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Targeting 2

Targeting (see the last post) gives us all the safe notes. If you use the chord-tones of the chord you’re on when you’re soloing, it’s going to sound ok.

But there are only three chord-tones if you’re playing triads, and four if you’re playing 7th chords. Since there are 12 notes to choose from, you might be wondering what you can do with all those other notes.



It really depends on how much tension you want to create. Instead of using all 12 of the notes available to us, let’s just use the seven that are in any major scale.

I implied in the last post, that the key of C has seven notes. And I pointed out the notes that are in a triad (root, 3rd, and 5th). Using a C major triad as an example, that gives us C (root), E(3rd), and G (5th), leaving D (2nd), F (4th), A (6th), and B (7th) just sort of sitting there.

Is it ok to play those on the C major triad? Sure, but you need to be careful with them.

You need to be careful with them because those are the notes that create tension.

And because they create tension, you need to know how to resolve them.



Resolving these notes is pretty easy. Just follow them with the closest chord-tone.


  • Follow the 2nd with the root or the 3rd.
  • Follow the 4th with the 3rd or the 5th.
  • Follow the 6th with the 5th.
  • And follow the 7th with the root.


Once you start playing these you might find that you like the sound of the 2nd against the chord. The 6th sounds ok, too, and if you play the 7th you’re essentially creating a 7th chord. So it’s ok, too. The 4th is the one that usually gives people the most trouble.

Keep in mind that each of them have a level of tension different than the others. You’ll wind up liking some more than others.



Record a C major triad, and practice playing all of the notes in the C major scale against the chord. A good way to approach this is to just play the scale, stop on the 2nd(D), and hold it. Then resolve it down to the root (C).

Do it again, but resolve it up to the 3rd (E). Do you like the resolution up or down? Or do you prefer to just stay on the D?

Staying on the D creates a feeling that we haven’t arrived at the end. All non chord-tones create this feeling. Because of this, it’s a good strategy to rest on non chord-tones at the beginning of a solo, and rest on chord-tones toward the end.

Go through the same process with the other non chord-tones (4th, 6th, and 7th). Pay close attention to what your preferences are. Do you prefer to rest on the non chord-tone? What resolution do you like: up or down? Knowing what you like and don’t like is crucial in developing a personal voice.

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