The Melodic Minor Scale and Modes

     With the harmonic scale, we run into an augmented 2nd interval between the 6th and 7th degree. The idea behind the construction of the melodic scale is so that the melodic ascension towards the tonic is smoother by raising the 6th degree as well. This is what is known as the ascending melodic scale since the descending version is the natural minor:

     The main reason why the descending version is the natural minor is because there is no need for the leading tone functionality. Another reason is, if you descend in the fixed melodic minor, the first tetrachord (a four-note segment of the scale) sounds like the major chord. In fact, the only and crucial difference with the major scale is the minor third while all the other notes are the same. This may cause tonal ambiguity.

     Nevertheless, nowadays, for stylistic reasons or otherwise, the fixed melodic minor scale is widely used. Let us proceed to the next six inversions of the scale and find out its modes:

A Melodic Minor A Dorian b2 A Lydian #5 or Lydian Augmented
A Lydian b7 A Mixolydian b6 A Locrian nat.2
A Altered Dominant

     I made the choice of not to adjectivize any of the presented modes thus far because I do not wish to bias your opinion on the way each mode makes you feel or the way it sounds to you. This is something that you as a musician/composer should signify, regardless of the culturally accepted indications.

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