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Thread: jazz minor

  1. #1
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Unhappy jazz minor

    What is the jazz minor scale, I always get confused on that one

  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Melodic minor: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 7.
    Same as major but with a b3.
    (It's sometimes called "jazz minor" to distinguish it from the classical melodic minor which is ascending only. Jazz uses it in both directions.)

    It's used as follows in jazz:

    Mode 1: on m(maj7), m6, m69. Tonic chords in minor key.

    Mode 4 (lydian dominant): 1-2-3-#4-5-6-b7. Used on 7#11, 9#11, 13#11. These are usually bII chords in minor keys, but can also be bII or bVII chords in major keys. Occasionally also IV or V chords in major keys.

    Mode 7 (altered, superlocrian or diminished wholetone): 1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7. Used on 7#5#9, 7b5b9, 7b5#9, 7#5b9, 7b13, 7#9 - often abbreviated to "7alt". The "b4" of the scale works as the major 3rd of the chord.
    These are usually V chords in minor keys, sometimes V in major.
    (NB: "7#9" in jazz implies an altered 5th when used as a V chord. The so-called "Hendrix" chord is a 7#9 with a perfect 5th, normally used as a tonic. Altered scale won't fit this - not too well anyhow.)

    Note: Mode 4 and mode 7 are tritone subs of each other. Eg, in key of A minor, E7alt and Bb7#11 will both resolve to Am. Both chords take the same scale (set of notes): F melodic minor. It's just named differently according to the chord root: E altered or Bb lydian dominant.

    Rarer modes are as follows:

    Mode 2 (phrygian natural 6): 1-b2-b3-4-5-6-b7. Might be used as a phrygian modal scale. (Not on iii in a major key.)

    Mode 6 (locrian natural 2): 1-2-b3-4-b5-b6-b7. Sometimes used on m7b5, if a 9th is added to the chord.

    Mode 3 (lydian augmented): 1-2-3-#4-#5-7. Could be used on maj7#5 chords, but these are pretty rare.

    Mode 5 (mixolydian b6): 1-2-3-4-5-b6-b7. Could be used on 7b13 chords, but that symbol usually indicates altered scale. "9b13", OTOH, would demand mixolydian b6. I've never seen one tho.
    Last edited by JonR; 05-13-2009 at 11:29 AM.

  3. #3
    Registered User ragasaraswati's Avatar
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    The James Bond theme is based on jazz minor. Ok, it's not pure jazz minor (it's not pure anything since it uses the whole of the chromatic scale) but I feel that if you would categorize it as some kind of minor scale, the jazz minor would be the best candidate.

  4. #4
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    1/2 above and 1/5 above or something

    Ive heard several people say to solo over certain types of chords you play a jazz minor chord 1/2 step above chord root and for another type of chord you play the jazz minor like a 5th above or something. I can't remember exactly. Any1 heard of that?

  5. #5
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    "if you play a jazz minor chord 1/2 step above" < do you mean scale? if so:

    playing the jazz minor scale from the 5th gives lydian dom. scale, playing from a half step up (b2) gives the altered scale. Its just a slightly different (and IMO inferior) way of saying what JonR did.

  6. #6
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati
    The James Bond theme is based on jazz minor. Ok, it's not pure jazz minor (it's not pure anything since it uses the whole of the chromatic scale) but I feel that if you would categorize it as some kind of minor scale, the jazz minor would be the best candidate.
    Yes, there's a lot of melodic minor feel about it - but IMO there's so much chromatic alteration it's not a great example of the melodic minor sound.
    The final chord of the song is certainly a melodic minor chord: Em(maj9).

  7. #7
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeyd929
    Ive heard several people say to solo over certain types of chords you play a jazz minor chord 1/2 step above chord root and for another type of chord you play the jazz minor like a 5th above or something. I can't remember exactly. Any1 heard of that?
    Yes - as birge said, that's exactly what I was describing above!

    Mode 7 of melodic minor (altered) is the same as thinking of jazz minor 1/2 step up. And mode 4 (lydian b7) is the same as thinking a 5th up. I'm not sure either way of thinking is inferior, just whatever helps you remember it.
    (The melodic minor resemblance is coincidental anyway. The chords the scales are used on have nothing to do with those minor keys.)

    The relevant chord types are listed in my above post.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    . I'm not sure either way of thinking is inferior, just whatever helps you remember it.
    I only have a problem with it when no mention of the modes name is made.

    "play the melodic minor off the 5th, this is lydian dominant" is fine by me, but this:

    "play the melodic minor from the fifth"

    is not, I think it should be made clear this is no longer melodic minor, but a mode of MM.
    Last edited by borge; 05-14-2009 at 11:49 PM.

  9. #9
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    meant scale

    Thanks, yeah I meant scale, Im just an idiot.. Scale, Jazz minor scale..

  10. #10
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    lost without a root

    Seems that for me, trying to remember any scale is that I always have to use the scale root as a reference point. If I'm "noodling" around I always get lost.

    How do you think fast enough to know where you are when you need to know.

  11. #11
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by borge
    I only have a problem with it when no mention of the modes name is made.

    "play the melodic minor off the 5th, this is lydian dominant" is fine by me, but this:

    "play the melodic minor from the fifth"

    is not, I think it should be made clear this is no longer melodic minor, but a mode of MM.
    Right.
    "melodic minor from the 5th of the dom7" is better.

    Either we align the root of the chord with a melodic minor degree - in which case it's "4th mode of MM".
    Or we align the melodic minor root with a chord tone - in which case it's "MM from the 5th".

    Either way works - but only if we know our melodic minor scales! If we are more familiar with major scale modes, it's better to say "lydian b7" or "mixolydian #4".

    With altered it's more complicated, because it's so different from the standard dom7 mixolydian: "mixolydian b2 #2 b5 #5 (and no P5)"!
    In that case "MM 1/2 step up" or "MM 7th mode" is maybe easier. (but not necessarily better...because "mixolydian b2 #2 b5 #5 (and no P5)" is exactly how it works.)

  12. #12
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeyd929
    Seems that for me, trying to remember any scale is that I always have to use the scale root as a reference point. If I'm "noodling" around I always get lost.

    How do you think fast enough to know where you are when you need to know.
    Practice!
    And - with scales like the altered - learning a few licks you can pull out.
    If you learn it properly, you hardly think at all, it's automatic. That just takes a lot of practice.

  13. #13
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeyd929
    Seems that for me, trying to remember any scale is that I always have to use the scale root as a reference point. If I'm "noodling" around I always get lost.

    How do you think fast enough to know where you are when you need to know.
    I think the only way to learn to "think faster" is to truly internalize a wide range of musical constructs (chord spellings and arpeggios, keys and scales) in a wide range of keys. Internalization meaning learning the details to such depth that it takes no thought to recall the details of any particular construct. Being able to calculate the notes of some chord or scale, even quickly, isn't the same as having internalized them. There isn't much time to calculate anything while you are trying to play it.

    Of course actually internalizing all this stuff is a tremendous amount of work which doesn't "sit well" with most people. As Jon said, it's about practice (and more practice). I would add that variation and a dedication to exploring practical applications is a big part of the equation.

    cheers,

  14. #14
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jed
    I would add that variation and a dedication to exploring practical applications is a big part of the equation.
    Agreed, totally. Working with real music all the time is essential, it shows how all the concepts work together.
    And the more different tunes you play, the more different angles you get on the basic concepts, which starts to fill in the gaps and join everything up.

    When you know the big picture, it's all pretty simple. It's a wood/trees scenario. As a beginner you tend to be lost in the wood. All you can see are trees. A bit of experience lets you step back and see the whole shape.
    Or maybe it's a jigsaw (hey, metaphors, we gottem!!), which starts to make sense as you fill in more pieces. The more pieces you can fit, the easier it gets to fit the remaining ones.
    And the advantage of working with songs is that each of them represents a little chunk of the jigsaw, with the pieces ready connected.

  15. #15
    Registered User ragasaraswati's Avatar
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    I call the minor scale the pensionist scale. It is what it projects like a small indifference maybe? Easygoing and taking your time.

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