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Lesson 62: Vamps

What Is a Vamp?

A vamp is a pattern consisting of two or more chords repeated a number of times. A vamp is a static chord progression, "a chord progression that goes nowhere". A vamp is typically used as a progression to solo over.

Example 1: Dm7 - G7

This is the most common vamp. D Dorian is the way to go on this one.

Example 2: Dm7 - Em7

This is another very common Dorian vamp. A nice variation of this one is Dm7 - Em7/A. Here are a couple of brazilian/ latin style comping patterns for this vamp:

Example 3: C7 - F7

This is also very common. C Mixolydian to F Mixolydian is one way to handle it, the C blues scale will also go a long way... An important expansion of this vamp is C - C7/E - F - F#dim.

Example 4: C6 - Bbmaj7

This is a common vamp in latin styles. A minor pentatonic is one way to go on this one.

Example 5: Cmaj7 - Fm/G

This is another common vamp in latin styles. E minor pentatonic to F minor pentatonic is one way to handle this one.

Example 6: Cm6 - Db9b5

This is a common minor vamp in latin styles. C Dorian to Db whole tone is one way to handle this one.

Example 7: Cmaj7 - A7 - Dm7 - G7

This one can be varied in a million ways and many, many vamps are really of this type. This one is talked about extensively in lesson 7 ( Turn-Arounds).

Example 8: C7

A vamp can really consist of just one chord, too. A dominant seventh chord is the most common, but any chord can be used in this way. Here you have a lot of choices:

  • C Mixolydian
  • C ( G) Dominant Pentatonic ( c d e g bb c)
  • C Bebop Dominant
  • C Lydian b7
if you want an "inside" sound or
  • C Blues scale
  • C Hybrid Blues scale
  • C Alt Scale
  • Bb Minor Pentatonic
  • Eb Minor Pentatonic
if you want a more "outside" sound.

Example 9: Rhythm Changes Vamps

It's not easy to solo over rhythm changes. A common way to cheat is to solo over a vamp, like one of the following:

  • Bb - Gm7 - Gb7 - F7sus4
  • Gm7 - Gb7 - F7sus4- Gb7
  • Bb6 - Gdim - Cm7 - Gdim

2005 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.