Keys, Scales, Chords Part 2

A series of theory tutorials for the theory challenged or theory curious.

Last time: All Things Major

This time:

Naturally Minor


As with the major scales, when we use one of the scales other than A minor, we sometimes collect all the sharps/flats together at the start into a primer or key signature.

The Sharp Minor Keys

Am Em Bm

F#m C#m G#m


The Flat Minor Keys

Am Dm Gm

Cm Fm Bbm

Ebm Abm

Remember that a key signature lets us know at a glance all of the notes which are altered during a piece or section. We name each key signature according to its corresponding minor scale because different collections of sharps/flats represent different minor scales.

We should be able to see that these key signatures are exactly the same as for the major scales. Only this time we give them different names. Why?

It's all relative

At the end of the last tutorial, I talked about relative chords. Some chords are more strongly related than others.

For every Major chord/scale/key, there is a single relative minor chord/scale/key. It is the chord/scale/key built on the sixth steps of the major scale, the sub-mediant.

This gives us a way of identifying the relationships directly:

Relative Sharp Keys

Relative Flat Keys


The Natural Minor Scale

The first minor scale we encounter is the natural minor scale, built on the relative minor of any Major scale.

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The pattern here is


One thing that jumps out is that the seventh note of the scale is a tone away from the final note; the scale sounds less finished than the major scale.

We can apply similar rules as those we used for getting the major scales right to getting this scale right for any given starting note. Or we just drop the key sigtature required in front and it will work straight away.

The Sharp Natural Minor Scales

A Minor

E Minor

B Minor

F# Minor

C# Minor

G# Minor

D# Minor

The Flat Major Scales

A Minor

D Minor

G Minor

C Minor

F Minor

Bb Minor

Eb Minor


Chords on the Natural Minor scale

We use the same process we used for building chords on the major scale.

When we build chords above the notes of this scale, we notice that the chord built on the fifth note of the scale is a minor chord.

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As before, all the major chords have the same interval structure: Major third above the bottom note, known as the root note, and a perfect fifth above the root note.

All the minor chords also have the same interval structure: minor third above the root and a perfect fifth above the root also.

The diminished chord consists of a minor third above the root with a diminished fifth above the root.

Next time:

Harmonically Minor

All materials are 1998~2010 Shane Kershaw aka Bandcoach

Keys, Scales, Chords: Naturally Minor


Shane Kershaw aka Bandcoach

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