Blues Mastery Course and a natural 5D

In the BMC, I am wondering why, in the Chicago Blues class, we are given a 1D and 4D (with a flattened 7th), but a natural 5D?

  1. Practice just the scale changes. Staying within this octave, now practice improvising in the five scales that appear in the drawing below. Essentially all you’re doing is erasing the circles so that we no longer make any distinction between chord notes and non-chord notes. Review the scales in the exact order shown: 1D, 4D, 1D, 5D, 1D. Notice that each one of these chord moments introduces its own scale. The 1D harmonic environment gives us the note b7. The 4D harmonic environment gives us b3 as well. Then we go back to the 1D chord and our note 3 becomes natural again. Then we get to the 5D harmonic environment which gives us a natural 7. And finally we return to 1D which gives us the flatted 7 again. All of this is illustrated in the drawing below:

Why not a flattened 7th in the 5D? Thank you!

Great question, @John524. The 5D does have a flattened seventh. You’re just getting confused between the notes of the chords and the notes of the key. Here are the notes of the 5D chord:

note 5 = the root
note 7 = the major third
note 2 = the fifth
note 4 = the flatted seventh

We don’t need to alter any notes of the major scale in order to produce the 5D chord. Just playing the notes 5, 7, 2 and 4 from the major scale already produces a dominant seventh chord.

Do you have the IFR book? This would be a great moment to check out three chapters:

Musical shapes
Measuring distances
Cutting and pasting musical shapes

If any of this feels confusing or frustrating, here’s the most important tip I can give you. Everything about western harmony is VERY simple mathematically, but sometimes hard to picture and keep straight in your mind. In other words, more than anything else it’s a memory game. It’s not like complex algebra that requires many steps of thought. It’s more like a child’s concentration game of simply picturing things clearly and remembering where they are. What this means is that you shouldn’t lose any time racking your brain or beating yourself up for not controlling these concepts. The way to master these terms is through your PRACTICE. There is a reason why IFR is a practical guide with playing activities and creative exercises every step of the way. Those aren’t just suggestions for a rainy day. Those activities are necessary in order to assimilate the ideas before you move on to the next concept.

What all of this means is that the very best thing you could do right now is just go to that chapter “Musical shapes” and spend lots of time with those playing activities. Once you get very strong with those concepts, it will be easier for you to see how they relate to the notes on our tonal map.

I hope this helps. Thanks for posting the question so that everyone else can also learn from it!



Hi David and thank you! I do have the manual and will take another look (and practice). Really appreciate the fast and thoughtful reply!