Minor Scales 101, Part 1 - Relative Minors
 Feb 27 2007, 11:13 PM Post #1 Moderation Policy Director Group: GMC Instructor Posts: 10.459 Joined: 6-February 07 From: CT, USA Member No.: 1.167 Relative MinorsHi All,By special request from Radarlove1984, here is a lesson on relative minors.Relative minors, what are they? First I'll give you a woolly description and then a more technical one.A relative minor is a scale that is "related" to a major scale. You can regard them as being in the same family in that harmonically they work together well. Use of relative minors is a powerful tool in songwriting, as they provide a great way to move from a major to a minor key without too much of a jump or use of complex chord sequences. Some examples of major keys and their relative minors are:C -> AmG -> EmD -> BmE -> C#mTry playing these as pairs of chords and you will see that they fit well together.So much for woolliness, here is a more technical description:The relative minor of a particular major scale is a scale that shares all of the same notes, but starts 6 intervals up. Firstly, what is an interval? That's tricky to answer exactly, and there will be a lesson on it shortly, but for now just treat an interval as a note in a scale. An example will make this a little easier to understand.Let's look at the scale of C - a particular favorite of mine because it has no sharps or flats. It has the notes C-D-E-F-G-A-B-CAn example of the scale on open strings looks like this:Going up 6 notes, (C-D-E-F-G-A), we find that A is the relative minor of C. So the notes we will use for A minor are A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A. Let's look at that scale:As you can see, although we start on the note of A, all of the notes also exist in the C major scale.Taking it a step further, looking at the scale in terms of half and whole notes, as in the Major Scale 101 lesson, for a relative minor we would use the formula:W H W W H W W, or 2 1 2 2 1 2 2You can use this formula to work out the relative minor scale for any major scale by starting at the 6th note and applying it.Now, to wrap up, we will briefly mention a couple of fascinating facts about Relative Minors. Firstly, in western music there are actually three different minor scales - they differ slightly in the formula they use. The scale above is actually a "Natural Minor" or "Pure Minor" scale - two names for the same thing. In case you are wondering, the other two are called "Harmonic" and "Melodic". Since these two differ in their formulae, they do not share the same notes as the associated relative major scale and are harmonically speaking not such a good match as the Natural Minor.And finally, the Natural Minor (or Relative Minor) scale of a particular major scale, is also known as the "Aeolian Mode". Modes are a concept that we will discuss in a future lesson, but for now, you can tell everyone that you now understand Relative Minors, Pure Minors, Natural Minors, and the Aeolian mode - not bad for one short lesson!Enjoy relative minors, and as ever, all and any feedback is welcome! This post has been edited by Andrew Cockburn: Jun 26 2007, 02:31 PM -------------------- Check out my Instructor profile Live long and prosper ...My Stuff:Electric Guitars : Ibanez Jem7v, Line6 Variax 700, Fender Plus Strat with 57/62 Pickups, Line6 Variax 705 BassAcoustic Guitars : Taylor 816ce, Martin D-15, Line6 Variax Acoustic 300 NylonEffects : Line6 Helix, Keeley Modded Boss DS1, Keeley Modded Boss BD2, Keeley 4 knob compressor, Keeley OxBloodAmps : Epiphone Valve Jnr & Head, Cockburn A.C.1, Cockburn A.C.2, Blackstar Club 50 Head & 4x12 Cab
 Feb 28 2007, 03:42 AM Post #2 GMC:er Group: Members Posts: 170 Joined: 19-January 07 Member No.: 1.092 QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Feb 27 2007, 02:13 PM) ...but for now, you can tell everyone that you now understand Relative Minors, Pure Minors, Natural Minors, and the Aeolian mode – not bad for one short lesson! You said it!PERFECT job explaining it, once again. Thanks for doing this.
 Aug 28 2007, 07:02 AM Post #3 GMC:er Group: Members Posts: 4 Joined: 7-May 07 Member No.: 1.791 OK, I have a few questions. I know that for the pentatonic scales I just move the boxes a specific number of frets to go from E minor to E major pentatonic. (Three frets down I believe)So using that logic, can also do the same thing with the major scales? I already know the 5 box patterns of the major scale. To play in a minor scale do I use the same box patterns moved a certain amount of frets or do I have to learn a whole new set of box patterns? If so, are these patterns listed somewhere on the site?If you had a diagram that would show the connection between them, that would be awesome!I had an instructor that told me I could use the different patterns, but just move them to the root note to get that mode. For example, Dorian is making our actual root note of chord 2nd note of scale - so Bm chord we could play A scale over it to make it a Dorian scale instead of using standard 1st pattern on Bm. I hope that makes sense, if not, just an answer to the top part would be appreciated!
 Aug 28 2007, 03:26 PM Post #5 GMC:er Group: Members Posts: 4 Joined: 7-May 07 Member No.: 1.791 QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Aug 28 2007, 12:34 AM) Hi Kapp, the answer to both is yes, but it is confusing to think of it that way.Move a minor pentatonic up to the next box and it becomes major pentatonic, but in a different key (E minor becomes A Major for instance). The same is true of Major and minor - move C major down a box (3 semitones) and it becomes A minor, so yes you can reuse the patterns as long as you are clear tha they are different scales.This is not a typo by the way - its up one box UP to go from pentatonic minor to pentatonic major. DOWN one box to go from Major to Minor, however the language here is decieving. For pentatonic it really is one box. For Major/Minor its technically 2 boxes, but we rarely if ever use the box that starts one semitone down from the root, so ignore it.The reason for all of this is Modes as you have touched on, but this is not an explanation of what modes are. A lot of people get confused at this stage, so either take that info at face value and ignore modes, and think of relative minors, or do the background work to understand modes in full now - don;t try and base your understanding of modes on this or you may end up getting it backwards (I did for a long time!)You can read my lessons on modes here and here. Its worth reading both as there are two different perspectives there.Let me know if you have any more questions!Thanks! I liked the links about modes. I understood the theory behind modes and why the different tone/semitones change the sound (mode) of the scale. I guess a good question at this point would be how do I put these modes to use. Obviously when you are playing your guitar you aren't thinking "I will now move to a dorian by starting with a semi-tone". For example, let's just take a basic blues riff of E - A - B I - IV - V1. I could play an E minor pentatonic - which I believe is the same as the G major pentatonic. I like to picture myself playing the G major pentatonic that way my root notes are in the same spots rather than moved around. (If that makes sense) Using the caged method I know the G chord shapes vs. the box patterns and connecting points of the 5 boxes and so on.2. If I wanted to try some other modes, what ones would sound good and how should I picture them. Should I work them backwards off of the E just like in your lesson? Since I am in a minor E key, should I be using modes that are minor. I didn't think I saw this particular point in the lessons, but I have this sheet that had the maj-min progressions which you obviously know. Would I want to mainly stick with the minor modes for fairly "in-the-box" blues jamming?I = maj II=min III=min IV=maj V=maj VI=min VII=min
 Aug 28 2007, 03:47 PM Post #6 GMC:er Group: Members Posts: 535 Joined: 23-August 07 Member No.: 2.595 Thanks, this is very helpful!