• Who Else Is Interested In Learning The Synthetic Modes Of The Of The Melodic Minor Scale

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    You arrived at this page because you want to learn about the synthetic modes of the melodic minor scale.

    The melodic minor scale is one of the traditional scale in European and American music, and it’s very important when it comes to western music for a variety of reasons that we’ll not be covering in this lesson. But most importantly it is the scale of the minor key.

    The melodic minor scale has recently been explored by jazz and gospel exponents who has used it on a different level in their improvisation. That’s why in this lesson, I want to break that down to you, what the top players are doing with the melodic minor scale.

    However, before we go into what we have to learn today, permit me to give you a review on the melodic minor scale.

    A Quick Review On The Melodic Minor Scale

    The melodic minor scale is basically a chromatic variant of the natural minor scale. In other words, you utter the natural minor scale to produce the melodic minor scale.

    A very quick example of this is using the A natural minor scale:

    The A natural minor scale consists of all the white notes on the keyboard from A to A:

    Raising the sixth and seventh degrees of the A natural minor scale which are F:

    …and G:

    …respectively, by a half step to F#:

    …and G#:

    …produces the A melodic minor scale.

    The melodic minor scale was used to correct the melodic problems of the harmonic minor scale. The harmonic minor scale can be seen as a minor scale where its seventh degree is raised by a half step.

    So raising the seventh degree of the A natural minor scale which is G:

    …to G#:

    …produces the A harmonic minor scale:

    The harmonic minor scale has melodic challenges because from its sixth tone (F):

    …to its seventh tone (G#):

    …its three half steps (aka – “a sesquitone”).

    This pretty much produces a gap scale. So because of the gap between the sixth and seventh tones of the harmonic minor scale, it became necessary to introduce another chromatic variant of the natural minor scale where this melodic problem of the gap is fixed.

    So in addition to raising the seventh tone of the melodic minor scale, the sixth tone is also raised in the melodic minor scale. So basically raising the sixth and seventh tones of the natural minor scale produces the melodic minor scale.

    How To Derive The Melodic Minor Scale From A Natural Major Scale

    Although the melodic minor scale is a chromatic variant of the natural minor scale, it can be derived from the natural major scale, and I’ll show you step by step how this is done.

    Using any given major scale, and lowering its third tone by a half step, produces the melodic minor scale. For example, given the A natural major scale:

    …lowering its third tone which is C#:

    …by a half step to C natural:

    …produces the A melodic minor scale:

    So this is the much we can take in the melodic minor scale in this review. Let’s proceed to what synthetic modes are in the next segment.

    “What Is A Synthetic Mode?”

    Before we go ahead with the definition of synthetic modes, it is important that we talk about modes. Modes are ancient scales that existed before the present day scale system.

    Modes are basically formed by playing (in a regular succession) all the white notes on the keyboard starting from a given letter name to its octave.

    This is very simple. On the keyboard it looks like playing all the white notes from C to C:

    D to D:

    E to E:

    F to F:

    G to G:

    A to A:

    B to B:

    These modes were used in the earliest times by the Greeks before they were adopted by the church in the roman era between 400AD to 1400AD, and for the most part, were used majorly in the composition of music throughout this era.

    Synthetic modes are basically chromatic variance of diatonic scales. There are four traditional scales; the natural major scale, the natural minor scale, and there are two chromatic variant of the natural minor scale which are the melodic minor and the harmonic minor scales.

    So synthetic mode are modes that are formed from the chromatic variance of diatonic scale which are the melodic minor and harmonic minor scale. So synthetic modes are modes of the melodic minor and harmonic minor scale versus authentic modes which are modes of the natural major scale.

    Here are the names of the authentic modes…

    C to C:

    …the ionian mode.

    D to D:

    …the dorian mode.

    E to E:

    …the phrygian mode.

    F to F:

    …the lydian mode.

    G to G:

    …the mixolydian mode.

    A to A:

    …the aeolian mode.

    B to B:

    …the locrian mode.

    So these are the authentic modes. But our focus in today’s lesson is not on authentic modes but on synthetic modes. So in the next segment, I’m going to show you the synthetic modes of the melodic minor scale.

    The Synthetic Modes Of The Melodic Minor Scale

    In an earlier segment, we learned how to form the melodic minor scale, and we’ll be using the melodic minor scale in the key of A minor which is the A melodic minor scale:

    …as a reference in this segment.

    So we’ll be learning the synthetic modes of the melodic minor scale using the A melodic minor scale as a reference.

    Mode Number One – The Melodic Minor Scale

    Mode Number Two – The Dorian Flat Second

    Mode Number Three – The Lydian Augmented

    Mode Number Four – The Lydian Dominant

    Mode Number Five – The Mixolydian Flat Six

    Mode Number Six – The Aeolian Flat Five

    Mode Number Seven – The Super Locrain

    We’ve already discuss the definition of the first mode (the melodic minor scale), so we’ll focus on other synthetic modes of the melodic minor scale.

    The Dorian Flat Second

    The dorian flat second scale pretty much looks like a dorian scale with a lowered second degree. An example is the B dorian flat second scale:

    …which features a B dorian scale with a flattened second.

    The second tone of the B dorian scale is C#:

    …and lowering it by a half step to C natural:

    …produces the second mode of the melodic minor scale which is a synthetic mode.

    So the second authentic mode is the dorian scale while the second synthetic mode of the melodic minor scale is the dorian flat second. So the flat second, is what makes it synthetic.

    Here’s the dorian flat second in all twelve notes…

    C dorian flat second

    C# dorian flat second

    D dorian flat second

    D# dorian flat second

    E dorian flat second

    F dorian flat second

    F# dorian flat second

    G dorian flat second

    G# dorian flat second:

    A dorian flat second:

    Bb dorian flat second:

    B dorian flat second:

    The Lydian Augmented

    The lydian augmented is every jazz musician favorite scale that walks over the major seventh sharp five chord. The lydian augmented scale can be formed by raising the fifth tone of the lydian scale by a half step.

    So the C lydian scale:

    …which consists of C, D, E, F#,G,A,B,C,

    can be used to form the third synthetic mode of the melodic minor scale by raising its fifth tone which is G:

    …by a half step to G#:

    …to produce the lydian augmented scale:

    Check out the lydian augmented scale in all twelve keys…

    C lydian augmented scale:

    Db lydian augmented scale:

    D lydian augmented scale:

    Eb lydian augmented scale:

    E lydian augmented scale:

    F lydian augmented scale:

    F# lydian augmented scale:

    G lydian augmented scale:

    Ab lydian augmented scale:

    A lydian augmented scale:

    Bb lydian augmented scale:

    B lydian augmented scale:

    The Lydian Dominant

    The lydian dominant is a synthetic mode that combines the features of the lydian and the mixolydian scale. So if you combine the features of the D lydian scale:

    …and the D mixolydian scale:

    …you’ll have the D lydian dominant scale:

    …which consists of a lydian scale with a flat seventh degree, which can also be seen as a mixolydian scale with a raised fourth degree.

    So check out the lydian  dominant scale in all twelve keys…

    C lydian dominant scale:

    Db lydian dominant scale:

    D lydian dominant scale:

    Eb lydian dominant scale:

    E lydian dominant scale:

    F lydian dominant scale:

    F# lydian dominant scale:

    G lydian dominant scale:

    Ab lydian dominant scale:

    A lydian dominant scale:

    Bb lydian dominant scale:

    B lydian dominant scale:

    The Mixolydian Flat Six

    The mixolydian flat six scale is the fifth mode of the melodic minor which is a synthetic mode that deviates from the regular mixolydian scale because its sixth tone is lowered by a half step.

    So using the regular mixolydian scale, anyone can form the mixolydian flat six scale by lowering the  sixth tone of the E mixolydian scale (C#):

    …by a half step (C):

    …to form the mixolydian flat six scale.

    Check out the mixolydian flat six scale in all twelve notes on the keyboard…

    C mixolydian flat six scale:

    Db mixolydian flat six scale:

    D mixolydian flat six scale:

    Eb mixolydian flat six scale:

    E mixolydian flat six scale:

    F mixolydian flat six scale:

    F# mixolydian flat six scale:

    G mixolydian flat six scale:

    Ab mixolydian flat six scale:

    A mixolydian flat six scale:

    Bb mixolydian flat six scale:

    B mixolydian flat six scale:

    The Aeolian Flat Five

    The Super Locrian

     

    Final Words

    Congratulations on getting to this segment in this lesson; this shows me that you’re serious about learning synthetic modes, and we’re just getting started in this discussion. We’ll further our discussion in the next lesson where we’ll be looking at the application of synthetic modes especially in jazz improvisation.

    I’ll see you in the next lesson.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Zino

    Good

    Reply

    2 Maxwell

    Thanks for the insightful lessons. How can you apply augmented and diminished chords in your everyday playing/ chord progressions? How relevant are they, anyway? Thanks

    Reply

    3 Jermaine Griggs

    Augmented chords are very common in traditional praise (play them on the “5” to get back to the beginning of a hand-clapping traditional praise song). An example would be C+E+G#+C (C Augmented) to get back to an F7 (F dominant 7) chord in the key of F major.

    Diminished chords are used everywhere as passing chords. Just about any minor chord can be preceded by the diminished 7 a half step lower (e.g. – “A dim 7” going to “Bb minor 7”). They’re also found in traditional gospel music on the b5 (after playing a dominant7 chord on the 4th degree). They also work in between just about any scale tone… b2, b3, b5, b6, b7. They can also be used with certain base notes to create altered chords (A dim 7 over Ab bass gives you the sound of an Ab dominant 7 b9). etc etc.

    Reply

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