I still spend time each week working out ideas over the Coltrane Matrix. As I’ve mentioned in an article that I previously wrote, the Matrix serves as a template for exploration of harmonic relationships that go far beyond just the Matrix itself.
Here is an idea that I transcribed from one of my practice sessions, where I gave myself thee parameters as I improvised over these changes. First, each four-note group (four-notes per chord) had to be connected by voice leading. And second, I had to move the notes in a way that seemed at least partially sequential (a perceived pattern). And third, it had to be pleasing to my ear (which for me, often means lots of angular melodic shapes).
This one was my favorite, so I thought I’d share it. Take a look:
The line starts out in perfect fourths over the Cmaj7, descending a minor second to the B, which voice leads to Bb over the Eb7. The line continues upward toward the raised 9th (the Gb, which is the enharmonic equivalent of F#), descending to the flatted 9th (E) and continues to descent intovoice leading to the Eb, which is the fifth of the Abmaj7. A descent brings the G into voice leading with the F# over the B7, which then moves to include the raised 11th (E#). The D# from the B7 connects to the root of Emaj7 (creating an enclosure), where the line moves again in fourths, going up to the raised 11th (A#) of E, then voice leading the the third (B) of G7. The G triad is played over the G7, resolving to the root of Cmaj7. The line continues with a similar contour and ends on the raised 11th, emphasising the Lydian tonality.
If you’d like to explore more possibilities with this wonderful chord progression, please consider my eBook, The Coltrane Matrix: 40 Unique Melodic Ideas in All 12 Keys. Click the links below to download the pdf for the etude, and to hear a midi file of what it sounds like.