The melodic minor scale is an essential harmonic tool to use when learning jazz guitar.

This article aims to break down three different melodic minor applications and demonstrate how they can be used over common chord sequences.

A firm grasp and understanding of the melodic minor and its modes is recommended.

Even if you don’t know the modes of the melodic minor scale, you should still be able to learn some cool jazz licks from this lesson.


Melodic Minor Applications #1 – Lydian Dominant


The first of the melodic minor applications, is over a static dominant 7th chord.

The Lydian dominant scale is the fourth mode of the melodic minor, and contains the same notes as its parent melodic minor scale.

Because of this, you can use melodic minor licks up a 5th rather than have a different set of Lydian Dominant licks.

To use a melodic minor lick over a Lydian dominant chord, think of the melodic minor scale up a 5th.

For example, if the chord chart said G7#11, think D melodic minor.

The melodic minor lick below is an example of this in action over a static dominant 7#11 chord. The chord in context is D7#11 and the lick comes thinking A melodic minor.

Though thinking “melodic minor up a 5th” might seem tough at first, it is a great way to work on theory skills and get twice as much mileage from the melodic minor scale.

Although a dominant 7#11 chord is used in this example, this lick will work fine against a normal dominant 7th chord.


Melodic Minor Applications 1 - Lydian Domexample 1


Melodic Minor Applications #2 – Altered Dominants


Perhaps the most common melodic minor application is playing over altered dominant chords, particularly in ii-V-I situations.

To use the melodic minor scale over a dominant 7th chord, think of the melodic minor scale a semi-tone up.

For example, if the chord in context is G7, think Ab melodic minor.

This substitution will produce the same notes as the altered scale, which is the 7th mode of the Melodic Minor scale.

The lick below is an example of this substitution in action.

The chord progression is a minor ii-V-I, and over the G7, Ab melodic minor is used.


Melodic Minor Applications 2 - Alt Dom example 2


Melodic Minor Applications #3 – Phrygian Natural 6


The final melodic minor application in this article is used for creating a Phrygian sound, which can be implied in a ii-V-I or a static susb9 chord.

The Phrygian Natural 6 or Dorian b2 is the second mode of the melodic minor scale.

This short lick demonstrates how to connect this scale in a ii-V-I example.

Note the smooth voice leading between the scale of the ii chord (A-7) and C melodic minor over the V chord (D7).


Melodic Minor Applications 3 - Susb9example 3


I hope this article has helped you demystify the melodic minor scale and how it used in practical music settings.

For further melodic minor study check out my article and video lesson called 1 Melodic Minor Every Jazz Guitarist Should Know.

What do you think of the melodic minor scale? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.


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