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  1. #1

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    I've always found it tricky to improvise with Melodic Minor in, for example across a Fusion Dorian track (say Am7, D7 so Dorian effectively which you can play Melodic Minor across). If I improv in Melodic Minor like I would in Dorian it just doesn't sound good. I know the Melodic Minor scales really well but find it hard to get it sounding good like when I improv using Dorian. Any help appreciated.

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  3. #2

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    I've found this too. Using a mel min over a ii-V only works sometimes depending on the context. Sometimes - over, say, the Am7 before D7 - the G# can sound good and sometimes not, it depends, usually on the nature of the tune. Otherwise it's Dorian.

    Using the Eb mel min over the D7 is D alt, of course, but that's a different matter.

  4. #3

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    I like using the lydian dominant over that D7 which would be A melodic minor, just that G# as passing tone or to create more tension, you can always experiment with few other ones, Scott Henderson and Dean Brown got some interesting articles and lessons about that.

    Have fun!

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandcatcher
    I've always found it tricky to improvise with Melodic Minor in, for example across a Fusion Dorian track (say Am7, D7 so Dorian effectively which you can play Melodic Minor across). If I improv in Melodic Minor like I would in Dorian it just doesn't sound good. I know the Melodic Minor scales really well but find it hard to get it sounding good like when I improv using Dorian. Any help appreciated.

  6. #5

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    If you search it out in jazz improvisation, it's primarily a tension and release thing. The melodic minor scale being the tension, and then resolving. Dm7 G7 Cmaj7... The G altered scale over the G7 or both the Dm7 and G7 (Ab melodic minor = G7 altered scale). One might think those chords need to be Dm7b5 to G7 alt, but in practice it works both for that and over the plain old G7 Dm7... adds tension. When the Cma7 arrives you resolve out of the altered scale and then play the C maj scale most likely.

    So, you only visit the altered scale (melodic minor) momentarily.

    Same can be said the the Dom7 lydian scale (which is also the melodic minor scale G7 Dom lydian = D melodic minor scale).

    That is the way I've seen it used and it's easy to use it that way.

  7. #6
    Ragman - Yeah altered I can get to work pretty easily strangely enough!

    Basshead - Sure get the Lyd dominant thing thanks. Will try and find those articles. Don't suppose you've got a link?

    CitizenK74 - :-)

    Fep - I get the tension release thing and know what you mean. It's more successful like that for me, i.e. mostly Dorian and then a bit of Melodic Minor and I will often play the 9 then the major 7 then the root which works well. I am much better and using Altered than plain old Melodic Minor in a fusion context like Am7 to D7. I can use Melodic Minor in a ii v i reasonably well.

    Generally speaking across that progression i.e. Am7, D7 I will play A dorian and then switch to A melodic minor (D lyd dom) briefly which works well. But i've heard plenty of players playing much longer melodic minor lines which sound great. I just don't seem to able to create them. And in Dorian I can play kind of freely in the scale whereas with Melodic Minor it doesn't work with that approach.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandcatcher
    Ragman - Yeah altered I can get to work pretty easily strangely enough!

    Basshead - Sure get the Lyd dominant thing thanks. Will try and find those articles. Don't suppose you've got a link?

    CitizenK74 - :-)

    Fep - I get the tension release thing and know what you mean. It's more successful like that for me, i.e. mostly Dorian and then a bit of Melodic Minor and I will often play the 9 then the major 7 then the root which works well. I am much better and using Altered than plain old Melodic Minor in a fusion context like Am7 to D7. I can use Melodic Minor in a ii v i reasonably well.

    Generally speaking across that progression i.e. Am7, D7 I will play A dorian and then switch to A melodic minor (D lyd dom) briefly which works well. But i've heard plenty of players playing much longer melodic minor lines which sound great. I just don't seem to able to create them. And in Dorian I can play kind of freely in the scale whereas with Melodic Minor it doesn't work with that approach.
    I know, altered's not the problem. But the G# could become one. If you mean to make a lyd dom sound then it's good. If not, it won't. Using the G# as a quick slide into the 4th string A is one thing but it's the one at the top you need to watch.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    I know, altered's not the problem. But the G# could become one. If you mean to make a lyd dom sound then it's good. If not, it won't. Using the G# as a quick slide into the 4th string A is one thing but it's the one at the top you need to watch.
    Ah ok interesting. So you are saying the G#is fine over the D7 but a problem over the Am7 yes? Guess that makes sense as over the D7 it's a #11 and therefore there is no clashing.

    And you are saying that playing the G# at say the 4th fret of the high E is more problematic over the Am7 than a lower registered G# as it 'jumps out' more?

    Thanks!

  10. #9

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    ex:Play Amin melodic on chord D7 without alteration.
    ...on D7alt-use Eb min mel.

  11. #10

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    I prefer to think about A natural minor, A melodic minor, A harmonic minor and A dorian as 4 versions of the same thing.

    A B C D E -- five notes in common.

    Then, for the 6th and 7th, every possible combination. b6b7, b6nat7, 6b7, 6nat7.

    So, five notes are clearly consonant and you get to pick among 4 others.

    (The leftover notes, btw, are Bb, Db, Eb. Bb creates a b9 interval with the root. Db is the major third against a minor chord. Eb makes it a m7b5 which has a very different quality, aside from conflicting with the E).

    So, to this way of thinking it's all "minor chord, pick the 6 and 7 by ear". And, you can use all 4, avoid all 4 or use just one, two or three of them.

    So, if you can make dorian sound good (6b7) but not melodic minor (6 nat7), one way to approach the problem is to find ways to comp thru the ii V I with the melodic minor alterations. So, you might use, say, xx5557 to xx5555 to xx4554 to xx5777. If you can get the comping to sound good, then you just include the same alterations in the solo.

    Alternatively, sing lines involving the various choices while you strum the chords. When you sing something you like, put it on the guitar.

    Hope this might help a little.

  12. #11
    That makes sense, thanks

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandcatcher
    Ah ok interesting. So you are saying the G#is fine over the D7 but a problem over the Am7 yes? Guess that makes sense as over the D7 it's a #11 and therefore there is no clashing.

    And you are saying that playing the G# at say the 4th fret of the high E is more problematic over the Am7 than a lower registered G# as it 'jumps out' more?

    Thanks!
    G#’s are fine over Am7. It’s more how you lean on them, if that chord sits around (I use it all the time actually). G# is kind of tense/dissonant against an Am7, but colourful against D7

    In general, I think it’s advisable to view Am7 D7 as a unit rather than two separate things. It’s up to you how much of either chord you want to express. People get a bit hung up on these things if they take the text books at face value. Best thing is to see what the masters do yourself.

  14. #13
    Yes that's helpful thank you. I understand what you mean re they are kind of versions of the same thing. I guess I think of Am pentatonic as a framework and then add in colours to create A melodic minor or Dorian or Aeolian and do it that way. And get what you mean re the comping idea.

  15. #14
    Nice one thanks Christian. I like the idea of Am7 D7 as a unit as that simplifies things a lot.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandcatcher
    Nice one thanks Christian. I like the idea of Am7 D7 as a unit as that simplifies things a lot.
    No problem - one of the most helpful things I think I’ve ever learned.

  17. #16

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    Btw a famous melody that uses this exact note on D7 is ‘Take the A Train.’

  18. #17

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    Ideas for making melodic minor sound good (entry level)


  19. #18
    Great info on here, many thanks. Like the augmented triad idea and how you just move it around by two tones.

  20. #19

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    To take the idea just a bit further.

    Am7 and D7 are pretty much the same thing.

    One has an F# instead of a G. The other has a D.

    Omit those notes and Am7 is A C E. D7 is A C E (D9, if you want to be more precise).

    So, three notes are the same. The D and G will sound pretty much consonant over either one. So, the main issue is that the G in Am7 moves to F# as part of D7.

    If you play it as written that G to F# will sound fine. You can, in effect, reharmonize the tune by playing one chord or the other.

    For a solo, play a strong line and it will barely matter. You can play the G to F# and it will sound consonant. Or you can avoid it. It may still be heard in the comping instrument.

    So, it's another situation where you're picking a note or two by ear.

    Good point about the minor pentatonic earlier. I tend to think in terms of chord tones rather than scale names so I didn't think of it that way, but you're exactly right. And, if somebody knows those pentatonics well, it's a good way to extrapolate.

  21. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    To take the idea just a bit further.

    Am7 and D7 are pretty much the same thing.

    One has an F# instead of a G. The other has a D.

    Omit those notes and Am7 is A C E. D7 is A C E (D9, if you want to be more precise).

    So, three notes are the same. The D and G will sound pretty much consonant over either one. So, the main issue is that the G in Am7 moves to F# as part of D7.

    If you play it as written that G to F# will sound fine. You can, in effect, reharmonize the tune by playing one chord or the other.

    For a solo, play a strong line and it will barely matter. You can play the G to F# and it will sound consonant. Or you can avoid it. It may still be heard in the comping instrument.

    So, it's another situation where you're picking a note or two by ear.

    Good point about the minor pentatonic earlier. I tend to think in terms of chord tones rather than scale names so I didn't think of it that way, but you're exactly right. And, if somebody knows those pentatonics well, it's a good way to extrapolate.
    Nice one cheers, hadn't thought of it that way but good point re the G and F#. And yes my pentatonics are really strong (Blues background) so helps to think in that way for me. Funnily enough I don't really find learning the Melodic Minor scales much use as they don't seem to be used in isolation like that but more combined with other scales. Do others agree?

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandcatcher
    Nice one cheers, hadn't thought of it that way but good point re the G and F#. And yes my pentatonics are really strong (Blues background) so helps to think in that way for me. Funnily enough I don't really find learning the Melodic Minor scales much use as they don't seem to be used in isolation like that but more combined with other scales. Do others agree?
    Mark Levine makes a great point about melodic minor in Jazz Theory.

    I don't think I can explain it well in a short post, but the gist is that every chord generated by a melodic minor scale is the same chord. It's because there's no avoid note.

    So, melodic minor is very helpful in comping. When you realize that every voicing you know for, say, majmin7, can also be used (with different roots) as 7susb9, maj7#5, 7#11 etc all the way up to alt chords -- that suddenly gives you a lot of options. You can prove it to yourself. Pick a tune that goes from say, Fmaj7 to Bb7#11. Then, instead of Bb7#11, play any chord from Fmelmin. In fact, any random collection of notes from Fmelmin (almost). They'll all sound different, but they'll all work in an ear twisting way.

    So, the point is that melmin has an enormous number of applications. If you know a majmin7 lick, you can use it against 6 different chords from other melodic minor scales. That is, the Fmajmin7 lick will work as a G7susb9. Etc. And, some of these usages are very common.

    So, you hear melmin regularly as a tonic minor. On m7b5 you hear melodic minor a b3 higher. On 7alt, you hear melmin a half step higher. On 7#11 you hear melodic minor a fifth higher (like Fmelmin over Bb7#11).

    Now, how you go about learning this material is subject to individual differences. I'll leave that for another post.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandcatcher
    Ah ok interesting. So you are saying the G#is fine over the D7 but a problem over the Am7 yes? Guess that makes sense as over the D7 it's a #11 and therefore there is no clashing.

    And you are saying that playing the G# at say the 4th fret of the high E is more problematic over the Am7 than a lower registered G# as it 'jumps out' more?

    Thanks!
    You're just repeating what I'm saying, nothing more, but it's not theoretical. If you'd actually experimented with this you'd know it for yourself, right? I have a feeling you're just thinking about it conceptually rather than doing it practically.

  24. #23

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    Modes of meleodic minor is the next steps.

  25. #24

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    About integrating this material ...

    Apparently, some players learn patterns for melodic minor scales and then learn applications. So, you might learn Cmelmin and apply against C tonic minor chords like Cm6 and Cminmaj7. Then you apply it against F7#11, Am7b5 and Balt.

    That is, if you see Balt you can use anything you've worked out on Cmelmin.

    I say "apparently" because I don't know for certain that this is how other people do it. I found it difficult to make music that way.

    I can think Cmelmin for a tonic minor like Cm6. But, for the rest of them, I prefer to think about the chord tones. So I know that F7 is F A C Eb and that I lower C to B for the 7#11. I know that I have my choice of 9ths. I know to be careful with the nat7 and the 11ths. The 6th will be inoffensive.

    I don't think about all this when I'm playing. Usually, I think about chord tones and, if my ear is malfunctioning, I might think of the harmonic "backdrop" (I just coined that). In this case, it's "notes of F7#11, backdrop is Cmelmin". The harmonic backdrop refers to whatever shortcut you have for thinking of the rest of the notes you want to consider. You might think F7 is usually a dominant in Bb and use the notes of Bbmajor, except you know you need a B, so you raise the root. That gives you all white keys except Eb, aka Cmelmin.

    It works to think about different chord tones than the current chord of your tune. And, a different harmonic backdrop. For example, if the chord is Cmaj7 in the key of C, you can think Gmaj7 and Gmajor as the backdrop. That raises all the Fs (not a great note against Cmaj7) to F#, which gives you a lydian sound.

    One last point. This is not the important stuff. It's seductive because it's expressed in language. Same reason it's not the important stuff.

    The important stuff: 1. Time-feel. 2. Melody.

  26. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    You're just repeating what I'm saying, nothing more, but it's not theoretical. If you'd actually experimented with this you'd know it for yourself, right? I have a feeling you're just thinking about it conceptually rather than doing it practically.
    Done lots of practical work with it and not got hold of it as I feel I should hence the post, thanks.