In this Music Theory For Bass lesson we look at the modes of the melodic minor scale

For more information on modes, click here, and to find out how to build the modes of the harmonic minor scale click here

What Is The Melodic Minor Scale?

The melodic minor scale is very similar to the natural minor scale. It contains a flattened 3rd just as the minor scale does, but the 6th and 7th are major instead of minor.

Melodic Minor – C D Eb F G A B – 1 2 b3 4 5 6 7

Natural Minor – C D Eb F G Ab Bb – 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7

Modes Of The Melodic Minor Scale

If you have been following the previous lessons in this series, you should feel pretty comfortable with working out the modes of a particular scale by now. Remember, each mode is the same as the scale you started with but beginning from a different degree. The modes in the key of C harmonic minor are as follows:

C Melodic Minor – C D Eb F G A B
D Dorian b9 – D Eb F G A B C
Eb Lydian Augmented – Eb F G A B C D
F Lydian Dominant – F G A B C D Eb
G Mixolydian b13 – G A B C D Eb F
A Aeolian b5 – A B C D Eb F G
B Superlocrian – B C D Eb F G A

Practice these scales using the notation below. A one-octave shape is provided in the TAB, but don’t forget that it is important to learn different patterns for every scale so you are prepared to play it anywhere on the neck and starting on any finger. Once you feel comfortable with these shapes, try starting the scales on different fingers and work out other patterns.

Applying Modes

If learning all of these new scale patterns seems overwhelming, try stripping each one back to its triad and go from there. It is actually a lot more important to know the chords associated with every mode than it is to know the full scales. This is because our function as bass players is to outline the harmony of the chord progression, so chord tones are essential. To find a chord within a scale, start with the root and take every other note. For a triad, you should have three notes – the root, the 3rd and the 5th. To extend a chord, go up another third from the 5th to find the 7th.


Seventh Chords

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