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Archive for May 2011

Lesson 5 - The Natural Minor Scales

This lesson will teach you about the Minor Scale, and its applications on the guitar.

Recall that in the previous lesson, we learned learned that a scale is simply an applied formula of half-steps and whole-steps. By applying the major scale formula to a note, we were able to create a major scale based around that note. In this lesson, we will learn a new scale - the natural minor scale. The Natural Minor scale is also known as the Aeolian mode of the Major scale. While music based around a major scale is usually bright, easygoing, happy, uplifting etc., the minor scale can be used to create music that is sad, forlorn, emotional etc. Because the last lesson already introduced us to scales, and how to use formulas, this lesson will skip the explanations, and simply introduce the new formulas as well as the various keys.

Now, let's look at the formula for the natural minor scale:

Below are all the examples of the Minor Scale Formula. To simplify the learning process, only sharps are used in these examples. Also, notes such as E# and called F here. In reality, E# is usually used.

*Always remember that the natural minor scale is generally meant to be "dark" and "sad". Therefore, when composing music, the minor scale would not be used for a bright/happy song. Instead, a major scale would be used.

As with the major scales, we must also learn how to apply the natural minor scales to our guitar. Like with the major scale, there is also a fretboard pattern that can be applied to form the minor scales. To use this pattern, one must simply start on the root note on the sixth (Low "E") string. For example, if one were playing the A minor scale, one would start the pattern on the fifth fret of the Low "E" string.
Here is the pattern:

*Memorize this pattern well. It is essential for any guitarist to have complete mastery of the major scale.

Now we know what the major scale is, how it is formed, and how it is applied to the guitar. The next stage is practice! Below, in the Supplemental Resources section, I've included links to exercises and lessons that will help you master the major scale.

Supplemental Resources

Minor Scale Exercises - This page contains some exercises, in tab format, that will help you easily move through the minor scale.

Minor Scale Positions - More minor scale positions (fretboard patterns) are explored.

Paid Resources

Guitar Total Scales Techniques and Applications - This book not only teaches the natural minor scale, but also every other scale, as well as their application on the guitar fretboard, how to recognize them, and how to use them to create solos.
                There is also a DVD version.