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Lesson 7: Turn-Arounds ( Cadences)

What's a Turn-Around?

A turn-around is a cadence, a small chord progression, usually to be found at the end of a section of a tune. This can be at the end of each 8, 16 or 32 bars in the AABA form or at the end of each 12 bars in a blues.

The turn-around marks the end of a section and its function is to return to the tonic for the start of the next section - that's why it's called a turn-around. A turn-around can also be used as a static vamp, like "a chord progression that goes nowhere", to solo over for a period of time.

Turn-Around: Cmaj7 - A7 - Dm7 - G7

This is the I-VI-II-V progression. A common variation is to replace the I with a III, which gives a III-VI-II-V progression. The above "vanilla" version can be jazzed up in a variety of ways. Higher degrees can be added to the chords and chord substitutions can be used.

Type A: Jazzier

  • Cmaj7- A7b9 - Dm7 - G7b9
  • C6/9 - A7 - Dm11 - G13
  • C6 - A7b9 - Dm7 -G7#5#9

Type B: Even Jazzier, Using Chord Substitutions

  • C6/E - Ebdim- Dm7 - G9
  • Em7 - A9 - Dm7 - G9
  • Em11 - A11 - Dm11 - G11
  • Em7 - A7b9 - Dm7 - G7b9
  • Em7 - A13 - Dm7 - G13
  • Em7b5- A7alt- Dm7 - G7
  • E7#9 - A13 - D7#9 - G13
  • C6 - A7#9 - D13 - G7#9
  • C6 - Am7 - Ab7 - F/G
  • Cmaj9- A13 - Ab7b5- G13
  • C6 - Eb13 - D13 - Db13
  • C/E - Eb13 - D7 -Dbmaj7
  • Em7 - Eb7 - Dm11 - Db7b5
  • Em9 - Eb9 - Dm9 - Db9
  • Cmaj7-Ebmaj7-Abmaj7-Dbmaj7#11

Type C: Really Far-Fetched "Out" Type of Reharmonization

  • C6 - F#/E - Dm7 - E/D
  • C6/9 - Bbdim- Adim - Abdim
  • Cmaj7- F#/A - F/D - E/G
  • C7#9 - A13/C- B/C - Ab/Bb
  • C13 -Ebmaj7- F7 - Db13
  • Am7 - Cm/C#- B/C - F4/B
  • Am7 - Ab7 -G7sus4- Ab7
  • Am7 - Bbm7 - Am7 - Abm6
  • Am7 -Abmaj7-G7sus4- Ab/Bb
Can you still see the relationship between these turn-arounds and the original? The type C turn-arounds are not exactly from your "Chord Substitution for Beginners" course... :-)

Using Minor Pentatonic Scales for Playing on Turn-Arounds

Let's look at the turn-around Cmaj7 - A7 - Dm7 - G7. An easy way to use a minor pentatonic scale is to use the E minor pentatonic scale over the whole progression.

Other ways to use minor pentatonic scales are:
Cmaj7 - E minor pentatonic, A7 - E minor pentatonic, Dm7 - A minor pentatonic, G7 - D minor pentatonic
Cmaj7 - B minor pentatonic, A7 - C minor pentatonic, Dm7 - A minor pentatonic, G7 - Bb minor pentatonic
Cmaj7 - A minor pentatonic, A7 - C minor pentatonic, Dm7 - A minor pentatonic, G7 - Bb minor pentatonic
Cmaj7 - E minor pentatonic, A7 - G minor pentatonic, Dm7 - E minor pentatonic, G7 - F minor pentatonic

Other Scale Choices for Playing on Turn-Arounds

Let's look at the turn-around Cmaj7 - A7alt - Dm7 - G7alt. It can be handled in the following way:
Cmaj7 - C Ionian, A7alt - A alt scale = Eb Lydian b7 ( = Eb overtone), Dm7 - D Dorian, G7alt - G alt scale = Db Lydian b7

Examples/ Licks

Check out this excerpt from my written Stockholm solo:

Here is a small collection of I-VI-II-V/ III-VI-II-V licks you may want to check out. Try not to just play a succession of unconnected licks, try to develop a line like in the example above.

Practicing Turn-Arounds

Practice these turn-arounds in all keys. There's nothing wrong with spending hours or even days working on different ways to reharmonize a turn-around.

Using These Turn-Arounds

These turn-arounds can be used:

  • when comping, for variation
  • when soloing, as a great way to go a little "out"
  • when composing/ writing songs, as a way to stand out as a real smart-ass... :-)

2004 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.