CyberfretBass.com - Music theory for electric bass: Natural minor scales

Constructing Minor Scales for Bass Guitar

Minor scale basics

In the constructing major scales lesson, you learned that a major scale is just a series of whole steps (2 frets) and half steps (1 fret). And if you take the natural notes from C to C, this is a C major scale.

C major scale

whole steps and half steps in a C major scale

If you take those same notes (C D E F G A B) and rearrange them to go from A to A, you create a different pattern of whole steps and half steps. And if you take the natural notes from A to A, this is an A minor scale. Specifically it is called an A natural minor scale. There are a couple of other minor scales (harmonic minor, and melodic minor), but what we are go to take a look at in this lesson is just the plain natural minor scale.

A minor scale

whole steps and half steps in an A minor scale

So an A natural minor scale is just the same notes as a C major scale, only a minor scale starts and ends on the 6th degree of the major scale.

C D E F G A B C - C major
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 5 6
          A B C D E F G A - A minor

One idea that confuses a lot of people at first is the idea that a C major scale, and an A minor scale have exactly the same notes. What makes the difference is how those same notes are used. Those same 7 notes can sound very different depending on the situation.

Listen to the the 2 scales just by themselves.

C major scale
Play MIDI file
A minor scale
Play MIDI file

Now listen to both scales in relationship to a C chord, and to an Am chord.

C major scale over a C chord
Play MIDI file
C major scale over an Am chord
Play MIDI file

A minor scale over an Am chord
Play MIDI file
A minor scale over a C chord
Play MIDI file

Page 2, The natural minor on the neck of the bass guitar




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