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Modes of the jazz minor scale

Modes of the major and jazz minor scale

The seven modes of the major scale (church modes) constitute half of the possible seven-note scales building on semitones and whole tones. The other half consists of the modes of the jazz minor scale. A jazz minor scale is a minor scale with a raised sixth and seventh degree (= a melodic minor when moving upwards). Thus, the major scale and the jazz minor scale are the two most important generic scales; their modes form all 14 possible seven-note scales with semitones and tones (provided that the semitones are not adjoined).

Harmonic minor and harmonic major scales are also important generic seven-note scales. The latter, rare in classical music but common in jazz, can be formed from the harmonic minor scale by raising the minor third into a major third or by lowering the major scale sixth into a minor sixth. The structure of these harmonic scales differs from the major scale and the jazz minor scale; in addition to the tones and semitones, they also include one augmented second. The most common of these scales is the fifth mode of the harmonic minor, used in the minor scale dominant chord (Phrygian dominant, hijaz in Arabic music).

Symmetrical scales

When improvising, the most common symmetric scales are the whole-note scale, diminished scale, and the augmented scale. The diminished scale consists of eight notes, with intervals of a tone, a semitone, a tone, a semitone, and so on. There are two types of diminished scales: one beginning with a tone, suitable for the diminished chord, and one beginning with a semitone and called a dominant diminished scale, suitable for the dominant chord (D7913). A symmetrical augmented scale consists of six notes with intervals of a minor second and minor third in turns.

Correspondence between a scale and a chord

For improvisational purposes, it is useful to learn to associate a scale and the corresponding chord symbol. In functional harmony, the closest scale to a chord can be found on the basis of the key; for example, the major scale for the maj7 chord on the first degree. In modal harmony, the scale is chosen on the basis of the added notes without associating the chord with a key at all; for example, the Lydian scale for the maj7 chord. In the example below, V = the scale vertically closest to the chord (on the basis of added notes), H = the scale horizontally closest to the chord (on the basis of the key) when the chord is on its most common degree; for example, dom7 on the fifth degree.

An example of diminished scales with closest chords:

Modes of the jazz minor scale with corresponding chords

1. mode, jazz minor scale - Cmmaj7

2. mode, Phrygian #6 - Emaj7#5/D

3. mode, Lydian augmented - Emaj7#5

4. mode, Overtone scale - F7#11

5. mode, Mixolydian b6 - G713

6. mode, Locrian #2 - Am75

7. mode, Altered scale - B7alt

Modes of the major scale (church modes) with corresponding chords

1. mode, Ionian - Cmaj7

2. mode, Dorian - Dm7

3. mode, Phrygian - Fmaj75/E, Esus42

4. mode, Lydian - Fmaj7#11

5. mode, Mixolydian - G7, G7sus4

6. mode, Aeolian - Am6

7. mode, Locrian - Bm75