“Cantaloupe Island”, the Herbie Hancock composition from his 1964 album “Empyrean Isles” has a great chord progression for modal improvisation.
There are only 3 chords, each one lasting for 4 measures, giving us enough time to explore each one of the modes implied.
So, what modes are we talking about then?
for Fm7: F DORIAN
for Db7: Db MIXOLYDIAN, or Db MIXOLYDIAN #4 (aka LYDIAN-DOMINANT)
for Dm7: D DORIAN
It won’t hurt to first run those scales up and down, so that we can familiarize ourselves with their sound. However, it is always challenging to make music with scales alone…
So here’s a simple but effective way to get some new perspective:
Even though there are 3 different roots, we will run 3 arpeggios starting from the same F note.
(but 3 different arpeggios, though).
over Fm7: we can play an Fm7 arpeggio (giving us the R, the m3, P5, and the m7 of the mode).
over Db7: we can play an Fm7(b5) arpeggio (giving us the M3, the P5, the m7, and the 9th of the mode).
over Dm7: we can play an FMaj7 arpeggio (giving us the m3, the P5, the m7, and the 9th of the mode).
That’s it: 3 chords = 3 arpeggios from F !
There are many other arpeggios that can be used as upperstructures over each one of the modes, but I find this “3-different-arpeggios-from-F” trick to be working well, and certainly easy to remember!
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