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Posts Tagged ‘Minor’

Theory 101 – Minor Scales

Posted by Ian on March 24, 2008

To explain minor scales, I will begin by giving you some more musical terminology that will help out a lot later on.

In any particular scale, there are 7 notes. These notes all have specific names.

1st note: Tonic
2nd: Supertonic
3rd: Mediant
4th: Subdominant
5th: Dominant
6th: Submediant
7th: Leading tone

Now, back to key signatures:

As you have learned, all major scales have a corresponding key signature. All minor scales also have a

corresponding key signature, which they share with a corresponding major key.

An example of this is F major and D minor, which correspond or are ‘related’.

In F major, the notes are…

F…G…A…Bb…C…D…E…(F)

To find its relative minor, take the submediant note (6th in the scale), and write out the notes that fall in the key of F major for an octave.

D…E…F…G…A…Bb…C…(D)

You have just constructed the relative minor of F major, D minor.

Now, the next step is to construct a Harmonic Minor of a Major key. To do this, you simply raise the leading tone (7th note in the relative, or natural, minor) by a half step, so you get…

D…E…F…G…A…Bb…C#…(D)

And lastly, we come to the construction of a melodic minor, which can be a tad confusing…

Take the natural minor…

D…E…F…G…A…Bb…C…(D)

And raise both the 6th and 7th notes (submediant and leading).

D…E…F…G…A…B…C#…(D)

Seems pretty straight forward, correct? Well… look at this next part.

When you are playing a melodic minor scale going up (ascending) you play it with the notes we just created.

However, when you descend in the scale, it becomes this.

(D)…C…Bb…A…G…F…E…D.

When descending a Melodic minor scale, you use the notes that correspond with a natural minor.

Transposing parts written for major scales to minor scales is a great way to practice with minor scales, and can be rather interesting, too… songs played in minor keys have a completely different, often sadder or darker, colour.

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Music Theory – Basic Triads (Chords)

Posted by Ian on March 4, 2008

One thing I have discovered about us Uke players is that, as a whole, we know very little about music

theory. Sure, we can play all sorts of fancy chords and whatnot right and left, but when asked why

something is a chord, many of us have no clue what the answer is. Over the next few days I am planning on

making a music theory 101 course so you all will understand enough basic music theory to not have to rely

on chord charts and the like to figure out chords when playing a song.

Today’s lesson will be covering the basic triad chords: Major Chords, Minor Chords, Augmented Chords, and

Diminished Chords.

I guess the easiest way to explain the basic major triad chord is this:

Pick a note, any note.

Let’s pick ‘G’

Now, you count up four half steps, or a major third, from this note.

G…. G#…. A… Bb… B
…….1…….2…..3…..4

Then, you take three half steps up from the new note, which makes as a major fifth from the first note.
B…. C…. C#…. D (which is the same as G… G#… A… Bb… B… C… C#… D)
…….1…..2…….3

The resulting ‘G Major’ triad is GBD. Whenever you play these three notes, you are playing a G Major

chord.

Things become a little more fun when you start on a sharp.

Let’s start with a C#.

You get the major third….

C#…. D…. Eb…. E…. F

And the Major fifth…..

F…. F#…. G…. G#…

And you now have a C# major triad: C# F G#

For a Minor chord, you take the following….

The Root Note, a Minor 3rd, and a 5th

You already know how to get a 5th above the root, so let’s work with the Minor 3rd.

A minor third is simply the note three half steps above the root note.

To demonstrate, let’s construct an A Minor chord.

A is our root note.

To find the minor 3rd…..

A… Bb…. B…. C
……1……2…..3

And then we must be careful that when constructing the fifth, we base it off of the root note, not the

minor third, as that wold yield a minor 5th.

A…. Bb…. B…. C… C#… D….. D#… E
…….1…….2…..3….4……5……6……7

So an A minor chord is A C E

Now take a breath, because things are about to get a bit more interesting.

To take things a step further, We’ll construct an Augmented Chord (Aug.)

An augmented chord consists of the Root, a Major 3rd, and an Augmented 5th, which is the same as a Major

fifth except you go one half step higher (8 half steps from the root note, as opposed to 7)

An F Aug. chord would be constructed as follows…

F is our root note

The major third…

F… F#… G… G#… A

and an Augmented 5th

F… F#… G… G#… A… Bb… B… C… C#
…..1…….2…..3…..4…..5…..6….7….8

The resulting triad of an Augmented F chord is F A C#

Now, to wrap things up, I’ll explain how to construct a diminished (Dim.) chord.

A diminished chord is constructed by taking the root note, its minor third, and a diminished 5th, which

is a major 5th lowered by one half step (6 half steps above the root note, as opposed to 7).

Let’s make a D diminished chord.

D is our root note.

We construct the minor third for the root.

D… Eb… E… F
……1…..2….3

And we construct the diminished 5th

D… Eb… E… F… F#… G… G#
…….1….2….3…..4…..5…..6

The resulting triad is D F G#, D Diminished.

And that pretty much sums up the basics of chord construction.

With a little practice, you will no longer need to reference a chord chart every time you come across a

chord that you don’t know by heart. You will also be able to figure out different ways to play common

chords higher up on the fret board, using alternate fingerings, or duplicating different notes to put

emphasis on different parts of the chord.

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