Playing the Ch-Ch-Changes (Part 1)

Thursday, July 1, 2010


If you already know some basic major and minor arpeggios, you can begin to solo over changes without having to know many scales. Below I demonstrate a simple lead line over some changes by visualizing common triads (R35), which I’ve indicated below each chord name. I'm sure you're familiar with these shapes - they may look simple but they will help you survive even the scariest of changes!

Notice how I hit the 3rd of every chord when it changes, going no further than a half step. To generate more interest and movement, I've also included the 7th of each chord in my improvised line. Both the 3rd and 7th chord tones make for very strong note choices so that the chord progression is heard by the listener even when you are soloing unaccompanied. In future blogs, I will demonstrate how to add other tones to major, minor and dominant chords to add more colour and sophistication. In the meantime, grab some standards and practice playing only the R35 of every chord at eighth notes. Then try including the 7th when you are comfortable. See if you can phrase your lines so that you hit the 3rd of every chord right when it changes and without moving further than a half step! Do you want a song or solo transcribed / tabbed out for you? Contact me at for info - rates are competitive and delivery is quick!