesy Dominant Scale


The dominant scale uses a lot of the same notes as the full blues scale. However, the dominant scale tends to fall back on chromatic movement while the blues scale encourages slightly larger intervallic leaps. Both chromatics and intervallic jumps are important. Therefore, combine these scales so that your solos contain variety.

The last scale discussed here is the Lydian dominant. As discussed in Chapter 5, this scale is the same as a dominant scale but with a raised fourth. Often, this raised fourth is called a sharp eleven. FIGURE 8-13 shows one example of the Lydian dominant set against a I chord.

In this example, when you play F-sharps, you're invoking the Lydian element. Ultimately, the raised fourth adds a harmonic twist to the dominant scale. It also encourages snaky intervallic leaps.

One final note: Be sure to take note of the two arpeggios used in this FIGURE 8-13. The first arpeggio occurs on beats three and four of the second measure. The notes E, G, B-flat, and D outline a C9 chord. The second arpeggio occurs on measures four and five of the figure. The second arpeggio outlines a simple C7 chord, and it acts as an ornate musical closure.

FIGURE 8-13: Using a Lydian Dominant Scale on a I Chord


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