Welcome back to part 2 or our outside-in series! We’re going to continue in week #47 talking about some ways you can play “outside” of the chord changes while keeping your lines structured. Last week we started talking about the 3-tonic system. This week I want to expand on that concept and introduce the 4-tonic system. If you haven’t read last week’s post, I would highly suggest you check it out as a simplified foundation was laid in week #46.

Last week we looked at the 3-tonic system and splitting the octave equally into three equal parts (which forms an augmented triad). We then applied the V7 chord of each of those three equal parts: G7 to Cmaj7, Eb7 to Abmaj7 and B7 to Emaj7. However, because we’re super-imposing our changes to the standard ii-V-I, we can alter those changes in a number of different ways. In the first example below we’re going to keep the 3-tonic system how we had it last week. This time-instead of using the V7 chord of each of the 3 equal parts, we’re going to use the iimin7 chord before each of the 3 equal parts:

Notice how the diatonic pattern applied to that chordal movement creates a varied tonal pattern different then just taking the same pattern and moving it down in half or whole steps.

In the next example we’re taking the same thought process of changing the chord quality of the three equal parts, but this time we’re changing the quality of the I chord from major to minor:

You can take this process and change any of the chords qualities (major, minor, dominant, diminished, augmented, etc). As long as you continue to take the structure from outside back to inside…any super-imposition will work!

Now, let’s talk about the 4-tonic system. Much like the 3-tonic system, you take an octave and split it into four equal parts (minor third intervals-which forms a diminished 7th). In the key of C that would be: Cmaj7, Ebmaj7, F#maj7 and Amaj7. Much like what we’ve done with the 3-tonic system, you can apply the V7 chord of each of these or change up the chord qualities. For now, we’re going to keep the 4-tonics major and apply their V7 chords. The picture below shows how we apply the 4-tonic system to the iimin7-V7-Imaj7 in the key of C.

The final step is playing your structured lines on the super-imposed 4-tonic system changes over the original Dmin7-G7-Cmaj7.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip and it’s found some benefit to your playing! Please feel free to share this tip (and site) via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Google+ or any other site that you’re a contributor. Also, be sure to check out my book (Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose) by clicking on the book on the homepage or the links above.

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