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Melodic Minor Modes

The scales

I thought I'd present a few ideas for a minor blues progression using melodic minor modes. All of this will be familiar for jazz guitarists, but it may be a good way for a few rockers to spice up their blues playing.
I've used a minor blues in E with a similar progression to such tunes as "The Thrill Is Gone" or "Still Got The Blues" as an example, but you'll also find this progression in many jazz standards, as well such as "Mr. PC" by John Coltrane. I'll be using E melodic minor, A melodic minor, C lydian dominant and B altered.

First up, I wanted to clearly show the sound of each melodic minor mode accompanied by its most appropriate chord, so Ex.1 is E melodic minor (1,2,b3,4,5,6,7 - so it's like a major scale with a minor third), played right over the top of a min/maj chord (or the "James Bond chord"), which is a minor chord with a major 7 interval.

Click HERE to hear Brett play this example

In Ex.2 you'll hear the A melodic minor scale played over an A min/maj chord and of course it's the same formula as Ex. 1.

Click HERE to hear Brett play this example

Ex.3 is the C Lydian dominant mode (1,2,3,#4,5,6,b7) played over a C7#11 chord:

Click HERE to hear Brett play this example

And lastly, Ex.4 is a B altered scale (1,b2,b3,b4,b5,b6,b7) played over a B7#9 chord (or the "Hendrix chord"). You know you've really made it when you get a chord named after you!

Click HERE to hear Brett play this example

In the minor blues progression, I'll be using Em9, Am7, C9 and B7 chords, so these modes will sound a little "out", and for good reason, as there are indeed notes contained within these scales that are not in the chords, but it's a great way to take a regular blues in a different direction and also create a different kind of tension.
To get an idea of how out these modes sound, compare them to E and A Dorian, which would be very inside for the Em9 and Am7 and also C Mixolydian (for the C9 chord) and B minor pentatonic or Phrygian major, which would be very inside for the B7 chord.

Example licks >>