Melodic Minor Scale on the Piano

The Melodic Minor scale

The Melodic Minor Scale? This great scale to use for ii-V-I progressions or while holding minor chord in the left hand. I have said that it is one of the most important scales to learn, because it is a parent scale to many modes, such as the Super Locrian Scale. To play the Melodic Minor Scale you only need to flatten the 3rd note of the regular major scale. 

Notes below:

C - D - Eb - F - G - A - B

Fingering Suggestions 

RH: 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 1

LH: 5 4 3 2 1 3 2 1

Dorian #4 Scale on the piano

It would seem that what gives this scale its unique sound is third note which is flat (b3), however I believe what gives this scale such a unique sound is the natural 6th and 7th notes contrasted AGAINST the flattened 3rd. 

Here is a sound of the melodic minor scale:

Melodic Minor is a PARENT scale  (see below)

The reason you need to learn the Melodic Major scale is because is a parent scale to other scales. In other words, several other scales come from the Melodic Scale. Say we were to play the C melodic Minor Scale, but we started on a D instead of a C. That same scale is now the "2nd mode" of the Melodic Minor Scale, called the Dorian b2.

But as far as I'm concerned, its still the Melodic Scale. And if I know the notes in the Melodic Minor Scale, I also now the notes in the Dorian b2, and ALL of the various modes of the Melodic Minor. 

Modes of the Melodic Minor Scale (in C)


Melodic Minor Scale

C D Eb F G A B

Dorian b2

C Db Eb F G A Bb

Lydian #5

C D E F# G# A B

Lydian Dominant (Mixolydian #4)

C D E F# G A Bb

Mixolydian b6

C D E F G Ab Bb

Aeolian b5

C D Eb F Gb Ab Bb

Altered Scale (Super Locrian)

C Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb

Some of the ways to use the Melodic Minor Scale

  • hold a minor chord in the left, start from the 5th note of the scale for a nice sound
  • begin a ii-V-1 progression, then start the Melodic Minor Scale while ending the scale on the I
  • Or just holding a note in the bottom. Say the band is holding a note and you just need a scale to play (start on the 3). See the last video on this page!!

How to practice the Melodic Minor Scale

If you want to practice this scale I have a video below showing just one of the ways I practice the scale. I begin by showing the notes of the scale in C. Then I show the notes to the melodic scale in G. After that we show a video where a jazz artist plays a G melodic scale, but starts on the 5th note. We conclude the video by showing how to apply that specific melodic minor sound to other keys

Check out a cool usage of the melodic minor featuring Anomolie:

He is doing this in A, but Sean says, its not knowing the SCALE that is important. Learning to play the scale is only the FIRST STEP, in the second step the EAR must recognize the SHAPE and sound of the scale regardless of key (difficult for most), the third step is hearing when to use it appropriately (even more difficult). Don't run from challenges folks. Embrace it!!!!!!

  • mark63534 says:

    Hmmm… so you say to apply this to a 5-1-4, but this really looks like a 1min-4min.

    Am I confusing this? Cause originally I thought a 5-1-4 was a 5min-1dom-4maj…

    Great tool here though, will definitely learn.

  • sean says:

    Hey Mark, I had to rewatch the video to see what you meant. It you fast forward to 3:05 you’ll hear me say 5-1, not 5-1-4. I used it that way because I like to see the progression resolve to the 1 (minor). However, seeing it as a I-IV can also be extremely useful. Rememeber my goal on theory is that it is not as firm as traditional schools would have you believe, and should be flexible enough to adapt to what you are doing

  • Israel says:

    I hope to understand the concept of mode from a scale.. I have watched some videos from rick beato .. but he didn’t explain how Nd why… Dorian b2.. how did it come about..

    Do you have a course I can buy or can you make a course explaining it to the fullest?

    • sean says:

      I have several videos and trainings explaining Modes on my website. In addition, all members have access to Scale Charts, with suggestions for how to practice them

  • Matt says:

    This is an incredible video. All your videos are. Such inspiring things to practice.

    Can you tell us who the pianist is in the short video? Those three seconds sound great and I’d like to check it/him out.

  • Brian Bailey says:

    thorough video, I didnt know that minor scale was just a flatted 3rd. There aren’t many explanations of this elsewhere because I guess its simple, but definetely was a gap in my theory knowledge. Thanks sean. Also, we have a formula for the the diatonic major chords(Maj,min,min,Maj, Maj,min,dim). Is there a formula for a melodic minor chords?

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