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Theroy question related to 2octave E minor scales.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by yoshi, Aug 30, 2003.

  1. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    Hi all.

    I was checking through a holy-grail type scale book that my gramps gave me some time ago.

    I stumbled upon a bunch of 2 octave scales and thought I'd check them over again (last timeI didnt take them in, just played through them). I decided to focus on the E scales first as thats what my bro writes our band material in.

    Anyway, I noticed that with some they differ notewise on the way back up the scale than they do on they way down it and wondered why?

    E minor harmonic goes:

    - such as why aren't the C and D #'d on the way back down as they are on the way up?

    Thanks for any expanations/pointing out that I'm been simple :oops:
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    That scale is called the Melodic Minor scale.

    In jazz, they use the acending form only and sometimes refer to it as jazz minor.
  3. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London

    Yeah I was looking over that one too and noticed it was 'the same up as it was down'. This one in comparision to the E natural minor scale has its' C's sharped but not it's D's sharped like the 'melodic minor scale' listed above did (recieted from the book, not trying to be cocky).

    :bawl: I'm digging my confusion hole even deeper now :/

    ..I think what I'm aksing now is 'why does the melodic minor scale not stick to the same pattern 'down' when the minor jazz scale does?

    (feel free to 'shout' abuse if I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill!).
  4. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    In traditional theory, the melodic minor has the major 6th and major 7th on the way up, and the minor 6th and minor 7th on the way down.

    Whereas, harmonic minor has the minor 6th and major 7th both ascending and descending.

    I'm not entirely sure why it is that the melodic minor has two forms, one ascending and one descending, like that. I don't know why they didn't just have separate scales - natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor.

    The descending form of the melodic minor (minor 6th and minor 7th) is also called natural minor. It also corresponds to the 6th mode of the major scale, which is called Aeolian. So, Aeolian and natural minor are the same thing.

    Now with Jazz, the natural minor is not considered to be all that useful. Jazz tends to come from a functional harmony standpoint, rather than a traditional harmony standpoint. And when we're talking about functional harmony, there are 3 basic chord functions - ii, V and I.

    In a major key, chord ii is a minor 7th chord, and corresponds to the Dorian mode. Chord V is a dominant 7th chord, and corresponds to the Mixolydian mode. Chord I is a major 7th chord and corresponds to the Ionian mode (a.k.a the major scale).

    So natural minor/Aeolian doesn't really figure much in that. Minor 7th chords usually function as ii chords, and correspond to the Dorian scale, rather than Aeolian.

    The thing about the natural minor scale is, it doesn't have a major 7th. And it's the major 7th (also called the leading tone) which creates the strong resolve from a dominant 7th chord to a I chord. Now the harmonic and melodic minor (ascending) scales have a major 7th, which means chord V is a true dominant 7th chord, so we have that strong resolve from V7 to I. And the melodic minor (ascending) scale has the major 6th - which makes for nice rich harmony, such as minor 6th chords, and minor 6/9 chords.

    So the melodic minor (ascending) is more useful in Jazz, and as such, in the context of Jazz harmony, when we talk about melodic minor, we're just referring to the ascending form of the melodic minor scale. We're just referring to a scale with a minor 3rd, but a major 6th and major 7th - regardless of what direction you're playing it in.

    Does that help?
  5. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    Yeah, thanks a lot for the detailed explanation...though it'll take me a fair few re-reads to fully grasp it!
  6. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    I've been going over these some more today and it's making more sense.

    Also, I decided to write down the intervals of the E Harmonic minor scale and play it in a closed position, at which point I noticed it was just like the opening to chromatic fantasy (only in E not D).

    I was well chuffed, thats a right milestone in my theory bank :p
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Nice post moley!

    I always wondered why melodic minor was different ascending to decending - very odd that
    If you do ever find out why, let us knwo wont you!


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