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Minor Scales

Minor scales aren’t just keys to play songs in. They can be used to improvise over different chords and not just minor chords. Minor chords and scales have a darker sound compared to the Major scale.

The three most common are the natural, Harmonic and Melodic scales.

Discover the Natural Minor Scales

The natural minor scale is part of the major scale, made by building a scale from the 6th note of the major scale. This scale is also known as the Aeolian mode, each note in the major scale has a mode name.

It has a smooth sound and is used for many minor key songs.

If you raise the 7th of this scale you will have the Harmonic minor scale.

If you raise the 6th and the 7th of this scale you will have the Melodic minor scale.

This is where the minor Pentatonic scale comes from.

Here is a written A minor Natural.

A Minor Natural

Here is what it sounds like

Here are the natural minor scales with their relative major scale it was built from. Eb and D# are the same pitch but written different. This is where I switched to the sharp keys.

The relative major scale is where the minor scale came from. It contains the same notes.

You also have a tonic minor scale relationship too. The C major scale can go into any of the C minor scales very easily. You hear this in songs often, where a major chord changes to a minor chord.

The Beatles song Norwegian Wood does this for the break in the song and then goes back to the major for the verse.

Natural Minor Chords

Here are the chord types for the natural minor scales. These are the same chords as in the major scale but I thought you might like to look at them from another point of view.

Em

Em7

F♯m7♭5

Gma7

Am7

Bm7

Cma7

D7

The Harmonic Minor Scale…
An Improvising Tool

The harmonic minor scale will add a new dimension to your leads and riffs. This scale has a very unique sound to it making it easy to recognize.

There are several ways to use this scale. The first is that it can be used for all the chords in the scale itself. Down below.

All examples use only the scale notes, no passing tones or bends so you can hear the actual scale.

After you learn it you can do anything you want to it. Use slides, bends, pre-bends, distortion, echo or anything else.

Al Demeola uses this scale in a lot of his songs. The minor 3rd interval is what gives it a unique sound.

Harmonic Minor Chord Types


All of the above chords can be reduced to triads. The only difference between this scale and the natural minor is a G♯ which gives us these not so common chords.

Most of the time these uncommon chords are used as passing chords lasting one or two beats of a measure.

Here is what it sounds like played against an Am Chord

The A minor harmonic played against an A minor chord

This scale is easy to recognize in songs

A Minor Harmonic Scale

Harmonic Minor Scale List

The keys are the harmonic minor scale and not the relative major. To find the relative major go up a minor third or 3 frets.

The E♭ and D♯ are the same scale just spelled different. This is where I switched to the sharp minor keys

Melodic Minor Scale…
Add New Life to Licks

The melodic minor scale will get your licks out of the pentatonic rut we all get stuck in when learning.

The Scale below can be used for improvising over all the chords in the melodic scale which are listed below that.

This scale can also be used starting at the root of minor and minor 6th’s.

Here is a taste of C melodic minor scale played against a Cm/maj7 chord. This is the chord built from the first note of the melodic scale.

No other notes or effects just the scale notes so you can hear the scale notes not someone playing guitar.

The C minor melodic scale played over a C minor major 7th chord

The Melodic Scale List

The keys are listed in the minor keys and not the relative major.

You will see double sharp marks like ♯♯. This is because you’re not allowed to use the same note twice in a scale except for diminished and other scales that aren’t connected to the major and minor scales.

A double sharp (♯♯) or a double flat (♭♭) just means two notes or frets higher or lower instead of one.

There are some other minor scales.

The Hungarian minor – C D E♭ F♯ G G♯ B, – Lidian Minor – C D E F♯ G G♯ B♭, – Neapolitan Minor – C C♯ E♭ F G G♯ B and Romanian Minor – C D E♭ F♯ G A B♭.

I hope you found this page useful.