View Full Version : Melodic Minor Tone
05-27-2005, 09:22 PM
I was introduced to this scale in my guitar lesson today, and i'm not sure what to make of this scale/tone. It is a very sad tone of course, but I would find it hard to use it in any improvisations because it sounds awful if you're ears are not accustomed to hearing it. Has anyone got any experiecence on how to tie this scale into a song? or an improvisation?
05-27-2005, 10:53 PM
It's not all that sad...the only difference between it and a major scale is the flat 3rd.
It works pretty much over any minor chord. It just gives you a raised 6th and 7th, 2 notes you aren't accustomed to using, yet are used ascending probably more often then their lowered counterparts. Try starting on the 5th and going up to the root using the melodic minor then back down using the natural minor. It's a lot more natural sounding if you think of using it over a specific chord and not to a key within itself.
Just play with it every day and after a couple months it'll just sound like another natural possibility.
05-28-2005, 12:23 AM
I was introduced to this scale in my guitar lesson today, and i'm not sure what to make of this scale/tone. It is a very sad tone of course, but I would find it hard to use it in any improvisations because it sounds awful if you're ears are not accustomed to hearing it. Has anyone got any experiecence on how to tie this scale into a song? or an improvisation?The most basic use of this scale is during the V chord to the i chord of a minor key. It is very often used to ascend from the fifth note of the scale up to the tonic. You would not want to descend in this case as the harmonic minor would be more apropriate.
example of a V-i Cadence would be E7-Am.
A classic line would be:
you can make lines that use more of the scale but this is the essence of its purpose here.
The Melodic minor scale can also be used to substitute chords that would normaly be major to minor. In the Key of F# minor, the A would normaly be A major. If you make it A minor, you can then use A melodic minor.
05-30-2005, 12:41 PM
Also, like where you would never really use a major scale purely to solo, you want to use the modes. A load of modern harmonies and tensions use the melodic minor modes; ones i like are the Dorian b9 (2nd mode)(gives a more interesting feel to your ideas rather than using the more bluesy dorian - also if you want to make a tension over a simple minor 7 chord this is ace), Lydian Dominant (5th)(works over dominant chords, as it has the #4 and b7 and is typical of fusion and post bop harmony) and the altered mode (7th) for, to be quite honest, every chord that isnt major; i've still to get the feel of it but when my guitar teacher uses this (Chris Montague, plays in Leeds, Newcastle and everywhere, supreme supreme dude) it sounds mint.
Hope something there helps
05-30-2005, 04:05 PM
thats some dangerous information right there :mad:
05-30-2005, 04:32 PM
Easier than it sounds :)
05-30-2005, 05:12 PM
Okay, I am going to be a good person and provide some intense information that should keep you all busy for the rest of your lives.
melodic minor scale harmony: W H W W W W H
im(maj7) iim7 IIImaj7#5 IV7 V7 vim7b5 viim7b5
Using A melodic minor as an example, this gives us:
Am(maj7) Bm7 Cmaj7#5 D7 E7 F#m7b5 G#m7b5
There are two ways to figure out the melodic minor scale. You can think of applying it in a key-centered way, or in a modal way. In the modal tradition, you would have to memorize seven "new" scales. For example, you can play A melodic minor over a D7 chord, and you would learn it as "D lydian dominant". But why force yourself to learn SEVEN new scales, when you can just as easily (if not more easily) consider the problem from a key-centered point of view. Instead of thinking "D lydian dominant" when you encounter the D7 chord, just think A melodic minor, but focus your ideas around the chord tones of D7 (all of which are present in the A melodic minor scale!)
There is an opportunity cost here though. In order to use the key center method, you must be able to work the scale around the chord you are playing it over, requiring knowledge of chord tones, and arpeggio substitution.
So having that said, let's move on, shall we? To the land of arpeggio substitution!
There are two basic approaches to arpeggio use. One is you use the arpeggio of the chord you play over (i.e. play a C7 arpeggio over a C7 chord). Relying on this method exclusively, you would have to learn an extraordinary number of arpeggios to cover all the possible chord possibilities. The second method only requires the player to learn the basic triad and seventh chord arpeggios, but forces the player to apply these basic 'musical building blocks' in a new fashion.
Once again there is a tradeoff - the player must become proficient in chord substitution. Subbing BASIC arpeggios over BASIC chords may potentially create very COMPLEX sounds.
Taking these ideas and applying them to the melodic minor scale can be tricky. There are seven arpeggios in any melodic minor scale, and just consider that you can use any one of those seven arpeggios any time that melodic minor scale can be used.
For example, if we were playing A melodic minor over D7:
consider each four note grouping to be arpeggios derived from A melodic minor. So you just played D7, F#m7b5, Am(maj7), and Cmaj7#5 arpeggios over a D7 chord.
So now let's look at how melodic minor scales are used to create actual music. They are most often used over functioning dominant seventh chords (i.e. dominant seventh chords that resolve to other chords). When you play melodic minor OVER these seventh chords in various ways, you have access to every degree of tension over a dominant seventh chord! That is to say, by 'superimposing' the melodic minor scale in various ways over dominant seventh chords, you are accessing all of the possible functioning altered dominant seventh tones. What a mouthful!
These tones are 1, 3, 5, b7, b9, 9, #9, 11, b5, #5, 13
Now its time to tie all of this information back in with the key-center method of using melodic minor scales. I'll go over a couple of usages (man this post is getting long)...
Usage #1: Up a half step (ex. play Ab melodic minor over G7)
Ab melodic minor = Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F G
chord tones of G7 = b9 #9 3 b5 #5 b7 root
This may look familiar to some of you. Its your altered scale. But why learn altered scale patterns all over the neck, when you can just learn melodic minor and apply melodic minor up a half step every time you want to go altered?
Usage #2: Up a fifth (ex. play D melodic minor over G7)
D melodic minor = D E F G A B C#
you figure out what chord tones of G7 these notes are. I'll give you a hint, there's only one altered tone.
That should be enough for now! Remember not to forget about your arpeggios when you superimpose melodic minor scales over dominant seventh chords - you can come up with some crazy stuff! Also, if you have the time and patience to learn all seven modes of melodic minor, go ahead. But I guarantee you the time you spend playing the dorian b2 over a chord that calls for it will be trumped by the number of opportunities you will encounter to perform simple melodic minor substitutions that result in sounds that are just as different and exotic.
05-30-2005, 06:09 PM
Also, like where you would never really use a major scale purely to solo, you want to use the modes.
Care to elaborate a little on this? What do you consider the difference to be when you solo using only the major scale vs. the modes (they are one in the same)? Are you saying you can use C ionian and C lydian over a C chord? Because I would be inclined to agree with you if you were. However, if you go so far as to say you are using E phrygian over a C major chord you're just taking the concept too far! Thats just C major. Learn the major scale inside and out starting on every note, and the need to memorize seven distinct 'modes' becomes obsolete. You learn to recognize the 'modes' by their intervallic characteristics (i.e. the b2 in phrygian, or the #4 in lydian) and can apply those concepts when soloing without having to work out a bunch of modal nonsense in your head beforehand.
A load of modern harmonies and tensions use the melodic minor modes; ones i like are the Dorian b9 (2nd mode)(gives a more interesting feel to your ideas rather than using the more bluesy dorian - also if you want to make a tension over a simple minor 7 chord this is ace),
Sounds cool. My ear wants to hear a maj7#11 chord built off of the b9. However, if you stict strictly to melodic minor, you would have to build a maj7#11#5, which sounds good too. (i.e. over Dm7, you could play D melodic minor - which would create a Dm maj7 tonality, or you could play C melodic minor - which would create Dm7b9 tonality). But why get so caught up in technical details when you could just simply PLAY the b9 whenever it strikes your fancy over the m7 chord?
Lydian Dominant (5th)(works over dominant chords, as it has the #4 and b7 and is typical of fusion and post bop harmony) and the altered mode (7th) for, to be quite honest, every chord that isnt major
Lydian dominant is the fourth mode, just to avoid confusion. It is used primarily over static dominant seventh chords, like in funk jams, and fusion, like you said. The altered scale works best over dominant seventh chords that resolve up a perfect fourth (i.e. you're standard V-I resolution).
It works so well because the altered scale contains all of the altered tones. For example, play Bb melodic minor over an A7 chord resolving to E or Em, and you will have all of the altered tones of A7 at your fingertips.
05-30-2005, 06:17 PM
ok, sorry about not explaining myself fully i'm still learning this myself - thanks for clearing a few things up.
With the modal comments, i did mean to use a particular characteristic for a chord, like the #4 over a major7 - i got bogged down when i started on jazz by thinking far too deeply into the system like you said, i guess i shouldn't neglect to mention things like that.
Just tried the altered in a few situations and just thought id thank you for that it sounds best on the V I tensions, never heard about that nice one, I think i need to brush up on a lot of this before my next guitar lesson :) cheers cardello.
05-30-2005, 06:28 PM
I hear you man. I'm still trying to figure all of this stuff out too. You just always have to ask yourself, "how is what I'm learning right now going to help me become a better player?"
a lot more :confused: than :D when it comes to melodic minor
05-30-2005, 06:51 PM
As always Dave, a pleasure to hear your clarity of understanding on the subject.
Just gives me another 2 years of stuff to work no! DOH!
05-30-2005, 09:53 PM
Thanks for the compliments Russ. Perhaps I'll get off my lazy :rolleyes: and start a strictly melodic minor series ;)
05-31-2005, 07:29 AM
That would be great!
We need some more of the more theory intense stuff there I think, my ones tend to be on the basic side.
05-31-2005, 09:34 AM
i totally agree with the strictly melodic minor idea, do it fella!
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