Exploring The E Minor Scale

Theory, Ear Training, Execution

In this lesson we’ll be applying our methodology to the key of E minor.We will of course begin with basic music theory and ear training followed by playing exercises. If we are going to study the theory associated with any key, we must first contact the king of music theory, the major scale -in this case of course it is the key of E major we must famaliarize ourselves with.


To obtain an E natural minor scale, the 3rd, 6th and 7th degrees are flatted. Use the diagram below to increase your understanding of the resulting scale, also called the parrallel key. This scale is usually simply called ‘E minor’ -but the correct name would be E pure minor or E natural minor.


In our process, we have use interactive diagrams like the one below, for ear training purposes, visual training, and to sound out the scale on your guitar and keyboard. Listen carefully and practice slowly.

Root 6 E Minor Scale

Illustrated below is the open position (first position) E minor scale, it is imperative that you classify this scale pattern as a root 6 form. AS usual, play through this exercise at a slow comfortable pace, famaliarizing yourself with pattern. Speed is not important, just spend about the same amount of time on each note. The mouse over effect will reinforce the proper fingerings.


Next, use the root 6 fingering pattern to work through the scale exercise below. Practice until you can play in time, and in perfect unison with the recording. As before, treat the exercise as if it was your favorite melody, to be executed with accuracy and attention to detail.


Melodic Study: The Rights Of Man

As I have said before, many of the world’s great systems of music education (Orff, Kodaly, Berklee) rely on teaching common knowledge folk tunes and standard, iconic melodies drawn from folk music and ethnic music traditions. Variations of this tune date back to the 1770s and are often associated with Celtic and Irish music. Of course, the tablature along with fingering indications and performance notes appear in the printed study available at the end of this lesson. A video lesson is available by clicking here.


E minor Transposition Study: Up One Octave

Now we’ll take this root 6, industry standard E minor scale pattern and transpose in up in pitch one octave, the resulting sound will be exactly twice as high. In my diagram you can see that there are two well known options that represent different ways of playing the exact some scale. Neither one is ‘wrong’ just as neither one is ‘correct’, they are just different.

The first approach has you stretching your fourth finger up one fret, out of position to play the F# note on fret 16 of string 4. The second approach has you sliding your first finger back, one fret out of position, to play that exact same F# note only now it is on fret 11 of string 3. Of course, treat the playing exercise like a wonderful new melody to played and perfected.


Root 6 minor Scale Transposition Trainer

In terms of which minor scale pattern is best to make a cornerstone of our system, I prefer the version which has you stretching finger 4 up one fret for that pesky F# note. Although these approaches is usually met with a little resistance, if you stick to it and give it a chance, that stretch based fingering is extraordinarily useful and effective. Trust me on this one, okay? The trainer below will help you to hear, play and visualize this common knowledge root 6 minor scale pattern.

Acrobat PrinterPrint And Save

This lesson introduces the key of E minor and further explores the organizing principle of movable root 6 scale patterns. Practice these exercises until you can play the minor scale fingering patterns effortlessly, automatically and instantly. Open the print and save study notes.


“My first experience with the guitar was taking lessons from Karl Aranjo as a high school student. His lessons were more than just a collection of tips and riffs: they were a method. As I look through GuitarU.com, I get to take a trip back through those lessons and am reminded about I loved about them. His strong focus on the fundamentals quickly draws a connection between general music theory and the particulars of how that theory can be applied to the guitar, even allowing us as guitarists to use our instrument as an abacus-like tool to enhance our musical insight. In high school, Karl’s lessons got me up to speed to jam with my friends and in the school band almost immediately. In the almost 20 years since I left high school and had my last lesson with Karl, the things he taught me have continued to serve me well; I’ve played almost continuously in a variety of styles (jazz, rock, funk, folk), both as a hobby and as a part-time professional (currently playing with San Francisco’s Smash-Up Derby). If I hadn’t grown up in the same town as where Karl taught, I might have missed out on a lifetime of fun playing the guitar. With GuitarU.com, wherever you are, you can benefit from the same quality instruction that I had!

-Grahm Ruby

“Mr. Karl Aranjo is one great teacher to work with. When working with him, he is very flexible, and will teach you all the basics and fundamentals you will need while learning how to play the guitar. From learning basic chords to crazy licks and solo’s. You will become an expert in no time and looking like a professional guitar player. In my experience, I learned to master chord progressions much easier and understand it in a better perspective. In my music career/hobby, it has given me nothing but success to play in a band as a front man/rhythm guitarist, compose my own type of music, and as well as songs that I really wanted to learn how to play on the guitar. Learning through Karl Aranjo was a great experience and has helped me understand the guitar a lot easier, I would not have wanted this learning experience any other way.”

-Julius Isaac

“I had the pleasure of being a guitar student of Karl’s for several years. Karl advanced my playing ability a great deal very quickly by giving me a perfect combination of guitar technique, theory and assigning songs that motivated me to continue learning. I highly recommend Karl for all level of guitar players no matter if you are a beginner or advanced.”

-Tom Hunt

”Karl Aranjo is a great and experienced teacher with an extensive knowledge of guitar playing and theory. His thorough online course, GuitarU.com covers the whole spectrum from the first time beginner to advanced.”

Blake Aaron- Internationally Known Recording Artist

”Karl helped me dive into the blues when I was first starting out, and learning how to improvise opened up many doors for me on guitar. He has a vast knowledge ranging many musical styles, and i would recommend him to anyone trying to learn the instrument!”

Eric Cannata Young The Giant