Exotic Dominant 7 Scales



To create a sophisticated sound in jazz, the goal is to change scale with every chord. When the group of notes your playing from shifts, a complex sound is created.

So when you play a melody or solo over a ii-V-I, the goal is to change scale over the 3 chords. You could play a brand new scale over each of the 3 chords, but that’s more work than you need to put in. The simple solution would be to play the same scale over the first and last chords (ii and I), but to change things up over the chord in the middle (the V7 chord). To change the harmony over the V chord, there are 4 scales commonly played by jazz musicians over the V chord. The purpose of each is to change the scale between the 3 chords, resulting in a sophisticated jazz sound.

The best way to learn new scales is starting from the same note every time, I suggest using C. So here are the 4 dominant 7 scales all starting from C, which could be played over C7:

C lydian-dominant scale:

C lydian-dominant scale

C whole-tone scale:

C wholte tone scale

C diminished scale:

C octatonic-diminished scale

C altered scale:

C altered scale

Now lets apply these scales to a ii – V – I progression in C major (D minor 7 – G7 – C major 7). You can play C major scale over the ii chord (D minor 7) and the I chord (C major 7). And over G7 you can play any of the 4 scales above starting from G:

G lydian-dominant scale = G A B C# D E F

G whole-tone scale = G A B C# D# F

G diminished scale = G Ab Bb B C# D E F

G altered scale = G Ab Bb B Db Eb F