Thursday, August 27, 2009

Melodic Minor - Don Mocks Book... Question! HELP!

Braddog 11/21/2005 12:50 PM
In Don's book concerning De-Mystifiing the Melodic Minor Scale he mentions 5 melodic minor scales that could be used but only 4 are covered in the book. Can you please explain the 5th (which is: for a G7 use the Bb Melodic Minor Scale ). Thanks Bruce

Don Mock 11/22/2005 11:31 PM
Great question Bruce. Let me first answer your question with a bit of math. There are 15 classical scales or modes that can theoretically be played over an altered dominant 7th chord. If you add up all the possible tones (extended and altered) in the chord you have: root, b9, 2nd, #9, 3rd, 4th, b5, 5th, #5, 6th, and b7th. This is literally every note except the major 7th. If we were thinking G7 the one bad note is F#. And if you use the premise that any scale that does not contain an F# could be considered an altered scale for G7, then you end up with 5 major scales, 5 harmonic minor scales and 5 melodic minor scales. But remember that this is just mathematical possibilities. Not all 15 scales sound that great over a dominant chord. Your question about the 5 choices for melodic minor asked about the scale that lives a minor 3rd above a dom7. Bb melodic minor for G7. And the big answer sucks! Although the Bb melodic over G7 looks good on paper with it's #9 and b5 and #5 altered tones, I for one just can't make it sound very good. And I think I speak for a lot of other players who would choose the other four melodics for their altered scales. I think the problem is it has the natural 9th and the 4th which make the scale hard to use melodically. It doesn't seem to have a chordal identity like the other 4 melodics. But don't take my word for it. Try it! You just might "hear" it and like the sound and may be able to use it in your playing. And while you are at it, make yourself a list of the 15 scales. Use G7 as the guide chord and list every scale (you can even toss in pentatonics) that do not have an F#. Then play them all in context over a 2-5-1 progression (Dm7-G7-Cmaj7) but only over the G7 and strive for good resolutions when landing back on Cmaj7. Check off on your list the ones you think sound good. Trial and error....the best teacher in music.Thanks -Don Mock

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