The Minor 6 Arpeggio
This is currently my FAVORITE Arpeggio in the world because of the many Substitution possibilities!
Lets start by breaking down the different chords that can be found in a Minor 6 Arpeggio.
First let's start at the root or Tonic and since Papa Gates demonstrates this in the key of "A", let's stick with that. So we have an "A Minor 6 Arpeggio". By now we should know that this strongly identifies as THE Classic Dorian Sound so obviously we can apply this to Blues and Jazz tunes where you come across that type of Minor Chord. For Jazz, usually the ii chord in a ii V I(remember, lower case denotes minor and upper case, major). In Blues, you can play the Minor 6 arpeggio at any time to give it a bluesier minor sound even over Dominant Chords.
Now let's look at the chord built on the second degree of the "A Minor 6" arp which is "C". This chord has a Lydian 6 sound with it's #4th and natural 6. This means that you could play an "A Minor 6" arp over any "C" major chord if that's the type of Major sound you wish to create. Obviously it would work best over a Lydian based chord or a major chord built off of the 4th degree of an Ionian scale. In this case, we would be in "G" Ionian if we wanted to play an "A Minor 6" arp over a "C" major chord but you could also play an "E Minor 6" arp over "G" Ionian as long as you resolve back to Ionian tastefully. Of course these are basic rules to start with and you may want to abandon them altogether based on what you want to hear personally but the rules are a great jumping off point to gain an aural familiarity.
Now for our next Substitution we are going to have to imagine that there is a "D" in an "A Minor 6" arpeggio to build a chord off of even though there isn't and we wouldn't play it anyway. WHAT?!!! Well I've said it a few times by now but I'll say it again, a lot of times it's not necessary to play the 1st or the 3rd of a chord because they are often implied. Well this is an example of that. If you take the notes of an "A Minor 6" chord with an imagined root note of "D", you have a D9 minus the root. I use this all the time for Dominant chords that I don't want to have an "Altered" sound. You can also use this over The Blues. I love to switch up Chord Qualities to get more mileage out of my chords. What I mean by that is that you can play an "A Dominant(E Minor 6)" AND an "A Minor 6" sound over "A" Blues and they both sound great! You can use this philosophy anywhere as long as it's done tastefully. Papa Gates refers to this so poignantly as, Creating Your Own Weather.
If you do however wish for an "Altered" sound because it may be a V chord resolving back to I, you can play the Minor 6 Arpeggio one half step above your V chord. That's because this is also a Dominant 9 arpeggio a Tritone away from your V chord. I discuss the Tritone Substitution in my "tips" section for the Melodic Minor Modes 2, 3 & 4 Lesson.
Our next Substitution is one that I never use but you may find a use for it. Ironically, the reason it doesn't work for me is that it's missing the 3rd and even though I've told you on multiple occasions that the root and 3rd can often be negated and still work, this is not one of those occasions for me. That's why it's best to experiment with everything to find what works best for you. So anyways, if you build a chord off of "E" using the notes of an "A Minor 6", you get an "E Aeolian 11" sound or "E min b6/11" without the 3rd. Now honestly, I rarely come across this chord and I'm not 100% positive that it's spelled right because theres a 9th in there as well. Some choose to spell out the 9th while others say that an 11th or 13th chord implies that there is a 9th in the chord therefore, you don't need spell it out. Confusing? Well your not alone, I've gone completely crosseyed. So I guess you could play this over a simple Minor Chord as well that you wish to superimpose an Extended Aeolian sound over. Anyways, I'd really love to see what you guys come up with for this in the "comments" section below!
Last but certainly not least, I give you the Minor 7 b5 arpeggio located on the final degree of the Minor 6 Arpeggio. Now aside from using this over a ii chord in a ii V i progression, I love this sound over The Blues! It really gives my Blues playing a very futuristic and quirky kind of sound. I've never heard anyone use this application quite as obscenely as I do, but maybe you have and would like to share with the rest of us.
So now for your Blues in "A", you can play "A Minor 6", "E Minor 6", and "C Minor 6". They all sound great and completely different from each other.
This is A LOT of information so please take some serious time with this. I have spent years on each one of the above Substitutions and continue to experiment and find unique applications because in all actuality, this is just scratching the surface of the Minor 6 Chord.
Please Share With The Class! I am really excited to see what you have in store for this one so please head to the "Discussion Thread" below and upload videos of yourself demonstrating the material, asking questions, or sharing other artists with us that use these concepts creatively. I will be there hanging out with all of you so don't be shy let's learn from each other!