Minor Chord Progressions

There are several different minor keys; this makes improvisation more complicated. A dominant chord for V is found in the harmonic and melodic minors, which, therefore, are the most popular minor keys. The Aeolian and Dorian scales are also used for other scale degrees. The figure below shows the most common scale degrees for minor keys:

Example 6
example 6

The following exercise involves improvisation above a typical minor chord progression based on A natural minor (or the white keys). The V degree chord is borrowed from the harmonic minor to produce a major third for E7. Nonharmonic tones:

  • Am7 : F
  • Bm7b5 : C
  • E7 : A

In the first three bars, you will use the A natural minor tones or white keys. When you employ the nonharmonic tones, the scale is again G major pentatonic. E7 includes notes from A harmonic minor; in other words, G is raised into G#. In jazz voicings (the latter chord in a bar), the ninth of Bm7b5 is C#. Have a go at this tone when improvising. Again, notice the alternative left-hand chords in the example.

Example 7
example 7

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