The Melodic Minor Scale - Part 3
Now it is time to put this scale to use in our solos. Make sure you have gone over and practiced Part - 1 and Part - 2 of the series on this scale before going on. This will give you the scales on your instrument, how to practice them, as well as the harmonized scale, so that you can then move on to improvising with the scale.
Any chord contained in the scale is always a candidate for the scale, depending on how it is functioning in the progression. Always look for the II, V progression
contained in the scale, in the case of C Melodic Minor, Dm7 to G7. This is like the key of C Major, but this time will be progressing to a Cm or Cm
You need to determine whether you are working with a Major or Minor tonality in this case, so be careful.
Look at the two Dominant Seventh chords next. The IV is an F7 and the V is a G7. Analyze the scale against each one for some possibilities. The scale notes, in relation to the F7 chord are C, which is the 5th, D, the 13th, Eb, the b7, F, the root, G, the 9th, A, the 3rd, and B the augmented 11. So we can use this for, F7, F7-5, F9, F9-5, F7#11, F9#11 or F13-5, based on the scale notes, and their relation to the F7 chord.
Doing the same for a G7 chord, we get, C, the 11th, D, the 5th, Eb, the #5, F, the b7, G, the root, A, the 9th, and B, the 3rd. So we could use this over G7, G7#5, G9, G9#5, G11, or G11#5. In both of these cases, even if it is just an F7 or G7, we can use the scale, and the altered notes and extensions will add more color and tension to our line. Try this in different situations, so you get used to where it "works". As always, if it sounds right, that is the only rule you need follow.
Remember that m7-5 chord on the VI of this scale. Try the scale over this chord type and listen to how it differs from treating this as a II chord and using the Harmonic Minor scale. By trying all of your possibilities, you can come up with some really interesting sounds, (or really bad if you use the scale inappropriately). The key is to experiment and listen to the results, letting your ear be your guide.
The last example we will look at is an "outside" usage of the scale. The idea is this; take any Dominant Seventh chord, and play the Melodic Minor whose root is up a half step over the chord. Take a G7 chord as an example. The scale we would use is Ab Melodic Minor, Ab, Bb, Cb, (B), Db, Eb, F, and G. Now, as we did before, see how these relate to the chord. We have Ab, the b9, Bb, (A#), the #9, Cb, (B), the 3rd, Db, the b5, Eb, (D#), the #5, F, the b7, and G, the root. This then could be used to "throw the kitchen sink" at the chord in terms of every alteration. When you see things like G7alt, this is a good candidate for this treatment, but you can use this idea anywhere that you want a really "outside" sound.
All of this is just a starting point, and you should look for other ideas beside these. Remember to experiment and try anything. Some of it will work and some of it will not, but only by trying new and different ideas outside your patterns that you always use, will you break new ground and create ever more interesting ideas.