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The Melodic Minor Scale

Welcome back! In this lesson, I will be briefly showing you the Melodic minor scale, how it is used, applying it etc. The Melodic Minor scale is used in different styles of music, you may hear it a lot in Jazz and Classical, and can be easily applied to rock music. In the lesson, I will just show you a couple fingerings, the modes, the chord scale arpeggio's and a few lines you can practice to get you started. It is really important to get the sound of the scale into your ear, so you can easily apply it to your playing and to be able to play it all over the fingerboard. Let's get started...

How is the Melodic minor constructed?

You can look at the melodic minor as a major scale with a lowered 3rd and you can also take the Dorian mode and raise the 7th. The formula of this scale is (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, 7).
In classical music, the melodic minor is played ascending and natural minor descending. In this lesson we will be using the modern improvising approach, the scale is the same ascending and descending. It is very important to memorize the formula so you can construct it in all keys.

Melodic minor scale fingerings

I will just be showing you a couple fingerings in this lesson to start you off. Example 1 is a 3 note per string pattern in the key of A melodic minor (A, B, C, D, E, F#, G#), this pattern works off the 6th string in every key.

Click HERE to hear Mike play the example both slow and fast.

Example 1a is the same scale played in a extended version across the neck.

Click HERE to hear Mike play the example both slow and fast.

A great exercise is to play the same scale different ways ascending and descending. For example, if you are in A melodic minor, play up to the highest A note on your guitar and descend back down to A a different way. This kind of practice will get the scale more internalized and will develop your ear.

Melodic minor scale harmony

It is very important to learn the chords and arpeggios for the melodic minor scale. Example 2 is the 7th chord arpeggio's in the key of A. This pattern is the same in all keys.

Click HERE to hear Mike play the example both slow and fast.

It is real simple to harmonize scales, just stack every other scale tone. Also, be sure to play them all over the neck in different ways.

Modes of the Melodic minor scale

Here is the list of modes from the melodic minor, make sure you memorize the formulas for each one and play them in different keys, just like you would with the major scale modes.

Melodic Minor= 1, 2, b3, 4, 5 , 6, 7
Dorian b2= 1, b2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7
Lydian Augmented= 1, 2, 3, #4, #5, 6, 7
Lydian b7= 1, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, b7
Mixolydian b6= 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, b6, b7
Locrian Natural 2= 1, 2, b3, 4, b5, b6, b7
Super Locrian= 1, b2, b3, b4, b5, b6, b7

How can I apply this scale?

There are many ways, but I will just show you a few. To start off, record yourself playing a Am chord vamp for a while and play the A melodic minor over it.
Also, try mixing the A Dorian scale (A, B, C, D, F#, G) with the A melodic minor, you will notice the only difference is the G#, the raised 7th.

A lot of popular melodies use the melodic minor, a really great example is the Christmas song "Carol of The Bells" in example 3. You may want to check out my version of "Carol of The Bells" off my latest Cd, "The Meaning of Christmas".
Also, having been a member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, you might want to check out their version too. The first 2 measures is based from the E natural minor scale (E, F#, G, A, B, C, D) and then bar 3 switches to the E melodic minor (E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D#) starting from the 5th mode, B Mixolydian b6. Another great way to use the melodic minor scale, is to record a D7th chord and play D Lydian b7 over it, which is the same as the A melodic minor scale. This approach can work well in a Blues progression.

Click HERE to hear Mike play the example both slow and fast.

It is important to make up lines using this scale so you can apply it to your playing. Example 4 is a line that I constructed that mixes the A blues scale (A, C, D, Eb, E, G) and the A melodic minor scale. You might want to follow the suggested fingerings.

Click HERE to hear Mike play the example both slow and fast.

Ok, thats it for now, I just gave you a few examples to start you off. Be sure to visit my website for more info.

Click HERE to download a Powertab-file of the examples in this article.

This article can be read online at http://www.iBreatheMusic.com/article/198
GIT-graduate Mike Campese describes himself as an all-around music performer, session artist and teacher competent in many musical styles, electric, and acoustic. He released three CDs, "Total Freedom", "Full Circle" and "Vibe", played on the "Warmth in The Wilderness" album and released an instructional video for ChopsFromHell. Check out Mike's official website Mikecampese.com. You can listen to soundfiles of Mike's work, including clips of the songs from his newest album "Vibe".

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