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Thread: A question about minor scales

  1. #1
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    A question about minor scales

    Hello, my friends

    I see a lot of exercises and examples that refer to the minor scale.
    Knowing that there are at least 3 different minor scales, which one are they refering to?

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Depends. Normally the natural minor scale is home base for the minor scales.

    Major Scale = R-2-3-4-5-6-7 Home base
    Major Pentatonic = R-2-3-5-6 Leave out the 4 & 7
    Natural Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 Major scale with the 3, 6 & 7 flatted. Home base for the minor scales.
    Minor Pentatonic = R-b3-4-5-b7 Leave out the 2 & 6.
    Blues = R-b3-4-b5-5-b7 Minor pentatonic with the blue note b5 added.
    Harmonic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-7 Natural minor with a natural 7.
    Melodic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-6-7 Major scale with a b3.

  3. #3
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Hello, my friends

    I see a lot of exercises and examples that refer to the minor scale.
    Knowing that there are at least 3 different minor scales, which one are they refering to?

    Thank you
    If it just says "minor scale", I'd say it's a safe bet it means natural minor. Context should make it clear.

  4. #4
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    Normally the natural minor scale is home base for the minor scales.
    Yes, that's how I see it but it seems to be not always the case.

    If it just says "minor scale", I'd say it's a safe bet it means natural minor. Context should make it clear.
    It happens to ahve to analyse the examples given to see what's the scale that's working. Only after I can read the text to be sure about what I'm reading.

  5. #5
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    It's true the phrase "minor scale" is flexible. Maybe, instead of "safe bet" I should have said "reasonable assumption" - subject to context.

    The phrase "a minor scale" could be used, in some senses, to refer to any scale with a minor 3rd (and a perfect 5th): aeolian, dorian or phrygian modes, as well as harmonic and melodic minor.

    The phrase "the minor scale" would normally be assumed to refer to aeolian - natural minor.

    The phrase "minor key" refers to a tonality based largely on aeolian, but with occasional raising of 7th, and sometimes 6th.

    I've never had a problem myself knowing what people are talking about when they use the phrase "minor scale" - even if I have to adjust an initial assumption as I read. Can you give us some detailed context about a confusing usage of it?

  6. #6
    BMus (Hons), MA, PGCE JumpingJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    I see a lot of exercises and examples that refer to the minor scale.Knowing that there are at least 3 different minor scales, which one are they refering to?
    As others said, it depends on context.

    In classical texts, it is fairly common to mean the Harmonic Minor scale as simply "the minor scale".

    It should normally say somewhere in the introduction. Or else, try to deduce it yourself from any examples.

  7. #7
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    The chords in the three minor scales do some interesting things. This site will pull up the chords for each of the three. http://www.guitar-chords.org.uk/chords-key-c-minor.html

    Interesting to first call up the chords for the natural minor then see what happens to the chords made from the same Harmonic scale. Box in the upper left hand side of the screen canges between the three minor scales.

    Melodic chords also are worth a look.

    Helps to stack the scale notes in 3rds to see why and how this happens.

    Have fun.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 04-15-2012 at 02:34 PM.

  8. #8
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    Can you give us some detailed context about a confusing usage of it?
    I can't remember any specific case but every now and then I find one (as soon as I find one I can post here as an example).
    Please note that my question is not related with doubts about any theory specific issue (usually, looking at the examples, it's easy to find which scale is being used).
    I just thought, because it happens often, probably there was some convention used when refering to minor scales. Probably there are several, like JumpinJack mentioned about the classical texts. Maybe jazz guys have their own too.

    This site will pull up the chords for each of the three.
    It's in my favorites already. Thanks Malcolm.

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