Now let’s apply the triad matrix to a more complicated progression. This progression, which is in the style
of the first three bars of Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” has been used to demonstrate how this complex cycle
can be simplified.
Diagram No. 2 illustrates all of the major and minor triads that are available over the chords. The
choices are based on chord tones and acceptable tensions (on the dominant chords, only non-altered
tensions are used). Again, the routes used are stepwise to accommodate the difficult changes, but try
experimenting with others.
Diagram No. 2—Triad Matrix for Changes in the Style of the First Three Bars of “Giant Steps”
The improvisations in example 2 range from the most to the least amount of stepwise traveling. The application of this matrix, in combination with the rapid, modulating changes, produces a sound that’s very
reflective of Coltrane’s composition.
Triad Matrix Application—Changes in the Style of the First Three Bars of “Giant Steps”
Obviously, there are many matrix variations available to explore. The whole point is to establish an improvisation matrix using just a couple of variables (such as major and minor triads or minor pentatonic scales).
Remember, using too many devices can make things sound undefined and vague.