Ionian b2 scale: one week on

The scale I'm focusing on first is the Superaugmented natural 3. I'd got the CAGED shapes down, meaning I could find the notes of the scale relative to the underlying augmented arpeggio. This week's task was to join these up and be able to play the scale freely all over the fingerboard in any key.

I started by playing the scale up and down the neck in three-note-per-string patterns, which are good because they tend to cut across the CAGED patterns I'd already learned. Since I tend to be most comfortable around the middle of the neck I made sure I worked on two contrasting keys -- C and G -- to catch any weak spots and avoid becoming too dependent on a specific key. I played over a drone in order to help me hear the relationships between the notes as I was playing and did plenty of improvising as well as just running up and down the patterns.

I had this mostly down by Wednesday, although some positions still required a bit of thought. As a result I started thinking about applications.


As its name implies, the Superaugmented natural 3 works well over a chord based on an augmented triad, so an obvious choice was Wayne Shorter's tune "Ju-Ju":

This tune starts with ten bars of a static B7#5 chord, which makes it a great vehicle for experimenting with augmented sounds. I spent some time on Thursday blowing over this tune, using the Superaugmented natural 3 over those ten bars. Then on Friday I took it up a level, working on playing on 7#5 chords for 4 bars each going through all 12 keys. This his given me a foothold on being able to move around this scale with a little more fluency.

The next application I thought of was on a major 7 with a #11. This is more dissonant, for two reasons. First, the chord has a natural 5 that the scale doesn't, and sometimes it can sound as the the scale has a "gap" in it because of this. Second, the scale contains the b7, which is usually a tough sell on a major 7 chord. So this scale is going to work best in a non-functioning context like Joe Henderson's great tune "Inner Urge":

This tune has lots of maj7#11 chords, some of which move alarmingly fast, so it's going to be a good challenge for me to start moving the scale around. So I've decided to focus on two things next week: playing through "Inner Urge" with the Superaugmented Natural 3 on all the maj7#11 chords and also starting to look at some of the modes and think about good tunes to try them out on.


One of the most distinctive things about the fingerings for this group is the three-note group separated by semitones. In the Superaugmented Natural 3 these lead up to the root. When thinking about finding modal applications I'll probably use these to quickly find the fingering I want in a given position. With long-term, regular use you can expect to "outgrow" a device like this but with an exotic scale you won't use all the time it's a useful tool.

Here are the rest of the modes in this group, along with two pieces of information: what chord quality I expect it to work over and how to find those three consecutive notes.

Mode Chord Quality Three-note group
Latangi Major 7 Surrounding the 5
Mixolydian b5 Altered dominant Going up from the 3
Aeolian b4 Altered dominant Leading up to the 3
Locrian bb3 Minor or altered dominant Going up from the root
Ionian b2 Major 7 Surrounding the root
Senavati Minor Going up from the 5

The following table is a more practical view:

Chord Quality Modes
Major 7 Latangi, Ionian b2, Superaugmented Natural 3
Dominant Mixolydian b5, Aeolian b4, Locrian bb3, Superaugmented Natural 3
Minor Locrian bb3, Senatavi

I'll be experimenting with some of these applications next week and will post another update next weekend. The idea will be to find some situations where at least some of these sound good to me. At that point I imagine I'll be done with the "formal" study of this scale and will be on to looking to start trying to work it into my general soloing and composition.