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> Misuse Of The Minor 6th!, How to avoid it
Ben Higgins
post Aug 10 2015, 06:55 PM
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This definitive sounding title refers to something which is more a case of taste rather than "right or wrong" but it's a common issue that I encounter so I thought I'd offer some tips on how to avoid it. We can use our Badass Blues Collab to better understand this occurrence.

What I speak of is using the minor scale... specifically using the 6th interval of the minor scale in a place where it just doesn't sound right.

The 6th is a very dominating tone and it really works best when married up with the chord that bases it root note on it.

In our Badass Blues Collab, we are playing in the key of Gm. We've already identified the Gm Pentatonic scale as being the obvious choice for the chord progression and I've directed some of you away form using the G Minor scale (Aeolian mode) but the G Minor scale can be used as well. It just requires you to know how to use it tastefully over this backing.

So, the G Minor scale gives us two extra intervals. The 2nd (also known as a 9th) and the minor 6th. The 2nd is an interval that you can insert without too much drama, providing that you resolve it by going to a strong chord tone like the minor 3rd or back to the root. I like to use it a lot myself and it just takes a bit of practise to work it in.

However, the 6th can stand out like a sore thumb. It sounds unresolved and, with the blues, unnecessarily 'dark'. In the key of Gm, the minor 6th is the note of D#. It is not a chord tone, hence the unresolved sound. The only way we can make this D# sound good is by identifying where it becomes a chord tone over another chord.

Let me give you an example of me playing the 6th over the backing track. I'll play it over each chord. There will be some places where it just sounds right and the others should, in theory, sound a bit dodgy.

Attached File  Misuseminor6thEX1.mp3 ( 1.03MB ) Number of downloads: 51


Did you identify where that note sounded right? Chances are that we would all agree that it was over the C7 and the D# chords, whenever they occured. This is because the minor 6th of Gm will become the minor 3rd of C7 and the root note of D#. So, over any other chord the D# sounded unresolved and out of place but over the C7 and D# it became a chord tone that was an integral sound of the chord.

Another way you can make non chord tones fit is by incorporating them into a run. That way, you do not linger on the interval for too long before it is resolved by a more appropriate tone.

Here's another example. I'm doing a Randy Rhoads type lick where I play a minor 6th, 5th and flat5th next to each other. The addition of the 5th and flat 5th gives it a blues credibility that the minor 6th doesn't have on its own.

Attached File  Misuseminor6th_EX2.mp3 ( 589.01K ) Number of downloads: 46


So, I hope this theoretical excursion makes sense to you and that it will help you use minor scales without sounding 'out of place'. You can apply this to our current collab as well wink.gif


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Jim S.
post Aug 10 2015, 09:36 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Aug 10 2015, 01:55 PM) *
This definitive sounding title refers to something which is more a case of taste rather than "right or wrong" but it's a common issue that I encounter so I thought I'd offer some tips on how to avoid it. We can use our Badass Blues Collab to better understand this occurrence.

What I speak of is using the minor scale... specifically using the 6th interval of the minor scale in a place where it just doesn't sound right.

The 6th is a very dominating tone and it really works best when married up with the chord that bases it root note on it.

In our Badass Blues Collab, we are playing in the key of Gm. We've already identified the Gm Pentatonic scale as being the obvious choice for the chord progression and I've directed some of you away form using the G Minor scale (Aeolian mode) but the G Minor scale can be used as well. It just requires you to know how to use it tastefully over this backing.

So, the G Minor scale gives us two extra intervals. The 2nd (also known as a 9th) and the minor 6th. The 2nd is an interval that you can insert without too much drama, providing that you resolve it by going to a strong chord tone like the minor 3rd or back to the root. I like to use it a lot myself and it just takes a bit of practise to work it in.

However, the 6th can stand out like a sore thumb. It sounds unresolved and, with the blues, unnecessarily 'dark'. In the key of Gm, the minor 6th is the note of D#. It is not a chord tone, hence the unresolved sound. The only way we can make this D# sound good is by identifying where it becomes a chord tone over another chord.

Let me give you an example of me playing the 6th over the backing track. I'll play it over each chord. There will be some places where it just sounds right and the others should, in theory, sound a bit dodgy.

Attached File  Misuseminor6thEX1.mp3 ( 1.03MB ) Number of downloads: 51


Did you identify where that note sounded right? Chances are that we would all agree that it was over the C7 and the D# chords, whenever they occured. This is because the minor 6th of Gm will become the minor 3rd of C7 and the root note of D#. So, over any other chord the D# sounded unresolved and out of place but over the C7 and D# it became a chord tone that was an integral sound of the chord.

Another way you can make non chord tones fit is by incorporating them into a run. That way, you do not linger on the interval for too long before it is resolved by a more appropriate tone.

Here's another example. I'm doing a Randy Rhoads type lick where I play a minor 6th, 5th and flat5th next to each other. The addition of the 5th and flat 5th gives it a blues credibility that the minor 6th doesn't have on its own.

Attached File  Misuseminor6th_EX2.mp3 ( 589.01K ) Number of downloads: 46


So, I hope this theoretical excursion makes sense to you and that it will help you use minor scales without sounding 'out of place'. You can apply this to our current collab as well wink.gif


Thanks for the examples! It seems like that tone does not fit during the turnarounds and just has a feeling of "let's move somewhere else," when played static over the chords. One chord seemed to have a relaxed feel to it. I'll keep this in mind for my next recording!
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