Understanding The 5 Shapes Of The C Natural Minor Scale

First, let’s get our head into the game by by firming up our grasp of the Key Of C Minor:

  • Key Signature, 3 Flats (Eb, Ab, Bb)
  • Scale Spelling, C – D – Eb – F – G – Ab – Bb – C
  • Scale Formula, 1 – 2 – b3 – 4 – 5 – b6 – b7 – 1 (half steps located between scale degrees 2 & 3 and scale degrees 5 & 6.)
  • Listen to & Observe all the details of this animation.

Next, lets take the “jump right in approach” to the new key by going to your first line of thinking;

  • Locate the “C” Root Notes on strings 6 & 5.
  • Visualizea C minor chord for each of these “C” Root Notes.
  • Play the two first line of defense” scales as illustrated below.

As with earlier play along/ visualization exercises keep it simple and ‘go for what you know’. In other words start out with the root note and two or three other chord tones or sclae members and concentrate on playing a rhythmic catchy little piece of music, gradually working your way up to more advanced and complicated runs, lines and licks.

Note Choices Within The 5 Shapes……

Here you will complete your study of learning how to play and how to use the C Natural Minor Scale. As we did with the G Natural Minor presented earlier in this lesson we’ve created a two exercises for each of the scale shapes:

  • A plain and easy fingering chart with a play along exercise meant to strengthen your fingers and hearing abilities.
  • A short melodic lead guitar line intended to develop a strong and musical soloing vocabulary.

In the main lesson (Key Of G Minor) you dealt with learning the solos in terms of their minor scale quality, relationships to chord shapes, and playing technique and artuculations. Here, you’ll transpose those solos to The Key Of C Minor but we’ll analyze them in terms on focusing on individual scale notes and the quality and flaor of some of these notes.

Scale Degree
Note name
Chord Tone
Melodic Extention

Below, you can see (and hear) the 2nd, minor 3rd, 4th, minor 7th, Octave, 9th and 11th in relation to a C minor tonality. This represents the C minor chord and the best sounding melodic extentions (also called tensions). As you listen to each individual example evaluate each note for its musical effect as you formulate oponion about the note and its musical personality.


Open Position…

The Open Position version of C Minor is a little obcsure because most players believe the Open Position is not very friendly to the key. Experience will show you however that playing in the Open Position is full of unexpected surprises and some serious funky, great big lower register notes.


Position Three…..
scx18st5This pattern is thought of as “The Root Five” fingering pattern as you’ve been taught to think of this scale shape as one of your ‘first line of defense’ fingering patterns for playing and transposing (changing keys) the Natural Minor Scale. This is due in large part of course to the common knowledge Root Five minor chord contained within the scale.


Position Five…..
This pattern is also thought of as a Root Five fingering pattern becausr the RootNote (“C”) is on the firth string. in terms of developing your range on the instrument and to play solos and melodies all over the neck, all five fingering patterns are important. It may be helpful to you to think of this pattern as the upper extention of the C Natural Minor Scale shape you’ve just been practicing (position III).


Position Eight…..
scx18st9This pattern is thought of as “The Root Six” fingering pattern as you’ve been taught to think of this scale shape as one of your ‘first line of defense’ fingering patterns for playing and transposing (changing keys) the Natural Minor Scale. The common knowledge Root Six minor chord contained within the scale is one of the first things an experienced player will think of when playing in the key of C minor so naturally this scale shape is an integral part of learning to play in the minor tonality.


Position Ten…..
Think of this pattern as the upper extention of “The Root Six” fingering pattern you’ve just played. As it’s important to develop the ability to freely, effortlessly and smoothly shift between patterns, use the easy to find “C” located on fret VII of string six as a reference point to solidify the relationship between the two scales.


Position Twelve…..


Return To Lesson


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