The Melodic Minor


In earlier tutorials, we've seen the natural minor and harmonic minor scales. There is another type of minor scale that it's worth knowing about, namely the melodic minor.

In terms of its formula, the melodic minor is pretty easy to remember, as it is basically a major scale with a flattened 3rd degree. Take a look at the two scales shown below - C major and C melodic minor:

Next, I guess we need to come up with a way of playing this scale on the guitar. The shape should do the trick:  

Take some time to play this scale through a few times and get familiar with its sound. For all it is termed 'minor' it has a distinctive sound compared to the other 'minor' scales that we've seen so far. You may not find this scale used so widely as the natural minor scale or (depending on the style(s) of music you concentrate on) the harmonic minor, but it does have its place in the musical world. Certainly, if you;re serious about playing jazz or jazz-influenced music then the melodic minor is a useful scale to know.

To round off this introduction to the melodic minor, let's take a look at the harmony. Like any other scale, the melodic minor can be harmonised into triads and other chords (if you aren't familiar with this idea, then take a look at an earlier tutorial covering the basics of chord construction). As a starting point let's look at the triads:

And finally let's add an extra note to each triad to get the 7th chords:

As I said before, you may not find yourself using this scale as much as some others but that's not really an excuse for not learning it. Having some extra variety in your musical vocabulary is never a bad thing. As with any scale, to get the most out of it you need to get familiar not just with the basic scale but also the intervals and harmonies that it offers.

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