How To Learn A Jazz Standard

View the full lesson at How To Learn A Jazz Standard | JustinGuitar

I’m tying myself up in knots figuring out how to compose a melody line (I know - improvisation will come later!)

I know from the theory that different scales work well with different chord qualities (major 7th = Ionian, minor 7th = Dorian, dominant 7th = Mixolydian) but I want to keep it very simple for my first composition. Can I just use the pentatonic scale for the tonal centre of my song? I.e. it’s in C major so can I stick with the Cmaj pentatonic scale throughout the solo section? It’s only 32 bars so won’t get too boring.

After all, the chords are all diatonic so in theory (although I’m happy to be proved wrong) any note from C maj pentatonic will be diatonic, if not a chord tone.


Using just the major pentatonic over the whole chord progression will work but will sound better if you taget the chord tones over the changes which will add notes from the major scale. You can also use the minor pentatonic over everything for more of a blues sound. You can also mix the major and minor pentatonic scales together.

Okay, that makes perfect sense. As always there are more than one way of doing things so understanding the limitations and advantages is really helpful

Thanks Stitch