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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