Triads with Doublings and Suspended 4ths (Harmonized Scale: “D” Harmonic Minor)

The following examples show various four-note triadic constructions with doublings and suspensions moved through a “D” Harmonic Minor scale.

The first triadic construction is a commonly played triad with a duplicated root. The intervals, stacked vertically, are as follows: 5th, 4th, & 3rd. The intervallic construction is maintained and moved through the harmonized scale:

Next, the 3d is suspended (replaced with a diatonic fourth) and the resulting 5th, 4th & 4th construction is moved through the scale:

The second triadic construction is a triad with a duplicated 3rd. The intervals, stacked vertically, are as follows: 3rd, 4th, & 3rd. The intervallic structure is maintained and moved through the harmonized scale:

Next, the upper 3d is suspended (replaced with a diatonic fourth) and the resulting 3rd, 4th & 4th construction is moved through the scale:

The third triadic construction is a triad with a duplicated 5th. The intervals, stacked vertically, are as follows: 4th, 3rd, & 3rd. The intervallic structure is maintained and moved through the harmonized scale:

Next, the 3d is suspended (replaced with a diatonic fourth) and the resulting 4th, 4th & 2nd construction is moved through the scale:

Try finding additional four-note triads with duplicate notes or “doublings.” Here are two other possible starting chords:

Also, try transferring these voicings onto other string sets. Here is one of the previous chords transposed down an octave and placed on string set 5432:

Finally, experiment with various scales. Harmonic Minor is particularly useful, however, as it contains Major, Minor, Diminished, and Augmented triads.

The Augmented Scale

The augmented scale is a symmetrical hexatonic scale.

It appears in music by composers as varied as Franz Liszt, Alberto Ginastera, Béla Bartók, Milton Babbitt, Arnold Schoenberg, John Coltrane, Oliver Nelson, and Michael Brecker.

There are various ways to derive the augmented scale:

  • start with an augmented triad and add a 1/2 below each tone
  • alternate minor thirds with 1/2 steps
  • combine two augmented triads an augmented second (or minor third) apart: C E G♯ and E♭ G B

Below are fretboard diagrams for the augmented scale, starting on the root C, then moving through the cycle of fourths through all 12 keys.

Try improvising melodic lines, diads, and triads, exploring the symmetries that this unique scale creates.

Root “C”:

Root “F”:

Root “B♭” or “A#”:

Root “E♭” or “D#”:

Root “A♭” or “G#”:

Root “D♭” or “C#”:

Root “G♭” or “F#”:

Root “B”:

Root “E”:

Root “A”:

Root “D”:

Root “G”:

7th Chord Inversions: (Drop 2 & Drop 3 on The Five Essential String Sets)

An excellent way to begin expanding your chord knowledge (beyond open chords and bar-chords) is the study of four-string seventh chords and inversions.

The most essential forms for beginning or intermediate jazz guitarists are Drop 2 & Drop 3 shapes on the following string sets:

Drop 2:

Drop 3:

It’s crucial to put these into a musical context as soon as possible.

Try playing through some jazz standards using these shapes.

Be careful to keep common tones and move to the closest voicings as you navigate chord progressions.

Triad Inversions (Four Adjacent String Sets)

There are many ways to play major, minor, diminished, and augmented triads on the guitar.

Learning triads on the four adjacent string sets is the right place to begin.

Try playing harmonized scales with these triads and later add “foreign” bass notes to produce slash chords.

There are all sorts of possibilities with even the most basic of materials.

Chord Inversions, Arpeggios, Scales: Combined Practice

Here is a useful exercise that combines 7th chord inversions and arpeggios with scales, allowing you to kill three birds with one stone in your practice.

The diamond-shaped white noteheads are the “main” note, the one you should have in mind while playing the other components of the exercise.

The idea is to blend chord inversions, arpeggios, and chord scales, or modes, into one stream of thought.

Try developing this concept within a jazz standard. Here’s an excellent chord progression:

Isfahan by Billy Strayhorn & Duke Ellington in the Key of D♭ (Original Key)

Try it in the key of C for some perspective and more guitar-friendly roots:

Isfahan by Billy Strayhorn & Duke Ellington in the Key of C (Easier Key)

6th & Diminished 7th Chord Passages: Bebop Major and Minor

These chord passages are constructed from inversions of 6th chords (Major and Minor respectively) with Fully Diminished 7th chords interspersed.

This is a harmonization technique that is often associated with the pianist Barry Harris.

Remember to analyze these from other roots, reinterpret the harmony and use your imagination to find less than obvious substitutions.