C Melodic Minor Scale

This article on the C melodic minor scale will cover its essential music theory, structure, intervals, notes, piano and guitar layout diagrams, guitar tabs, fingerings, chords, modes, etc.

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Melodic Minor Scale Structure

As you know, the melodic minor is one of the three types of minor scales. The Harmonic Minor scale changes one note of the natural minor scale to make its resolution more like a major scale. Melodic minor goes one step further and changes one more note to restore the maximum length of intervals to a whole step. The scale formula for a melodic minor scale is given below.

{W H W W W W H} or {T S T T T T S} or {2 1 2 2 2 2 1}

In the above formulas,

  • W and H represent the whole-step and half-step intervals, respectively.
  • T and S represent the intervals in whole tones and semitones.

In terms of the major scale notes, the formula for the melodic minor scale is

[1 2 b3 4 5 6 7]

As you can see, the only difference with the major scale is in the third degree, the minor third, which makes it a minor scale instead of a major.

As you undoubtedly know, as per the music theory, the melodic minor scales come in two varieties. They have different notes in their ascending and descending directions. The discussion above covers the ascending version. The descending version’s notes are exactly the same as those of the natural minor scale.

Intervals Of Melodic Minor Scales

The intervals between the seven notes of the melodic minor scale with its tonic notes are

  • Scale Degree 1 — tonic (the root note R),
  • Degree 2 note — Major 2nd (M2),
  • Degree 3 — minor 3rd (m3),
  • Degree 4 — Perfect 4th (P4),
  • Degree 5 — Perfect 5th (P5)
  • Degree 6 — Major 6th (M6),
  • Degree 7 — Major 7th (M7),
  • Degree 1(8) — Perfect 8th (octave P8).

So all the intervals can be defined as R – M2 – m3 – P4 – P5 – M6 – M7 – R(O).

C Melodic Minor Scale Notes

Using the notes of the C Major Scale [C D E F G A B] and the formula {1 2 b3 4 5 6 7], we get the notes of the C melodic minor scale ascending as {C, D, Eb, F, G, A, B, and C(O)}. B is the leading tone for this scale that wants to resolve to the tonic note C.

C melodic minor scale descending notes are {C(O), Bb, Ab, G, F, Eb, D, and C}. The key signature of a minor scale is based on the accidentals of the parallel natural minor scale. Similarly, the relative minor and relative major scales are defined based on the natural minor scales that carry the same key signature.

The notes of C melodic minor carry one flat. Hence you require seven white keys (including the key octave higher) and one black key. The diagram below shows the required keys on the piano keyboard.

C Melodic Minor Scale on Piano Keyboard Ascending

Scale Degrees

The intervals between the notes of the C Melodic minor scale, the notes, and the scale degrees, are shown in the table below.

Intervals Root M2 m3 P4 P5 M6M7P8
Scale Degrees12345671(8)
Melodic MinorCDEbFGABC(O)

Diagram Of This Scale On The Treble And Bass Clef:

The notation diagrams of the C Melodic minor scale ascending and descending are shown below, showing its notes on the treble and bass clef.

Treble Clef:

C Melodic Minor on Treble Clef

Bass Clef:

C Melodic Minor on Bass Clef

C Melodic Minor Scale Guitar Positions

Similar to the major scale CAGED patterns, the other scales, like the melodic minor, also have 5 patterns laid out throughout the fretboard based on CAGED open chords. Let us first see the complete combined patterns on the fretboard up to the 15th fret in the diagram below.

You can see the complete scale in one line from fret 3rd to 15th on String 5.

C Melodic Minor Scale Up to 15 Fret

The five recommended patterns for playing the scale are shown on the fretboard. These are based on the CAGED Patterns by lowering the E note in the C Major scale to Eb by moving one fret towards the nut side, thereby lowering it by one-half step.

C Melodic Minor Scale Patterns

In Classical music, the distinction between ascending and descending is there. But in Jazz, it is the same scale in both directions. The main characteristics of the patterns are as follows.

1st Pattern

  1. Chord shape based on: E open chord shape.
  2. Pattern lies between the frets: 6th to 10th fret.
  3. The number of roots: Three.
  4. Lowest root position: 8th fret on the 6th string.
C Melodic Minor - E Shape

2nd Pattern

  1. Chord shape based on: D open chord shape.
  2. Pattern lies between the frets: 10th to 14th fret.
  3. The number of roots: Two.
  4. Lowest root position: 10th fret on the 4th string.
C Melodic Minor - D Shape

3rd Pattern

  1. Chord shape based on: C open chord shape.
  2. Pattern lies between the frets: 11th fret to 15th fret.
  3. The number of roots: Two.
  4. Lowest root position: 15th fret on the 5th string.
C Melodic Minor - C Shape

4th Pattern

  1. Chord shape based on: A open chord shape.
  2. Pattern lies between the frets: 1st to 6th fret.
  3. The number of roots: Two.
  4. Lowest root position: 3rd fret on the 5th string.
C Melodic Minor - A Shape

5th Pattern

  1. Chord shape based on: G open chord shape.
  2. Pattern lies between the frets: 5th to 9th fret.
  3. The number of roots: Three.
  4. Lowest root position: 8th fret on the 6th string.
C Melodic Minor - G Shape

Practicing The Scale Patterns

The recommended fingering diagrams for the five patterns are given below. You can modify them if you are comfortable with slightly different patterns.

C Melodic Minor Scale Fingering

What Are The Chords Of The C melodic Minor Key?

You can use the same method you have used for the major and minor keys to build the chords from the notes of the C Melodic minor scale. You have to use each scale degree as the root note and derive the chords by stacking the intervals of the thirds on them. The chords, their Roman numeral designation, and chord qualities are given in the table below.

Scale Degrees1234567
Chord DesignationiiiIII+IVVvidimviidim
Chord NamesCmDmEb+FGAdimBdim
Chord QualityminorminorAugmentedMajorMajordiminisheddiminished

The following triad chords result from the C melodic minor scale.

  1. Two major chords – IV and V – F major and G major.
  2. Two minor chords – i and ii – Cm and Dm.
  3. One Augmented chord – III+ – Eb+
  4. Two diminished chords – vi° and vii°, Adim and Bdim.

The seven triads, their note names, and their intervals are shown in the table below.

Scale DegreesIntervalsChord NotesChord Name
1R – C – m3 – Eb – M3 – GC – Eb – GCm
2R – D – m3 – F – m3 – AD – F – ADm
3R – Eb – M3 – G – m3 – BEb – G – BEb+
4R – F – m3 – A – M3 – CF – A – CF
5R – G – m3 – B – M3 – DG – B – DG
6R – A – M3 – C – m3 – EbA – C – EbAdim
7R – B – M3 – D – m3 – FB – D – FB

What Are The Seventh Chords Of The C melodic Minor Key?

As you know, the 7th chords are formed by adding the seventh note of the scale to the triads. The following seventh chords naturally occur in C Melodic minor scale.

  • C Minor Major 7th Chord – Cm(M7) – imM7 – [C Eb G B].
  • D Minor 7th Chord – Dm7 – iim7 – [D F A C].
  • Eb Augmented Major 7th Chord – Eb Major 7#5 – bIIIMaj7#5 – [Eb G B D].
  • F Dominant 7th Chord – F7 – IV7 – [F A C Eb].
  • G Dominant 7th Chord – G7 – V7 – [G B D F].
  • A Half Diminished 7th Chord – Am7b5 – viø7 – [A C Eb G].
  • B Half Diminished 7th Chord – Bm7b5 – viiø7 – [B D F A].

The Modes Of The C Melodic Minor Scale.

The seven modes of the C melodic minor scale are

  1. C Melodic Minor, also known as C Jazz Minor Scale or C Dorian #7. The mode has structure [1 2 b3 4 5 6 7], hence known as Dorian #7. It has notes [C D Eb F G A B].
  2. D Phrygian #6 – The structure is [1 b2 b3 4 5 6 b7], and the notes are [D Eb F G A B C]. This is also known as the D Dorian b2 mode.
  3. Eb Lydian #5 – The structure is [1 2 3 #4 #5 6 7], and the notes are [Eb F G A B C D]. This is also known as the Eb Lydian Augmented mode.
  4. F Mixolydian #4 – The structure is [1 2 3 #4 5 6 b7], and the notes are [F G A B C D Eb]. This is also known as the F Lydian Dominant mode.
  5. G Aeolian #3 – The structure is [1 2 3 4 5 b6 b7], and the notes are [G A B C D Eb F ]. This is also known as the G Mixolydian b6 mode.
  6. A Locrian #2 – The structure is [1 2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7], and the notes are [A B C D Eb F G ]. This is also known as the A Aeolian b5 mode.
  7. B Altered Scale – The structure is [1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7], and the notes are [B C D Eb F G A ]. It is sometimes referred to as the Ionian #1 mode also.

Conclusion

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