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Modes Of The Melodic Minor Scale


In this lesson about the melodic minor scale, you will learn what the melodic minor modes are, how they look on the guitar and how you can use them in your solos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If this is the first you hear about modes, you'd better learn about the modes of the major scale first.

All the modes on this page have the A root, so you can hear the difference between the scales. There is a sample lick included at the end of each mode description and fingering so that you can hear and play these modes in a musical situation.

 

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1) A Melodic Minor

Aka: Jazz Minor Scale
Use: on min/maj chords

Notes
Scale Formula
A B C D E F# G#
1 2 b3 4 5 6 7

 

 

 

Listen & Play:

Melodic minor scale chart

 

 

This first lick is based on a Wes Montgomery idea that brings to mind the classic solos of this legendary player.

 

Listen & Play:

melodic minor lick 1

 

2) A Dorian b2

Use: on b9sus4 chords

Notes
Scale Formula
A Bb C D E F# G
1 b2 b3 4 5 6 b7

 

 

 

Listen & Play:

Dorian b2 scale chart

 

 

Here, you will play a line that uses an extended Bb note (the b9) to emphasize that color tone over the underlying chord. When applying lesser-used modes such as this one, it's always a good idea to emphasize the characteristic note to make it sound intentional and not like a mistake in your lines.

 

Listen & Play:

melodic minor lick 2

 

3) A Lydian #5

Aka: Lydian augmented scale
Use: on maj7#5 chords

Notes
Scale Formula
A B C# D# E# F# G#
1 2 3 #4 #5 6 7

 

 

 

Listen & Play:

Lydian #5 scale chart

 

 

Here you will use a triplet rhythm, as well as start the line on the #5 of the underlying chord, both common ways to apply this scale to a soloing situation.

 

Listen & Play:

melodic minor lick 3

 

4) A Lydian Dominant

Aka: Lydian b7, Overtone scale
Use: on 7(#11) chords, also see Tritone Chord Substitution

Notes
Scale Formula
A B C# D# E F# G
1 2 3 #4 5 6 b7

 

 

 

Listen & Play:

Lydian dominant scale chart

 

 

Here is a lick inspired by the playing of pianist McCoy Tyner, and uses a few leaps and an enclosure of the C# note to add color to the phrase.

 

Listen & Play:

melodic minor lick 4

 

5) A Mixolydian b6

Aka: Mixolydian b13 scale, Hindu scale
Use: on dom7b13 chords

Notes
Scale Formula
A B C# D E F G
1 2 3 4 5 b6 b7

 

 

 

Listen & Play:

Myxolydian b6 scale chart

 

 

In this lick, you'll use a rhythm pattern to work your way through the scale. Sometimes something as simple as a rhythmic motive can create a good level of interest in your soloing lines.

 

Listen & Play:

melodic minor lick 5

 

6) A Aeolian b5

Aka: Locrian #2 scale
Use: on m7b5 chords. Also see Half Diminished Chords

Notes
Scale Formula
A B C D Eb F G
1 2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7

 

 

 

Listen & Play:

Aeolian b5 scale chart

 

 

In this Aeolian natural 9 lick you will focus on the Am9b5 arpeggio as you climb up and down that shape to create this line.

 

Listen & Play:

melodic minor lick 6

 

7) A Altered Scale

Aka: Super Locrian scale, Locrian b4 scale, Diminished Wholetone
Use: on dominant chords with altered tensions, also see The Altered Scale

Notes
Scale Formula
A Bb C Db Eb F G
1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7

 

 

 

Listen & Play:

Altered scale chart

 

The final lick in this lesson is based off the playing jazz guitar master Pat Martino, and focuses on the BbmMaj7 arpeggio that is diatonic to the scale.

 

Listen & Play:

melodic minor lick 7

 

 

 


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