I am curious about the following. If you look at the Melodic Minor scale (ascending) it is really just Dorian with a major 7th.

In Jazz we do not alter this mode when descending. In classical music this mode is used in minor keys, e.g. A melodic minor in the key of A minor (to create leading tones when needed and the sharp 6th to turn the jump of a -3rd to a step). In rhythm changes the vi chord is often changed to a dominant 7th, acting as a secondary dominant to the ii, e.g. I --> VI7 --> ii-7 --> V7, etc. The major third of the VI7 created the "melodic minor" out of the Dorian on the ii chord. So in soloing if one wanted to create a resolution from VI7 to ii-7 it would seem natural to augment the 7th degree of Dorian. I do this to all the modes when I see a need or opportunity to do so but never really thought of a connection to other modes.

Over Rhythm changes I would improvise ii-Melodic minor over (VI7, ii-7) and I-Ionian over (V7, I).

My question is whether or not there is any historical connection between the "Jazz Melodic Minor" and this device. Has anyone ever written about the Dorian sharp 7th?

Keep in mind that the corresponding altered Dorian mode based on the relative melodic minor in any key would NOT be this mode. For example in the key of C, A melodic minor does not correspond to Dorian sharp 7th.

  • Related: music.stackexchange.com/questions/16248/… – Dom Dec 20 '18 at 0:34
  • @Dom, thanks but I just read that post and it doesn't really address the specific device I am mentioning. – ggcg Dec 20 '18 at 0:36
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    Just a comment to help my understanding. First of all, for me it's much more natural to use harmonic minor (of II) over the VI7 chord because it has the b9 of the VI7 chord, which for my ears is a much more common and pleasing tension in that context than the (unaltered) 9. Second, over the ii-7 chord, with melodic minor you would miss out on the b7 of the chord, but you replace it with the natural 7 (which is not a chord tone and which kinda clashes with the b7 in the chord). So is it just that I hear things differently, or did I misunderstand your question? – Matt L. Dec 20 '18 at 8:26
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    Has anyone ever written about the Dorian sharp 7th - not really the correct term. The Melodic Minor is Aeolian with raised a 6th and 7th - that is its derivation. No reason to refer to it anything as Dorian sharp 7th . – Stinkfoot Dec 21 '18 at 22:27
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    Could also regard the melodic minor (jazz) as simple major but with a m3 instead of the M3. – Tim Jan 20 at 10:27

As Stinkfoot mentioned, I've never seen in a music theory textbook or heard in my own listening a reference to the Dorian mode with a raised 7th. Seems like it would self-evidently (since the major third is already in the chord) be useful in a solo as a leading tone, but in the Mark Levine books and in my general listening the altered chord with a #9 is more prominent.

Seems like it could be a cool groove though, messing with the listener by mixing in the raised 7th for a leading tone or the b7 for an altered funk sound.

  • I know it has not appeared in theory books, I am curious if it anything like it has an historical context. – ggcg Jan 20 at 13:13

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