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#1
Can you tell me something about these scales? Which scale do you prefer? What are the differences between them? Which one is better for which genre?
#2
Quote by LuchadorMetal
Can you tell me something about these scales?


Melodic Minor can be viewed as a major scale with a flattened third. The Harmonic Minor can be viewed as a minor scale with a raised seventh.

Quote by LuchadorMetal

Which scale do you prefer?


Both have their uses, but i personally enjoy the sound of harmony that the melodic minor is traditionally used over.

Quote by LuchadorMetal
What are the differences between them?


See my first answer.

Quote by LuchadorMetal
Which one is better for which genre?


None is better, but they are certainly more common in different genres. Classical music features both. Metal mostly deals with harmonic minor. Jazz and fusion uses both, but most commonly the melodic minor. None of them are very common in rock or pop music, maybe here and there they would find place for the harmonic minor for a more eastern feeling, but i haven't heard it much in popular music.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#3
Harmonic Minor refers to when the chord progression contains a V7 chord in a minor key. It's the most "resolved" way to move back to the minor i. Generally Harmonic Minor refers to the "harmony" and Melodic Minor is used in the "melody." I'll explain why.

The Harmonic Minor has a very wide interval between its b6 and 7 - an "augmented second" which is three frets wide. This is widely accepted to be a very ugly interval so it's generally avoided in melody writing.
If the composer wants to ascend from the fifth to the octave, the intervals of the melodic minor are much more pleasant. They are borrowed from the parallel major scale and are called "natural" 6 and "natural" 7.
Sometimes the natural minor scale is referred to as "descending melodic minor" simply because the intervals sound more pleasant descending (8ve, b7, b6, 5) than the "ascending melodic minor".
In modern music, however, the distinction between "ascending" and "descending" are blurred.

The important thing to bear in mind is that music isn't always meant to be "pleasant" sounding. A good composer knows when to use dissonance and consonance to greatest effect.
For example, the V7 chord in a minor key is meant to be the most dissonant, to contrast with the tonic i. Sometimes the dissonant augmented second of the Harmonic Minor will heighten the tension in a musical way.

To answer your question about genre, be aware that the ugly augmented second interval can sound "foreign" to our ears, and is often used to suggest a middle-eastern vibe, even though it's not used in that music. Many people who recognise the interval may cringe at bad melody writing being passed off as "foreign."

Generally, these scales reflect the harmony more than the genre.
#4
Way back when music was often written for chorales and such, the augmented 2nd interval in the harmonic minor scale was just tricky to intonate in that context. The melodic minor scale was developed to avoid that such issues; hence the name. Both sounds are used across all types of music, just depends on what sound you want.
#5
+1 To everything Sickz said.

Some other considerations for applications in contemporary music:

The source of the chords in a minor key/tonality is Harmonic Minor, not Melodic Minor. This is the traditional sound.

If you are trying to follow the changes as to-the-letter as possible, using Harmonic Minor gives you the classic sound. You can actually move all your major licks into HM for this purpose.

The 5th degree of Harmonic Minor is often used by players for that middle-eastern/evil sound.

Melodic Minor harmonies exist, but to claim something is in "Melodic Minor" is erroneous.

This is because Melodic Minor is a shading device, and all melodic minor chords/sounds are effective substitutes for all other melodic minor chords/sounds.

You sound like you are in the process of learning, so I would recommend you get really good with HM before moving on to MM; it will help keep things clear.

You sound like you are in the process of learning, so I would recommend you get really good with HM before moving on to MM; it will help keep things clear.

ALSO: If you are into CST (or any harmonically specific improvising) it is worth it to explore the other scales derived from the MM pitch collection, but I'm going to keep my mouth shut and avoid using the "M-word" in this thread, lest we start a flame war.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#6
Yeah, what the others have said. You should remember that the V doesn't always need to be major, though. Sometimes the natural minor v chord can sound great, even if it doesn't have such a strong pull to the tonic as a V(7) does.

Btw isn't this kind of melodic minor harmony?

i - V6 - bVII - IV6 - bVI - III - IV(or iv7) - V7 - i

In Em: Em, B/D#, D, A/C#, C, G, A, B7

Or, well, it has notes from all of the minor scales. I don't really understand why that progression works. Because of the bass descending by semitones? It works without the inversions as well, though.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Sep 14, 2014,
#7
Sort of, the problem is that the A/C# Chord could also be called a V/bVII, depending on context.

When I talk about it being a shading device, I mean in a contemporary setting. No Jazz guy would see a major IV in a minor key and choose melodic minor for the "vanilla" sound.

Classical, with its emphasis on melody and counterpoint over vertical harmonic structures and willingness to use all 3 forms of minor at once, is a bit of a different story.

Also:Not just the descending bassline, but the sequential nature of the chords are what makes that a great progression IMO.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
Last edited by Jet Penguin at Sep 14, 2014,
#8
Yeah, it could be a V/bVII if it resolved to bVII.

And yes, you're right about the sequential nature. The root progression that goes: fourth down, third up, fourth down, third up, fourth down and then the cadence.
#9
TS, I think you seriously should've googled those questions.

Quote by wikipedia
The distinctive sound of the harmonic minor scale is the interval between the (minor) sixth and (major) seventh degrees of the scale (in the case of A-minor, F and G♯, which is an augmented second. While some composers, notably Mozart, have used this interval to advantage in melodic composition, other composers, having felt it to be an awkward leap, particularly in vocal music, considered a whole step between these two scale degrees more conducive to smooth melody writing, so either the sixth scale degree was raised or the seventh flattened, in both cases by a semitone. Traditionally, music theorists have called these two options the ascending melodic minor scale (also known as heptatonia seconda and jazz minor scale) and descending melodic minor scale respectively. The ascending melodic minor scale can be notated as

1 2 ♭3 4 5 6 7 8

While the descending is:

1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 ♭7 8


I'm not going to spam this forum with quotes: This wikipedia page also says something about the harmonic minor scale. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_scale

Next time, try to google before asking.
#10
Quote by liampje

Next time, try to google before asking.


Shhh if the people who post here found out about google there wouldn't be an MT anymore
#11
No. No offense, but TS should not have googled, especially since the quoted "answer" talks about ascending vs. descending melodic minor, which is erroneous and an urban legend at best.

Melodic Minor is the same going up and down, and the various 6th and 7th scale degrees of the three types of minor scale have been used regardless of direction. It's about voice leading, not ascending vs descending.

The whole ascending vs descending thing is an attempt to sum up hundreds of examples into one broad sweeping statement.

Google is great, but misinformation/generalizations with no application to music making aren't.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
Last edited by Jet Penguin at Sep 14, 2014,
#12
I've only ever learnt the melodic minor as ascending and descending are different Didn't know it was otherwise and now I'm more confused, and more convinced that theory is bollocks cause it can't even agree with itself
it's all just coming back
it's all coming back

it's all coming back to me
#13
It's not entirely accurate or inaccurate.

Basically its a generalization about voice leading.

When you have multiple voices to harmonize in a minor key, the ascending leap from 6 to 7, the leading tone, can be awkward/bad sounding to voice-lead. This can be smoothed out by raising scale degree 6, eliminating the augmented second interval.

In a descending line, this process is not necessary as often, because the 7/leading tone will rarely descend instead of resolve. Even if it does, it is less awkward in a descending line.

Before the advent of the modern use of MM as a shading device (see Jazz/Contemporary music), when voice-leading and melodic lines were more prevalent than the "chords as vertical structures" approach of today, theorists generalized these tendencies into that rule, claiming that melodies in minor TEND TO ascend one way and descend another.

In the end it is negotiable. There are plenty of Mozart examples have a nat.6 going down and a b6 going up, and I don't want to be the one to dig him up and tell him all his masterpieces are "wrong" haha.

Theory is principles, not rules. Those words are not the same.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
Last edited by Jet Penguin at Sep 14, 2014,
#15
Basically what Jet Penguin said. There's no WRONG way to use it, but historically it has mostly been used melodically when ascending to the tonic on a V - i harmony. Jazz has a different approach, though. That's why they call it "jazz minor"
Last edited by Elintasokas at Sep 14, 2014,
#16
useful scales for improvisation. major, melodic minor, and harmonic minor (And each of their modes) cover basically 99% of tonal music

useful in jazz also when the dominant chord goes a fourth up (ex: G7 to C-7).
id use C melodic minor in a minor II V I for example to bring out the b13 on the dominant chord and the third of the G7 (B note). C harmonic minor would give us the b9 in addition of the b13 (and third of G7)
melodic minor is used also for IV-6 chords, or even on I-6 like on the tune ill remember april. playing the sharp 7 on a minor chord can sound nice in the proper context in jazz
Last edited by SuperKid at Sep 14, 2014,
#17
Exactly.

No lies though, I hate the term "jazz minor", it sounds so..high-school, I dunno.

This one time I was helping out at a high school jazz camp and the guitar teacher there wouldn't shut up about Jazz minor.

Every solo he played was just scale running over an Am6 vamp, it was brutal.

Edit to bounce off Superkid:

You can use MM over any dominant regardless of its direction with a little finesse.

Although I'd venture you'd have better luck on that II-V's G7 with AbMM instead of CMM
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
Last edited by Jet Penguin at Sep 14, 2014,
#18
Quote by Jet Penguin


Edit to bounce off Superkid:

You can use MM over any dominant regardless of its direction with a little finesse.

Although I'd venture you'd have better luck on that II-V's G7 with AbMM instead of CMM

agreed
Ab mm works well, C mm is a bit easier to start with (you gotta be a little careful about the C on G7 tho)
#19
Well the C MM is for the (i) chord. MM in Jazz/contemporary is a shading device.

When you play the C MM over the ii and the V, you are taking advantage of the fact that both those chords point to (i) and are overriding the progression with the (i) MM sound.

Dm7b5 - G7 - Cm = C minor.

C minor is shaded with (you guessed it): C Melodic Minor.

Traditionally, this "overriding sound is done with Harmonic Minor. You can use a C HM scale over all these. Or you can "shade" the chords with MM:

Dm7b5 - G7 - Cm +

FMM - AbMM - C MM =

Dm7b5(nat.9) - G7 Alt. - C Min(maj7)

TLDA: If you are going to ride through the changes, use Harmonic Minor, and Mayyyybe Melodic Minor over the (i) chord. But by using Melodic Minor scales, you can fully alter ("shade") the chords. Then you sound like Coltrane instead of Yngwie!
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
Last edited by Jet Penguin at Sep 14, 2014,
#20
Yeah, I knew that the altered scale is some mode of melodic minor, but that's about it, lol. Tbh, I've never even tried using it. I only know it theoretically.

I guess that's what I'll learn next. I've just been memorizing rootless left hand voicings recently.

I'm having trouble staying motivated with the piano. I guess I don't care that much about playing, I just want to write music so I focus 90% of my practicing on that. But I'm worried that being a great pianist would help my writing as well, so I force myself to play everyday anyway

But I guess it's not as important as it has been in the past. Nowadays we can just insert the notes and press play. We don't need a piano to try out the harmonies or anything.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Sep 14, 2014,
#22
I think he means vs. in the comparative sense, not the conflict sense.

Unless Melodic Minor is suing Harmonic Minor, which would be hilarious.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#23
Quote by Jet Penguin
I think he means vs. in the comparative sense, not the conflict sense.

Obviously. But you're missing the joke...

Unless Melodic Minor is suing Harmonic Minor, which would be hilarious.

True.
#25
See, I didn't miss the joke!

Yeah I just did it from the thread title, where MM would be the plantiff. Maybe MM is suing for damages because no one knows how to use him properly? Everyone's too obsessed with 80s HM shred? (crickets) (facepalm)

I dunno, legal stuff is Alan's deal not mine. I only know the basics' basics.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#26
@Elintasokas:

I totally hear you man; my piano skills are basic at best. I try to force myself to write away from any instruments (I'm training myself to audiate), and so I just use the keyboard/guitar to test things.

I do devote a great deal of time though practicing improvisation, and it definitely is a process that informs composing, and vice versa. Doing one helps you grow the other.

And yes, there are many applications of MM besides the obvious melodic ones; its totally worth diving into. There's a lot of substance there depending on how far you want to take it. Especially when it comes to harmonic concepts.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#27
I don't usually write away from instruments(or my computer's notation program), but I do sight singing and a ton of ear training. A year ago I couldn't recognize any intervals, but now I can recognize them with a 99% accuracy and transcribe some melodies in real time, etc.

Yes, you're definitely right about composition and improv being connected. After all they're essentially the same thing. Composition is just more carefully planned while improv is more spontaneous. It's a great feeling when you're in the right mood and the improv really flows. Most of the improv I do on the piano is harmonic and melodic at the same time.

When you're talking about MM harmonic concepts, are you talking about altered dominants? I'm well aware of those. The thing is, I know a ton of jazz theory, but when I play music, jazz isn't what naturally comes out. lol. I use a lot of extended harmony when I play piano, but I still wouldn't call it jazz.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Sep 15, 2014,
#28
Harmonic minor is the 'normal' minor scale; i.e. the same key signature as its relative major plus the seventh note raised by one semitone.

A melodic minor scale raises the sixth and seventh note by one semitone as you play it ascending (going up), but then they are lowered again playing it descending (going down)

For example D harmonic minor is D, E, F, G, A, Bflat, Csharp, D - and the same on the way down but in reverse

D melodic minor would be D, E, F, G, A, Bnatural, Csharp, D and then on the way down D, Cnatural, Bflat, A, G, F, E, D
#29
Yeah, The umbrella harmonic concept is altered dominants, but you can also "shade" any regular chord with the MM sound. There are waaay more advanced things you can do than use CST and fly up and down the scale.

But since TS is learning still, its beyond the scope of the thread and I don't wanna cloud it up. PM me or something and we can have Jazz time haha!

Edit: NO. They don't change ascending or descending its a Damn Lie.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
Last edited by Jet Penguin at Sep 16, 2014,
#30
Quote by Jet Penguin

Edit: NO. They don't change ascending or descending its a Damn Lie.


in a jazz context it is the same up & down..AKA - the jazz scale..jazz musicians cant deal with that much choice..

the MM is a treasure in harmonic & melodic devices and as you said it would take much time to detail its aspects and not only against altered chords


play well

wolf
#31
Quote by wolflen
in a jazz context it is the same up & down..AKA - the jazz scale..jazz musicians cant deal with that much choice..

the MM is a treasure in harmonic & melodic devices and as you said it would take much time to detail its aspects and not only against altered chords


play well

wolf
Yeah, but the whole not changing when ascending or descending thing has been scientifically proven. And it isn't because "JAZZ SCALE".
#32
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Yeah, but the whole not changing when ascending or descending thing has been scientifically proven. And it isn't because "JAZZ SCALE".


In jazz, nobody can hear your logic
#33
Quote by MapOfYourHead
In jazz, nobody can hear your logic

This is a silly statement. Many Jazz musicians know a ton about theory and avoid silly terms like "Jazz scale".
#36
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
Jazz minor is a super common term that refers to the melodic minor scale with raise 6th and 7th both up and down.

I know.


I still hate the term. Why? There isn't any (good) reason. I just do.
#37
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Yeah, but the whole not changing when ascending or descending thing has been scientifically proven. And it isn't because "JAZZ SCALE".



scientifically proven...yikes...(wolf can see it now...a sax, guitar, trumpet, keyboard, bass and drum players--all wearing white lab coats..looking in microscopes..all hooked up with wires and monitors beeping..being observed in a "clean room" by heads of top government scientific labs..who are charting the progress...question: Dr Bang..how is the sax player doing with the 6th degree of the scale..reply: in the initial test he could not play it decending..but after we injected him with ScalAJaz..the miracle musical drug..he can now infuse all degrees ascending and descending ... he is still having a bit of trouble with the the 7th degree but we will try medical marijuana for that ...thus termed the MM drug..)
#38
Quote by wolflen
scientifically proven...yikes...(wolf can see it now...a sax, guitar, trumpet, keyboard, bass and drum players--all wearing white lab coats..looking in microscopes..all hooked up with wires and monitors beeping..being observed in a "clean room" by heads of top government scientific labs..who are charting the progress...question: Dr Bang..how is the sax player doing with the 6th degree of the scale..reply: in the initial test he could not play it decending..but after we injected him with ScalAJaz..the miracle musical drug..he can now infuse all degrees ascending and descending ... he is still having a bit of trouble with the the 7th degree but we will try medical marijuana for that ...thus termed the MM drug..)

#39
Quote by crazysam23_Atax


I still hate the term. Why? There isn't any (good) reason. I just do.


So do i, and i haven't heard that term until i went into this forum. After all my theory studies and countless jazz gigs, i have never heard of "jazz minor" when referring to melodic minor.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#40
I think this thread went a bit of course to what the OP's original intentions were lol. As far as the melodic minor it is not a scale I use and I believe enough information on it was given.

As for the HM just listen to any Yngwie song and that is the sound of the HM= dark middle eastern tone and great for metal tunes. On the flipside the HM minor sounds great and very musical in a other context as well. Take a simple progression like Am-Dm-Em- Am and play the say the natural minor over it and it sounds good. Now take the same progression and change the Em to an E chord which would be the major V chord in a minor progression and play the HM over it when it comes to the E chord and you will hear the power of the HM which is why the scale was created. Also the 5th mode of the HM minor which in A would be E would be called the Phrygian Dominant and is another great scale for dark metal tunes and nother favorite of Yngwies. If you are not familiar with modes you are just playing the A HM starting and ending on E. This thread just raised my interest in the MM and will now give me something to explore for a few months lol.
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