A Brief Introduction to Theory pt III

In part II, we covered keys, or more specifically, major keys. Everything is still quite theoretical at this point, put up with it, because the practical part is coming soon.

Minor keys are closely related to major keys - by altering the first note, the key becomes darker and more energetic sounding. While most songs are in major key, a noticeable amount, like 'Jehovah Jireh', are in the minor key.

To hear the difference, try the following scales:
Major
E-----------5-7-8-----
B-----5-6-8-----------
G-5-7-----------------

Minor
E---------------5--
B---------5-6-8----
G-2-4-5-7----------

Both scales use the same note; however, by changing the starting note, the nature of the key changes. This is done by starting the scale on the 6th note of the major scale, instead of the 1st. For example, the notes of the E major scale are:
E F# G# A B C# D# E

Starting on the C# note, we obtain the C# minor scale:
C# D# E F# G# A B C#

To bring the 'sinister' level up a notch, we bring the 7th note up a notch:
C# D# E F# G# A C C#
(note that B# is actually C. Likewise for E#, which gives F)

This gives us the harmonic minor scale, something used very often in neoclassical rock.

The E major scale can also be changed to E minor scale, although this is rather troublesome. To do so, start with the first note, and flatten the 3rd, 6th, and 7th notes. Therefore,
E F# G# A B C# D# E
becomes
E F# G A B C D E

As with before, sharpen the 7th note (from D to D#) to get the E minor harmonic scale.

8 comments:

Luigi said...

The E major scale can also be changed to E minor scale, although this is rather troublesome. To do so, start with the first note, and flatten the 3rd, 6th, and 7th notes. Therefore,
E F# G# A B C# D# E
becomes
E F# G A B C D E

As with before, sharpen the 7th note (from D to D#) to get the E minor harmonic scale.


just a question

you said there that in order to get the E minor scale you flatten the 3rd, 6th and 7th notes of the E major scale, but then later on you sharpen the 7th note bringing it back to D#, why do we have to flatten the 7th note in the first place?

is there a difference between this minor scale and minor "harmonic" scale?

thank you in advance, more power and god bless! :D

kenny said...

You have to use your ears for this one.. minor scales sound like major scales, except that they are darker. However, the harmonic minors sound like they're taken off from a latin song (Santana perhaps), or neoclassical music (Malmsteen uses this alot)

Anonymous said...

Starting on the C# note, we obtain the C# minor scale:
C# D# E F# G# A B C#


C#---2-----D#
D#---2-----shouldn’t this be F instead of E I am not sure if the rules are used as in the major scale like 2,2,1,2,2,2,1 is used for the minor, i really dont get it.

note that B# is actually C. Likewise for E#, which gives F) I also not really sure about this either please explain thanks god bless

HaChIrish said...

Kenny is referring to 2 types of minor scales. His first example uses the same notes in a scale. For example, on a piano the easiest scale to learn is the C major scale: C D E F G A B C. The minor key that uses THE SAME SCALE would be A minor, which, as Kenny states, you get from the 6th note of the major scale. The 6th note of C major is A, so C major scale uses the same NOTES as an A minor scale: A B C D E F G A.
His next example is going from the major of a key to it's minor. So C major scale: C D E F G A B C or 2212221 is made a C minor scale by changing the interval to 2122122 or C D Eb F G Ab Bb C.
The minor harmonic scale he mentions last is, again, changing the interval of the minor scale so that the last (7th note) is 1 step from the octave, so a C minor harmonic scale would be C D Eb F G Ab B C.
E# is the same as an F, just as D# is Eb. Similarly B# is the same as C. If you look at the notes on a piano, between E and F there are no black keys, as with B and C. But in music theory, if you go UP a half step you get a sharp (B to B#, or C). The same logic works if you go down half a step, which makes a note flat (F to Fb, or E). Hope this helps.

kiyoan said...

im learning guitar rite now nd its good to learn about scale, but how do i use it?

samuel joy said...

u gave a numerical formula for major scale:2212221. can u give a formula for minor scale?? i cant understand the diff btwn major nd minor

nax said...

I think anonymous explains it very well..

from the C major scale:
C D E F G A B C

You can get te A minor scale:
A B C D E F G A

in C major the 'formula' is:
2 2 1 2 2 2 1

in A minor is:
2 1 2 2 1 2 2

You only change the 'starting point' from C to A

In D major scale
D E F# G A B C# D

you can take the B minor scale
B C# D E F# G A B

i hope this helps you.

Pd. the difference is 'how it sounds like'...

jcolins05 said...

jesse,

so there's 3 formulas: Major, Minor, and Minor harmonics right??

Major: 2212221

Minor: 2122122

Minor Harmonic: 2122131

please correct me if im wrong and if i am explain the minor harmonics formula and the pattern. thanks and god bless