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Mode 5 - Mixolydian b6 or Aeolian Nat 3

The fifth mode of the melodic minor scale is again similar, as was the fourth mode, to the Mixolydian scale, with the one note difference being the b13 (b6) interval. When stacked in thirds, this mode produces a 7 (b13) chord that is used in a similar fashion to the 7 (#11) chord found in the fourth mode of melodic minor. This mode can be used to improvise over non-resolving dominant 7th chords, such as the Bb7 chord in Ladybird, or over the V7 chord in a iim7-V7 (b13)-Imaj7 progression. The flatted thirteenth note, Eb on a G7 chord in the key of C, adds an extra half-step to the V7-Imaj7 resolution that can create a new sense of tension and release that is not found when using the traditional Mixolydian mode in this context.

Interval Structure

G A B C D Eb F G - W W H W H W W

Chord Structure - C7 (9, 11, b13)

G B D F A C Eb - R 3 5 b7 9 11 b13

Mode 6 - Locrian Nat 2 or Aeolian b5

The sixth mode of the melodic minor scale shares six similar notes to the Locrian mode, from the major scale, with the only difference being the raised, or natural, ninth interval. When stacked in thirds, this chord spells a m7b5 (Nat 2 or 9) chord that can be used over the iim7b5 chord in a iim7b5-V7alt-im7 chord progression. The tricky part to using this mode over the iim7b5 chord in this context is that the raised ninth, E in the key of C minor, is the major third of the tonic minor chord that appears later in the progressions. Because of the implied major tonality that this note provides, it needs to be handled with caution when first experimenting with the sixth mode of melodic minor in this context.

Interval Structure

A B C D Eb F G A - W H W H W W W

Chord Structure - Cm7b5 (9, 11, b13)

A C Eb G B D F - R b3 b5 b7 9 11 b13

Mode 7 - Altered Scale (Locrian b4)

The seventh mode of the melodic minor scale is one of the most commonly used melodic minor modes as it provides all of the possible alterations that can be used over a dominant 7th chord. Because of this, it is often referred to as simply the "altered" scale. When stacked in thirds this mode can be somewhat deceiving as it spells a m7b5 chord, B D F A in the key of C. Despite this fact, when the fourth note (Eb) is treated enharmonically as a major third interval (D#) and the sixth note (G) is treated enharmonically as a raised fifth interval (FX), the chord then becomes B7(#5), B D# FX A, not Bm7b5. (Note: X in this paragraph refers to a double-sharp.)

When looked at as a 7th chord, this scale contains both the b9 (C) and #9 (D) intervals, as well as the b5 (F) and #5 (G) intervals, which are all four of the possible alterations that can be applied to a dominant seventh chord. This scale is most often used to improvise over the V7alt chord in a iim7b5-V7alt-im7 chord progression, though some modern players will also use this chord over any instance of a dominant 7 chord, even over any/all 7th chords found in the 12 bar blues.

Interval Structure

B C D Eb F G A B - H W H W W W W

Chord Structure - C7 (b9, #9, b5, #5) or C7 (b9, #9, #11, #5)

B D#(Eb) FX (G) A C D F - R 3 #5 b7 b9 #9 #11

Melodic Minor Mode Chart 1 - Comparison to Melodic Minor

The following chart lists all of the modes of the melodic minor scale in the key of C, which allows us to easily compare them to all of the other modes from the same root. The intervals found within the parentheses are the notes in that particular mode that are different than the melodic minor scale. For example, next to the second mode are the intervals b9 and b7, by adding these alterations to any melodic minor scale we can make it a second mode melodic minor. If we add these intervals to an A melodic minor scale, A B C D E F# G#, we get A second mode melodic minor, A Bb C D E F# G, the same can be done for any mode in the chart.

Mode 1 - C D Eb F G A B C

Mode 2 - C Db Eb F G A Bb C (b9, b7)

Mode 3 - C D E F# G# A B C (Nat 3, #11, #5)

Mode 4 - C D E F# G A Bb C (Nat 3, b7, #11)

Mode 5 - C D E F G Ab Bb C (Nat 3, b7, b13)

Mode 6 - C D Eb F Gb Ab Bb C (b5, b7, b13)

Mode 7 - C Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb C (b7, b9, #9, b5, b13)

Melodic Minor Mode Chart 2 - Arranged from Brightest to Darkest Sounding

The following chart shows each mode of the melodic minor scale arranged in order of the "brightest" to "darkest" sounding modes. The term bright in this sense means that it has the least amount of flatted intervals within the mode, and the term dark means that it has the most flatted intervals within the mode. Notice how the first four modes, the "bright" modes, are all "major" based modes as they contain the major 3rd interval, while the other three modes, the "dark" modes, are all minor based modes as they all contain both the b3 and b7 intervals. Also, notice that the 2nd mode has a minor 3rd interval, though it is often treated as a sus7b9 chord, where the minor 3rd functions as a #9 instead. As well, the 7th mode is similar as it contains both the major and minor 3rd intervals, though when the major 3rd interval is used to form a 7alt chord, the minor third again functions as a #9, not as a minor 3rd.

Mode 3 - C D E F# G# A B C (2 sharps)

Mode 4 - C D E F# G A Bb C (1 sharp, 1 flat)

Mode 1 - C D Eb F G A B C (1 flat)

Mode 5 - C D E F G Ab Bb C (2 flats)

Mode 2 - C Db Eb F G A Bb C (3 flats)

Mode 6 - C D Eb F Gb Ab Bb C (4 flats)

Mode 7 - C Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb C (6 flats)

Melodic Minor Mode Chart 3 - Common Chord Symbols

Mode 1 - CmMaj7, CmMaj9, CmMaj6, C-Maj7, C-M11

Mode 2 - Cm11 (b9), Cm7 (b9), C7sus (alt)

Mode 3 - Cmaj7 (#5), CaugMaj7, C+Maj7

Mode 4 - C7#11, C9#11, C13#11

Mode 5 - C7 (b13), C9 (b13), C7sus (b13), C9sus (b13)

Mode 6 - Cm7b5 (Nat 9), Cm7b5 (Nat 2)

Mode 7 - C7alt, C7 (b9, b13), C7 (b9, b5), C7 (#9, b13), C7 (#9, b5)

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