Melodic Minor Scale: Theory & Ear Training

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The Melodic Minor Scale is unique among scales because some of the notes change depending on whether you are going up or down the scale…

Theory

Here, for example, are the notes in the C Melodic Minor Scale identified by letter names, scale degrees, and Solfege syllables…

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  1. The scale structure of the Melodic Minor Scale is always 1-2-b3-4-5-6-7 ascending and 1-b7-b6-5-4-b3-2-1 descending, no matter what key you are in.
  2. The Solfege syllables of the Melodic Minor Scale are always Do-Re-Me-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do ascending and Do-Te-Le-So- Fa-Me-Re-Do descending, no matter what key you are in.
  3. The only thing that changes when you change keys are the letter names.

Comparative Scale Study

The melodic minor scale is no more “melodic” than other minor scales. It is called that because in some (not all) musical contexts, the melodic line sounds better when you play La and Ti going up and Le and Te going down.

When going up the Melodic Minor Scale, 6(La) and 7(Ti) are the exact same notes used in the Major Scale!

When going down the Melodic Minor Scale, b7(Te) and b6(Le) are the exact same notes used in the Natural Minor Scale!

Solfege Ear Training

Let’s take a moment to talk about how to get the most benefit from the Solfege ear training studies below…

  1. Singing the Solfege syllables out loud is the most effective way to internalize the unique sound-feeling of each note in any musical scale. Why? Because singing out loud requires you to actively process the sounds at a much deeper level than merely passively listening.
  2. It is absolutely essential that you go slowly enough to allow the unique sound-feeling of each Solfege syllable to make a meaningful impression on your mind’s ear.
  3. This is not interval training. It’s okay if you hear the intervals between successive notes, but your goal is to hear and feel the unique character of each Solfege syllable with respect to the key center DO and to each other.
  4. Solfege ear training generalizes to any key. In other words, if you can hear and feel the unique harmonic pull of Ti towards Do in the key of C, you will be able to hear and feel the unique harmonic pull of Ti towards Do in any key!
  5. At first, it’s quite alright to play each note on your instrument before you sing, but I promise you this: If you do these studies as described above, you will quickly internalize the unique sound-feeling of each Solfege syllable in you mind’s ear without help from your instrument.
  6. In summary… Sing out loud, take your time, and fight for every note. If you do, you will enjoy musical dividends for a lifetime, guaranteed!

C Melodic Minor Scale: Linear, Ascending…

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C Melodic Minor Scale: Linear, Descending…

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C Melodic Minor Scale: Do-X-Do, Ascending…

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C Melodic Minor Scale: Do-X-Do, Descending…

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Many other patterns are possible as well, but at this point your time is better spent going right to the kinds of music that YOU want to play for your study-practice material.

learn more… Harmonic Minor Scale: Theory & Ear Training