Pop Music Theory


Lessons in Order

1-7 (Intro & Pitch) +
8-18 (Major Scale) +
19-29 (Chord Progressions) -
27: Natural Minor Scale
30-34 (Hook Chords) +
35-41 (Written Notes) +
42-50 (Song Chorus) +

Lessons by Topic

Strategy +
Pitches +
Scales +
27: Natural Minor Scale
Written Notes +
Chords +
Chord Progressions +
Melody +
Songwriting Steps +
Science +
Games & Tools +
Song Examples: Crazy +
Song Examples: Rolling Stone +

Detailed Contents

Get Future Lessons

Lesson 27: Natural Minor Scale

This lesson teaches the natural minor scale, the 2nd-most-important scale (after the major scale) and the basis for many songs.

Before taking this lesson, you should know:
You can make a natural minor scale by starting with a major scale and lowering degrees 3, 6, and 7 a half-step. In other words, the formula is:

Natural minor scale: 1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 ♭7 8

Here are the pitches in the common natural minor scales:

1 2 ♭3 4 5 ♭6 ♭7 8
ABCD EFGA
B♭CD♭ E♭FG♭A♭ B♭
BC♯D EF♯GAB
CDE♭ FGA♭B♭C
C♯D♯E F♯G♯ABC♯
DEFG AB♭CD
D♯E♯ F♯G♯A♯B C♯D♯
E♭FG♭ A♭B♭C♭D♭ E♭
EF♯G ABCDE
FGA♭ B♭CD♭E♭F
F♯G♯A BC♯DEF♯
GAB♭ CDE♭FG
G♯A♯ BC♯D♯EF♯ G♯


Relative Major & Minor


For each natural minor scale, there is one particular major scale that uses the exact same 7 pitches (although the 2 scales don't start on the same pitch), and vice versa. That minor scale is called the major scale's relative minor, and that major scale is called the minor scale's relative major; together they make a relative major/minor pair.

For example, the D major scale and the B natural minor scale are a relative major/minor pair. The following chart shows how they use the same pitches:

D major: 1 23 4 5 67 8
B C♯D EF♯ G A BC♯D
B natural minor:1 2 ♭345 ♭6♭78

The relative major and minor scales are important because:
  • They are closely related musically; listeners hear them as "substitutes" for each other. For example, a song in a major key will sometimes shift into its relative minor key for a section of the song.
  • They help for remembering the minor scales. If you need to find a minor scale, and you know its relative major scale, then the pitches in the natural minor scale are the same pitches.

Finding the relative majors and minors from each other:
  • Starting with a major scale, go down two scale degrees to find its relative minor. For example: Start with the D major scale. Go down two scale degrees: D - C♯ - B. The relative minor scale is B minor.
  • Starting with a minor scale, go up two scale degrees to find its relative major. For example: Start with the B minor scale. Go up two scale degrees: B - C♯ - D. The relative major scale is D major.

These are the common relative major/minor pairs:
C majorA minor
D♭ majorB♭ minor
D majorB minor
E♭ majorC minor
E majorC♯ minor
F majorD minor
F♯ majorD♯ minor
G♭ majorE♭ minor
G majorE minor
A♭ majorF minor
A majorF♯ minor
B♭ majorG minor
B majorG♯ minor

Next:
Once you understand the natural minor scale, you should practice it, in Lesson 28: Natural Minor Games.




Lessons in Order

1-7 (Intro & Pitch) +
8-18 (Major Scale) +
19-29 (Chord Progressions) -
27: Natural Minor Scale
30-34 (Hook Chords) +
35-41 (Written Notes) +
42-50 (Song Chorus) +

Lessons by Topic

Strategy +
Pitches +
Scales +
27: Natural Minor Scale
Written Notes +
Chords +
Chord Progressions +
Melody +
Songwriting Steps +
Science +
Games & Tools +
Song Examples: Crazy +
Song Examples: Rolling Stone +

Detailed Contents

Get Future Lessons


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