Melodic Minor Scales

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Glyn Barnes
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2018/12/04 22:32:00 (permalink)

Melodic Minor Scales

I am trying to get my head around chords for use with a melodic minor scale, or more precisely what I have seen referred to as "classic" melodic minor where the scale has different notes ascending and descending. Most of what I have found simply says use the "jazz" version of the scale which is the same in both directions and therefore straightforward but I rather like the "classic" scale even though its awkward.
 
It seems the classic version is mainly used in classical music and Bach was one of its greatest exponents. I suspect the scale is better harmonised with counter melodies that with chords in the conventional popular music way.
 
Any tips would be welcome.

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    Wayfarer
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    Re: Melodic Minor Scales 2018/12/04 23:24:44 (permalink)
    No comment on that, but something else I do quite often when soloing over a minor chord is to drop down a step and solo in the major. That is, if you want to solo over EMinor, drop down a step and play a DMajor scale. Just something else to try.
     
    Bill
    #2
    gswitz
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    Re: Melodic Minor Scales 2018/12/05 00:54:53 (permalink)
    For a general jam band, sharping the seven makes it so it has to be a minor jam. Most jam bands use harmonic minor and melodic minor without worrying about ascending and descending.

    Consider green sleeves. What child is this... This is E harmonic minor. It makes your V chord a B7 rather than a Bm7 to sharp the 7 in the scale.

    It helps to know every chord in the key is made up of every other note in the scale. The name of the chord is the note your start on. If the third is a step and a half away, it is minor. 2 steps it is major. When the seven is 1/2 step from the root it is major seventh. Full step, dominant seventh.

    Anyway, when you alter a tone in the scale, you alter every other chord. Melodic minor has 2 tones shifted and this alters every chord in the key.

    From my perspective, i like teasing harmonic/melodic minors because it makes it easier to resist major melodies on the minor changes.

    Sometimes, just jamming, without harmonic or melodic shifts, the band will bag a minor jam and resolve to the major. Maybe it is just the cats i jam with.

    For lots of keys, there will be only one major dom 7 chord and this chord tells you the key. I think, and correct me where I'm wrong, using the Berklee method, you want to choose notes both in the song over-arching key and in the temporary key. Tones that are in both. I've been corrected in the past when the song shifts keys and i play all the tones in the new key, abandoning the starting/ending key.

    So, for me, playing those tones and chords in harmonic and melodic help pin the jam as minor in a friendly way.

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    Wayfarer
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    Re: Melodic Minor Scales 2018/12/05 01:14:19 (permalink)
    gswitz
    The name of the chord is the note your start on.


    Unless you're Allan Holdsworth.
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    mettelus
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    Re: Melodic Minor Scales 2018/12/05 06:39:23 (permalink)
    The OP is actually a good question I never really gave much thought to. When I first learned it, the reasoning was given to lessen the gap to hit the tonic from below for vocals. As it doesn't affect the bottom of a chord, I have always considered its usage akin to accidentals (which are used all the time) rather than linking it to chords, per se. In other words, it might be better not to associate this "variable" scale to chords specifically, but use it when it works sonically.
     
    The second post in this thread might be a better synopsis of the same idea.

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    markno999
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    Re: Melodic Minor Scales 2018/12/06 22:28:20 (permalink)
    Glyn,
     
    Melodic Minor is essentially 2 scales in one.  Ascending it is almost identical to the major scale except it has a b3.   C Melodic Minor is C, D, Eb, F, G, A, B.  Descending it has a 6b and 7b in addition to the b3.   C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb.
     
    Typically I would think of using a Melodic Minor scale over an altered dominent 7th chord rather than over a minor chord.   In this example below, consider "A Blues" putting and F Melodic Minor Scale over the 5th (E)  This YouTube Video demonstration uses the Jazz Melodic Minor Scale. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZQ5NeHdrrM  F, G, Ab, Bb, C, D, E.   So over the E7 Chord this melodic minor scale introduces the b9, #9, 3rd, 5b, #5, 7th and root.   If you played the descending scale with the b6 and b7 you would be playing the 6th (C#) rather than the #5 (C) and the Maj7 (Eb) rather than the root (E)  on the way back down.    Hearing how to use these scales is really best demonstrated with audio to understand how they interact with the underlying chord.   Once you get them in your ears you will find applications for them.   
     
    You can really go crazy studying scales, modes, etc..   A very simple way to break down the whole paragraph above is to say, play the melodic minor scale 1/2 step above the 5th.  You can do similar things with Diminished scales or Arpeggios to create movement or transitions.    Consider an Ab diminished over a Dm7 to G7 on the way to Cmaj7.
     
    Below is a nice example of some Melodic Minor Pentatonic uses.  
     
    Rick Beato Melodic Minor Pentatonic Scales
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZpz2gpSdSM
     
    Hope you find something useful here.
     
    Regards
    #6
    jamesg1213
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    Re: Melodic Minor Scales 2018/12/08 09:33:12 (permalink)
    + 1 for Rick Beato's vid (in fact most things he posts are worth watching)

     
    Jyemz
     
     
     



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    tlw
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    Re: Melodic Minor Scales 2018/12/09 16:01:43 (permalink)
    mettelusI have always considered its usage akin to accidentals (which are used all the time) rather than linking it to chords, per se. In other words, it might be better not to associate this "variable" scale to chords specifically, but use it when it works sonically.


    Same here. Especially when writing Bach/Baroque-style two and four part harmony where using the third or sixth of the relevant melody note’s scale is a trick which works most of the time. While always remembering to avoid consecutive octaves and consecutive fifths because apparently they are supposed to sound “weak”, despite being the basis of most rock and metal riffs...

    Drones and repeated “pedal” bass notes can sound very effective in any minor scale.

    Other than that, if it sounds right it is right :-)

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    Chandler
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    Re: Melodic Minor Scales 2018/12/17 02:45:44 (permalink)
    How it is used depends on context. If you're writing baroque music the ascending and descending rule makes sense and will sound musically appropriate. If you're doing jazz or contemporary music I wouldn't worry about switching, or switch when you feel like it and don't worry about acceding and descending. That said don't be afraid to use older techniques in modern music, often it creates an interesting texture. 
     
    There is actually a good reason why melodic minor is different ascending and descending, but I it takes a while to explain and IMO isn't that helpful for making music. 

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    Glyn Barnes
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    Re: Melodic Minor Scales 2018/12/17 20:49:27 (permalink)
    Thanks guys, there is some very useful stuff to absorb.
     

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    sven450
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    Re: Melodic Minor Scales 2018/12/18 19:31:43 (permalink)
    jamesg1213
    + 1 for Rick Beato's vid (in fact most things he posts are worth watching)


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    dmbaer
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    Re: Melodic Minor Scales 2018/12/20 20:48:21 (permalink)
    Glyn Barnes
    I am trying to get my head around chords for use with a melodic minor scale, or more precisely what I have seen referred to as "classic" melodic minor where the scale has different notes ascending and descending.

     
    This is not something that can be answered in a paragraph.  Walter Piston in his book Harmony (which a lot of people consider to be the bible of that topic) takes a full five pages to discuss this.  Here are some highlights (if I may be so bold as to pretend I have expertise in this area).
     
    The main contention is between a minor seventh vs major seventh.  The minor sixth vs major sixth also has conflicts, of course.  One important factor is whether a note is in the melody.  If it is, that normally trumps everything else.
     
    But the rest is largely context.  The seventh will almost always be major if the following chord is tonic (at least until the latter part of the nineteenth century when the period of common harmony practice was coming to a close).  When resolving to tonic, the seventh really demands to be a leading tone - in other words a major seventh.  However, if the chord is III, the seventh will be minor.  If the chord is the triad that starts on the seventh, then the seventh will be minor if the chord is V of III (that is, if the following chord is III which V of III nicely resolves to).  On the other hand, if the that chord resolves to tonic, then the leading tone factor again makes a major seventh imperative, making the chord a diminished triad.
     
    Maybe Mr. Piston was just trying to say what we already know: if it sounds good it is good.
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    Grem
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    Re: Melodic Minor Scales 2019/01/08 21:50:47 (permalink)
    Good thread. That's for asking the question Glyn. And thanks for all the responses.
     
    Thanks for the Rick Beato video. Nice!

    Grem

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