Harmonization of the Melodic Minor Scale - Chord Shapes and Theory

How to harmonize the melodic minor scale

In this lesson we will see how to harmonize the melodic minor scale in thirds with seventh chords. In other words we will see how to build seventh chords by stacking thirds from each degree of the melodic minor scale.

What's the Melodic Minor Scale?

The melodic minor scale is a variation of the Dorian mode which is the second mode of the major scale, it is made up of :

  • Root (1)
  • Second (2)
  • Minor third (b3) 
  • Fourth (4)
  • Fifth (5)
  • Sixth (6)
  • Seventh (7)

The only difference is that the melodic minor scale contain a major seventh (7), whereas the Dorian mode is built with a minor seventh (b7).

Dorian mode 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
Melodic minor  1 2 b3 4 5 6 7

How To Build Chords From The Melodic Minor Scale?

The particular structure of the melodic minor scale (W - H - W - W - W - W - H) provides a different harmonic language in comparison with the major scale and its relative natural minor scale.

The chart below show you the seven chords built from each degree of the melodic minor scale.

Degrees

I II III IV V VI VII
C melodic minor scale C D Eb F G A B
Triad chords Cm Dm Ebaug F G Adim Bdim
Seventh chords CminMaj7 Dmin7 EbMaj7#5 F7 G7 A-7b5 B-7b5

Melodic Minor Scale Harmonized With Triads

The third row of the table show the triad chords built with three notes stacked in thirds starting from each degree of the melodic minor scale. You can see two minor chords on degrees I & II, one augmented chord on degree III, two major chords on degrees IV & V and two diminished triads on degrees VI & VII.

Melodic Minor Scale Harmonized With Seventh Chords

By adding a fourth note to the previous triads you get a minMaj7 chord on degree I, one minor seventh chords (min7) on the degree II, one major seventh sharp five (maj7#5) chord on the third degree, two dominant 7th chords (7) on the degrees IV & V and two minor seventh flat fifth chords (m7b5) on degrees VI & VII.

Melodic Minor Chord Shapes

The diagrams below show the seven shapes related to the seven tetrad chords built from each degree of the harmonic minor scale. Every chord correspond to a color code and the root of each chord is represented by a triangle. 

  • Red form : minMaj7
  • Green : min7
  • Blue : Maj7#5
  • Pink : dom7
  • Brown : dom7 
  • Orange : m7b5
  • Purple : m7b5

Drop 2 Chord Voicings

The chords of the three diagrams below are drop 2 voiced

minMaj7 1 5 7 b
min7 1 5 b7 b3
Maj7#5 1 #5 7 3
Dom7 1 5 b7 3
Dom7 1 5 b7 3
m7b5 1 b5 b7 b3
m7b5 1 b5 b7 b3

 

Drop 3 Chord Voicings

The chords of the two guitar neck diagrams below are drop 3 voiced

minMaj7 1 7 b3 5
min7 1 b7 b3 5
Maj7#5 1 7 3 #5 
Dom7 1 b7 3 5
Dom7 b7 3 5
m7b5 b7 b3 b5
m7b5 1 b7 b3 b5
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melodic minor scale chords drop 3 harmonization drop 2