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  • rbedwell3

Melodic minor truths II: Parallel minor modulations

So now we all know that the Melodic minor scale doesn't change its form when descending (see Melodic truths I), let's move on to one of the primary uses of the Melodic minor, modulating to the parallel minor key.

When playing in a Major key, the easiest and quickest way to modulate to the parallel minor, the minor key on the same root, is via the use of the Melodic scale. (NB: There is only one scale designated "melodic" and so the minor part is unnecessary.)

In C Major, the Melodic scale is used to change to C minor. Although the key of C minor has 3 flats (C D Eb F G Ab Bb), only one is needed to cause the modulation, the minor third - Eb. Of course, after the modulation has occurred via the use of Melodic, a stable minor scale needs to be used, Aeolian (Natural minor) or Harmonic minor for the resolution to be satisfactory.

From a scalar point of view, the mode of E Phrygian (mode III of C Major) has its root lowered to Eb which creates mode III of C Melodic, Eb Lydian Augmented (+). I particularly like playing Eb Lydian + as the mode itself into an C Major piece as the scale formula sounds great against any of the chords in C Major. The dominant mode leading to C minor with the Eb in it is mode V of C Melodic, G Mixolydian b6, so you could focus on that when playing a perfect cadence.

A prolonged dominant cadence is also a good technical device, playing G Mixolydian (G7) followed by G Mixolydian b6 (G7b6 or G7#5) before the change to the key of C minor.

Obviously, the chords and arpeggios from C Major can be used, any note of E in their formula is changed to Eb and so C Major7 becomes C minMaj7, E min7b9 becomes Eb Maj7#11, A min7 becomes A min7b5 etc. Emin7b9 to Eb Maj7#11 is a chordal way of saying C Major to C minor, but is heavily disguised.

I would go into modal inversions, the same principal as chord inversions except focused on modes, but that will need a specific post to introduce that subject. Hopefully, you won't have any difficulties now when a piece changes to the parallel minor, which is the point of learning music theory.

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