Other Heptatonic Scales

There are of course other heptatonic scales as well that are not formed with the diatonic pattern. Two of these are the melodic minor and the harmonic minor. The melodic and harmonic minor scales are both variations of the Aeolian mode of the diatonic Major scale.

Melodic Minor

Here is what the melodic minor looks like in the key of A minor:

ABCDEF#G#A

T-S-T-T-T-T-S

The melodic minor is exactly like the A natural minor except the F and G are both sharp.

It should be noted that there is an odd practice with the melodic minor. The scale pattern is only played in the ascending direction, towards the higher notes. When you play downward toward the bass notes of the scale, you play the natural minor (the Aeolian pattern of the Diatonic). So in most real music that uses this scale, you are actually playing two different scales depending on the direction you are playing.


The diagram below shows the A Melodic Minor at positions 3 and 8. The melodic minor can be played at other frets, but these positions match the diatonic positions I adressed in the diatonic scales section. Playing the melodic minor at these positions first will give you a better conception of their construction. Notice, however, the required LR and LL levers on String 8. This is very difficult to play quickly without sounding the intervening note (open string 8). It is for this reason, that another pedal or lever that raises String 9 a half step would be desirable. The melodic minor scale is not the only scale that could use a 9th String raise, but a majority of the most commonly used scales don't really require it.

The entire scale is shown including notes before and after the root note A. These patterns can be applied to any fret in order to play the melodic minor in different keys.

A Melodic Minor Diagram


Here is the A Melodic Minor at position 3 and 8 positions with just the notes between the root notes displayed:

A Melodic Minor Diagram


Below is the sheet music notation for the melodic minor at postions 3 and 8. The root notes have arrows pointing to them. For reference, here are the pedal locations again: THE COPEDENT

A Melodic Minor Notation


As mentioned above, the melodic minor is played like the natural minor (Aeolian Mode of the diatonic scale) when descending. As a reminder here is the A natural minor scale:

A Melodic Minor Notation


Modes can be played with other heptatonic scales such as the melodic minor. Modes of the melodic minor can be played by starting on a different note other than the root note A.

Here are the 7 modes of the melodic minor

A Melodic Minor Modes

Harmonic Minor

Here is how the harmonic minor is structured in the key of A harmonic minor:

ABCDEFG#A

T-S-T-T-S-(TS)*-T

*note the large tone and a half interval (3 semitones) in the harmonic minor from F to G#.


This diagram shows positions 3 and 8 of the A harmonic minor. The entire scale is shown including notes before and after the root note A. These patterns can be applied to any fret to get the harmonic minor in different keys.

A Harmonic Minor Diagram


Here is the A Harmonic Minor at position 3 and 8 positions with just the notes between the root notes displayed:

A Harmonic Minor Diagram


Here is the sheet music notation for the two positions of the A harmonic minor:

A Harmonic Minor Notation

Pedal Locations: THE COPEDENT


These scales also have their own modes. For example starting on the E note of the A harmonic minor would be called the E Spanish Phrygian. D would be the D Romanian, etc. There are several names for each of the modal scales of the harmonic minor, as well as the melodic minor. I have listed these because they are some of the more often recognized names for the modes of these two scales.

A Harmonic Minor Modes


There are many other heptatonic scales out there, but the ones laid out above are the most common. Many of the others are non-western scales and as a result are commonly referred to as exotic scales.

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