Bach to Rock

Posted: February 6, 2011 by phanson in Tips & Tricks

Brian from Ohio sent a question: 

Hi Paul, my name is Brian. I have a question on melodic minor and the progression F  D/F#  G  E/G#  Amin. Paul thanx for being too cool and taking the time to help. Ok the reason I thought melodic minor would be the answer for most of this progression….

It got me thinking, here’s my answer:

Hi Brian,

Interesting that you asked about using the Melodic Minor scale over these ascending changes:

/      F      /      D/F#     /      G      /      E/G#    /      A min     /      Amin      /

A love this progression with its chromatic, ascending bass line, very classical. I recorded it as a jam track at about 140 BPM and I played each chord, two bars, and then when I got to the 1 chord, A minor, I played it for 4 bars. Here’s the track:

Melodoc Minor Jam:  

 At first when you suggested the A Melodic Minor Scale, I assumed you meant Jazz Melodic Minor. It’s the same as Natural Minor but with the raised 6th and 7th, in this case, those notes are F# and G#. “Jazz” Melodic Minor means the scale has the same notes ascending and descending. Well, that scale won’t work very well here.

But ah-ha, I see what you might have been getting at. The Traditional Melodic Minor scale could work great. It’s the same as the Jazz version when ascending, but when descending the traditional version drops the 6th and 7th back down. In other words Traditional Melodic Minor is simply Natural Minor, but when ascending, you raise the 6th and 7th. Here’s an example of a fingering pattern: Melodic Minor Scale Chart

Now to your progression. When I play the Traditional Melodic Minor scale descending, it matches up with the F and G chords. When I play the Traditional Melodic Minor ascending it matches up with the D/F# and E/G# chords. Just descend on the first chord, ascend on the second, descend on the third chord etc. It works great!

I recorded a melody using the Traditional Melodic Minor scale doing just this. Descending over the F chord, ascending over the D/F#, descending over the G, and ascending over E/G#. At the end, over the A minor chord, I just played the A Blues scale. Check it out:

Here’s a chart with the chords and tabs of my solo:  ChordChart&SoloTab_2

 Melodic Minor came about by people analyzing Bach. They just figured out, when ascending in a minor key, he sharped the 6 and 7, and when descending, Bach would lower them back. For example, Bach’s Bouree in E Minor, check it out:

Thanks Brian for the cool progression and the Traditional Melodic Minor idea! 


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