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Watch the Melodic Minor online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from Modes That Matter

So far we’re six modes into our 13 count and we’ve covered the major modes that truly matter. For the rest of course we’re going to explore modes outside the diatonic system. In fact, every scale but the last two will be modes from the other two systems that matter--melodic minor and harmonic minor. Starting with the parent scale we look at the melodic minor system first. The formula for melodic minor is 1 2 b3 4 5 6 7.

The melodic minor scale, in a classical context, runs a unique course. While it ascends as the formula just stated, it descends as a natural minor scale. In the context we’re are going examine it in, which is the one that matters for modern applications in improvising, the scale formula will not change under any circumstances. What goes up will come down just the same. In some circles playing melodic minor in this way calls for identifying it as "jazz minor" to distinguish between the two.

The next two segments will throw melodic minor into a funk jam and a fusion setting. As you’ll soon hear melodic minor has a quirky quality to its sound and will serve as a very cool alternative to other more common minor applications.