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Melodic/Harmonic Scales and use

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Vorago, May 30, 2004.

  1. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    heya ya all!

    I have a question about Melodic/Harmonic Scales and how to use them. Lately, I've been revising my theory and re-learning my scales. I already knew both the Pentatonic and Major scale (from my guitar years), but I had always learned them by looking at grids in music books. Nowadays I try to learn 'em by ear and by thinking of them in intervals instead of looking at dots on a grid. After redoing the Major scale, I moved on to the minor scale which went quite fluently. I also wanted to learn the Melodic and Harmonic variations. I knew of these from a far away past. This chapter needs some refreshing thought. First, I'm doubting wether Melodic is #6 or #6 #7 and harmonic is #6 #7 or #6. I think Melodic is #6 and Harmonic is #6 #7, but I can also be the other way around (my mother, who's a pianist, thinks its the other way around). So thats the first part of my question.

    Next part; can these variations be used on all scales (major/minor) or only on minor scales? If you would have a #7 in C major that would give a B#->C. So I think they can only be used on minor Scales, still, a clear answer to this question would be greatly appreciated.

    And then, last part: In what kind of music and on what chord patterns are Melodic/Harmonic scales often used? I'm getting quite bored of pentatonic improvisations.

    Thanks alot

    ps; I'm sorry if this is already asked before.
  2. josh_m


    May 5, 2004
    Davie, Fl
    Harmonic is a #7, Melodic is a #6 and #7 going up and they are reverted back to the natural state going down.

    Ex.: Am - ABCDEFG up and down; Am (harmonic) - ABCDEFG# up and down, Am (melodic) ABCDEF#G# up AGFEDCB down.

    These are only for minor scales and don't really apply to major as far as I know. Where application is concerned, I'll use a walking harmonic part if I need to add some dissention, it adds an evil feeling. Never used melodic before though.
  3. I shouldn't be posting because I know very little about the Melodic Minor but I've just started the chapter on The Melodic Minor Scale and Mark Levine points out that it is exactly the same as a Major ... but it has a flattened third.

    I got my ears around the Harmonic Minor fairly quickly, but, to my ears, the Melodic Minor changes very subtly from a minor sound into a major sound (ascending scale) - my ears haven't tuned into it yet.

    It helped when Mark Levine pointed out the similarities between the Melodic Minor and the Major because my ears were struggling to compare it to the Natural Minor scale.

  4. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    I asked another pianoplayer who came up with this:

    Melodic: All major notes except a b3, or all minor notes but #6 and #7

    Harmonic: All minor notes with a #7, which gives it a very oriental feel to it.

  5. josh_m


    May 5, 2004
    Davie, Fl
    Yes that is correct, if it is easier for you to remember Melodic as major with a b3rd then by all means remember it that way, for me it's easier to think #6 and #7. Harmonic doesn't feel oriental to me, it actually makes me think of dracula or something.
  6. Cool topic, I was wondering about the melodics too. My friend took a music exam for college that I figured I'd be able to pass as well. "I had to write out a melodic scale. You can do that right?" "Of course! Wait... what the hell is a melodic scale?!" :D
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I'd say harmonic minor is more middle eastern sounding.

    I must admit, melodic minor kind of escapes me so far. I use lydianb7 (4th mode) every now and then and can hear how it works... and of course super lochrian or altered scale (7th mode) comes in handy.
    ...but it's the major 6th and 7th in a minor chord that I just cant get into... i can handle the aug 2nd interva,l between 6 & 7 in harmonic minor, and i can get the min/maj 6s & 7s in diatonic scales, but the melodic minor just doesnt work for me... i need to hear it used in context ...and have it pointed out to me! :rolleyes:
  8. josh_m


    May 5, 2004
    Davie, Fl
    Thats exactly how I feel, I try it but it just doesnt sound right ot me, I don't really understand it's application.