Jazz/fusion improvisation Altered scale Theory Lesson

yt_logo_rgb_light CLICK SUBSCRIBE!

Today we will look at a John Mclaughlin alternate picking Jazz/Fusion improvisation cadence employing the altered dominant chord! Please watch the video below and then try it out yourself.

As you will see this cadence employs the Altered scale. It is a 2 [minor 7 flat 5] going to 5 [ “Altered Dominant”] 1 [major 7th]. This being Dm7 flat 5  G7 altered resolving to C major7.

I also employ a flat 5 substitution on the Dm7 flat 5. All of this resolves though and slips nicely into the altered dominant 5 chord. I also use pentatonics within the altered scale for rhythmic flow. Please look at the TAB/MUSIC below and play through it yourself to see and feel how it all “Naturally” unfolds. I employ alternate picking the same as John Mclaughlin.

John Mclaughlin alternate picking altered scale line Music/Tab

John Mclaughlin Alternate picking Altered scale jazz improviser line

VARIATION With an A flat Pentatonic shape replacing A flat minor/Major Arpeggio for the flat 5 substitution.


Altered scale jazz improvisation, jazz improviser lesson

yt_logo_rgb_light CLICK SUBSCRIBE!




The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organisation by George Russell

THE LCC BY GEORGE RUSSEL: “Lydian chromatic concept of tonal gravity”.

If we look at the diagram below we see the “Overtone Series” The perfect octave and the perfect 5th. If you can think in terms of perfect 5ths then the LCC will be much easier to understand.

Overton Series

First we start with C Ionian [C Major in Classical western tradition].


Next George raises the 4th  forming C Lydian [Raised 4th or#11]

Jazz improvisation Raised 4th or #11 to create C Lydian

Below we see Stacked 3rds in C major [Ionian] and then in C LYDIAN [Hence the f sharp at the top below the a note]

C ionian                                                                 C Lydian [13TH]

Ionian to Lydian 13th example

Below we see George Russel’s TONAL GRAVITY of Stacked 5ths. Notice the flattened 5th in the first bar but the “Perfect 5th” in the second bar. [The second bar creating C Lydian].

Flattened fifth and Perfect With example

Below is the piano layout which one can easily hear tonal gravity across the long span of the piano keyboard. We have the #11 [F#] to create stacked “PERFECT” 5THS” [which again results in C Lydian]

Lydian tonal gravity piano

Below is a layout starting on the lowest F note in order to hear it all in full along the guitar fingerboard. There is also a version in the second bar that moves around with C as the tonic due to lack of span on the guitar fingerboard.

Tonal gravity on guitar fingerboard

If we take the C major 7th chord and look at the C major scale we can see the “Avoid” note. The E note clashes with the F note and the B natural and the F natural produce a Dominant sound. By adding the Perfect fifth  F# there isn’t any “Avoid” notes as displayed in the second bar below.

Major and Lydian and avoid note for sharp 11th

"The interval of a fifth is the building block of tonal gravity, a seven-tone scale created by successive fifths 
establishes the most vertically unified harmonic order whereby the gravity falls down each fifth back to the singular 
Lydian tonic". "Andy Wasserman"


“The Lydian Chromatic Scale” The ANSWER TO ANYONE CONFUSED!

 By stacking PERFECT 5ths George Russel creates a chromatic scale

[F] C, G, D, A, E, B, F,C, G, D(E), A(B), E(F), [B(C) = a 12 tone scale.

The Confusion?

But “why” does he skip the interval between the Seventh and Eighth notes in the diagram in his book with the outgoing tonal gravity?

2] The answer is because the outgoing tonal gravity level goes to C# next [not F# for perfect 5ths]. Hence the 1st “Lydian scale” then goes to the 2nd scale “Lydian Augmented” with the raised 5th.

F Lydian chromatic order of tonal gravity for jazz improvisation


Jazz improvisation  explanation and diagram of the Lydian chromatic concept of Tonal Organisation


Lydian chromatic concept 12 tonal order of tonal gravity

In the example diagram above we see George Russels “Tonal order” going from numbers 1 to 12.  Numbers 1 to 7 being the Lydian mode.

When we go beyond the 7 notes of the lydian scale and further up the cycle of 5ths things increase in terms of  dissonance.

George Russell terms the scales as”Ingoing” “Semi ingoing” “Semi outgoing”  and “Outgoing” . The more we move to the right of the diagram the more “Outgoing/Dissonant” the scale will sound.

In terms of scale substitution we see a C# and not a D flat as this would be a raised 5th [Augmented 5th] and it would make no sense reading it enharmonically as a D flat as we see in the diagram above and in Georges scales.


Basic Lydian  [#11]

F Lydian Scale jazz improvisation

This could also be seen as 3rd mode of Melodic Minor

Jazz improvisation Lydian Augmented scale

This could also be seen as 4th mode of the Harmonic Major

Lydian Diminished scale jazz improvisation

This could also be seen as the 4th mode of the Melodic Minor

lydian flat seventh jazz improvisation

This could also be seen as the Whole Tone Scale

Auxilary augmented scale [Whole tone scale]

This could also be seen as Octatonic Whole Half Diminished

Auxilary diminished scale

This could also be seen as Octatonic Half Whole Diminished

Jazz improvisation Auxilary diminished scale

Finally, Horizontal Scales. Notice the B FLAT hence the Major.

Jazz improvisation Horizontal Scales Major,flat 7th,augmented,African American

Finding a parent scale,

From E Flat 7 going to A Flat major 7th we would employ the D Flat Lydian mode due to the G natural or #11 of the D FLAT LYDIAN to modulate to A flat major 7th.

PART 2 Final Analysis

The Lydian Chromatic Scale and best explanation from “Wikipedia”

Russell builds a prototype chromatic scale starting on the Lydian Tonic by stacking fifths, skipping the interval between the seventh and eighth tones. Using C as the Lydian Tonic yields the following 12-note scale with enharmonic respellings:

C, G, D, A, E, B, F♯,C♯, G♯, D♯(E♭), A♯(B♭), E♯(F), B♯(C). Thus the Lydian Chromatic Scale and all its derivatives contain only Pythagorean intervals.


Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 20.15.35




As an “Afterthought” for any guitarists here is my fingering always leading with the 1st finger on George Russell “Vertical” scales.

Jazz improviser F Lydian Guitar fingering

Lydian Augmented guitar fingering scale

Lydian Diminished scale guitar fingering

F Lydian falt 7th scale guitar fingering example

Whole tone scale guitar fingering [Auxilary augmented]

Auxilary diminished scale guitar fingering

Auxilary Diminished scale mode Blues

yt_logo_rgb_light CLICK and SUBSCRIBE!


It is a good idea to read George Russels most up to date book either from a reference library or purchase. It is a very expensive book to buy though so be warned.
Wiki LCC


Book Cover Picture