• What Does The Melodic Minor Scale Have In Common With The Major And Minor Scale?

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    Who else is interested in finding out what the melodic minor scale has in common with the major and minor scale?

    The melodic minor scale is related to these traditional scales:

    The natural major scale

    The natural minor scale

    You’re probably wondering what the basis of the relationship between these scales is. But before we go into all of that, let’s review the melodic minor scale.

    A Quick Review On The Melodic Minor Scale

    The traditional scale of the minor key is the natural minor scale. For example, the traditional scale of the key of A minor is the A natural minor scale:

    However, for certain reasons (that we’re not going to discuss in this lesson), the natural minor scale has two chromatic variants:

    The harmonic minor scale

    The melodic minor scale

    It’s the modification of the 6th and 7th tones of the natural minor scale that produces the melodic minor scale. In this modification, the 6th and 7th tones of the natural minor scale are raised by a half-step.

    Raising the 6th and 7th tones of the A natural minor scale:

    …which are F and G respectively:

    …by a half-step to F# and G# respectively:

    …produces the A melodic minor scale:

    “For Your Reference, Here Are All The Melodic Minor Scales On The Keyboard…”

    C melodic minor scale:

    C# melodic minor scale:

    D melodic minor scale:

    Eb melodic minor scale:

    E melodic minor scale:

    F melodic minor scale:

    F# melodic minor scale:

    G melodic minor scale:

    Ab melodic minor scale:

    A melodic minor scale:

    Bb melodic minor scale:

    B melodic minor scale:

    The Upper And Lower Tetrachord Of The Melodic Minor Scale

    The melodic minor scale can be divided into two parts known as tetrachords. The first four notes make up the lower tetrachord while the last four notes make up the upper tetrachord.

    Let’s take a closer look at the lower and upper tetrachords of the melodic minor scale.

    The Lower Tetrachord Of The Melodic Minor Scale

    The lower tetrachord of the melodic minor scale (using the C melodic minor scale as a reference):

    …consists of C, D, Eb, and F:

    If the lower tetrachord of the melodic minor scale:

    C melodic minor (lower tetrachord):

    …is placed side-by-side with the natural major and natural minor scale:

    C natural major scale:

    C natural minor scale:

    …you’ll clearly see that the lower tetrachord of the melodic minor scale is identical with that of the natural minor scale:

    C melodic minor (lower tetrachord):

    C natural minor scale:

    From our observation, the lower tetrachord of the melodic minor scale and that of the natural minor scale is the same.

    The Upper Tetrachord

    We’ll be examining the upper tetrachord of the melodic minor scale using the C melodic minor scale (as a reference):

    The upper tetrachord of the melodic minor scale consists of G, A, B, and C:

    …and that’s entirely different from the notes we have in the upper tetrachord of the C natural minor scale:

    …which are G, Ab, Bb, and C:

    Side-by-side, the upper tetrachords of the melodic minor and natural minor scale are NOT identical:

    C melodic minor (upper tetrachord):

    C natural minor (upper tetrachord):

    “So, What Is The Upper Tetrachord Of The Melodic Minor Scale Related To?”

    If the upper tetrachord of the C melodic minor scale:

    …(consisting of G, A, B, and C):

    …is placed side-by-side with that of the C natural major scale:

    …consisting of G, A, B, and C:

    …then you’ll have two identical upper tetrachords.

    Keep an eye on the upper tetrachord while checking both scales out:

    C melodic minor scale:

    C natural major scale:

    …both scales have identical upper tetrachords (consisting of G, A, B, and C):

    Melodic Minor: Natural Minor Scale Vs Natural Major Scale

    The melodic minor scale can be associated with both the major and minor scale and this is because of its tetrachords.

    The lower tetrachord of the melodic minor scale is identical with that of the natural minor scale, while its upper tetrachord is identical with that of the natural major scale.

    So, that’s 50% of the minor scale and 50% of the major scale in one scale.

    Amazing, right?

    Final Words

    Due to the relationship between the major and minor scale in the composition of the melodic minor scale, it’s easy to form the melodic minor scale using any major scale of your choice.

    Lowering the third tone of any given major scale by a half-step produces a corresponding melodic minor scale.

    For example, when the third tone of the C major scale:

    …which is E:

    …is lowered by a half-step (to Eb):

    …this produces the C melodic minor scale:

    See you in the next lesson.

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    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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    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Carolyn

    Thanks. When are these scales used? God bless you.

    Reply

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