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Thread: Conflict? When Intervals Of Scale Don't Match Intervals Of Chord?

  1. #1
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    Conflict? When Intervals Of Scale Don't Match Intervals Of Chord?

    1. Scales are made up of intervals. As in:

    Major Scale is Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole Whole, Half
    Minor Scale is Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole

    2. Chords are built on intervals. As in:

    A major (triad) chord is a root, a major third interval and a perfect fifth interval
    A minor (triad) chord is a root, a minor third interval, and a perfect fifth interval

    =====


    Let's do this with the (1) Key of C Minor and (2) the C Minor Chords:

    Now it seems the intervals that go to create the SCALE, the KEY, don't always match up with the chord intervals, if that makes sense.

    THE C MINOR SIXTH CHORD and The C MINOR SCALE ... CONFLICT?

    Any MINOR SIXTH CHORD has a root, a minor third interval, a perfect fifth interval, and a major SIXTH interval.

    So a C minor 6 chord = C - Eb - G - A (Major Sixth interval)

    But in the KEY OF C MINOR, the intervals that make up the minor key are:

    W H W W H W W

    or

    C to D, D to Eb, Eb to F, F to G, G to Ab, Ab to Bb, Bb to C


    So that produces a conflict because in the SCALE of C Minor you have an Ab (a MINOR SIXTH INTERVAL -- it's 8 half steps away from the root). But the C Minor Sixth CHORD has a MAJOR SIXTH INTERVAL, the A, which is 9 half steps away.

    So first, why this conflict? (Or am I just confused?)

    Second, if you are playing in the key of C Minor, and you are playing a C Minor 6, the Ab of the C Minor Scale is going to clash with the A of the C Minor 6th chord.

    Yes? No?


    Last edited by skybleu; 04-16-2013 at 09:11 PM.

  2. #2
    MMus, MA, PGCE JumpingJack's Avatar
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    The A-natural only conflicts with the natural and harmonic minor scales.
    It is in fact contained within the ascending melodic minor scale.

    And minor keys include the notes of all these scales.

    If you want an A-natural, then it might be a good idea to avoid having an Ab sounding at the same time (unless you want the clash).

  3. #3
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Play around with http://www.guitar-chords.org.uk/chords-key-c-minor.html I think you will find the answer to your question here.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skybleu View Post
    Now it seems the intervals that go to create the SCALE, the KEY, don't always match up with the chord intervals, if that makes sense.
    True - because chords don't have to be built from the tonic of the scale...
    Quote Originally Posted by skybleu View Post
    THE C MINOR SIXTH CHORD and The C MINOR SCALE ... CONFLICT?

    Any MINOR SIXTH CHORD has a root, a minor third interval, a perfect fifth interval, and a major SIXTH interval.

    So a C minor 6 chord = C - Eb - G - A (Major Sixth interval)

    But in the KEY OF C MINOR, the intervals that make up the minor key are:

    W H W W H W W

    or

    C to D, D to Eb, Eb to F, F to G, G to Ab, Ab to Bb, Bb to C


    So that produces a conflict because in the SCALE of C Minor you have an Ab (a MINOR SIXTH INTERVAL -- it's 8 half steps away from the root). But the C Minor Sixth CHORD has a MAJOR SIXTH INTERVAL, the A, which is 9 half steps away.

    So first, why this conflict? (Or am I just confused?)
    When a 6th is added to a chord, it's always a major 6th, because that sounds better than a minor 6th. So a Cm chord simply would not have an Ab added to it.
    But as the iv chord in G minor - or the ii chord in Bb major - its 6th would be A, which is OK.

    However, one can harmonise the tonic of a minor key from the melodic minor scale, or the dorian mode, which both have a major 6th. So you will sometimes see a Cm6 (with A natural) as key chord in C minor.

    Chords in a minor key may be harmonised from harmonic and melodic minor, as well as natural minor.
    IOW, the minor key scale has variable 6th and 7th degrees, depending on the melodic and/or harmonic effects you want to achieve.
    Quote Originally Posted by skybleu View Post
    Second, if you are playing in the key of C Minor, and you are playing a C Minor 6, the Ab of the C Minor Scale is going to clash with the A of the C Minor 6th chord.

    Yes? No?
    Yes - but (for that reason) one would not use an Ab at the same time as the A on the chord.

  5. #5
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    Thanks to everyone for clearing this up for me regarding my perceived and as it turned out real "clash" between the A and the Ab, and thank you for that link.
    Last edited by skybleu; 04-17-2013 at 04:22 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    However, one can harmonise the tonic of a minor key from the melodic minor scale, or the dorian mode, which both have a major 6th. So you will sometimes see a Cm6 (with A natural) as key chord in C minor.

    Chords in a minor key may be harmonised from harmonic and melodic minor, as well as natural minor.
    IOW, the minor key scale has variable 6th and 7th degrees, depending on the melodic and/or harmonic effects you want to achieve.
    Yes - but (for that reason) one would not use an Ab at the same time as the A on the chord.
    Just to add, while I'm aware of harmonic and melodic minor, I haven't gotten to them in my learning theory at this point. I'm reading and studying theory but haven't "gotten into them" yet is what I mean at this point in my pursuit to understand theory. I know the scale -- harmonic minor being Whole -Half -Whole -Whole -Half - Minor Third - Half -- and the melodic minor being Whole - Half - Whole - Whole - Whole - Whole - Half when ascending but then reverts back to natural minor when descending. But that's all I know. I haven't reached the point in my studying yet to understand how they are used, so when you write "Chords in a minor key may be harmonised from harmonic and melodic minor, as well as natural minor" that part I don't understand. (And the same with Dorian, I haven't gotten to modes yet, just "aware" of them.)

    But thanks for clearing up the point about the "clash" that I had perceived between the Ab and the A, if one were to play C Natural Minor Scale over the C Minor Sixth Chord.

    (If there is any good instructional book or DVD with a real-life person talking -- as in explaining/teaching -- the other two minor scales as well as modes, please let me know, because I don't have any material yet when I do get to that point in my learning to take up those subjects. I'm right now still learning "the basics" and when I run across confusion on just that I come here, as I did when I was examining the natural minor and seeing the notes that make up the minor sixth chord and found this clash that I had asked about in opening post regarding the A and the Ab.)
    Last edited by skybleu; 04-17-2013 at 04:19 PM.

  7. #7
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skybleu View Post
    ........ I haven't reached the point in my studying yet to understand how they are used, so when you write "Chords in a minor key may be harmonised from harmonic and melodic minor, as well as natural minor" that part I don't understand. (And the same with Dorian, I haven't gotten to modes yet, just "aware" of them.)
    This may clear up that...... Stacking notes of a scale builds the chords for that scale/key, so just take the scale and do your stacking and you have the chords for that scale. Piece of cake.

    C Major Scale stack in 3rds (every other note) = the notes and chords made from the C major scale, i.e. those chords will work and sound good under C scale melody notes. Notice I've listed the chords as four note chords, if that is confusing, just stack three notes, i.e. for C stack the C, E, G and do not add the B note and you end up with a C chord not the Cmaj7 chord. This site may help. http://www.smithfowler.org/music/Chord_Formulas.htm Should you care to do so you of course could take your stack out to 9 chords, or even 13 chords. I play bass and go out to the 7's and leave the 9, 11 and 13 to the solo instruments. Up to you.
    Code:
    Notes	   Degree	Spelling		  Chord name   Function
    C		R	CEGB     R-3-5-7 	     Cmaj7          I  (tonic)
    D		2	DFAC 	 R-b3-5-b7	     Dm7	     ii
    E		3	EGBD 	 R-b3-5-b7	     Em7	    iii
    F		4	FACE     R-3-5-7	     Fmaj7	     IV 
    G		5	GBDF 	 R-3-5-b7	     G7	              V  
    A		6	ACEG 	 R-b3-5-b7	     Am7	 vi	
    B		7	BDFA 	 R-b3-b5-b7          Bm7b5	 vii
    Why is the D chord minor? If you compare the DFAC to the notes in the D major scale the D major scale will have an F# and a C#. Your DFAC has the 3 and 7 flatted for a spelling of R-b3-5-b7 and that spelling makes a Dm7 chord. All minor chords will have a b3. All major chords will have a natural 3. Stacking the scale in 3rds automatically build the correct major, minor and diminished chords for that scale.
    C Major Scale stack in 3rds (every other note) = the notes and chords made from the C major scale Now that works for any scale - list the notes then put every other one in your stack and you have built the chords for that scale.

    That is what Jon was talking about.

    Have fun.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 04-17-2013 at 05:18 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    This may clear up that...... Stacking notes of a scale builds the chords for that scale/key, so just take the scale and do your stacking and you have the chords for that scale. Piece of cake.

    C Major Scale stack in 3rds (every other note) = the notes and chords made from the C major scale, i.e. those chords will work and sound good under C scale melody notes. Notice I've listed the chords as four note chords, if that is confusing, just stack three notes, i.e. for C stack the C, E, G and do not add the B note and you end up with a C chord not the Cmaj7 chord. This site may help. http://www.smithfowler.org/music/Chord_Formulas.htm Should you care to do so you of course could take your stack out to 9 chords, or even 13 chords. I play bass and go out to the 7's and leave the 9, 11 and 13 to the solo instruments. Up to you.
    Code:
    Notes	   Degree	Spelling		  Chord name   Function
    C		R	CEGB     R-3-5-7 	     Cmaj7          I  (tonic)
    D		2	DFAC 	 R-b3-5-b7	     Dm7	     ii
    E		3	EGBD 	 R-b3-5-b7	     Em7	    iii
    F		4	FACE     R-3-5-7	     Fmaj7	     IV 
    G		5	GBDF 	 R-3-5-b7	     G7	              V  
    A		6	ACEG 	 R-b3-5-b7	     Am7	 vi	
    B		7	BDFA 	 R-b3-b5-b7          Bm7b5	 vii
    Why is the D chord minor? If you compare the DFAC to the notes in the D major scale the D major scale will have an F# and a C#. Your DFAC has the 3 and 7 flatted for a spelling of R-b3-5-b7 and that spelling makes a Dm7 chord. All minor chords will have a b3. All major chords will have a natural 3. Stacking the scale in 3rds automatically build the correct major, minor and diminished chords for that scale.
    C Major Scale stack in 3rds (every other note) = the notes and chords made from the C major scale Now that works for any scale - list the notes then put every other one in your stack and you have built the chords for that scale.

    That is what Jon was talking about.

    Have fun.


    Thank you. I actually have gotten up to that part in my studies. In fact, when I was learning stacking, I had run into one problem with a minor 9 chord that others had responded to. Here's a link to that older post: http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...stion-problem)

    Here was the gist of that post I had written:




    I C Major Nine (CM9) (Notes: C - E - G - B - D)
    ii D Minor Ninth (Dm9) (Notes: D - F - A - C - E)
    iii E Minor Ninth (Em9) (Notes: E - G - B - D - F) (this one I had trouble with, it didn't come out to an Em9 because it should be F#)
    IV F Major Nine (FM9) (Notes: F - A - C - E - G)
    V G Dominant Ninth (G9) (Notes: G - B - D - F - A)
    vi A Minor Seventh (Am9) (Notes: A - C - E - G - B)
    vii B Half-Diminished 7 (BÝ7) (Notes: B - D - F - A)


    ==

    But getting back to your point, and this is related, a NEW question arises:

    This stacking applies to the three minor scales as well, right? I can do the same pattern of stacking thirds to get the chords for those scales as I did above for the MAJOR scale and as you also showed.

    The only question is, with a MELODIC MINOR, the scale reverts back to the natural minor scale when descending, so when you STACK thirds don't you get two different sets of chords -- one set of chords for when you're stacking based on the ascending and then some different chords when stacking based on the descending? (I hope I expressed that right, do you know what I'm asking? Sorry if my wording is clumsy).
    Last edited by skybleu; 04-17-2013 at 05:38 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by skybleu View Post
    ..........The only question is, with a MELODIC MINOR, the scale reverts back to the natural minor scale when descending, so when you STACK thirds don't you get two different sets of chords -- one set of chords for when you're stacking based on the ascending and then some different chords when stacking based on the descending? (I hope I expressed that right, do you know what I'm asking? Sorry if my wording is clumsy).
    I never bothered playing one when going up and the other when going down, never did understand how that could be used or even why some one dictated that was the way it should be. I just use the one I want. But, to answer your question, using that old saw, there will be one scale going up and another scale coming down, i.e. two scales, thus two sets of chords. The rule of stacking 3rds still apply. Go here and play what if games, I think it will answer your questions. http://www.guitar-chords.org.uk/c-ha...or-chords.html Look at the chords in C Natural minor and then in C melodic minor.

    Notes in C Natural minor will have a flatted b3, b6 & b7
    Notes in C Melodic minor will have a flatted b3 and a natural 6 & 7. So the chords for each will be different.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 04-17-2013 at 06:53 PM.

  10. #10
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skybleu View Post
    Thank you. I actually have gotten up to that part in my studies. In fact, when I was learning stacking, I had run into one problem with a minor 9 chord that others had responded to. Here's a link to that older post: http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...stion-problem)

    Here was the gist of that post I had written:




    I C Major Nine (CM9) (Notes: C - E - G - B - D)
    ii D Minor Ninth (Dm9) (Notes: D - F - A - C - E)
    iii E Minor Ninth (Em9) (Notes: E - G - B - D - F) (this one I had trouble with, it didn't come out to an Em9 because it should be F#)
    Right - so if you add the F, that makes it Em7b9 - the b9 is quite dissonant, so would very rarely be used.
    Quote Originally Posted by skybleu View Post
    But getting back to your point, and this is related, a NEW question arises:

    This stacking applies to the three minor scales as well, right? I can do the same pattern of stacking thirds to get the chords for those scales as I did above for the MAJOR scale and as you also showed.
    Right.
    Quote Originally Posted by skybleu View Post
    The only question is, with a MELODIC MINOR, the scale reverts back to the natural minor scale when descending, so when you STACK thirds don't you get two different sets of chords -- one set of chords for when you're stacking based on the ascending and then some different chords when stacking based on the descending?
    Yes, but because descending is same as natural minor, there's no new chords there.

    In fact, melodic minor is not often used for harmonising chords. (The clue is in the name: it's a scale intended mainly for melodies .) One exception is a tonic chord in a jazz minor key, which often has major 6th, maj7 or 9th added as extensions, implying the melodic minor scale.
    Jazz always considers melodic minor as same going down as up; hence its alternative name "jazz minor".
    (Jazz uses chords from other modes of melodic minor, but not in the same key. Eg, the IV chord in A melodic minor is D7, and could have a #11 (G#) added. D7#11 would be used in jazz in the key of C# minor (or C# major), not in A minor. Don't worry, you don't need to understand that right now...)

    See if the following charts help.

    The natural minor scale has the same chords as the relative major. Ie, A minor has the same chords as C major; we just number differently because we count Am as "i".

    Harmonic minor raises the 7th degree (G) to G#. So any chord that had a G in it, now has a G#. This is most signficant in the V and vii chords (E7 and G#dim7). G#dim7 is a unique chord type, not found in any other scale.

    Melodic minor raises the 6th of harmonic minor (F) to F#. So now any chord that had an F in it now has F#.
    So now we have Bm7 as ii and D7 as IV (same as in A major!). The only difference between this scale and A major is the C.

    The chart demonstrates how the scale structure dictates the chord types, via the half-steps between the notes.
    Code:
             Half-steps: |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
    Natural minor scale: A     B  C     D     E  F     G     A     B  C     D     E  F   
    CHORDS:
           i = Am(7)     A  .  .  C  .  .  .  E  .  . (G)  
          ii = Bdim(m7b5)      B  .  .  D  .  .  F  .  .  . (A)
         III = C(maj7)            C  .  .  .  E  .  .  G  .  .  . (B)
          iv = Dm(7)                    D  .  .  F  .  .  .  A  .  . (C)
           v = Em(7)                          E  .  .  G  .  .  .  B  .  . (D)
          VI = F(maj7)                           F  .  .  .  A  .  .  C  .  .  . (E)
         VII = G(7)                                    G  .  .  .  B  .  .  D  .  . (F)
    .
              Half-steps: |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
    Harmonic minor scale: A     B  C     D     E  F        G# A     B  C     D     E  F   
    CHORDS:
           i = Am(maj7)   A  .  .  C  .  .  .  E  .  .  . (G#)  
          ii = Bdim(m7b5)       B  .  .  D  .  .  F  .  .  . (A)
         III = Caug(maj7#5)        C  .  .  .  E  .  .     G# .  . (B)
          iv = Dm(7)                     D  .  .  F  .  .  .  A  .  . (C)
           v = E(7)                            E  .  .  .  G# .  .  B  .  . (D)
          VI = F(maj7)                            F  .  .  .  A  .  .  C  .  .  . (E)
         VII = G#dim (dim7)                                G# .  .  B  .  .  D  .  . (F)
    .
             Half-steps: |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
    Melodic minor scale: A     B  C     D     E     F#    G# A     B  C     D     E     F#   
    CHORDS:
           i = Am(maj7)  A  .  .  C  .  .  .  E  .  .  . (G#)  
          ii = Bm(7)           B  .  .  D  .  .  .  F# .  . (A)
         III = Caug(maj7#5)       C  .  .  .  E  .  .     G# .  . (B)
          iv = D(7)                     D  .  .  .  F# .  .  A  .  . (C)
           v = E(7)                           E  .  .  .  G# .  .  B  .  . (D)
          VI = F#dim(m7b5)                          F# .  .  A  .  .  C  .  .  . (E)
         VII = G#dim(m7b5)                                G# .  .  B  .  .  D  .  .  . (F#)
    You can obviously go further and see what kinds of 9th and 6th end up on each chord. Remember that b6s and b9s are never normally used, except for the b9 you get on E7 in A harmonic minor (E G# B D F) - E7b9 is quite a common chord in jazz in this key. Notice it's the same as G#dim7 with an E bass.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Right - so if you add the F, that makes it Em7b9 - the b9 is quite dissonant, so would very rarely be used.
    Right.
    Yes, but because descending is same as natural minor, there's no new chords there.

    In fact, melodic minor is not often used for harmonising chords. (The clue is in the name: it's a scale intended mainly for melodies .) One exception is a tonic chord in a jazz minor key, which often has major 6th, maj7 or 9th added as extensions, implying the melodic minor scale.
    Jazz always considers melodic minor as same going down as up; hence its alternative name "jazz minor".
    (Jazz uses chords from other modes of melodic minor, but not in the same key. Eg, the IV chord in A melodic minor is D7, and could have a #11 (G#) added. D7#11 would be used in jazz in the key of C# minor (or C# major), not in A minor. Don't worry, you don't need to understand that right now...)

    See if the following charts help.

    The natural minor scale has the same chords as the relative major. Ie, A minor has the same chords as C major; we just number differently because we count Am as "i".

    Harmonic minor raises the 7th degree (G) to G#. So any chord that had a G in it, now has a G#. This is most signficant in the V and vii chords (E7 and G#dim7). G#dim7 is a unique chord type, not found in any other scale.

    Melodic minor raises the 6th of harmonic minor (F) to F#. So now any chord that had an F in it now has F#.
    So now we have Bm7 as ii and D7 as IV (same as in A major!). The only difference between this scale and A major is the C.

    The chart demonstrates how the scale structure dictates the chord types, via the half-steps between the notes.
    Code:
             Half-steps: |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
    Natural minor scale: A     B  C     D     E  F     G     A     B  C     D     E  F   
    CHORDS:
           i = Am(7)     A  .  .  C  .  .  .  E  .  . (G)  
          ii = Bdim(m7b5)      B  .  .  D  .  .  F  .  .  . (A)
         III = C(maj7)            C  .  .  .  E  .  .  G  .  .  . (B)
          iv = Dm(7)                    D  .  .  F  .  .  .  A  .  . (C)
           v = Em(7)                          E  .  .  G  .  .  .  B  .  . (D)
          VI = F(maj7)                           F  .  .  .  A  .  .  C  .  .  . (E)
         VII = G(7)                                    G  .  .  .  B  .  .  D  .  . (F)
    .
              Half-steps: |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
    Harmonic minor scale: A     B  C     D     E  F        G# A     B  C     D     E  F   
    CHORDS:
           i = Am(maj7)   A  .  .  C  .  .  .  E  .  .  . (G#)  
          ii = Bdim(m7b5)       B  .  .  D  .  .  F  .  .  . (A)
         III = Caug(maj7#5)        C  .  .  .  E  .  .     G# .  . (B)
          iv = Dm(7)                     D  .  .  F  .  .  .  A  .  . (C)
           v = E(7)                            E  .  .  .  G# .  .  B  .  . (D)
          VI = F(maj7)                            F  .  .  .  A  .  .  C  .  .  . (E)
         VII = G#dim (dim7)                                G# .  .  B  .  .  D  .  . (F)
    .
             Half-steps: |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
    Melodic minor scale: A     B  C     D     E     F#    G# A     B  C     D     E     F#   
    CHORDS:
           i = Am(maj7)  A  .  .  C  .  .  .  E  .  .  . (G#)  
          ii = Bm(7)           B  .  .  D  .  .  .  F# .  . (A)
         III = Caug(maj7#5)       C  .  .  .  E  .  .     G# .  . (B)
          iv = D(7)                     D  .  .  .  F# .  .  A  .  . (C)
           v = E(7)                           E  .  .  .  G# .  .  B  .  . (D)
          VI = F#dim(m7b5)                          F# .  .  A  .  .  C  .  .  . (E)
         VII = G#dim(m7b5)                                G# .  .  B  .  .  D  .  .  . (F#)
    You can obviously go further and see what kinds of 9th and 6th end up on each chord. Remember that b6s and b9s are never normally used, except for the b9 you get on E7 in A harmonic minor (E G# B D F) - E7b9 is quite a common chord in jazz in this key. Notice it's the same as G#dim7 with an E bass.
    I'm still at the "basic" level so it's going to take me some time to study all the information you shared, but I appreciate it and thank you and look forward to the day I fully comprehend what you wrote -- and with time I expect to get there.

    But one question, and it's just something I'm wondering. Is it that the natural minor scale is used primarily in popular music (folk, country, rock and "pop") and the harmonic and melodic minor are more prevalent in jazz?

    I know that may be a wrong impression, but that's just the one I'm getting because almost any time I see harmonic and melodic minor scales talked about on various music message boards, jazz always almost comes up ... but pop music not so much. (I mean, do you find much use of the harmonic and melodic minor scales in top 40 popular music over the past 50 years ... from Elvis to Buddy Holly to the Beatles to the Eagles to John Denver to Van Halen to Pearl Jam to Jewel, and on and on.)
    Last edited by skybleu; 04-17-2013 at 08:11 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    .

    In fact, melodic minor is not often used for harmonising chords. (The clue is in the name: it's a scale intended mainly for melodies .) One exception is a tonic chord in a jazz minor key, which often has major 6th, maj7 or 9th added as extensions, implying the melodic minor scale. ...
    Also:


    1. By "harmonzing chords" -- a phrase new to me -- you mean the stacking of thirds to figure out the chords of a scale, like when I did the C Major Scale and came up with the CM7, Dm7, Em7, FM7, G7, Am7, and BÝ7? Those chords derived by stacking thirds, that's what it means to "harmonize chords"?

    2. Why, as you say, is "the melodic minor not often used for harmonising chords" yet it's still done, as in: http://www.guitar-chords.org.uk/c-me...or-chords.html.

    And I'm not sure what you mean, that as opposed to being used to harmonize chords, "it's a scale intended mainly for melodies." Not sure what "intended for melodies" means.

  13. #13
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skybleu View Post
    But one question, and it's just something I'm wondering. Is it that the natural minor scale is used primarily in popular music (folk, country, rock and "pop") and the harmonic and melodic minor are more prevalent in jazz?
    Not really. Songs of all kinds can be in a "minor key", which is based on natural minor, with occasional alterations to the 6th and 7th degrees.
    IOW - despite my charts! - it's better to think of the minor scale as ONE scale, but with variable 6th and 7th degrees.
    Eg, a song in A minor might have a C chord as well as an E major chord - the former has G, the latter G# (from harmonic minor). A melody in that song might run up the scale E-F#-G#-A (melodic minor), but use natural minor elsewhere.
    Quote Originally Posted by skybleu View Post
    I know that may be a wrong impression, but that's just the one I'm getting because almost any time I see harmonic and melodic minor scales talked about on various music message boards, jazz always almost comes up ... but pop music not so much.
    Well, jazz makes a lot of use of melodic minor modes as improvisation scales. That doesn't happen in pop or rock.
    Quote Originally Posted by skybleu View Post
    (I mean, do you find much use of the harmonic and melodic minor scales in top 40 popular music over the past 50 years ... from Elvis to Buddy Holly to the Beatles to the Eagles to John Denver to Van Halen to Pearl Jam to Jewel, and on and on.)
    The Beatles "Yesterday" contains a good example of classical melodic minor:
    "all my troubles seemed so far away" = D melodic minor ascending
    "now it looks as though they're..." = D natural minor (descending)

    "Hotel California" features chords from every B minor scale (natural, harmonic, melodic).

  14. #14
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Short and to the point.
    Major scale gives an up beat mostly happy sound. If that is what you want write your song in a major scale. Which one? The one the vocalist will like. Rock, Pop, Country, Gospel, Praise, etc. will probably use a major scale.

    Minor scale is said to give a sad sound. I do not hear sad, but, I do hear minor. You name the sound. Whether you use the Natural minor scale, Harmonic, melodic or one of the minor modes depends on the sound you are trying to produce. Help yourself.

    You asked about jazz. Lot of jazz is in a major key and then some jazz in in one of the minor modes or the three minor scales. And then jazz will move between major and minor within the same song.

    So which one you use depends on the sound you want to produce. Learning which gives the sound you want, well, that will take a lot of practice and study.

    The major scale and the Natural minor scale can keep you busy for several years. When you get those two down then work on their modes. That will give you plenty to work with, if Harmonic or Melodic creep into your playing, good. But IMO you've got plenty to work with with out them.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 04-18-2013 at 03:16 AM.

  15. #15
    MMus, MA, PGCE JumpingJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skybleu View Post
    2. Why, as you say, is "the melodic minor not often used for harmonising chords" yet it's still done, as in: http://www.guitar-chords.org.uk/c-me...or-chords.html.

    And I'm not sure what you mean, that as opposed to being used to harmonize chords, "it's a scale intended mainly for melodies." Not sure what "intended for melodies" means.
    There are three different forms of the minor scale; Natural, Melodic and Harmonic.
    In a simplistic nutshell:

    The harmonic minor is generally used in harmony because the raised 7th leads better to the tonic, providing a more satisfactory resolution, particularly in dominant to tonic progressions.

    However, having the raised seventh presents a problem. Moving melodically from the 6th to the raised 7th would be the interval of an augmented second. Augmented intervals are frowned upon in most "classical music" because they are awkward and difficult to sing. So, when composers had a 6th followed by the raised seventh, they raised the sixth a semitone too. Hence what later became known as the "ascending melodic minor".

    When the seventh note descended however, it didn't need to be sharpened because it wasn't being followed by the tonic. So it was just left according to key signature. Hence what later become known as the "descending melodic minor".

    So you see, the harmonic minor is used primarily for chords (vertically), but the melodic minor is used primarily for melodies (horizontally).

    Of course, this results in chords that have the raised sixth in them, but it's important to remember that that sixth is generally there for melodic reasons, not harmonic reasons.

    All this refers to scales of course, and these should not be confused with keys.
    Scales exist largely only in theory, and of course as tool to aid becoming fluent with playing an instrument or in memorising key signatures or in providing a framework for improvisation etc.

    In practice, almost no professional composer has ever sat down and said "I'll use the harmonic minor here, the melodic minor there..." - That isn't how it works. The minor key encompasses the unsharpened 6th and 7th and the sharpened 6th and 7th, they are used in the most appropriate way for the circumstance.

    As Jon said, by far the best advice is to regard the 6th and 7th as variables. - Sometimes sharpened, sometimes not. This is what makes minor keys slightly more tricky than major keys where all the notes are fixed.

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