In Part 1, I mentioned that 4-note clusters are actually better for learning triad soloing than triads themselves. This is because 4-note clusters are the backbone/chord tones/arpeggio notes etc. of most of the scales, modes and arpeggios that you regularly use.
For example, the 4-note cluster we looked at in Part 1 (1, b3, 5, b7) gives you the basis for several useful formulas:
Minor 7 Arpeggio: 1, b3, 5, b7
Minor Pentatonic: 1, b3, 4, 5, b7
Dorian: 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7
Phrygian: 1, b2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7
Aeolian: 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7
What if we have our 4-note cluster with a natural 7 instead of a b7?
This cluster gives us the backbone to:
Minor (maj7) Arpeggio: 1, b3, 5, 7
Melodic Minor: 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Harmonic Minor: 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, 7
By backbone I mean the most important intervals in all the above scales and arpeggios. These are the defining intervals that you’ll want to land on/resolve to when you improvise. Don’t worry about the others just yet, your task here is to know exactly what interval you’re playing at all times using the triad + b7 or + 7 diagrams.
What will happen in my brain?
Once you know exactly what interval you’re playing, they become second nature and you can concentrate on adding in/combining them with other intervals to produce the desired sound. The 1, 3, 5, and 7 in their various guises are the foundation, all other intervals can then be used to express your chosen formula.
For some reason, adding that fourth interval in is a game-changer but those four intervals MUST be second nature before you attempt to add in any others. I don’t know why it works, but I could never do this with 3-note triads and 12 shapes, it was just way too much thinking.
The Magic 4
The 4, when it’s not a #4, is like the oil in the machine of a formula. It’s not an interval you’ll want to resolve to or spend too much time hanging on, but it is a great passing interval that provides fluidity to your lines and phrases.
Work it in using the diagrams below. Feel free to throw in the b7 or 7 as well, though you will naturally start to do this anyway.
Task: I’m laboring this but for now just make sure you know what intervals you’re playing at all times like a reflex action (don’t worry about the scale formulas). You want to know these intervals so well that you just forget about them. Work in the 4 and see how it gives you that edge to build more fluid phrases.
In Part 3, we’ll get in to the major and dominant side of all things triad soloing.