Tag Archives: melodic minor scale

The melodic minor scale is one of 3 minor scales. This scale can be used over a II-V-I minor sequence.

The 2nd golden rule: learning to play jazz piano.

The 2nd golden rule: learning to play jazz piano.

learning to play Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams

Golden rule number 2 when learning to play jazz piano:

Know all your 7th chords.

When studying jazz piano you must ensure that all 7th chords are under your fingers.

These are 4-note chords that have intervals of either a minor 3rd or a major 3rd.

A minor 3rd has a gap of 3 half steps (semitones).

A major 3rd had a gap of 4 half steps (tones).

There are four types of 7th chords:

  1. Major 7
  2. Dominant 7
  3. Minor 7
  4. Minor 7, flat 5, also known as half diminished.
  5. Diminished.

Construction

Major 7

  • Notes 1 – 3: interval = major 3rd
  • Notes 3 – 5: interval = minor 3rd
  • Notes 5 – 7: interval = major 3rd

Example: F major 7 = F + A + C + E

Dominant 7

  • Notes 1 – 3: interval = major 3rd
  • Notes 3 – 5: interval = minor 3rd
  • Notes 5 – 7: interval = minor 3rd

Example: F7 = F + A + C + Eb

Minor 7

  • Notes 1 – 3: interval = minor 3rd
  • Notes 3 – 5: interval = major 3rd
  • Notes 5 – 7: interval = minor 3rd

Example: F min7 = F + Ab + C + Eb

Minor 7, b5

  • Notes 1 – 3: interval = minor 3rd
  • Notes 3 – 5: interval = minor 3rd
  • Notes 5 – 7: interval = major 3rd

Example: Fmin7b5 = F + Ab + B + Eb

Diminished

  • Notes 1 – 3: interval = minor 3rd
  • Notes 3 – 5: interval = minor 3rd
  • Notes 5 – 7: interval = minor 3rd

Example: Fdim7 = F + Ab + B + D

Apart from the diminished, all these chords are contained within a major scale and can be constructed over each note of the scale. I call this ‘the family row.’

Here are these chords over the scale of F major.

learning to play jazz piano
7 chords, 1 scale

 

  • There are two major 7 chords. They occur over notes I and IV.
  • There are three minor 7 chords. They occur over notes II, III and VI.
  • There is one minor 7, b5 chord (half diminished). It occurs over note VII.

Learn and recognise these chords in all keys!

Now see what happens when we construct 7th chords over a harmonic minor scale. More complex chords come into being.

Here are these chords over each step of the scale of D harmonic minor.

 learning to play jazz piano

Compare the major and minor family rows and notice the following:

  1.  In both the major and minor rows, V is a dominant 7 chord.
  2.  In both the major and minor rows, II is a minor 7, but contains b5 in the minor row.

These points will become increasingly important when we examine chord structures.

To learn more about converting major scales into chords watch video lesson 1.

To learn more about minor scales and chords watch video lesson 2.

To learn more about the construction of 7th chords watch video lesson 4.

All these topics are covered in eBook 1 of Learn Jazz Piano.

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Studying Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams: The first golden rule

Studying Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams: The first golden rule

Studying Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams

Golden rule number 1 when studying jazz piano:

1               When studying jazz piano, learn all your major and minor scales.

Major             Major scales run horizontally through major II – V – I sequences.

Don’t avoid the flat keys; they come up all the time!

Studying Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams
II-V-I sequence in Eb

 Minor            Although there are three minor scales, you should focus on the harmonic and melodic minor. Here they are in A. Note the difference.

Studying Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams
Harmonic and melodic minor scales

The harmonic minor can be used horizontally over minor II – V – I sequences.

studying jazz piano

The melodic minor is your building block for scales that can be played over a dominant 7 chord. Here are two of them: the Lydian Dominant and the Altered, both based on A Melodic minor.

Note that the two following scales, D Lydian Dominant, and Ab Altered, share the same notes.

Studying Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams
Lydian dominant and altered scales

The Lydian Dominant scale, with its #4, works well when a dominant 7 chord is static (not pointing to its tonic).  Here’s an example where I’m playing the D Lydian Dominant scale over a D7 chord.

studying jazz piano

The Altered scale works well over a dominant 7 when it resolves to the tonic.

This scale contains all the altered notes: b9, #9, #11 and b13.

Here’s a II – V– I sequence in Db major.

studying jazz piano

I realize that Db major is not the friendliest of keys but there are tunes, such as Body and Soul, that are usually played in this key.

Find out more about the II – V – I sequences here.

Buy Learn Jazz Piano eBooks here.