In The Major Scale Just Flatten The 3rd
It's Super-Cool And Easy As,
You'll Learn Some Sounds You've Never Heard
Especially For Playing Jazz!

First, to keep the peace with any strictly classical visitors, I must point out that, traditionally speaking, the Melodic Minor Scale is kinda 2 scales in one.
During upward movement it is the melodic minor scale and on the way down it turns into the relative minor scale (or natural minor or aeolian mode).

Traditional Melodic Minor Scale

That is appropriate if you're composing music based on strictly classical terms. In that case you derive or extract the melodic minor from the relative minor by sharpening the 6th and 7th step and then flattening them again as you come down.

But it does not make any sense to me if you're creating melodies in any popular style of music like pop, country, middle of the road standards and especially jazz.
Let's face it, if the rhythm section is strumming away on a Cm6 or CmMaj7 chord, why would you change your downward moving melody notes to Bb and Ab?

I prefer to look at the melodic minor scale as a Tonal Center in it's own right just like the major scale.

I therefore urge you to do the following:

  • When practising major scales, always practise the same scale with a flattened third note also (creating a melodic minor). New scale steps:
    Whole Tone (WT) | Half Tone (HT) | WT | WT | WT | WT | HT
  • Aim to become as familiar with this scale as with the major.
  • Go through the same interval and arpeggio exercises as suggested for all major scales.
  • Realize at all times the harmonic possibilities you are creating while playing around with the melodic minor sound.
  • Be aware, especially as a jazz player, of the 7 new chords you are becoming familiar with.

The Melodic Minor Scale Modes In The Key Of "C"

For an explanation of the abbreviations, click HERE

Melodic Minor Scale Chart

True mastery of your instrument and music in general
cannot be achieved by scale practice alone.
Understanding the connections between individual elements
is the key to unlocking the door to musical freedom.
The Melodic Minor Scale is just a small wheel in the machinery.

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