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Melodic minor progressions

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In the tonal system of the melodic minor scale there are three dominant seventh chords:
  • the V7 (MM5) on the fifth degree,
  • the altered VII7#11 (MM7) on the seventh degree and the
  • Secondary dominant IV7#11 (MM4) on the fourth degree.

progression over the dominant (MM5)

Analogous to the major progression we bring the chords derived from the melodic minor scale ino the VI-II-V-I form:

VIm7b5
On the sixth degree of the melodic minor scale (MM6), the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes result in a half-diminished minor seventh chord, here a Am7b5, or generally a VIm7b5. The 9, here the B, is in the progression a forbidden tone, since it would anticipate the seventh in the I chord or the major third in the V7 chord.

IIm7
On the second degree of the melodic minor scale (MM2), the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes result in a minor seventh chord, here a Dm7, or generally a IIm7. The 13, here the B, is in the progression a forbidden tone, since it would anticipate the seventh in the I chord or the major third in the V7 chord.

V7/9/b13
On the fifth degree of the melodic minor scale (MM5), the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes result in a dominant seventh chord, here a G7, or generally a V7 with the tensions 9 and b13. The major third and the 11 must not be played at the same time, but only either or because they are a minor second apart and sound strongly dissonant together.

ImMaj7
On the first degree of the melodic minor scale (MM1), the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes result in a minor major chord, here a CmMaj7, or generally a ImMaj7.

bIIImaj7#5
On the third degree of the melodic minor scale (MM3) - as an extension of the tonic - the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th note result in a major chord with augmented fifth, here an Ebmaj7#5, or generally a bIIIMaj7#5.

The progression played over the dominante V7 (MM5) remains in its system, ie it does not leave the melodic minor tonal range.

IV7#11
On the fourth degree of the melodic minor scale (MM4), the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes result in an altered dominant seventh chord with #11, here a F7#11, or generally a IV7#11 with the tensions 9 and 13. This dominant is generally seen as a replacement for the altered dominant on the seventh degree. The chord that follows the secondary dominant generally leaves the tonal range spanned by the 1 chord, see below.




Progression over the altered dominant (MM7)

In the V7 chord obtained from the MM7 scale, all tones are altered except for the root, the third and seventh: b9, #9, #11 and b13. The chord V7b9/#9/#11/b13 is therefore also called the altered dominant and MM7 the altered scale. The altered dominant can be resolved to major or minor in a II-V-I progression as follows:

  • IIm7b5 -> V7alt -> Imaj7 and

    Locrian or Locrian9 will be played over the IIm7b5, (MM7) over the altered V7alt and Ionian over the Imaj7.

  • IIm7b5 -> V7alt -> ImMaj7

    Locrian or Locrian9 will be played over the IIm7b5, (MM7) over the altered V7alt and (MM1) over the ImMaj7.

Remember:
  • The altered dominant V7#11(/b9/#9/b13) is always on the fifth degree. The scale is MM7 (altered).

  • The progression played over the altered dominant VII7#11 (MM7) leaves the original tone space.



Progression over the secondary dominant (MM4 - Mixo#11)

The dominant seventh chord obtained from the MM4 scale, is a tritone apart from the altered dominant seventh chord formed by the MM7 scale. It contains the tensions 9, #11 and 13. According to current teaching, the dominant obtained from MM4 can replace the altered dominant and is therefore called the secondary dominant. The altered IIm7b5 -> V7#11/b9/#9/b13 -> I progression becomes the IIm7b5 -> bII7#11/9/13 -> I progression:
  • IIm7b5 -> bII7#11 -> Imaj7 and

    Locrian or Locrian9 will be played over the IIm7b5, mixo#11 (=lydianb7) or MM4 over the bII7#11 and Ionian over the Imaj7.

  • IIm7b5 -> bII7#11 -> ImMaj7

    Locrian or Locrian9 will be played over the IIm7b5, mixo#11 (=lydianb7) or MM4 over the bII7#11 and (MM1) over the ImMaj7.

The progression played over the secondary dominant bII7#11 (MM4) leaves the original tone space. Because of the chromatic bass downstairs movement, this progression is also referred to as the "chromatic approach".

Remember:
  • Altered (MM7) will always be played over the altered dominant V7#11(/b9/#9/b13) on the fifth degree. MM4 (also called Mixo #11 or Lydianb7) is ALWAYS played over ALL other dominant seventh chords with #11 (9/13), the so-called secondary dominants, which are not on the fifth degree.
  • Secondary dominants can stand on any degree except the fifth. the most common uses are:
    - as bII7#11 with resolution to the tonic,
    - as bVII7#11 with resolution to the tonic,
    - as IV7#11 after the tonic,
    - as II7#11 with subsequent II-V-I-progression.


Résumé melodic minor progressions

The following minor progressions were built up on the V7 (MM5) of the melodic minor system:
  • V7b13 -> ImMaj7 (minimal form)
  • IIm7 -> V7b13 -> ImMaj7
  • VIm7b5 -> IIm7 -> V7b13 -> ImMaj7
  • VIm7b5 -> IIm7 -> V7b13 -> ImMaj7 -> bIIImaj7#5
In addition, the progressions over the dominant (MM7) and the secondary dominant (MM4 Mixo#11 or Lydianb7) were presented.

Die progressions of the melodic minor scale via MM4 and MM7 can be found everywhere in jazz music and form the basis of the analysis of every jazz standard.

The altered dominant V7#11(/b9/#9/b13) is always on the fifth degree. Altered (MM7) has to be played. MM4 (also called Mixo#11 or Lydianb7) is played over all other dominant seventh chords with #11 (9/13), the so-called secondary dominants, which are not on the fifth level. Secondary dominants appear most frequently as bII7#11 or bVII7#11 with resolution to the tonic, or as IV7#11 after the tonic or as II7#11 with subsequent II-VI-I progression.