Some Modal Ideas on Nefertiti

I've been working on the Wayne Shorter tune "Nefertiti" lately, and have a few ideas for scale superimpositions that sound quite interesting. What I'm presenting here isn't somethng finished; consider it ephemera from the woodshed. I find this quite a useful way to practice a tune with tricky harmony and you might, too.

This is a ballad with one chord to the bar, so there's no problem with just playing along to the changes. The difficulty is rather in connecting the chords, most of which seem to have little to do with each other. So it makes sense to find modal ideas that stretch across multiple bars.

Note that I'm using the Real Book changes. These aren't exactly what's played on the record, and they aren't entirely standard even among fake books, but it's sometimes good to just deal with what's in front of you without worrying about authenticity too much.

Here's the first idea -- mostly pentatonics with a few whole-tone scales thrown in. You can get some real Wayne / Herbie sounds out of these and they mostly sound pretty "inside", plus these are easy scales for most guitarists to find:

And here are some more "out" sounds using major and melodic minor modes (the first and last ideas are basically the same as before). I also wanted to let the modal structure break out of the 4x4 bar form a bit, which helps smooth the connections between chords a bit more:

There are a lot of hypermodes going on here: the scale suggestions for bars 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16 contain no root notes! They're in the "inside" version too (bars 1, 3, 4, 5, 13, 15, 16), but when dealing with pentatonics they're a lot less alarming.

Today I've been taking a chorus using each idea, and then just playing freely over the tune mixing in elements of both whenever it seems appropriate. A key thing is to hear how the static scale is affected by the moving harmony; a "stable" note one moment might become "unstable" the next, for example.

I'm not, of course, suggesting playing one of these consistently right through the tune -- and this certainly isn't supposed to be one of those terrible "shortcuts" for lazy players who want to noodle one scale over "Giant Steps" or whatever. The point is to open your ears to possibilities beyond outlining arpeggios, and a structured approach like this can be a good way to do that.

Finally, you can of course use these scale choices to geerate new comping ideas too. Just be sure to give your bandmates a bit of warning...