The Minor Scale And Its Harmonies

The Natural Minor Scale

The minor scale is thought of as a major scale with the third, sixth and seventh members of the scale flatted, lowered him pitch by one half step. From an artistic standpoint the minor scale is most often thought of as a sad sound. the minor scale. The minor scale can also sound gloomy or mysterious. Study the interior active illustration below to familiarize yourself with the sound of a minor scale.

Now it is time to study the formula and spelling of the minor scale. The formula will be the same for any minor scale -the spelling however will be unique for each minor scale.The formula for each scale appears in blue in the diagram just above. The spelling for each scale appears in red underneath the music staff. Don’t forget, the major scale is King in all discussions of music theory. The notes in blue, the ones in formula, are thought of as flat notes because they are flat in relation to the major scale.

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Guitar WiseBelow is an interactive diagram of common knowledge fingerings for a C major and a C minor scale for you to practice with. Play these scale fingerings in time along with the recording but also play them at various tempos using a metronome or drum machine. Finally, try to compose a few simple melodies using each one of the scales.

It is important that you internalize the sound quality of each scale. It may be as simple as thinking of C major as the happy scale in C minor as a sad scale. What ever works for you, what ever makes you really understand the flavor of the scale is what you should think of.

Minor Key Harmony

The same system of harmony that we applied to a major scale is easily applied to a minor scale. This system of harmonizing by thirds, also called tertial harmony, gives us a new set of chords to make music with based on the harmonies of a minor scale. Below is an interactive illustration meant to acquaint you with the sound of minor key harmony. Take special note of the key signature and the flat symbols which are colored red. Those red flat symbols are not necessary in any way they are only there so you can see how a key signature influences all the music to follow. In this case, the case of minor key harmony, the names of the chords will all drastically change.

Use the summary table below to study and memorize the formula, spelling and note names for the keys of C minor.

Formula
1
2
b3
4
5
b6
b7
1
Harmony
I min7
II min7(b5)
bIII Maj 7
IV min7
V min7
bVI Maj 7
bVII 7
I min7
Key Of C minor
C
D
Eb
F
G
Ab
Bb
C

Minor Blues

As this is a course intended for guitarists who are studying pop, rock, jazz and blues –electric guitar playing it seems most logical to mention that a minor key can also be the source material for a 12 bar blues progression. The I – IV – and V chords arranged in a minor blues progression have been used to create many important and standard songs. Below is an original minor blues song written in a electric blues style.

theory76Transposing To G Minor

The diagram to the right illustrates the process involved in converting a G major scale to a G minor scale. There are several interesting points brought out in the diagram, first the red arrow is pointing to the F sharp note which is referred to as the natural seven, even though it is sharped. This is because the naturally occurring note in the G major scale is in fact the F sharp, so a sharp note is the natural seventh degree of the scale. The next point of interest in the diagram on the one half symbols which are highlighted in yellow and indicate where in the scales half steps occur. In the major scale the half steps are between the third and fourth notes and also the seventh and eighth notes. In the minor scale the half steps occur between the second and third and fifth and sixth notes.

G Minor Blues

Below is a minor blues in the key of G minor. Use this interactive illustration as a means of memorizing the sound of a minor blues progression in your ear, so for you it becomes well known and second nature. It may be helpful to think of a blues progression as three groups of four measures as the highlighting in the example below has done. Most blues melodies consists of three 4 bar phrases as these groups of four measures form the natural points of cadence and rest.

In your music writing book make sure you completely understand the formula and spelling for the keys of C major, C minor, G major and G minor. Copy the exercise below, at least three times on manuscript paper exactly as is written.

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Finally, use the table below for quick review and as a printed reference.

 

Formula
1
2
b3
4
5
b6
b7
1
Harmony
I min7
II min7(b5)
bIII Maj 7
IV min7
V min7
bVI Maj 7
bVII 7
I min7
Key Of C minor
C
D
Eb
F
G
Ab
Bb
C
Key Of G minor
G
A
Bb
C
D
Eb
F
G

 

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