GBol Arts

Music Notes Archive

The Melodic Minor Scale - Part 2

George with Guitar

As we did with the Harmonic Minor scale, let’s take a look at the harmonized Melodic Minor scale. Remember that to get the harmonized scale, we build in thirds up from each note of the scale, which will give us the series of chords spelled out by the scale, as well as suggesting where we can use the scale in our improvisations.

Taking the C Melodic minor as out example, first spell out the scale, giving us C, D, Eb, F, G, A, and B. Starting on C and building up in thirds gives us our I chord, which would be C, Eb, G, and B, or a Cm7 chord. Moving to our next note, D we get D, F, A, and C or Dm7. Notice that the II chord is again a m7 as it was in the Major Scale, as opposed to a m7-5 in the Harmonic minor. This can help you determine which minor to use when locating key centers.

Moving on to the III chord, we get Eb, G, B, D, or EbMaj7#5. This is the same chord type that you get on the III of the Harmonic Minor. Next is our IV chord, which would be F, A, C, and Eb or an F Dominant 7 chord. Building the V chord gives us G, B, D, and F. Notice that in this scale you have two Dominant 7 chords. Next month when we go over using this scale to improvise, this will open up some options on altered Dominant 7 chords when you are using this scale to build your solo lines.

For the VI chord, we have A, C, Eb, and G, which is an Am7-5 chord. While both the Harmonic and Melodic Minor scales have a m7-5 in them, note that they occur in different positions in the scale. In the Harmonic Minor it is a II chord, but in the Melodic a VI chord. We will take a closer look at this also next month in terms of improvisational possibilities.

Lastly, we have the VII chord, which gives us B, D, F, and A, or a Bm7-5, the same as we had in the Major scale, and the second occurrence of a m7-5 chord in this scale. The whole sequence for a Melodic Minor then is, the I chord is a m7, the II chord is a m7, the III chord is a Maj7#5, the IV chord is a Dominant 7, the V chord is a Dominant 7, the VI chord is a m7-5, and the VII chord is a m7-5. Compare this to the Major and Harmonic Minor scales to see the different harmonies implied by each scale. Spend time becoming familiar with the harmonized scale, so that you know what your possibilities are as you build your lines. Next month, we will look at how to use this scale in some standard and not so standard ways. Until then, keep working on all of your variations of this scale on your instrument.