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#1 2008-06-09 22:21:35

jerome.oneil
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From: Bellevue, WA
Registered: 2006-06-15
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Minor Scales - A Primer

We're all familiar with the minor tonality in chords and scales.  But what makes a minor scale a minor scale?

Going back to the first discussion on Scales, we know that any scale is a pattern of intervals.

While the major scale pattern is

root whole whole half whole whole whole half

The minor scale pattern is

root whole half whole whole whole half whole

Now, you're probably thinking "Do I have to memorize all these patterns?"  It may seem like a lot, but it's really not.  So lets look at the practical way to get your minors in on top of your majors, and reinforce the critical nature of learning those majors.   In fact, if you have practiced your major scale patterns, you already know the minor scale patterns, too.

Lets take a look at the C pattern as an example.   You may know from past playing experience that A minor and C major go really well together.  There's a reason for that.  They are the same scale.

Observe.  C major in the open position along side A minor in the open position.



http://img68.imageshack.us/img68/3633/cmajoraminorac7.jpg


Note that the scale pattern is exactly the same.  The only thing that has changed is the position of the root note in the scale.  The minor scale starts where the major scale's VI is located.  This effectively "rotates" the scale pattern, producing the new minor tonality.

So you can use any of the five scale patterns to not only play all the major scales, but all the minors as well.  You don't even need to know which note to start on.  Just find the VI of the major scale, and start from there.

The minor scale derived from this relationship is called the natural minor scale.  We'll go over some other kinds of minors later.  Every major has a related minor scale that goes along with it.

Here is the G Scale Pattern as an example.  Here is G major and E minor side by side.

http://img102.imageshack.us/img102/9498/gmajoreminorsc6.jpg

You can slide these five patterns all the way up the neck of the guitar, and play every minor key as well.

So that's five patterns that equates to 24 individual scales (12 major + 12 minor).  You're getting pretty good at this.  big_smile

A note on pentatonics

Pentatonic scales are five note scales.  They are derived from major and minor scales.  The first scale you probably ever learned was "A minor pentatonic."  Most likely what you learned was "pentatonic in G shape."

Minor pentatonics are merely minor scales with the II and VI notes dropped.  So lets look at the G pattern a little closer, and see what we can find out about what we already know.  We'll drop the II and the V, and see what pattern appears.

Hey, this looks familiar...

http://img218.imageshack.us/img218/3029/pentatonicminorgshaperm2.jpg

So go ahead and see if you can derive the other pentatonic forms from the other four scale patterns.

For major pentatonics, the IV and the VII are usually dropped.  Give that a try, too.

So now you have the ability to learn 48 different scales  (12 minor, 12 minor pentatonic, 12 major, 12 major pentatonic) from five (5) FIVE!!! patterns.

And that's easy.


Someday we'll win this thing...

www.aclosesecond.com

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#2 2008-06-25 15:27:05

NELA
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From: West Monroe, La. 71292
Registered: 2007-11-28
Posts: 944
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Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

Simple - to the point - GREAT POST. I am printing this out and placing it into my practice book for nightly review.

Nela

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#3 2008-06-26 03:54:14

geoaguiar
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Registered: 2007-03-24
Posts: 1108

Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

I'm doing the same. Thanks for taking the time Jerome; its appreciated.


I used to be disgusted; now I try to be amused.
Elvis Costello

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#4 2008-09-05 12:35:54

bigevil is the lloyd
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From: Taker
Registered: 2008-06-24
Posts: 1
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Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

Thank u for this lesson u should be worth to do that.

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#5 2008-09-05 13:29:48

alansheeran
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From: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Registered: 2006-03-04
Posts: 338
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Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

Jerome,

Loved the explanation, loved the diagrams and loved the simplicity of it all. Well done, that man !

Now, why weren't you around in Belfast in the sixties when music lessons consisted of tapping your fingers together and going ta teh, ta teh ta. We would all have ended up as Gary Moore!


"What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understandin' ."    Elvis Costello

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#6 2008-09-05 17:16:11

jerome.oneil
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From: Bellevue, WA
Registered: 2006-06-15
Posts: 3035
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Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

alansheeran wrote:

Jerome,

Loved the explanation, loved the diagrams and loved the simplicity of it all. Well done, that man !

Now, why weren't you around in Belfast in the sixties when music lessons consisted of tapping your fingers together and going ta teh, ta teh ta. We would all have ended up as Gary Moore!

I'm in Dublin semi-frequently.  I've got it on my list of stuff to do to get to Belfast, so me, you and Gary are even closer than you think!


Someday we'll win this thing...

www.aclosesecond.com

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#7 2008-09-05 22:00:05

alansheeran
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From: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Registered: 2006-03-04
Posts: 338
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Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

If you're thinking of coming up North you should do it in May - the weather's the best we get then. I see you're into motor bikes, so well as well as seeing our city in the hills you could take in the North West 200 - it's reputed to be one of the World's fastest motor bike circuits ( top speed 201 mph) -  and it's on ordinary roads. Check it out at http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/nw200/ .


"What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understandin' ."    Elvis Costello

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#8 2010-08-19 17:58:11

jerome.oneil
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From: Bellevue, WA
Registered: 2006-06-15
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Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

winechristmas wrote:

C major and A minor is look too similar, please describe briefly the difference between them.

They look similar because they are identical.  That is the whole point of this particular exercise.  Understanding the relationship between major and minor scales.

C major and A minor share the exact same key signature, and therefore, the exact same set of notes.  The only difference is which note you start with.


Someday we'll win this thing...

www.aclosesecond.com

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#9 2010-08-21 11:16:05

expressskiphire
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From: Canada
Registered: 2010-08-21
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Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

Do G major and E minor share the exact same key signature?

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#10 2010-08-23 17:53:10

jerome.oneil
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From: Bellevue, WA
Registered: 2006-06-15
Posts: 3035
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Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

expressskiphire wrote:

Do G major and E minor share the exact same key signature?

Yes they do.

The relative minor for any major scale is indicated by the sixth note of the major scale.

Some examples

C major / A minor:  Same notes, same key signature.

C Major:  C D E F G A B C
A Minor :  A B C D E F G A   


G major / E minor:  Same notes, same key signature.

G Major: G A B C D E F# G
E Minor : E F# G A B C D E


Someday we'll win this thing...

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#11 2010-10-24 06:18:44

krzykat
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Registered: 2010-03-04
Posts: 1

Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

with the C maj and A min scales wouldn't it be the first fret on the 6th string and not the second? first fret would be an F second is an F# and seeing how there are no sharps or flats the pattern is incorrect

Last edited by krzykat (2010-10-24 06:19:41)

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#12 2010-12-13 18:31:30

drhatchettman
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Registered: 2010-12-09
Posts: 3

Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

Am is the relative minor of C.  Relative minors are always 3 half steps lower (6th) than their relative major and share the same key signature.  No sharps and no flats in the case of the key of C.  This formula holds true for all keys.  Pick any key, count down 3 half steps and that is the relative minor.  I'll pick Ab for example.  Starting on Ab count down 3 half steps starting on G=1, Gb=2, and F=3.  Fm is the relative minor of Ab.   Ab has 4 flats Bb, Eb, Ab, and Db.  Therefore, Fm has 4 flats also.

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#13 2010-12-23 00:19:35

christopaul
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From: Rhondda, South Wales, UK
Registered: 2009-01-19
Posts: 120

Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

But a minor scale has a sharpened 7th without it being in the key signature. A minor has a G# which C major doesn't have. It is the relative minor but the 7th note still needs to be a semitone below the root note. As it is in the major scale.


I see friends holdiong hands, saying "How do you do"
They're really saying, "I love you"
Louis Armstrong. Wonderful world.

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#14 2010-12-23 00:58:58

jerome.oneil
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From: Bellevue, WA
Registered: 2006-06-15
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Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

christopaul wrote:

But a minor scale has a sharpened 7th without it being in the key signature. A minor has a G# which C major doesn't have. It is the relative minor but the 7th note still needs to be a semitone below the root note. As it is in the major scale.

The natural A minor does not have any sharps or flats, as it is relative to C. 

Harmonic minors (what you are referring to) modify the scale, and aren't relative to any major.  The intent is to keep the major sound from the 7th to the root.


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#15 2010-12-24 16:05:55

Stonebridge
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From: Cardiff, Wales, UK
Registered: 2008-08-25
Posts: 182

Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

It's correct that the harmonic minor scale raises the 7th, so in A min it gives G#.
That's for the purpose of harmonies when playing the chords associated with A min.
You can use either E major or E minor (for the chord on the 5th) when playing in A minor, depending on whether your melody uses the sharpened 7th (G#) or not. Many, many tunes in A minor use the sharpened 7th as leading note, and consequently E (maj) or E7 to harmonise. The non-sharp 7th gives a "modal" sound and can also be harmonised with a G major chord.
In traditional music theory the melodic minor scale sharpens both the 6th and 7th of the scale when rising (giving F# and G# in A minor), but returns them to straight G and F when descending. This gives the possibility of chords of D maj and E maj for harmonising a melody rising to A via the notes F# and G#.
The key of A minor is always the relative minor of C maj, irrespective of whether or not you use the harmonic, melodic or any other version of the scale to get from A to A, so long as C and not C# is used for the 3rd.
What makes the key A minor is the root (or home) note of A, and the root chord of A minor. A leading note of G# (harmonised with an E chord) does not make the key any different.

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#16 2010-12-26 17:28:54

christopaul
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From: Rhondda, South Wales, UK
Registered: 2009-01-19
Posts: 120

Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

I just think of the difference between a Major and minor scales is this.
If you play a major scale, then drop the 3rd and 5th by one fret or semitone. It cives you the minor.


I see friends holdiong hands, saying "How do you do"
They're really saying, "I love you"
Louis Armstrong. Wonderful world.

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#17 2011-12-30 14:30:27

Ratul011
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Registered: 2011-12-30
Posts: 1

Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

This is a very informative post for the all visitor . i realy like that. But i want more information about this post topic . good job.keep it up .

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#18 2014-01-16 03:09:54

e s shaw
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From: Colorado
Registered: 2013-12-18
Posts: 33
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Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

What a heck of a nice lesson this is.


Classic Gospel and Traditional Hymns
http://yourlisten.com/ed_shaw

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#19 2014-01-17 21:31:52

Fire art
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Registered: 2012-11-23
Posts: 207

Re: Minor Scales - A Primer

Thanks for digging up this bone


Let no talents go unused

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