Melodic minor in non-jazz context?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Kenno5050, Jan 17, 2015.

  1. Kenno5050

    Kenno5050 Member

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    I was curious if anybody here ever uses the melodic minor scale outside of the normal jazz setting? Also, if anybody has any recommended listening for this scale, I'd love to hear it! This is such a weird scale to get used to. I understand the super locrian aspect over an altered dominant chord, I just would really love to find a way to use this scale in less traditional ways. Thanks!
     
  2. stevel

    stevel Member

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    I use it the way it originated in classical music. Which is not as a scale, but as an indication of the roles of scale degrees 6 and 7 in a minor key.

    But that's an obscenely traditional way to use it. So much so that it just might be new again.
     
  3. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    I've never been attracted much to the straight out ascending Melodic Minor.

    It's in Yesterday and a few other things.

    More modern style Jazz players sometimes use some of the modes and superimpose them on dominants, often with no real justification besides that it sounds ok to them, and the same sort of melodic minor mode sounds can be had by just using chord subs and appropriate chord sub scales, so I tend to not use the melodic minor modes such as the altered scale and tend to use chord subs and chord sub scales, but horses for courses.

    I think the altered scale is basically a m7b5th based scale, so putting it over a dominant results in some sort of chord sub/scale sub, but there are other ways to do dominant chord, chord subs/scale subs.

    http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/basics-of-the-melodic-minor-scale-on-the-guitar.html

    "Another example is “Yesterday” by The Beatles, which uses part of the D melodic minor scale over the Em-A7-Dm chords during “all my troubles seem so far away” (guitar tuned down one whole step to D)."
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2015
  4. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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  5. jazzandmetal?

    jazzandmetal? Supporting Member

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  6. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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  7. JonR

    JonR Member

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    The jazz association with melodic minor is really a coincidence. It just so happens that certain collections of notes on certain chords (chosen to give maximum number of usable chord extensions or alterations) match modes of melodic minor (usually with some enharmonic respelling).
    IOW, the altered scale doesn't derive from 7th mode of melodic minor. It just happens to have the same formula. It derives from keeping the root-3rd-7th of the V chord and altering all the other notes; which in turn derives from the desire to create as many half-step moves on to the tonic chord as (reasonably) possible.
    Same applies to lydian dominant, which is the tritone sub for the altered scale - ie the exact same notes - forming a chord that resolves to the same tonic - just with a root a tritone away.

    Likewise the use of melodic minor (mode I) on a tonic minor chord is done because it provides the maximum number of consonant chord extensions (6, maj7, 9).

    Classical melodic minor arises from totally different principles. As steve says, it's an occasional alteration of natural minor, for melodic purposes (hence the name;)). (Jazz uses it for harmonic purposes, if you like - avoiding the "avoid notes".)
    The scale is altered specifically when melodies ascend to the tonic, because when descending the alterations are no longer required. The 7th is raised to provide the leading tone, and the 6th is raised to get rid of the awkward jump from b6. Coming down, one can (although one doesn't have to) revert to b7 and b6.

    IOW, if you're using the melodic minor scale melodically, you're probably chasing some kind of baroque minor key effect - which Paul McCartney found intuitively in Yesterday, and Joseph Kosma maybe more knowingly in Autumn Leaves.
    If you're harmonising chords from it, then you're in jazz territory (like it or not ;)).
     
  8. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    Once at a Holdsworth Clinic ... someone asked him about using the melodic minor over a 2-5-1 to create a tension-release sound ...
    He replied (to paraphrase) "Why use a specific scale over a specific chord movement ..?
    You can create that tension-release sound by just playing random notes over a key center at will. Hell, that's what I do most of the time."
     
  9. JonR

    JonR Member

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    :jo
    Of course, I knew it had to be that simple.... :)
     
  10. JonR

    JonR Member

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  11. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    Harlem Nocturne, it's more of a Jazz tune, but it gives a good example of the melodic minor over minor/major 7th harmony.

     
  12. Kenno5050

    Kenno5050 Member

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    Wow!!!!!! Thanks guys!!!! All of these responses are great!!!! I didn't expect to get all of these. Now that I read your responses, it really clears this subject up. Thanks all!
     
  13. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    :) ... Add to that ... the one part I forgot to add that AH said ...
    was that he never thinks 2-5-1's ...

    Someone in the audience made a joke out of it saying "No stinking 2-5-1's"
    And AH responded "Waste of time really"....

    Now how 'bout dat ... :)
     
  14. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Breath of fresh air...
    Of course, it comes from someone who must have put a whole lot of shedding into 2-5-1's in his time. Been there, done that. Move on.

    As a one-time jazz student myself, I got heartily sick of 2-5-1's too. Lemme outa here! :)
     
  15. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    Holdsworth knows release and tension like the back of his hand and he has his overall form and line contours down so much that he can play stuff that might sound odd if played by someone else using the same notes.

    But, I have seen one of his instruction videos where he seems to know modes and the melodic minor etc etc or he has his own names for them or something like that.
     
  16. frdagaa

    frdagaa Supporting Member

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    So, to paraphrase, would it be appropriate to think of playing an A minor pentatonic in a rock/pop context in A, and occasionally playing F# and (more typically) G# melodic leading tones, as the "non-jazz use" of the melodic minor?
     
  17. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    It could sound appropriate or it could sound like you are trying to buy some musical status by crowbarring a square peg into a round hole. IMO it's better to copy great players and take their lead, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel by some Betty Crocker scale formula. I mean, could you really learn Italian by memorizing the dictionary? Devoid of infinite context, no.
    If you really want to get melodic minor under fingers practice this for a couple of years: Daily Exercises in Harmonic and Melodic Minor by Barry Galbraith. This will put hair on your chest.
     
  18. Rufus

    Rufus Silver Supporting Member

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    It probably doesn't count as melodic minor as such, but Randy Rhoads hit the natural seven several times in his Diary of a Madman solo.
     
  19. kenoflife

    kenoflife Supporting Member

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    I think Chuck does a great job with it in his Blues w/ Brains class: http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=1498606

    I had learned melodic minor scale a long time ago. Now am finally finding it useful to be at least aware of its 7th and 4th modes of it along w/ practically any blues
    progression involving a dominant 5th chord that can be altered at some point. In other words - extremely useful knowledge.
    For me - its not about copying other players - its about having the ingredients down so that they are just there beyond the scales.
     

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