Jazz minor scale

The jazz minor scale is a derivative of the melodic minor scale, except only the ascending form of the scale is used. As the name implies, it is primarily used in jazz. It may be derived from the major scale with a minor third,[1] making it a synthetic scale, and features a dominant seventh chord on the fifth degree (V) like the harmonic minor scale.[2]

\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
\relative c' { 
  \clef treble \time 7/4
  a4^\markup { Jazz minor scale on A } b c d e fis gis a2 }


Thus, the jazz minor scale can be represented by the following notation:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

The scale may be considered to originate in the use of extensions beginning with the seventh in jazz and thus the necessity to, "chromatically raise the diatonic 7th to create a stable, tonic sound," rather than use a minor seventh chord, associated with ii, for tonic.[3]

The jazz minor scale contains all of the altered notes of the dominant seventh chord whose root is a semitone below the scale's tonic: "In other words to find the correct jazz minor scale for any dominant 7th chord simply use the scale whose tonic note is a half step higher than the root of the chord."[1] For example, the G7 chord and A jazz minor scale: the A scale contains the root, third, seventh, and the four most common alterations of G7. This scale may be used to resolve to C in the progression G7–C (over G7, which need not be notated G75599).[1]

Jazz minor scale on A with notes related to G7 chord alterations. Play 
A jazz minor scale over G7 resolving to C.[1] Play 

It is used over a minor major seventh chord.[4] See: chord-scale system. The scale also easily allows diatonic chord progressions, for example a I−vi−ii−V progression:[4]

|: CmM7 Am75 | Dm7 G713 :| Play 

Its modes also include Lydian 5, Lydian 7, Locrian 2, and the altered scale.


Triad qualitiesEdit

The triads built on each scale degree follow a distinct pattern. The roman numeral analysis is shown in parentheses below.


Seventh chord qualitiesEdit

The seventh chords built on each scale degree follow a distinct pattern. The roman numeral analysis is shown in parentheses below.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Berle, Arnie (1983). How to Create and Develop a Jazz Sax Solo, p.78. ISBN 978-1-56222-088-4.
  2. ^ Overthrow, David and Ferguson, Tim (2007). The Total Jazz Bassist, p.41. ISBN 978-0-7390-4311-0.
  3. ^ Berg, Shelly (2005). Alfred's Essentials of Jazz Theory, Book 3, p.90. ISBN 978-0-7390-3089-9.
  4. ^ a b Arnold, Bruce E. (2001). Music Theory Workbook for Guitar: Scale Construction, p.12. ISBN 978-1-890944-53-7.

Further readingEdit

  • R., Ken (2012). DOG EAR Tritone Substitution for Jazz Guitar, Amazon Digital Services, Inc., ASIN: B008FRWNIW