Making Friends with Melodic Minor (Part 1)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


The Jazz Melodic Minor scale is often used in jazz and fusion, but it takes little effort to apply it in rock and metal to add new twists to old chords. The Jazz Melodic Minor scale is simply a major scale with a minor 3rd (1 2 b3 4 5 6 7). For this lesson, we’ll use the Jazz Melodic Minor in the key of A (Measure 1) as an example. The combination of the b3 (C), major 6th (F#), and major 7th (G#) makes this scale different from the more common Natural Minor scale and can lead to creating new chords and progressions.

Let’s consider a typical chord progression in A natural minor: i, iv, and v, or Amin, Dmin, and Emin. To bring out the unique sound of the Jazz Melodic Minor, simply use the scale’s b3, major 6th, and 7th on top of the root notes of these chords. Measures 2 to 4 compare the sounds of the Natural Minor chords to the newer Jazz Melodic Minor derivatives using simple voicings in the first position. Notice that all the Jazz Melodic Minor versions sound much more sinister, including the iv and v chords which have now become major. These chords work especially well when creating darker moods and are a unique alternative to the more common Natural Minor, Phrygian, and Harmonic Minor tonalities used in rock and metal. Experiment by finding other voicings further up the neck and you'll expand your palette of minor chords to use when composing. Tune in to Part 2 in a future blog, where I discuss how to improvise over these chords to create solos, melodies, and riffs. Do you want a song or solo transcribed / tabbed out for you? Contact me at for info - rates are competitive and delivery is quick!