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Melodic Minor Modes Over Major ii-V-Is

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When learning how to play jazz guitar, many of us quickly realize that the Melodic Minor Scale System is one of the most commonly used sounds in jazz, as well as one of the most important scale systems to get under your ngers and into your ears as you develop your jazz-guitar skills in the woodshed. While many of us will explore the Melodic Minor scale in a minor-key context, which is one of the key applications of this scale system, you might be surprised to know that you can use the Melodic Minor Modes to outline major-key chords as well. In todays lesson, well be looking at how you can apply 5 of the 7 Melodic Minor Modes to the three chords in a major-key ii-V-I chord progression, something that can not only introduce the Melodic Minor sound to your major-key lines, but will expand your jazzguitar improvisational palette at the same time. Since the focus of this lesson will be the application of these modes, rather than how to play them on the fretboard, I have compiled a list of lessons on my site that you can explore for more information on how each mode of Melodic Minor is built, how you can apply it to your soloing ideas, and how to nger these modes in multiple positions across the fretboard. So, feel free to visit any/all of these pages before venturing further, or read ahead and if you get stuck with a ngering for any of these modes, simply come back to these articles and use them as a reference for applying these ideas directly to the fretboard of the guitar.

Further Reading on Melodic Minor


How to Play Melodic Minor on Guitar Modes of the Melodic Minor Scale and Their Application Simple Formula to Learn all 7 Modes of Melodic Minor on Guitar Melodic Minor Scale - Fingerings and Applications Melodic Minor Scale Harmony 9 Melodic Minor Exercises for Jazz Guitar
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First Mode Melodic Minor


To begin, we will look at applying the rst mode of Melodic Minor to the iim7 chord in a major key ii-V-I chord progression, which in this case is applying A Melodic Minor to the Am7 chord below. When applying the rst mode of a Melodic Minor scale to a m7 chord, you produce a mMaj7 sound as the scale contains a major 7th interval within its construction. Here is how that looks written out over an Am7 chord.

Because this major-7th interval will cause tension, which is an important part of bringing a jazz sound to your playing, you will need to learn how to resolve this tension either on the iim7 chord, or when you arrive at the next chord in the progression. To help get you started, here is a sample ii-V-I lick in G major that uses the A melodic minor scale to outline the iim7 chord in this progression. Start by learning this lick in the given key, then taking it to other keys and applying it to tunes you are working on as you expand on this concept in the practice room. Click to hear audio for this lick.

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1st Mode Melodic Minor Exercises


Once you have begun exploring this sound in your practice routine, you can use any or all of these exercises in order to fully integrate this mode into your m7 jazz-guitar chord vocabulary. 1. Put on an Am7 vamp and solo over this chord using only the rst mode of Melodic Minor. 2. Put on a tune such as Milestones or So What and use the rst mode of Melodic Minor to outline all of the m7 chords in those tunes. 3. Solo over a ii-V-I chord progression in G Major, using the A melodic minor scale to outline the Am7 chord in the progression. 4. Apply the 1st mode of melodic minor to any jazz standard you are learning in the woodshed right now. 5. Repeat the above four exercises in all 12 keys and at various tempos.

Fourth Mode Melodic Minor


The rst 7th-chord mode that well look at is the fourth mode of the Melodic Minor Scale, otherwise referred to as the Lydian Dominant scale as it produces a 7#11 sound in its construction. Here is how that scale looks when written out of a D7 chord, noticing the #4(#11) interval that characterizes the sound of this mode. As well, you will notice that this is the 4th mode of A Melodic Minor, which means that if you are soloing over a ii-V chord progression, such as Am7-D7, you can play the Melodic Minor scale from the iim7 chord over both the ii and V, as they are the same scale. This is why we are looking at this mode rst over the V7 chord, because if you decide to play a Melodic Minor mode over the iim7 chord, you simply continue that scale over the V7 chord to produce the V7#11 sound in your lines.

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To get you started with the fourth mode of Melodic Minor over a V7 chord in a ii-V-I chord progression, here is a sample lick that uses A Melodic Minor over both the Am7 and D7 chord in the underlying progression. Again, work this lick as written, and then take it to other parts of the neck, other tempos and of course, other keys as you work it further in the woodshed. Click to hear audio for this lick.

4th Mode Melodic Minor Exercises


Once you have begun exploring this sound in your practice routine, you can use any or all of these exercises in order to fully integrate this mode into your 7th-chord vocabulary. 1. Put on a D7 vamp and solo over this chord using only the 4th mode of Melodic Minor. 2. Put on a tune such as Killer Joe or Watermelon Man and use the fourth mode of Melodic Minor to outline all of the 7 chords in those tunes. 3. Solo over a ii-V-I chord progression in G Major, using the D 4th mode of melodic minor to outline the D7 chord in the progression. 4. Apply the 4th mode of melodic minor to any jazz standard you are learning in the woodshed right now. 5. Repeat the above four exercises in all 12 keys and at various tempos.

Fifth Mode Melodic Minor


The next 7th-chord color that we will explore is the 5th mode of the Melodic Minor Scale System, which produces a 7b13 sound when applied to any 7th chord in your soloing phrases and melodies.

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Again, the b13(b6) interval within this scale will cause tension over any V7 chord that you apply it to, but this tension can be used to create interest in your lines, that you can then resolve to the same chord, or to the next change in the chord progression. Here is how that modes looks like over a D7 chord, which would be the same as playing the G Melodic Minor Scale to a D7 chord as it is the 5th mode of the parent Melodic Minor Scale System.

And to help you get started with this mode, here is a sample ii-V-I lick in G major written with the 1st mode of Melodic Minor applied to the Am7 chord, and the G Melodic Minor Scale applied to the D7 chord within the progression. Click to hear audio for this lick.

5th Mode Melodic Minor Exercises


Once you have begun exploring this sound in your practice routine, you can use any or all of these exercises in order to fully integrate this mode into your 7th-chord vocabulary. 1. Put on a D7 vamp and solo over this chord using only the 5th mode of Melodic Minor. 2. Put on a tune such as Killer Joe or Watermelon Man and use the fourth mode of Melodic Minor to outline all of the 7 chords in those tunes.

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3. Solo over a ii-V-I chord progression in G Major, using the D 5th mode of melodic minor to outline the D7 chord in the progression. 4. Apply the 5th mode of melodic minor to any jazz standard you are learning in the woodshed right now. 5. Repeat the above four exercises in all 12 keys and at various tempos.

Seventh Mode Melodic Minor


The last mode that we will explore over the V7 chord in a ii-V-I chord progression is the 7th mode of the Melodic Minor Scale System, otherwise known as the Altered Scale because it produces both the b9 and #9, as well as the b5 and #5 in its construction. Due to the large amount of alterations in this scale, hence the name, it can be tough to get into your lines when rst applying it to a major key ii-V-I without going to far outside and not bringing things back in at the appropriate time. So, make sure to work on bringing this scale back into the home key as much as you work on bringing it outside the 7th-chord sound when learning to apply this mode to your jazz guitar soloing and melodic phrasing. Here is how that scale looks when applied to a D7 chord, which would be an Eb Melodic Minor Scale over D7.

Here is a sample lick over a ii-V-I progression in G major that uses both the A Melodic Minor Scale over Am7 and the Eb Melodic Minor Scale over the D7 chord within its construction.

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Click to hear audio for this lick.

7th Mode Melodic Minor Exercises


Once you have begun exploring this sound in your practice routine, you can use any or all of these exercises in order to fully integrate this mode into your 7th-chord vocabulary. 1. Put on a D7 vamp and solo over this chord using only the 7th mode of Melodic Minor. 2. Put on a tune such as Killer Joe or Watermelon Man and use the seventh mode of Melodic Minor to outline all of the 7 chords in those tunes. 3. Solo over a ii-V-I chord progression in G Major, using the D 7th mode of melodic minor to outline the D7 chord in the progression. 4. Apply the 7th mode of melodic minor to any jazz standard you are learning in the woodshed right now. 5. Repeat the above four exercises in all 12 keys and at various tempos.

Third Mode Melodic Minor


The last mode that we will look at features the 3rd mode of the Melodic Minor Scale, otherwise known as the Lydian Augmented Scale, applied to the Imaj7 chord in a ii-V-I chord progression. You can see this mode written out over the Gmaj7 chord below, which produces a Gmaj7#5 sound over that underlying chord. As well, you will notice that this is the E Melodic Minor Scale, only starting and ending on the 3rd note of that scale, in this case G, to produce the 3rd Mode of that scale.

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To help you get started with this mode over a Maj7 chord, here is a sample lick that uses the A Melodic Minor Scale over Am7 and D7, followed by the E Melodic Minor Scale applied to the Gmaj7 chord that ends the phrase. Work this idea in the key given, and then move it to other keys and ngerings as you explore it further around the neck of the guitar in your practice routine. Click to hear audio for this lick.

3rd Mode Melodic Minor Exercises


Once you have begun exploring this sound in your practice routine, you can use any or all of these exercises in order to fully integrate this mode into your maj7th-chord vocabulary. 1. Put on a Gmaj7 vamp and solo over this chord using only the 3rd mode of Melodic Minor. 2. Put on a tune such as Song for My Father or Autumn Leaves and use the 7th mode of Melodic Minor to outline all of the maj7 chords in those tunes. 3. Solo over a ii-V-I chord progression in G Major, using the G 3rd-mode of melodic minor to outline the Gmaj7 chord in the progression. 4. Apply the 3rd mode of melodic minor to any jazz standard you are learning in the woodshed right now. 5. Repeat the above four exercises in all 12 keys and at various tempos.
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As you can see, even though the Melodic Minor Scale has an inherent minor sound to it, by exploring the various modes of the Melodic Minor scale system, you can learn to apply the Melodic Minor sound to every chord in a major-key ii-V-I chord progression, expanding your improvisational vocabulary at the same time. If you want to explore these ideas further, you can learn how to play every Melodic Minor Mode right from your phone/tablet with the Matt Warnock Guitar Jazz Scales App. Do you have a question or comment about this lesson? Visit the Matt Warnock Guitar Facebook Page and post a comment on my wall. Ill be happy to answer any questions or comments you may have on this, or any jazz guitar, subject.

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