Learning guitar scales: The minor scale

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So far we've learned about the major scale and its modes, and as there are major scales, there are also minor scale. The major scale sounds bright and happy, while the minor scale sounds sad, that's why you have to make sure of what subject is your song about, a happy thing or a sad one, to choose correctly what type of scales you should use.

Note: We can call some modes minor if they have minor intervals.

The minor scale have 3 types:

1- The natural minor scale: In the lesson of "Modes of the major scale", we've said that the aeolian mode (the sixth mode) is the same as the natural minor scale. In terms of intervals, the natural minor scale or some times called (The relative minor) has a flatted third (3b) and 6b and 7b comparing to major scale. So the structure of the whole and half steps will be like this (wh-h-wh-wh-h-wh-wh) and it will be like this on the fretboard in the key of G (G - A - A# - C - D - D# - F - G):


E---------------------------------------------------------------
B---------------------------------------------------------------
G---------------------------------------------------------------
D------------------------------------3---5---------------------
A----------------------3---5---6------------------------------
E--------3---5---6--------------------------------------------


2- The harmonic minor scale: Is the same as the natural minor scale (3b and 6b) but without the flatted seventh (7b) comparing to major scale. So the structure of the whole and half steps will be like this (wh-h-wh-wh-h-wh and a half step(3 frets)-h) and It looks like this on the fretboard in the key of G (G - A - A# - C - D - D# - F# - G):

E---------------------------------------------------------------
B---------------------------------------------------------------
G---------------------------------------------------------------
D------------------------------------4---5---------------------
A----------------------3---5---6------------------------------
E--------3---5---6--------------------------------------------

Note: you can see that in this scale we've used another concept which represents 3 frets on the fretboard (whole and a half step).

3- The melodic minor scale: The melodic minor scale have 2 forms (ASCENDING and DESCENDING). ASCENDING melodic minor scale is just like the major scale but with a flatted third (3b), when we play it DESCENDING it looks like the natural minor scale. It looks like this on the fretboard in the key of G:

The ASCENDING form (wh-h-wh-wh-wh-wh-h):

E---------------------------------------------------------------
B---------------------------------------------------------------
G---------------------------------------------------------------
D-------------------------------2---4---5---------------------
A----------------------3---5----------------------------------
E--------3---5---6--------------------------------------------

The DESCENDING form: exactly like the natural minor scale (wh-h-wh-wh-h-wh-wh).

E---------------------------------------------------------------
B---------------------------------------------------------------
G---------------------------------------------------------------
D------------------------------------3---5---------------------
A----------------------3---5---6------------------------------
E--------3---5---6--------------------------------------------

Sure you're thinking why the hell this scale have two forms, well the melodic minor scale have a very strange property which isn't found in any other scale. So you should ask the composers that made it, they say it looks better!!!.

Minor scales are easy to understand when learning guitar scales, and they are very powerful and used by most guitarists (sure there is a lot of sad songs around). So make sure to learn and practice them when learning guitar scales.

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