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Posts Tagged ‘Scales’

I’m Back (Pentatonic Scales)

Posted by Ian on March 31, 2008

Well… it turns out a colony of ants decided that it was to their benefit to eat our phone line and make a nest in its space… stupid things.

However, the problem has been taken care of, and I am back in action.

Sadly, I don’t have anything ready for posting today and I have a long day ahead tomorrow so I’m going to get to bed early, so I can’t throw anything together, really.

So, in the meantime…well… what the heck is a couple minutes less sleep.

Intro to Pentatonic Scales (thrown together in about 4 minutes..)

Pentatonic scales are scales in music that contain only 5 notes, as opposed to the typical 8 used in most music. These scales can be found in many ethnic types of music, such as Indonesian Gamelan music. Some of them are, however, commonly used in various western styles of music, including classical, jazz, blues, and a lot of rock.

To find the most basic type of pentatonic scale, all you have to do is right out a normal scale…


and remove the fourth and 7th tones from it…


Pentatonic scales may sound somewhat odd to your ears when you play them… rather incomplete… but there are various uses for them.

Firstly, when you stick to a key and only use one pentatonic scale, accompanying chords are very easy to write in, as the choices are limited. Secondly, it is very easy to improvise over a chord progression if you understand pentatonic scales. You can play any of the notes of a chord’s root’s pentatonic scale over the chord, and it will sound fine (almost always… chords with extensions can make things sound a tad strange).

And that is all that I have time for… I will most likely expand on Pentatonic Scales further within the next few days, but I plan on getting more tabs out, as I haven’t had many of those lately.

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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…


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.


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…


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

Take the natural minor…


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


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.


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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