Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Music Theory Part II -- Minor Scales

This is my second post on music theory describing minor scales. Like the first I provide examples and walk you through the processes in building the minor scales.

Send me feedback, suggestions, questions or corrections to what I present.




Minor Scales


I am going to describe how to find the natural minor scales and their corresponding notes. This will be detailed but without as much as I did in my post of Major Scales. So if you have not read the post on Major scales and the discussion on minor scales is confusing then please read the post on Major Scales. 

Below is the circle of fifths with the Major scales on the outside of the circle and the inside of the circle has the minors. The clockwise direction is in red which represents the sharps. The blue represents the counter-clockwise direction which is flats.







The process is the same as for what we did with Major scales except the formula is a little different. Again we start with the circle of fifths. Am has no sharps or flats and the minor scale progresses the same as the Major scale by seven semi tones.

So the next scale on the minor scale is Em.

            1             2           3          4             5            6             7
A          A#          B          C          C#          D           D#          E

We repeat this process clockwise from Am to C#m.

Lets find the next couple of scales going counter-clockwise on the circle of fifths

Am going counter-clockwise

             1            2           3             4          5            6           7
A          Ab          G          Gb          F          Fb          E          D

Now we have Dm we can find the next minor.

             1             2          3             4           5          6             7
D          Db          C          Cb          B          A          Ab          G

We repeat this process counter-clockwise to Abm

Once we have the minor scale we can now determine the notes of each scale using a similar formula we did when we calculated the notes of each major scale. The difference  here is our formula is Whole - Half - Whole - Whole - Half - Whole - Whole.

Lets run through a few of these. 



Am:


We know Am has no sharps or flats so our formula should require no adjustment.

A          B          C          D          E          F          G          A
       W         H         W          W        H          W          W

Yep! It works. Now lets do some more.



Em:


Start with the root E

E          F          G          A          B          C          D          E

Apply our formula

E          F          G          A          B          C          D          E
       W         H          W         W        H         W           W

We can see that E to F is a half step and to fit needs to be sharp and everything else fits. So we have

E          F#         G          A          B          C          D          E
       W         H          W         W        H         W           W

We are done. Lets do a couple of more then you can figure the rest out and check yourself against the table at the end of this post.



C#m


Again we start with the root

C#          D          E          F          G          A          B          C#

Apply our formula

C#          D          E          F          G          A          B          C#
         W         H          W         W         H         W         W

Now we fix the notes to match the formula. C# to D is half step so D needs a sharp. E to F is a half step and F needs a sharp to make it a whole step. Finally, F is now F# and the F# to G is a half step and we need a whole step so G needs a sharp. Our finished scale of C# minor has the required four sharps counting from the circle of fifths from Am with 0 sharps to Em with one sharp and so on to C#m with four sharps.


C#          D#         E          F#        G#         A          B          C#
         W         H          W         W           H         W         W

Now lets do a couple of minor scales going counter-clockwise.



Dm:



Start with our root D

D          E          F          G          A          B          C          D


Add our formula:

D          E          F          G          A          B           C          D
      W          H         W         W          H         W          W


Fix the notes to match the formula


D          E          F          G          A          Bb         C          D

      W          H         W         W          H         W          W

Done.


Cm:



Start with our root C

C          D          E          F          G          A          B          C


Add our formula:

C          D          Eb         F          G       A b        Bb          C
      W          H         W         W          H         W          W


Fix the notes to match the formula

C          D         Eb          F          G        Ab        Bb          C

      W          H         W         W          H         W          W

Done.


The two tables below show the minor scales going clockwise from Am to A#m and then going counterclockwise from Am to Abm.






#
Scale
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
0
A minor
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
1
E minor
E
F#
G
A
B
C
D
2
B minor
B
C#
D
E
F#
G
A
3
F# minor
F#
G#
A
B
C#
D
E
4
C# minor
C#
D#
E
F#
G#
A
B
5
G# minor
G#
A#
B
C#
D#
E
F#
6
D# minor
D#
E#
F#
G#
A#
B
C#
7
A# minor
A#
B#
C#
D#
E#
F#
G#






b
Scale
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
0
A minor
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
1
D minor
D
E
F
G
A
Bb
C
2
G minor
G
A
Bb
C
D
Eb
F
3
C minor
C
D
Eb
F
G
Ab
Bb
4
F minor
F
G
Ab
Bb
C
Db
Eb
5
Bb minor
Bb
C
Db
Eb
F
Gb
Ab
6
Eb minor
Eb
F
Gb
Ab
Bb
Cb
Db
7
Ab minor
Ab
Bb
Cb
Db
Eb
Fb
Gb





There you have it. Now you know how to get the Major and minor scales. In my next post on Music Theory, I will look at how to build chords and how to find the chords in each Major and minor scale.

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