If you read last week’s scale of the week, please skip down to “The Natural Minor Scale (Aeolian Mode)”
What is a scale?
A Scale is a run of notes that are defined by the spacing between them. These spaces are called intervals and are measured in tones and semitones. A semitone is the interval between two touching frets on the same string. A tone is the interval between two notes that are two frets apart. (like circle and semicircle, a tone is made up for two semitones)
The note our scale starts from is called our “Root Note” and from here we go up in intervals (tones and semitones) until we get back to our root note in the next octave.
What can we do with scales?
1) To Create Chords
2) To create chord progressions (aka Write songs)
3) To write riffs/hooks to songs
4) To write solos for songs
5) To Improvise along to songs
The Natural Minor Scale (Aeolian Mode)
The natural minor scale (also called the Aeolian mode) is the most common scale used in rock and in joint first place with the Major scale in pop.
The minor scale gives a more sad or angry feel than the major scale meaning it can be used in sad songs, rock songs and even metal.
The minor scale is as follows:
This might not make much sense to you by itself, yet it will work when we apply a root note and then use these intervals (tones and semitones to find the other notes.
12 Notes of Music
A - A# - B - C - C# - D - D# - E - F - F# - G - G#
The Natural minor - Applied to Notes
So If we take the root note of “A” then go up by the right amount each time we get the following notes.
A – (+ Tone) B – (+Semitone) C – (+Tone) D – (+Tone) E – (+Semitone) F – (+Tone) G – (+Tone) A.
So A minor scale (A Natural minor / A Aeolian mide) is =
A – B – C – D – E – F – G – A
If we now apply this to some other root notes we can work out other Major scales:
B – C# – D – E – F# – G – A – B
C – D – D# – F – G – G# – A# – C
D – E – F – G – A – A# – C – D
As you can see the notes change from scale to scale when we have different root notes, however the Intervals (spacings) stay the same.
Applying The Scale To The Guitar
The great news is because each fret on the guitar is a semitone and each scale keeps to the same intervals all we need to do is learn the scale shape and then move it to find the right root note and the shape will give you the right intervals every time.
The First shape of the Natural minor scale (or minor scale or Aeolian Mode) is as follows.
From the example shown we are playing the F# minor scale. or the F# Aeolian Mode. We know this because the first note we play is an F# and we run through the shape/pattern of notes from there.
If we wanted to play the A Natural minor scale, we would simply take this same shape of notes and move it so that the first note we play is on the 5th fret (an A note).
Now you want to go and practice running up and down these notes. Start by going in order then play around with different patterns and get used to the overall shape and not just running in order. This will help you get a feel for the scale to use in more creative ways like making songs or solos.