The Melodic Minor Scale and Non-Diatonic Chords / Music Theory Lesson

Author: sleepfreaks

What We Begin to Understand After Learning About Minor Keys

This time, we will incorporate content from our minor related articles, and by analysing a famous song and realizing something, we will discover 1 way of using non-diatonic chords.
This article will help begin to demystify non-diatonic chords that we first touched upon in our 25th article.


In addition, info from our previous articles will be required, so be sure to brush up on our previous minor related articles.
If you have yet to read them, check out articles 45~55 for more info.

Analyzing a Song that uses the Melodic Minor Scale

This time, lets use this song as an example.

Like “Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words)” that we saw earlier in this series, it is the world-wide famous song “Les Feuilles Mortes”.
In English you have most likely heard the name “Autumn Leaves”.
In the sample, we kept the chords simple but it is often played with various notes and embellishments added for taste.

Lets take a look at the first half.
First lets determine the key. If we have notation, we can check the placements of # and b to easily figure this out.

Al Melo1

Al Cho

The key with just a # on F is…


G major, or E minor.

By the way, By the way, like the song “Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words)” from our 25th article, the chords of this song seem to shift from a bright major feeling, to a sadder minor feeling in the song.


By changing the last Am7 to an Am, it may be easier to feel this rather when using the more complex and embellished Am7 chord.

Lets give another listen without the melody and with the tempo slowed down.

Al cho23

It has a similar feel. However, when we hear it with the melody…

It feels different that everything we’ve heard until this point. Lets first focus on this.

To allow us to apply this to any key, lets apply roman numerals.
❇︎ If you don’t know how to apply Roman numerals, check out our 25th article for more info.


In addition, to make it easier lets look at the key of C major / A minor as it only uses the white keys.



The area labelled ??? is similar to the area that we said we would discuss in detail later in the song “Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words)”.


Now that we know other types of minor scale, we can now think outside of these Roman numerals as well.


It is the II-V-I of the relative minor key. In addition, the first half features a major II-V-I.

Like shown, thinking of the chord built on the major “VII” Leading Tone note as the “II” chord built on the supertonic of the relative minor key, we can create a II-V-I with a powerful cadence and strong sense of resolution.
It will make diminished (triads) and minor 7th b5 chords easier to use so try this technique out.

If we take a look at the melody again,


There are other names for this (mixolidian b6 scale, etc.) but we can tell that it is selected from A melodic minor.


When making an original song, you can choose from various different scales, so when analyzing music be sure to gather new information to add into your own work.

Article Writer: Kazuma Itoh

講師 伊藤
After moving to the USA at 18 years of age with a scholarship from Berklee, he completed a 4 year study focused on song writing and arranging there.
Using this knowledge, he works across a variety of fields from pop music, film music, and more.