How to Play Melodic Minor Modes on Guitar

Do you want to play more colorful and modern jazz guitar lines? Modes of the melodic minor scale are what you are looking for. In this lesson I will show the easiest and most effective approach for improvising with the modes.

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Why Melodic Minor Modes are Awesome

I can remember the first time I played the altered scale. Suddenly I was playing REAL jazz. This single scale suddenly propelled me from ’starting-out-jazz-guitarist’ to ‘sounding-like-I-know-what-I am-doing-jazz-guitarist.’ Just as we have modes of the major scale, we have modes of the melodic minor scale. Each of these modes have their own unique sound. The best thing about melodic minor modes is: THEY HAVE NO AVOID NOTES. This means that chords and scales from the same base melodic minor scale are interchangeable. Pretty cool, right? To put it simply – learn one melodic minor mode and you learn the other 6 at the same time. Check out each mode at the end of this page for an in-depth lesson. I recommend you start with the first, seventh and fourth modes – they are the most useful.

How to HEAR Melodic Minor Modes

To start off with it is handy to relate modes back to their parent melodic minor scale. But to really HEAR the unique sound of any mode you need appreciate it as its own entity. Try this:

  • Forget about the parent melodic minor scale.
  • Play the mode’s individual chord and play through the scale slowly.
  • Accustom your ears it’s sound.
  • Try this with all your modes, think of each mode as its own unique scale.

To sum up, modes are easy to learn because they share the same notes as each other. But to get your ears around them, think of each mode as a unique scale and key centre. I remember modes being confusing to me when I started out, let me know in the comment section below if this trick works for you!

Choose Your Mode

Use the menu below to start exploring! ~ Sam Blakelock | pickupjazz.com