Tag Archives: melodic minor arpeggios guitar

The Most Important Melodic Minor Modes In One Song

Melodic minor is a beautiful and important sound in Jazz which you want to have in your vocabulary, but it can be a little difficult to internalize the melodic minor modes and really hear melodies with them so that you can use it in your solos.

In this video, I am going to show you a song that is pretty easy to learn that will teach you the 3 most important sounds you need melodic minor for. Don’t forget that practicing to use the scale in real music is the best way to make it a part of your playing

The Song

The song that I am talking about is the standard Bernie’s Tune, a basic AABA song, usually in Dm and with a bridge that is in Bb major. It is most famous from the recordings of Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, but it was written by the jazz pianist Bernie Miller.

The song is not that difficult and the theme is a great swinging melody using 3/4 phrases over the 4/4 meter.

 

Analyzing The Song

Analyzing The Song is pretty easy. In fact, it is really just a minor version of a very common song, but I will return to that later.

The song is in Dm (tonic chords) and it has a II V cadences to Dm at the end of the A-part. The Bb7 is a tritone substitute of E7 so that is a sub for the dominant of the dominant. The chord has an E in the melody so this is very clearly a Lydian dominant.

The bridge is just a few turnarounds in Bb major and a II V back to Dm.

Let’s have a look at where you can put melodic minor to use!

Tonic Minor – The Richest Minor Sound

The m6 and mMaj7 chords are used for the tonic minor sound. This is probably the best place to start when learning to use the melodic minor.

Since this is the sound of the root of the scale then it is easier to hear and get into your playing.

In this case for Dm, we have

D E F G A B C# D

And the diatonic arpeggios in the scale would be:

DmMaj7 Em7 Fmaj7(#5) G7 A7 Bø C#ø

For this chord then you can get a lot out of the basic diatonic arpeggios which is a little more tricky with the other sounds.

The arpeggios you can use would: DmMaj7, Fmaj7(#5), and Bø where Bø is, of course, the same note set as Dm6:

Bø: B D F A -> Dm6: D F A B

DmMaj7 could sound something like:

Fmaj7(#5) is the diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of D, this sounds like>

and The Bø you could put to use like this:

Lydian Dominant

The next chord in the song is a Bb7 which here works as a tritone substitute for the dominant of the dominant, so Bb7 as a substitute for E7, the dominant of A7. And this chord is what makes it a minor version of a famous song in major, but I will get to that in a bit.

The scale that goes with this chord is F melodic minor, and there are some diatonic arpeggios that work well:

FmMaj7 Gm7 Abmaj7(#5) Bb7 C7 Dø Eø FmMaj7

Here the obvious options would be Bb7 and Dø

Bb7:

Dø:

They both sound great, but the arpeggio nails the Bb7 without really getting the #11 in there, and you can construct other arpeggios that really nail the sound of the chord with the #11 as well and there is a really easy way to do that.

Creating Arpeggios That Nail The Lydian Dominant Sound

This is pretty simple because all you need to do is to take the Bb7 arpeggio(play) and then replace the F with an E, which gives you a Bb7(b5) arpeggio

Bb7: Bb D F Ab → Bb D E Ab = Bb7(b5)

And for the Dø the same thing works, but now you get an arpeggio that is not really related to D and is more likely an E7(#5) arpeggio

Dø: D F Ab C → D E Ab C = E Ab C D = E7(#5)

With these you can make lines like this:

Bb7(b5) 

E7(#5):

 

Where to use Lydian Dominants

Lydian Dominants are mostly used to dominant chords that don’t really resolve. There are a few places where the use is maybe more habit than anything else.

Tritone substitutes: Bb7 A7 Dm7

Backdoor dominants: Fmaj7 Bb7 Cmaj7

V of V in major: Bb7 Bbm7 Eb7 Abmaj7

The Altered Dominant

The Altered Chord is the final sound melodic minor sound that fits the song. This can be used on the A7, and A7 altered is Bb melodic minor:

Bb C C# Eb F G A Bb, here it is written out with a C# instead of a Db because we are using it on an A7 chord.

The diatonic chords:

BbmMaj7 Cm7 C#maj7(#5) Eb7 F7 Gø Aø BbmMaj7

Here the two main arpeggios that gives you the sound of the chord (C# and G) and some alterations are

Gø which gives you 3rd, b9, 7th and b13 :

Eb7 which is b5 7th b9 3rd:

The Gø is a little easier to use and sounds a little less harsh because it has the b13 (F) rather than the b5: Eb

Does It Really Fit?

With the Tonic minor and the Lydian Dominant, there are quite a few standards that clearly use those sounds, but that is less clear with the Altered dominant. In most songs, the sound on the dominant of a minor key is coming from the harmonic minor scale. This is also the case with Bernie’s tune which has an A7 arpeggio. The A7 arpeggio has an E which is a note that is not in the altered scale.

The altered dominant is really more of a reharmonization.

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The 3 Hidden Arpeggios in Melodic Minor

With some of the great Melodic minor sounds like Lydian dominant and altered dominants, it is difficult to find arpeggios that really work, especially if you only check out the diatonic arpeggios.

In this video, I am going to show you some arpeggios that you can use that really nails the sound of these chords and adds some beautiful colors. And once you get started using them here you will discover how they also great in some other places.

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This is Why Melodic Minor Is Awesome

Melodic minor is an awesome sound! It is a really beautiful rich minor sound. But sometimes we immediately get lost in Altered scale, Lydian dominant, Locrian Natural 2, etc and that is a pity because the tonic minor sound is certainly worth exploring.

In this video I am going to show you how to start using it, some of the things you can use to make lines and also how you can use it to get into some other great melodic minor sounds on other chords.

Hearing the sound in the chords

To have a place to use this, maybe take Autumn Leaves in G minor. (Sheet music)

In bars 7-8 there are two bars of tonic Gm.

A tonic minor chord is either a Gm6 or a GmMaj7 chord.

In a cadence that sounds like this:

Or like this:

In Autumn Leaves there is also a riff used on the Gm which is in fact a Gm6 arpeggio.

The Scale (The way we use it in Jazz🙂 )

A G minor melodic scale is G natural minor scale like G A Bb C D Eb F G where we change it so it has a maj6th and a maj7th:

G A Bb C D E F# G

If you play the scale it could be something like this:

You can also find Scale diagrams here: Scale, arpeggio and chord diagrams

In classical music, you use the melodic minor ascending and the natural minor descending.

That’s not how we do it in Jazz in part because that would mean that the one playing chords has to change the chord depending on the soloist playing descending or ascending melodies.

You can hear me play these two examples in the video if you want an idea about the difference:

Exploring the Harmony and the Sounds

If you want to improvise over a tonic minor chord then it is good to have the scale and also some arpeggios. Let’s start with the diatonic triads

So here we have the diatonic harmony of the scale in Triads: Gm Am Bbaug C D Edim F#dim Gm

The same with the 7th chords would be

The diatonic 7th chords are: GmMaj7, Am7, Bbmaj7(#5), C7, D7, Eø, F#ø

Now we have a lot of material to improvise over a GmMaj7, you just need to figure out what to use.

What arpeggios to use?

GmMaj7 is good, that is the diatonic arpeggio for G.

The Arpeggio from the 3rd: is always good: Bbmaj7(#5)
and Eø which is the same set of notes as Gm6

For the triads, you can use the same: Gm, Bbaug and Edim and the upper part of Bbmaj7(#5) which is a D major triad.

Making Lines with Melodic Minor

Now that we have a complete set of scale, arpeggios, and triads then making a few lines seems like a good idea.

The first example is combining Bbmaj7(#5), Eø and a D major triad. Really emphasizing the final maj6th.

The second example introduces some more chromaticism and uses E dim and Bb augmented triads.

Another great melodic resource in Melodic minor is Triad pairs. I have a few videos on this already:

Triad pairs in the altered scale

Triad Pairs – How To Use Them On a Minor Blues

In the example below I am using a Edim and D major triad pair over the Gm6 chord:

The great thing about Melodic Minor

A great aspect of Melodic minor is that the lines that fit one of the chords also mostly works over other sounds. In this way you can use a Gm6 line as an F#7 altered:

Or a Lydian dominant sound like this C7 backdoor dominant in D major:

A great progression for Melodic Minor: Minor Blues

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Melodic Minor – How to Make Beautiful Lines

Melodic Minor is a huge part of the sound of Jazz and especially Modern Jazz. In this video, I am going to go over how you make some great Melodic Minor Licks. In the examples, I will also breakdown the way I am thinking and which arpeggios and melodic devices I use in the lines.

Of course, I am using some of the arpeggios that you need to know to work with melodic minor, but there are also a few great options that most people don’t get around to mentioning because they are not considered a part of the diatonic arpeggio set.

The Melodic Minor Scale

The melodic minor scale is a minor scale with a major 6th or major 7th. In the key of C this is:

C D Eb F G A B C

1 2 b3 4 5 6 7 8

The scale is shown here below:

#1 The mMaj9th arpeggio

This line is build around the CmMaj7th arpeggio in bar 1. The 2nd bar also contains a part made using leading notes for chord tones.

#2 Ebmaj7(#5)

This line is chaining together two arpeggios from the Scale: Ebmaj7(#5) and CmMaj. The 2nd bar is made using chromaticism and a Cm triad.

#3 The Augmented Triad

One of the most flexible and useful parts of the of the sound of the scale is the augmented triad. In this example I am combining the Augmented triad with a Dsus4 triad. The Dsus4 is a good way to emphasize the extensions of 9 and 6th on the Cm chord.

The 2nd bar is mainly using some chromaticism and repeats the augmented triad in a higher octave.

If you want to check out more Melodic Minor material in terms of triads and arpeggios then have a look at this article: Melodic Minor – The Things You Need to Know

#4 Dom7th#5 arpeggios (a great secret weapon)

The B7(#5) arpeggio is a great arpeggio to use on a Cm melodic chord like CmMaj7 or Cm6. The arpeggio contains the augmented triad and the A adds a nice set of colors on the chord:

B7(#5) : B Eb G A

Relative to C: Maj7 3rd 5th 6th

#5 The G7(#5) and Gsus4

The G7(#5) is another way to use a non-diatonic arpeggio on a CmMaj7 chord. In the example below I am combining it with a Gsus4 triad, which is also a good device for a CmMaj7 arpeggio.

Using Melodic Minor on a Minor Blues

If you want to learn how to use Melodic minor in the context of a minor blues then check out this lesson:

Get ALL the basics down

Check out what you really need in Melodic minor: Diatonic chords, triads, and quartal arpeggios:

Things you NEED to know in Melodic minor

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Things you NEED to know in Melodic minor

Melodic minor is a key sound when it comes to modern and traditional jazz guitar. In this lesson I will map out some of the basic and more advanced arpeggios and triads contained in the scale. These structures are also the material I use for the 3 melodic minor jazz licks included in the video. 

The Scale

The melodic minor scale is constructed as a minor scale with a major 6th and 7th.

This gives us the construction in the key of A:

1 2 b3 4 5 6   7   8

A B C D E F# G# A

A position of this scale can be seen in the example below:

Of course if you really want to dig into the scale you probalby wnat to check it out in all positions on the neck.

Basic Arpeggio Content

Diatonic Triads

The first structure you want to check out is probably the diatonic triads. Triads are constructed in the scale by stacking thirds. The beginring of this exercise is shown in example 2 below:

It is important to realize that along the way you will be better off also knowing what each diatonic triad is and what notes it contains. This will help finding places you can use it and relate it to other chords where it may be a good upper-structure.

To shortly list the diatonic triads:

I – Am

II – Bm

III – C augmented

IV – D

V – E

VI – F#dim

VII – G#dim

Diatonic 7th chords

The next logical step is to check out the  7th chords. These are really just the triads with one extra note and also essential structures for understanding the harmony related to the scale in the from that it is used in a jazz context.

An excerpt of this exercise is shown in the example below:


Here’s a list of the chords:

I – AmMaj7

II – Bm7

III – CMaj7#5

IV – D7

V – E7

VI – F#m7(b5)

VII – G#m7(b5)

Advanced arpeggio structures

Quartal Harmony and Arpeggios

Besides the 3rds based structures that are covered here above it is also possible to start looking into some of the other possibilities contained in the scale.

A very important structure in modern jazz since John Coltrane is the Quartal Arpeggio. In the example below I have written out the quartal arpeggios played along the neck on the middle string set. This way of playing the is quite easy and a good way to connect the different positions.

A more difficult but equally important exercise is to work this out in the scale position. This is shown in the exercise below.

Diatonic Sus4 triads

The sus4 triads are closel related to the quartal arpeggios , just like the quintal arpeggios. In fact stacks of fourths can be seen as an inversion of a sus4 triad.

The diatonic sus4 triads of Amelodic minor are shown below. First as a melodic exercise along the neck and then as chords.

The sus4 triads in A melodic minor are:

Asus4

Bsus4

C(#5)sus#4

Dsus#4

Esus4

F#dim(sus4)

G#dim(susb4)

Some of these triads may have peculiar names, but as you shall see in the melodic minor licks they do have some interesting sounds that we can use.

Diatonic Spread Triads

Spread or open-voiced triads are extremely useful for adding larger intervals into your lines. One reason is that it can be difficult to have larger intervals and still make coherent melodies, and using a structure as strong as a triad really helps with this.

In this segment I have written out the spread-triads along the neck in all three inversions. I find this a good practical way to work on them. You should also consider how great they are as alternate picking exercises, since they contain a lot of string skips and are useful fro string skipping and precision with alternate picking.

Spread triads in position

As I have mentioned with the other exercises it also often very useful to check them out in a scale position. This will help you have a better overview of both the scale in general and the position that you play it in.

Below is the root position spread triads in the position that I am using for this lesson. Consider these exercises more something you do for knowing the notes of the triads and where these notes are found in this position. It probably is not very practical as any type of speed or dexterity exercise.

Melodic Minor Guitar Licks

The last part of the lesson is 3 examples of melodic minor licks using the different structures and devices I have presented in this lesson as exercises.

Diatonic Sus4 triads and Diatonic 7th arpeggios 

The first example starts with two sus4 triads: Esus4 and Dsus#4. It then continues with an AmMaj7 arpeggio and ends on the major 6th(F#).

Spread triads and triad pairs

The second example is using an open-voiced or spread triad. In this case a first inversion A minor triad. The part that follows is making use of a D and E majr triad pair which takes it up to an high E where it via a small scale run resolves to the 9th(B) of Am.

Quartal Arpeggios and Open-voiced Triads

The final example is using some stacks of 4ths. As I mention in the video, the construction of the melodic minor scale yields a few peculiar quartal arpeggios. In this line the first example is two quartal arpeggios, though the first one is actually also a G#7 shell voicing. The G#7 shell is followed by a quartal arpeggio from E. Then follows a small scale run build around an Am triad and the final part of the line is an E major root position spread triad. The line ends on the major 6th: F#.

Scale practice thoughts

Keep in mind that it is much more useful for you to keep working on knowing your scales better and trying to use the things you practice in them than trying to be able to play these exercises fast. After all we practice exercises to become better at making music and if we don’t practice making music with the material from the exercises it is going to become either empty knowledge or things that we never really learned, 

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Things you Need to know in Melodic minor

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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