What do you play when soloing over sus chords?

(21 posts)
  1. jazzacast55

    Hey guys,

    I wrote a tune lately and there happens to be quite a few sus chords in there.
    Now at the moment I'm using mixolydian or a 4 note cell: b7, 1, 3, 4, so if it was Csus4 I have been playing Bb, C, E, F.
    I'm just interested in what you guys play over them.
    If your interested in the chord progression, it is the following (2bars each, medium tempo)



  2. Poparad

    Those are things I'd do as well. Additionally, this one's really basic, but you can play minor pentatonic from the 5th. So on the Dsus4, play Am pentatonic. Related to that, Cmaj7 over Dsus4 hits most of the interesting notes.

  3. Matt

    diatonic triads sound really good over sus chords.
    i'd also use pentatonics that contain the 3 and b7 with tensions, ie #11, b9, etc.

  4. jorgemg1984

    I find it easier to think Dm7 / G than Gsus4.

  5. The first thing that came to mind is almost inherently in your progression:
    I would view the Ebmaj7 as Lydian ( so # 11) and I outline these tones by playing the Dsus...
    I view the first two chords as part of the same thing and those other two chords as the sane concept as the previous only backwards and in a different tonal center ... So I am seeing two chord / vibes rather than 4 (... For this specific idea ). I use the sus to state the juicy parts of the Lydian ( Dsus=Ebmaj7#11 and vice versa) to expand this particular tonality , you can okay min7b5 stuff off of the #11 of that chord :

  6. geetarted

    Just looking at your chord progression I would say straight up D minor pentatonic for all. chromatic playing/approach notes around chord tones.. but D minor nails it and keeps it simple. A big part of Modern Jazz playing is about making the complicated seem/sound simple.

  7. jazznan

    both the sus chords are good for going to the iii chord in the key of Eb, Gminor and Dminor in Bb, so it's really the first two chords are in Eb and the next two are in Bb, or G minor and D minor

  8. JorgeRubiales

    I'll play with the major pentatonic from the b7, so Dsus4=C major pentatonic. It gives you the arpeggio plus the 9th

  9. silverwater


    - Mixolydian, (or maybe think G dorian)

    - Sus4 arpeggio

    - Gm Pentationic

    - Dm pentatonic

    sus4b9 is a cool sound too, you could throw in these sounds regardless if it's marked as such:


    - F harmonic major (It's a major scale with a b6)

    - C Dorian b2 (Bb melodic minor)

    - C Phyrigian

    - Bb harmonic minor

    - F harmonic minor

    - A whole tone pentatonic (A C# D# F G)

    - Sus4b9 arpeggio, C Db F G Bb. (An interesting Pentatonic sound)

    - F major scale with b2 and b6 (F Gb A Bb C Db E) I'm not exactly sure what this is called, but it's definitely an eastern thing with its two consecutive half steps (E F Gb) and the abundance of minor thirds. I think Woody Shaw used this on Little Red's Fantasy...

  10. wilmore

    hi silverwater, cool ideas. that last scale is the 5th mode of Bb hungarian minor. or a root position gypsy major(as ted green calls it).


  11. jazznan

    Silverwater, no offense, but that looks like something from a textbook....you can actually think like that while improvising? Can you post a youtube vid of you doing that? I get that they are ideas, but do you actually use them?

  12. silverwater

    Hi jazznan, no offense taken. It's not something taken from a textbook, or one textbook in particular. It's just that I ran into sus4b9 chords a couple of times while playing with people, and after flubbing through them I was properly motivated to sit home and figure out some ways to play on them. I'd say half are from books or outside sources, half I figured out (any scale or mode of with the R b2 P4 b7 will work over that chord). The idea for playing the second mode of Harmonic Minor I got from transcribing Kurt's solo on Invitation.

    I'm also a person who writes things down. This and many other things are taped my wall where I practice, to serve as reminders.

    I'm not Rain Man and make all the scales appear in my mind the instant this or any other chord comes up, if that's what you were asking. But yeah that is how I think when I play, except I don't really think about Harmonic Major, because first I figured out that playing Mixolydian scale but flatting the 9th would give me the notes I wanted to hear sometimes on a V chord in a major key, only later to have someone tell me that theorists actually call this the 5th degree of the Harmonic Major scale, a scale I had never heard of. But I had already learned to play "Mixo b9", so that's what I go with. I also "discovered" the third mode of harmonic major works amazing over dominant chords in a minor key.

    - Dorian b2 is easy. I know all my dorian scales well of course, and since I know what the b2 of any given tonal center is, having practiced mixo b9, it's easy just play that.

    - Phyrigian is just a mode of the major scale, b2 b3 b6 b7...anyone worth their salt can recall all the major modes from all or almost all roots.

    - The modes of harmonic minor I haven't gotten to a point yet where I can use them by just thinking about the degrees from the root (meaning when I play F harmonic minor over a C7 chord I still have to think "I'm playing F harmonic minor now", as opposed to "Let's play C with a b2, b6, b7")

    - I practice the shit out of Whole Tone pentatonics.

    - the sus4 b9 arpeggio I could whip out on only a couple roots at this point.

    - The last one (Thanks to willmore for pointing out it being the fifth mode of Hungarian Minor, I always think of it a that as "F Arab" though because it sounds so damn middle eastern) I only know right now starting from F and C. It's easy to play a major scale from any root and flat the 2nd and 6th degrees, it's another to recall those notes instantly in the moment.

    No, I'm not going to make a youtube video proving that I can play these scales because someone on a forum is calling me out. I don't know you and I've got nothing to prove to you. I'm only writing this long-winded post (and other long-winded posts on this forum for that fact) because explaining things to other people is the best way to clarify things in my own mind.

    Yes, I actually use them, though I'm actually trying to use them less, meaning the goal is to have the sounds ingrained so instead of "what scale am I playing?" I can think "What sound do I want to hear?" and know the notes that will get me that sound. I don't know where you're at as a player, but unless you're still at a point where all the sounds you use come from recalling memorized fingering patterns, it really shouldn't be unbelievable that a person could use these things in their playing.

  13. jazznan

    Okay, thanks, not "calling you out", just wanted to see an example of you playing them is all.

  14. jazzacast55

    This is great guys thanks so much, there is little info in the books I have or online to deal with sus chords, this will keep me busy for a while!

  15. silverwater

    Oh, all right. I interpreted it as some sort of a challenge, but if it's for demonstrative/instructional purposes then ok. Although I don't know how much help it my shitty little video will be. Not only did I have to play quietly because it's late, I wasn't even showing the fretboard to the camera, which would kind of be the point of making a video demonstration, no?

    [+] Embed the video | Video DownloadGet the Video Widget

    Those are the 8 sounds I listed in my earlier comment, 16 bars of each, played in the same order as my list. If anybody is interested I could do the same thing for demonstrating different sounds to play over a ii V I, maybe this time I'll get the production part right.

    As a side note, this is actually an interesting and effective way to practice. I've never used time limits before moving on to something else, I'm going to have to start doing this more often.

  16. jazznan

    Cool, thanks...I'm going to work on them.

  17. jorgemg1984

    Usually sus4b9 chords appear on two occasions on standard tunes: G7sus4b9 resolving to Cmaj7 (usually the melody has the 4 so you cant use a regular dominant) or in minor keys G7sus4b9 going to Am7 - so V7sus4b9 Imaj7 or bVIIsus4b9 Im7. The first one appears on It Could Happen to You and the second one on Corcovado. I think McCoy Tyner was one of the first guys using this chords a lot and he usually played the second mode of melodic minor (phrygian 13, I prefer this name to doric b2 because they sound much more like phrygian than dorian to me)

    A good way to think these chords is the altered scale because usually we have a lot of resolutions of this scale - so E7alt / G going to Cmaj7 or E7alt / G going to Am7. The first one is very well explained on a book called "Metaphors for the Musicians" called "New Ways of Going Home" I think. The second one is a basic V I cadence with the V in a odd root.

  18. arewolfe

    I've always hated the sound of 7sus4 chords. I usually just stick to notes in the chord or wait til it passes. My ears hate the sound of stacked 4ths in general. Sus7(b9) is a different world though... I love that one. I think All The Way To Rajasthan is based off that sound - might be wrong though.

  19. jazznan

    I always associate that sound with things I've heard Brad Mehldau play

  20. jazznan

    I always associate that sound with things I've heard Brad Mehldau play

  21. @arewolfe: hahahaha ! Hell yes. It is like this huge non statement. It has certain boring applications that often lead to 70's tv...
    Add9 ( like gmaj triad with a in bass ) risks this often but somehow feels more warm and comfy.

  22. @arewolfe: hahahaha ! Hell yes. It is like this huge non statement. It has certain boring applications that often lead to 70's tv...
    Add9 ( like gmaj triad with a in bass ) risks this often but somehow feels more warm and comfy.


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