Dave Liebman: A chromatic approach to jazz harmony and melody.

[These are my own concepts taken from Dave Liebmans Brilliant Book A chromatic approach to jazz]

This first idea is a simple way of weaving in and out of unrelated harmony.

Here the C natural slides into the C# and then into an F# arpeggio which then revolves by letting the C# fall back into the C natural of the F major arpeggio with a flat 5 resolving to the fourth.

Dave Liebman A Chromatic approach to jazz harmony

The next example is an extended line with a substitution of a substitution creating chromatic interest.

Dave Liebman concept of chromatic jazz harmony



Below we see a concept of weaving through two different key centres. Thinking F for D minor and then through F# and sidestepping back to resolve the line.

Dave Liebman chromatic approach to jazz idea


A chromatic Dave Liebman concept


A chromatic approach to jazz harmony and melody Dave Liebman concept

Flat 5 substitution. D minor and A flat major.

flat 5 substitution b5 sub Dave Liebman Chromatic approach to jazz line



Dave Liebmans book is an excellent and inspiring means of absorbing chromatic improvisational knowledge and ideas for your own playing.

511-P62qKeL copy

I am not promoting this book. But I am very grateful for its existence and for its powerful inspiration to me on a daily basis. Anyway, below is a brief overview.

This book should be seen as a method to help the artist to develop his or her own way when trying to improvise chromatically. Through the concepts and examples offered, the improvisor should be able to use this material alongside already familiar tonal ideas. Specifically, the book serves as a guide for organizing chromaticism into a coherent musical statement meant to satisfy both the intellectual and emotional needs of artistic creation.
The reader will be introduced to more than one way of conceiving chromatic lines and harmonies. There is nothing theoretically complex or new in the text, it is the organization of the material as well as many musical examples and transcriptions (Bach, Scriabin, Coltrane, Shorter, Hancock, Beirach, Liebman a.o.) which should serve to inspire musicians to expand their usual diatonic vocabulary.
This book also provides insight into the style of playing that David Liebman is known for. In addition the book contains 100 assorted solo lines and 100 chord voicings.

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John Mclaughlin Jazz Fusion Line Breakdown

There are two parts to this. The second lesson is a variation. The dominant chord in this 2 5 1 is altered.

This creates a nice way to create flow with the fingering when alternate picking in the style of John Mclaughlin. As you play through the Notation/Tab [below] this will become apparent very quickly.


John Mclaughlin guitar lesson finishing with a D flat Triad for G7 alt


John Mclaughlin Jazz Improvisation guitar lesson jazzimproviser

LINE BREAKDOWN: Breaking down the line into 4 note cells [Tetrachords]




this is the way I do it


this is the way I do it


This is the way I do it


Mclaughlin this is the way I do it


This is the way I do it


This is the way I do it John Mclaughlin


This is the way I do it

VARIATION of the John Mclaughlin jazz fusion improvisation guitar lesson finishing with an E flat Triad for the G7 alt

John Mclaughlin Jazz Improvisation guitar lesson. Altered scales

For more info John Mclaughlin has a DVD:

John Mclaughlin This is the way I do it

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

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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

Melodic “Jazz” Minor Scale Lesson

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In this blog we will look at the Jazz Melodic Minor scale and its harmony and how to exploit it for jazz/fusion and melodic pop/rock usage. The melodic minor is an exotic and beautiful sounding scale that compliments its corresponding harmony.

If we take the basic C Major scale and play through it we can create a new scale by changing just one note. This is the 3rd note E.

C major Scale

If we flatten this E natural to an E flat note we have the C melodic “Jazz” Minor scale.

C Melodic minor scale how to

Here are the arpeggios for the C melodic “jazz” minor scale in 7ths

Arpeggios of the C Melodic Minor Scale for jazz improvisation


Arpeggios of the C Melodic "Jazz" Minor Scale

Upper Extensions: We can add a “triad” above the arpeggios and create an upper extension on each of the melodic minor’s arpeggios.

C melodic minor UPPER EXTENSIONS for jazz improvisation

C melodic minor UPPER EXTENSIONS for jazz improvisation

Jazz improvisation. C melodic minor UPPER EXTENSIONS

It is a good idea to extend the tonic C minor/maj7 Arpeggio to get a good fluid fingering for it as it is a really beautiful exotic sound and can also be used over an altered dominant chord.

C melodic minor arpeggio

Another important point is to get a good fingering by using easier fingerings like the example below. [The easier the fingering the better the intervals sound on the guitar].

Guitar Fingering for C melodic jazz minor scale

It is also a good idea to employ “triad pairs” that exist within the melodic minor scale. Here we have E flat augmented,  F major, Cmin/maj7, and Dm7

Triad pairs for C melodic Minor jazz improviser lesson

We can also make Pentatonic’s from the melodic minor scale which fit easily in the guitarists fretting hand. Below is an example that could be played over an A minor 7 flat 5 chord [Chord 6 in C melodic “jazz’ minor scale].

How to make pentatonics from the C melodic minor Scale

Lastly, we have the dominant chord of the C melodic minor scale being G major [Chord 5]. This would normally make G seventh but due to the E flat note in the scale we can now make an “Altered” Dominant chord [G9 Augmented]. We have the note of A for the ninth and the Eb  flat note for the sharpened 5th.

How to create altered dominant improvised lines from C melodic minor scale