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PHIL MANN
PHIL MANN BRINGS YOU
W
orking with minor
tonality can be more
complex than working
with major; for a start,
there are three primary
minor scales to consider,
each sounding substantially
different to the next, with only
minimal changes. Today we'll be
working with melodic minor.
In the world of classical harmony
and theory, melodic minor differs
depending on whether it is
ascending or descending. On the
way up, you play melodic minor
(essentially a major scale with a
flattened 3rd), then on the way
down you play Aeolian (better
known as the natural minor scale).
However, in jazz, melodic minor
is more commonly recognised
as the same structure played in
both ascent and descent, thus
allowing us to harmonise it in a
similar nature to that of the major
modes. It's worth noting that you
may see this referred to as the
minor jazz scale. Together with its
various modes (Dorian b2, Lydian
augmented, Lydian dominant,
Mixolydian b6, Locrian #2 and the
altered scale), melodic minor has
a fundamental importance in the
field of improvisation. Let's have a
look through
Example 1
and gain
familiarity with its intervals and
diatonic contents.
EXAMPLE 1
EXAMPLE 2
As previously mentioned, like the major scale, melodic minor can also be harmonised producing seven
arpeggios and chords that can in turn be used to create progressions and additional harmonic content.
Example 2
examines these as 7th chord structures. Work through each arpeggio, making sure that you learn
the positions off by heart as these will form the basis for the extended technique exercises that follow.
EXAMPLE 3
This month's third exercise isolates the thumb, index and middle fingers in the plucking to produce an ascending
stream of 7th chords. Although not indicated in the notation, if you wish, hold down the entire chord structure in
your fretting hand for each bar, allowing the notes to ring out as a harmonic chord, rather than being played just
melodically as indicated. As always, practise these shapes in all key centres. You may have noticed that there are
no key signatures present in this month's exercises: this is because although clearly suggesting C minor, melodic
minor doesn't actually belong to any specific key signature and thus should always be written in accidentals.
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