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Neo-classical scales in diatonic chord progressions

I am not sure if my Q is correct or not... forgive my ignorance.

Is it possible to use neo classical scales for soloing in diatonic chord progressions and can the neo classical chords be mixed with diatonic chords for composition??

kindly revert back with example. Thanks


There are a number of ways I could interpret your question, so I hope the following answer helps you...

Firstly, by "neo classical scales" I assume you mean scales such as...

These seem to be the most commonly used scales in neo classical music.

Now, because these scales include non-diatonic tones, certain chords within a natural diatonic key would need to be substituted with chords built around those scales.

Let's first look at a diatonic example in A minor...

Am / Dm / Em / Am / Em / Am

That's a basic i / iv / v / i progression taken straight from the natural minor chord scale (diatonic).

If we were soloing using harmonic minor, we'd need to accommodate this by making that natural minor v (5) chord (Em) a major V chord (E major or E7) because the 5th degree of harmonic minor corresponds to its 5th mode, Phrygian Dominant, a MAJOR scale.

So our new progression would be...

Am / Dm / E7 / Am / E7 / Am

So by changing that natural minor v (5) chord to a harmonic minor V chord, we have something that will be compatible with harmonic minor and its 5th mode Phrygian and therefore more appropriate for the neo classical sound.

So yes, neo classical scales can be mixed with diatonic chord progressions, but be aware of which chords correspond to the scale/mode you're playing and substitute the diatonic chords with those corresponding chords.

The chords of harmonic minor would be as follows in the key of Am...

Am / Bdim / Caug / Dm / E / F / G#dim

Compare that to natural minor...

Am / Bdim / C / Dm / Em / F / G

So to summarise the most common chord substitutions from diatonic - harmonic minor...

Em becomes E7 (5th degree)

Gmaj becomes G#dim7 (this is because the 7th degree interval in harmonic minor is a half step higher than the same degree in the natural minor/diatonic scale).

Hope this helps. Comment below if you need anything clarifying.

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Helpful lesson
By: Daniel

Thanks for the helpful lesson. I've been having a bit of trouble with progressions in the more seldom used or exotic modes.
So basically I can swap out a chord from a standard progression for one that more accurately conveys the feel of the scale I'm soloing in, as long it fits properly.

By: Mike

That's the basic idea. The easiest way to do this is to match the scale with the chord tones being played. This method is covered in depth in my soloing over chords series.

By: alex

thats the very good you have share to your buddies.

Bdim does NOT become Bdim7
By: Deej

There is no effect to the iim7b5 chord in harmonic minor; in this case Bdim becomes Bm7b5 just as it would in natural minor. A nautral minor becomes harmonic minor by way of G raising to G#. That is not a chord tone of the Bdim7b5 (B-D-F-A). The only dim7 is the VII chord becoming G#dim7 essentially creating a E7b9 tension aka G#dim7 with E in the bass. I'm surprised you mentioned this in passing without realizing your mistake twice.

By: Mike

Thanks Deej, you are of course correct. Too many late nights! The reason I put a dim7 on the 2nd degree is because I often play a dim7 shape as the ii chord in harmonic minor, though technically it's not dim7 based on spelling (#6 instead of bb7). I've corrected this now.

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