As we discovered in Pt. 4, that because Melodic Minor has no "avoid notes", anything we play within the MM "key" will not sound wrong, and that any MM chord can be substituted for any other. It also means that MM is "key" oriented, rather than chord or cadence oriented. This apparent "lack" of an avoid note actually turns out to give our MM mutant it's wings to fly free, unencumbered by the rules and confinements of Major Scale harmony, and it's tensions and resolutions.
This is a simple digital pattern exercise that will take you through a Coltrane Change (aka Giant Steps, Descending Maj 3rd Cycle, etc) sequence. The 4 note digital patterns are: 3-4-5-3 on the tonic Maj. chords & b7-8-9-b7 on the dominants.
While not exactly a plug and play lick, it's a nice little finger exercise that flows through the changes and keeps your mind focused on them.
It should be duly noted that this exercise has been certified non-hazardous by the Dept. of Homeland Chopscurity.
Whew! I actually feel more like I do now than when I first got here!
As we continue the saga of MM (aka Melodic Minor), our "Major Modal Mutant", and cast a brief glance over our shoulders for a quick recap, we remind ourselves that:
While focusing on what MM has, we've neglected to call attention to what it lacks. We haven't yet touched upon the sad and cruel fact that our mutant came into this world without something that actually defines Major Scale harmony. We can't avoid this discussion any longer.
The truth......... is....that........MM was .......born with.......without........OMG.........this is tough, folks!.......that MM was born without an............!
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I'm beginning to think that I've been giving Melodic Minor (MM, to close friends), a bad rap, calling it "Major's Evil Twin". It's not really "evil" at all. In fact, it's pretty sweet when you get to know it well.
So, in line with my statement in Part 2 about getting "intimately familiar" with MM's modes and chord types, I thought it might be helpful to some of you to post this basic Melodic Minor Chord / Scale exercise in all 12 keys. As the name suggests, you start on the root, play an arpeggiated seventh chord up, then a scale down to the root of the next diatonic chord, and continue that pattern throughout the range of your instrument. Then reverse the process: chord down, scale up.
There's nothing really slick about this exercise, but it's a very effective way to get the fundamentals of MM (or any scale) under your control.
Download 6 page pdf
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In Pt. 1, we saw how M.M. was created from of the ribs of a Major scale by simply dropping the Maj. 3rd a half step, and in the process, changing the interval relationships (and therefore the tensions) within the scale itself. The sound of MM is now darker and more mysterious than Major, due mainly to the added whole tone (creating an augmented triad, Eb-G-B), and the diatonic presence of two diminished triads (A-C-Eb & B-D-F), meaning that our new scale now possesses two tritones (A-Eb & B-F).
Besides the tritones, we also notice that our new scale now contains 4 perfect fourths (C-F, D-G, G-C, A-C), and one diminished fourth (B-Eb) which sounds and functions as a Major 3rd and is one of the defining intervals of the MM scale (more on that later).
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Friend and fellow tenorman, Chicago native and long time NYC resident, Russ Nolan features a very concise and insightful look into some of the processes that go into both jazz composition and improvisation, as well as highlighting similarities of both.
Russ refers to composition as "improvisation out of time" and improvisation as "composition in real time". Being an accomplished composer as well as a world class improviser, he knows well of which he speaks.
Check out his 3 part post, and learn more about Russ.
Penta Power Drill
Encouraged by my new friend, New York based tenor saxophone terror Russ Nolan (www.russnolan.com), I'm back again with another helping of 5-mode-oriented Major pentatonic exercises, starting from each of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale and shaped according to formulas nos. 2 & 6 from tenor titan Jerry Bergonzi's popular book, Vol.2 "Pentatonics".
The Major Pentatonic Scale is derived from the Major Scale by omitting the 4th & 7th degrees. As there are 12 Major keys, there are also 12 distinct Major Pentatonics.
We can create 5 distinct modes from any pentatonic scale, one for each note of that scale.
If, however, we choose, to begin each mode on the same note, we then generate five individual pentatonic scales, each from a different key.
The scale and harmonic system known as Melodic Minor (aka: Jazz Minor, Ascending Melodic Minor, Ionian b3, etc.) is probably the most misunderstood and under digested of the traditional diatonic derived scale systems being used in improvised music. Many students, and professionals alike, tend to freeze up like they saw Frankenstein when presented with chord symbols or mode choices native to Melodic Minor, or for that matter, not native to Major.
Most of us have been taught to view any altered chord type as an altered form of it's Major counterpart. For example, let's look at Eb Maj7+5 (Eb - G - B - D). We take an Eb Major 7 chord (Eb - G - Bb - D) and raise the 5th a half step (Bb to B), right?. But now it no longer belongs to either the Major key of Eb or Bb, or for that matter, any Major mother scale.
So where then does it belong? Who is this baby's mother and where is she? The idea of taking a chord from the Major scale and altering an element of that chord is, in itself, not totally misguided, but....!
The idea for this post is the merging of an exercise I posted previously on playing 5 Pentatonic modes from one note (it'd probably be helpful to check it out first), with formula #1 from the book Vol. 2 "Pentatonics" by the eminent saxophonist and guru, Jerry Bergonzi. In this book, the Gonz presents 8 different formulas (4 descending and 4 ascending, based on steps and skips up or down), for creating pentatonic lines.
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Basses & 'Bones
"Slick Licks That Stick!, Vol. 1"
Bass Clef Version Available
a 177 page, interactive pdf eBook compilation of technique building, non-cliche musical exercises, patterns and licks, is available for
Bobby Stern . . .