Monday, January 9, 2012

Melodic or Harmonic Minor

Q: I'm enjoying your Infinite Guitar book very much lately but I'm wondering why you dedicate so much time to Melodic Minor and not so much to Harmonic Minor. Why is Melodic Minor more important?

A: Good question. There isn't anything wrong with Harmonic Minor so to speak but Melodic Minor has more applications. Only one mode of Harmonic Minor is exclusively used and that mode is the 5th one, sometimes named the Phrygian Dominant mode. As an example, E to E in the A Harmonic Minor scale: E-F-G#-A-B-C-D. You would play it over an E7 or E7b9 chord and more often than not, it would get used over a V chord in a minor progression. For example in a rock application: Amin-G-F-E, you would want to play A natural minor over the first three chords and A Harmonic Minor over the final E chord. In a Jazz application, you would play it over a iio-V7 in A minor, as in Bmin7b5-E7b9-Amin7 (over the last chord, you wouldn't generally play A harmonic minor but A natural minor or A dorian. You can use Harmonic Minor over a i chord (as in A Harmonic Minor over an Amin chord) but it sounds like you are playing Mexican or Middle Eastern music.