So far we’ve covered a lot of ground with music theory covering Keys, chords, modes and pentatonic scales.

This post pulls together a number of these ideas into an improvisation exercise. I’ve included the above backing track for you to practice along with, I was thinking this is primarily for guitar but really, it would suit keyboard as well.

I’ve tried to keep it simple so this example is in the key of C and I’ve used a tempo of 100bpm.  I’ve used a slightly different progression – vi7 V IV iii  (Am7 G F E) and there are 4 bars of each chord repeated 4 times.

The backing track has a 2 bar count in and each set of 16 bars is separated by a 2 bar drum fill.  It has a bassline, drums and rhodes type keyboard.

Example sequences that you could play are shown below :

ImprovExercise2-page0001 - Copy

For the first set of chords, you could use a G mixolydian mode.  An example pattern is shown below:

G Mixolydian-page-0

For the second set of chords, you could use an A minor pentatonic. An example pattern is shown below:

A minor pentatonic-page-0

For the third set, I’ve given some example chords below that can be played.  These could be strummed, played as arpeggios, muted strum etc.


For the final set, you can mix things up a bit.  One option is to play the notes of the chord.  Phrasing is definitely important for this, you can slide, use tremolo, muted pick with delay etc.  With a major chord, you can play the Dorian mode a tone up.  You can also play different scales over each of the different chords.  I haven’t included examples of these, I’m sure by now you are more than able to start creating your own mode and scale patterns and of course don’t feel limited by these examples, it’s always good practice to create your own patterns, or work these examples out in different positions for instance.