The Aeolian ModeThe Natural Minor Scale

We covered the Aeolian mode in the major scales section under the name of the Natural Minor scale. But being it is a mode I included it here too.

This scale is good for improvising over minor chords. It contains the minor Pentatonic scale as well as the relative major Pentatonic scale.

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This mode can be used to improvise over the ii, iii or vi minor chords of the major scale. However using the A aeolian with a ii chord you would be in the key of G which has an F sharp. And using it with a iii chord you would be in F and the B would be flat. The iii chord isn’t used as a home chord like the ii or vi.

You can also use it to build chords like you do in the major scale or the Melodic and Minor scales.

The song Smooth Operator written by Ray St. John and Sade Adu, is an Aeolian mode based song – vi(6)-iii(3)-ii(2)-iii(3). In F it would be Dm-Am-Gm-Am Repeat

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Aeolian Mode

Here is what it sounds like played against an A minor chord. It’s a fairly mild sounding scale.

Try starting on the second or ninth note on this scale on beat 2 it gives a minor 9th sound.

This scale also contains the C major scale plus the A minor and C major pentatonic scales.

The A Aeolian played against an A minor chord

The Aeolian List

The Aeolian Formula

This is how you make one from the Major Scale like so…

Aeolian Formula








Remember this mode is the major scale starting from the 6th note.

This mode can be combined with its Tonic major scale too by adding the C♯, F♯ and G♯ notes while improvising. Experiment.

This would expand the scale to A B C C♯ D E F F♯ G G♯

You can use a note before or after a scale note(Pick, Slide into or Hammer on or off from a higher note) to lead into the scale or chord note, these are usually short notes but give the scale more color.

This will give you another angle or way of thinking for improvising so your solo’s don’t get predictable

I hope you found this page useful.