Here’s another exploration into four-note triad cells.
This etude offers a useful variation on the augmented scale. I’ve taken this scale (C, Eb, E natural, G, Ab and Cb, in the example below) and organized it into two symmetrically related triad pairs (C major and Ab minor, as seen in the second measure):
I then convert the pairs into four-note melodic cells by adding a non-chordal passing tone at the end of each triad:
I use a different inversion/sequence for the Ab minor cells to give the line a more interesting contour.
You’ll notice that there are upper neighbor and lower neighbor leading tones that connect each four-note cell (D moving up to Eb in the first measure and F moving down to E natural at the start of the second measure, for example). You might also notice that some of these leading tones turn the triads into four-note chords (Ab, Eb, Cb, Gb as an Ab7 in the second measure, for example).
But it is the symmetrical relationship between the two diatonic triads that provide the primary tonal color of this pattern, almost obscuring the 7th chords in the process. This is a modern, angular sounding melodic pattern that works well over dominant 7th chords (the example above would work nicely over a B7 or D7 altered) to create lots of interesing tension. It is also a great way to “step out” playing over major chords (the example above would work well over a C major tonic tonality).
For the modern jazz improviser, there is a wealth of new melodic material to be found in the symmetrical shapes and relationships of the augmented scale. And by using non-chordal leading tones to create four-note cells, the possibilities become even greater. If you’d like to explore the augmented scale as it relates to dominant 7th chord substitutions, please consider my e-book, Augmented Scale Diatonic Triad Pairs. And if you’d like to comprehensively and methodically study the vast possibilities of four-note triad cells, please consider my other e-book, Four-Note Diatonic Triad Cells: Comprehensive Studies in Leading Tones.
You can download a free pdf of this etude below: