Beginner

Intermediate

All Levels

Reference



iOS Apps by justinguitar

The JustinGuitar Store





 

Buying things through the links below cost you no more but contribute a little to the site! Thanks, J.







 

Justinguitar - Free Guitar Lessons

The Melodic Minor Scale: Essential Information

Justinguitar.com on Scales

The Melodic Minor is also called the Jazz Minor because it's commonly used in Jazz land.

The Melodic Minor Scale is a Major Scale with a flat 3rd (b3) and it's used mostly in it's modal forms of the Altered Scale (Superlocrian) and the funky Lydian Dominant.

It is a very commonly used scale in Jazz and is often called "The Jazz Minor" to distinguish itself from the classical version which is confusing different on the way than on the way down!! The classical version is not covered on this site as it's only really used for harmonic analysis of classical music which isn't covered here!

 

Scale Formula

The scale formula for the Melodic Minor Scale must be memorised, as you will use it often to work out the notes or chords in the key. The formula describes the interval distances between each note of the scale.

T
S
T
T
T
T
S
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8


T = Tone [whole step] • S = Semitone [half step]

 

Comparison With Major Scale

Scales are always compared to the Major Scale to find the intervals used.

I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII
I
C Major Scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
C Melodic Minor
C
D
Eb
F
G
A
B
C
Equation
1
2
b3
4
5
6
7
1


It is derived from the Major scale with a flattened 3rd but can also be thought of as a Natural Minor Scale with a raised 6th and 7th degree.

In Classical music theory the melodic minor and natural minor are combined into one scale. The melodic minor is used when ascending the scale, the natural minor is used when descending the scale. This idea is not used in a jazz environment and in modern music is somewhat redundant, except in high school classical music study.

 

Chords In The Key

The chords in the "Key Of C Major", that is the chords that can be made using only notes of the C Major Scale are:

I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII
I
C Melodic Minor Scale
C
D
Eb
F
G
A
B
C
Triad Chords
Cm
Dm
EbAug
F
G
Adim
Bdim
Cm
Quadad Chords
C-/∆7
Dm7
E∆7#5
F7
G7
Am7b5
Bm7b5
C-/∆7


Shown are Triads (3 note chords) and Quadads (4 note chords), there are many hundreds more chords that can be built from this scale but these are by far the most commonly used.

Note the I chord, is a minor chord with a Major 7th, quite a dissonant one, usually a passing chord. Don't forget the ∆ means Major, - means Minor, had to use shorthand here to fit the chord names in!

Very interesting that it contains two Dominant 7th chords, the Modes from the scale that relate to each have very different flavours!

You could use the C Melodic Minor Scale to improvise over any or all of these chords!

 

Further Reading

If you are studying this scale I would hope you are beyond the need for my my ebook Practical Music Theory, but if you're still struggling with chord construction and remembering the notes in your scales it might help!

Practical Music Theory

Practical Music Theory (eBook)
In this ebook I explain music theory in a practical way for guitar players! You'll learn all the essential concepts, the major scale, chord construction, keys, intervals and lots more, with worksheets for most concepts. If you always wanted to understand basic music theory but found it too complicated, this is for you. Check out the rave reviews on the forum, it's all the important stuff in a clear and easy to understand method that works!

Available on the Justinguitar website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson ID: SC-601