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HomeLJS PodcastPlay better jazz solosLJS 175: Using Pitch Collections to Create Jazz Lines Over Static Chords

LJS 175: Using Pitch Collections to Create Jazz Lines Over Static Chords

Welcome to episode 175 of the LJS Podcast where today I talk about using pitch collections to create jazz lines over static chords. I personally don’t enjoy thinking about playing scales over chords. I think a better way to think about scales is as “pitch collections” which can be especially helpful when learning to improvise over different qualities of chords. I go over the concept and demonstrate some licks.

Listen to episode 175

Sometimes in jazz, we come across chords that deserve a little bit of extra attention. These chords may have extensions and alterations in them, like a Major 7(b5) or a (#5) or a dominant 7(#11), the list goes on and on.

But by taking this outside of a chord progression context, honing in on them and mapping out the note choices we have available to us, we can start creating jazz lines and start exploring these chords individually.

So, in today’s episode, I want to be talking about pitch collections –  how do you use pitch collections to map out chords like this, so that we can take our jazz improv to the next level.

In this episode:

1. Understanding the concept of pitch collections

2. Formula for a dominant 7(#11) chord

3. How to play a Lydian Dominant pitch collection

4. Different lick examples using the Lydian Dominant pitch collection

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Learn Jazz Standards Podcast. If you aren’t already, make sure you are subscribed on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

I look forward to having you join me in the next episode!

Important Links

The Jazz Standards Playbook Vol. 2

Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


  1. Hey Brent, good idea thinking in 'pitch collections' instead of just scales/modes.
    Small point. In the Lydian Dominant mode you describe, we should really think of the Lydian component as a #4, not as a b5. This is its true definition, raising the 4th, not lowering the 5th. It's confusing to have both a b5 and a natural 5 in the same scale. We all know they are the same note, but the distinction is important.
    Keep up the good work! Bob.


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