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Melodic minor mode? (Music theory)

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Roger DeLarge, May 13, 2017.


  1. Roger DeLarge

    Roger DeLarge

    Aug 9, 2016
    Norway
    Hi!
    I am currently practising modes, scales and walking bass. And as a beginner to jazz, I was jamming around some basic jazz chords progression;
    Dmin7, G7, Cmaj7, A7

    Problem hit me when I played the A7 and what I thought should be the mixolydian mode. Correct me if I am wrong, but apparently there is a flat 6 in there, something that makes it a melodic minor fifth mode?

    Now how do I know when there should be a melodic minor mode or a plain major mode?
     
  2. Jloch86

    Jloch86

    Aug 1, 2016
    New Jersey
    When the piano or guitar player tells you to. You both need to be on the same page harmonically or everything's gonna sound like doody.

    Like if he says "Listen, when we get to the A7, flat the 6 of that scale." THEN you do it. If he doesn't say anything, just stick to regular mixolydian (or diminished or whole tone if you're feeling randy).
     
    jebmd likes this.
  3. eJake

    eJake

    May 22, 2011
    New Orleans
    It's all about where you're going. I would use A mix b2b6 (harmonic minor 5th mode. I believe) because when resolving to the D-7 the b6-5-1 (Bb-A-D) progression is super strong.
     
    joebar likes this.
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    You're way over thinking a fundamental and simple jazz concept.

    Please break the association in your head that "dominant 7th chord = mixolydian mode." That's not true, and no jazz musician that I know thinks about music that way. It might be true in certain other styles of music, but definitely not in jazz.

    The symbol "A7" is not shorthand for a "scale" or "mode." Rather, the symbol "A7" is shorthand for a "chord." In this case, it is the chord A7, which is spelled A, C#, E, G.

    Jazz composers will freely use lots and lots of dominant 7th chords. There is no requirement that these dominant 7th chords fit any "parent" key, scale, or mode. Rather, these chords are used to create "tension and release" which keeps the harmonic progression moving along.

    I bet you that the next chord in the song after the A7 is some type of D chord (or maybe the pattern just loops back on itself, back to the Dmin7 and start again). In this case, A7 is acting as the "secondary dominant" of D. You could say "five of D" and most jazz musicians would know exactly what you are talking about. Here is an article describing the basics of secondary dominant theory: Secondary dominant - Wikipedia

    I realize I haven't answered your specific question, "should I play F or F# over the A7 chord?" My answer is that, in the "jazz" style, it would be perfectly appropriate to play F, it would be perfectly appropriate to play F#, and it would also be perfectly appropriate not to play either F or F# at all. The four important thoughts I try to keep in my head:
    1. What is the harmonic chord progression of the song? What are the chords before and after? Am I choosing notes that connect smoothly from chord to chord? Am I providing an appropriate amount of tension and release?
    2. What is the melody? Am I choosing notes that support the melody?
    3. What are the soloists doing? Am I choosing notes that support their solos?
    4. What ideas can I get from classic recordings? How would Ray Brown play a progression like Dmin7, G7, Cmaj7, A7? What about Ron Carter, Jimmy Garrison, or Jimmy Blanton? What notes would they choose for this chord progression? The best way to become a jazz musician is to study jazz songs by master jazz musicians. Don't get lost in your own head; put on some famous recordings and jam along with what you hear!
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
  5. Jloch86

    Jloch86

    Aug 1, 2016
    New Jersey
    Right. It's the tension and release that makes jazz what it is. When you see A7 (or any dominant/altered chord) you should be thinking in terms of creating tension. That's why chromatic approach notes are so important to walking lines.

    Check out my transcription of Paul Chambers' line in Blue Train in the Tabs and Notation forum. It's just Eb blues. Every chord is a dominant one. Take the time to analyze a few choruses and you'll see Chambers is able to keep you interested the entire time by weaving in and out of what you "expect" to hear. He doesn't strictly use mixolydian.
     
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  6. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Montreal
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    None of the above. It would be the fifth mode of the D minor harmonic scale.
    I know it sucks but this is what it is :)

    If you play a straight mixo on the A7, you'll end up with F# and B that clash with the upcoming D minor...
     
    joebar likes this.
  7. Roger DeLarge

    Roger DeLarge

    Aug 9, 2016
    Norway
    Thanks guys! It was really helpful! But I can agree that I am over thinking it, not only when it come to this, but also how i see jazz in general. As a beginner, I have accepted my fate; less reading, more listening ;)
     
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  8. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    This is not what you were asking about and will make your brain hurt but harmony based on the modes derived from the melodic minor scale is something that exists. I wouldn't necessarily jump into this right now (get your diatonic inside playing more together first) but be aware as you start understanding more outside sounding stuff that this sound has been explored and used by a lot of jazz players. But like any modes you're not looking so much to superimpose them over a chord as to understand that chords and harmony can be derived from them.

    I Melodic minor
    II Phrygian ♮6
    III Lydian #5
    IV Lydian b7
    V Mixolydian b6
    VI Locrian ♮9
    VII Superlocrian or Diminished Whole Tone
     
    Groove Master and Spin Doctor like this.
  9. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    Locrian also works well over Altered Dominant chords because it contains all of the chord tones except the 3rd. So if you are playing over a G7alt chord G Locrian. G,Ab,Bb,C,Db,Eb,F,G is 1,b2(b9),b3(#9),4,b5,b6(#5),b7,1. More often than not if the Dominant 7 chord is going to a minor chord it is an Altered Dominant chord even if it is a Secondary Dominant.

    C/S,
    Rev J
     
    joebar and Spin Doctor like this.
  10. If you make the commitment to try to sort this stuff out, you have to ask yourself these kinds of questions. That's how you figure it out, usually with someone else's help.

    Keep doing it.
     
  11. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Montreal
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    I don't get your examples. (??)

    You seem to confuse a scale (mixolydian scale) with chord-tones here. My explanation is very clear and your examples....well, fuzzy....

    Don't forget that there is a Bb at the key and the B on the D7 on the third page is a Bb which is exactly my point about playing the fifth mode of the minor harmonic scale on a dominant that resolve in a cycle of fifth on the minor chord....
     
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  12. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    Sorry for my confusion.
    In short.
    I don't know how long that A7 chord lasts- 2 quarter notes, one bar, two bars.
    Let's say, it's one bar.
    Now, I will make F as my target note for Dm, and I will play one bar off A7 as A Ab G Gb/F# and F.
    Please tell me I am wrong.

    As I've mentioned before I deleted it, I would say, usually, I would not recommend Mixolydian in the OP's very basic chord progression case, but it's Jazz , and almost everything is possible.
    P.S. I am deleting my post that seriously confused a true Professional Musician and excellent teacher.
     
  13. Chord tones are chord tones. You can't go wrong playing them.
     
    Jeff Bonny likes this.
  14. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Montreal
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    Even if it is true that chord-tones are helpful, I'm not a big fan of only using them in the bass lines because everybody else in the band are playing them. The only person that can actually be melodic and in the key is the bass. That is why I prefer focussing on playing more diatonic lines and notes to help support the tonality and then add the interesting chord-tones that are outside of the key ;-)
     
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  15. I agree.... once you've mastered chord tones. The link was for the OP though. :thumbsup:
     
    Groove Master likes this.
  16. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Montreal
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    Gotcha ;-)

    Also for the OP there are 2 possible scales for the A7: D minor melodic with major 9 (B) or D minor harmonic scale with the b9 (Bb) for a bluesy sound in the key of C major
     
  17. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    That may sound ok, however, starting the locrian natural 9 on the b7 of the dom chord gives you an alt'd dom sound with the b7, r, b9,#9, 3, b5 b13 = F, G, Ab, Bb, B, Db, Eb, www.basslessonslosangeles.com
     
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  18. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    I agree that both will work. It all depends on desired effect and context.

    C/S,
    Rev J
     
  19. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    Welcome back. It's nice to hear from a very accomplished and professional bass player.:thumbsup:
    One of you last comments before you stopped visiting TB was also about the Locrian mode. :cool:
     
    davidhilton likes this.

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