Topic: 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.
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.
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.
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...
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.