The 7 Modes of the Melodic Minor Scale

  • The Melodic minor is a very popular scale in jazz and fusion. But it can be used to add extra colour to a minor solo or to tweak the ear a little bit with that Sharp 7 degree in a minor context. The other 6 modes of this scale are all very cool sounding and all have their distinct applications. Here I will describe them on a practical level. When you can use each mode and what do they sound like.
  • The mode names, in order, are:
    Melodic Minor, Dorian Flat 2, Lydian Augmented, Lydian Flat 7, Mixolydian Flat 6, Locrian Sharp 2, and Super Locrian

  • 1 of the modes is Major (Happy sounding). It is: Lydian Augmented.
    3 of the modes are Minor (Sad sounding). These are: Melodic Minor, Dorian Flat 2, Locrian Sharp 2
    3 of the modes are Dominant (Creating tension). These are: Lydian Flat 7, Mixolydian Flat 6, and Super Locrian

  • To get different modes over the key of C, we will need to play the melodic minor scale of other keys, but maintaining the root note as C. So the root will always remain as C, even though we are playing melodic minor scales in other keys.

    These modes are as follows:


    1. C Melodic Minor          :
    C Melodic Minor scale over the C root (Diagram 1)
    Use this scale starting on the root of min/maj7 chords, and regular minor chords to introduce the sharp 7 sound.
    2 patterns of the MELODIC MINOR mode

    2. C Dorian Flat 2          :
    Bb Melodic Minor scale over the C root (Diagram 2)
    Use this scale on the root of minor 7 chords and 7b9sus chords
    2 patterns of the DORIAN FLAG 2 mode, 2nd mode of melodic minor

    3. C Lydian Augmented      :
    A Melodic Minor scale over the C root (Diagram 3)
    Use this scale on the root of major chords wiht a b5, #5 or #11
    2 patterns of the LYDIAN AUGMENTED mode, 3rd mode of melodic minor

    4. C Lydian Flat 7          :
    G Melodic Minor scale over the C root (Diagram 4)
    Use this scale on the root of dominant chords with or without a b5
    2 patterns of the LYDIAN FLAT 7 mode, 4th mode of melodic minor

    5. C Mixolydian Flat 6  :
    F Melodic Minor scale over the C root (Diagram 5)
    Use this scale on the root of dominant chords with a #5
    2 patterns of the MIXOLYDIAN FLAT 6 mode, 5th mode of melodic minor

    6. C Locrian Sharp 2        :
    Eb Melodic Minor scale over the C root (Diagram 6)
    Use this scale on the root of a half diminished chord.
    2 patterns of the LOCRIAN SHARP 2 mode, 6th mode of melodic minor

    7. C Super Locrian        :
    Db Melodic Minor scale over the C root (Diagram 7)
    Use this scale over any kind of altered dominant chord, or half diminished chord.
    2 patterns of the SUPER LOCRIAN mode, 7th mode of melodic minor









  • On the guitar, a good approach is: for each mode, to remember 2 patterns and where the root is in the pattern.

    For the first pattern - the root is on the 6th string (Low E).
    For the second pattern - the root is on the 5th string (A).

    By memorizing it this way - you will associate the mode scale fingering to where you will play chords on the guitar with the root being on 6th or 5th strings.

    After you memorize the 2 patterns for each mode and the root position within the pattern, you can connect the rest of the patterns for that mode, by using your existing knowledge of the 5 scale shapes of the Melodic Minor scale.

  • Practice switching through all 7 modes in one key!
  • Then practice playing only one mode at a time in all 12 keys.
  • The funnest ways to practice modes - is to use them in improvisation over backing tracks. You can also just use a sustaining chord with a drum machine groove on top of it.

    Also, not only are you practicing your modes and pattern knowledge this way, but you are also practicing phrasing, and training your ears to learn what sounds good. It's a 3-in-1 deal!

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