• Beginners: Who Else Wants To Learn The Formula Of The Natural Minor Scale?

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    If you’re interested in learning the formula of the natural minor scale, then this lesson is for you.

    A vast majority of the songs we sing and listen to over the radio are played in the major key and this explains why the major scale is important in European/American music. While it’s good to learn and master the major scale, there’s also need to learn the natural minor scale.

    In the process of learning to play natural minor scale, so many musicians have given up and dismissed it as a difficult scale to learn.

    But we’ll be learning the formula of the natural minor scale and using this intervallic formula, I guarantee that you can play the natural minor scale starting from any of the 12 notes on the keyboard.

    A Short Note On The Natural Minor Scale

    The natural minor scale is principally the traditional scale of the minor key. So, to better our understanding of the minor natural scale, we need to fall back to the minor key.

    A Background On The Minor Key

    What we call key in tonal music is an environment created by the establishment of a particular note as the key center.

    Attention: The key environment is established by eight tones.

    There are two key types: the major key and the minor key. An outline of the notes in a key in a step-wise manner in ascending and descending order produces the traditional key of that particular key.

    For example, an outline of all the notes in the minor key in a step-wise manner in ascending and descending order produces the natural minor scale — which is the traditional scale of the minor key.

    The Easiest Natural Minor Scale On The Keyboard

    For a lot of people and for a variety of (theoretical, mathematical, and logical) reasons, the easiest natural minor scale on the keyboard is the A natural minor scale and that is NOT to say that others are difficult.

    “So, How Do I Play The A Minor Scale?”

    If you can outline all the white notes on the keyboard from A to A:

    …and I’m talking about every single white note — A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and A:

    …that’s the A natural minor scale and it contains all the notes in the key of A minor.

    The Formula Of The Natural Minor Scale

    Playing the easiest natural minor scale on the keyboard is good. But beyond that, there’s need to learn how to transpose the natural minor scale from one note to another on the keyboard.

    Once you master the transposition of the natural minor scale, you can play any of these minor scales:

    The F# natural minor scale:

    The Eb natural minor scale:

    The C natural minor scale:

    …and every other minor scale on the keyboard.

    The Transposition Of The Natural Minor Scale

    The concept of transposition has to do with the TRANSfer of POSITION. Playing anything on every key on the keyboard requires the knowledge of transposition and the natural minor scale is not an exception.

    But before we go ahead with the transposition of the natural minor scale, we’ll have to invest sometime in breaking down the scale and understanding the distance between its successive tones.

    With the knowledge of the distance between the successive tones of the natural minor scale, we can create an intervallic formula for its transposition.

    “Alright! Let’s Go Ahead And Breakdown The Natural Minor Scale…”

    Permit me to use the easiest minor scale — the A natural minor scale:

    Here we go:

    A to B:

    …is a whole-step.

    B to C:

    …is a half-step.

    C to D:

    …is a whole-step.

    D to E:

    …is a whole-step.

    E to F:

    …is a half-step.

    F to G:

    …is a whole-step.

    G to A:

    …is a whole-step.

    Below is a representation of the respective distances between the successive notes of the natural minor scale:

    whole-step, half-step, whole-step, whole-step, half-step, whole-step, whole-step

    …and using the distance (or interval) between the tones, we can derive the formula of the natural minor scale.

    The Intervallic Formula Of The Natural Minor Scale

    Instead of having the distances memorized this way:

    whole-step, half-step, whole-step, whole-step, half-step, whole-step, whole-step

    …you can use “W” to represent whole-step distances and H to represent half-step distances:

    W = whole-step distances

    H = half-step distances

    Replacing whole-step distances with “W” and half-step distances with “H”, we’ll have:

    W H W W H W W

    …and it even gets better when you Jermainize it to become:

    When Hot Why Won’t He Wear White

    Attention: To Jermainize means to simplify in an interesting and comprehensive manner and that’s a new word I just coined.

    So, if you can remember “When Hot Why Won’t He Wear White”, you can transpose the natural minor scale to any key.

    Final Words

    We’re just getting started with the minor scale in this lesson and in subsequent lessons, we’ll be looking at how this formula can be applied starting from any note on the keyboard.

    Thank you for your time invested in reading this blog and questions, suggestions, and comments are welcome and you can drop them in the comment section below.

    See you in the next lesson.

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Kluivert

    Great info. Thanks for Jermainizing it too. I ve hardly seen a gospel contemporary song done in C minor🤔. Please do we have any. I also would love to know some possible passing chords using minor chords. Thank you very much.

    Reply

    2 Carolyn

    Thanks Jermaine for the Jermainezation of the minor chords.
    Can these be used as runs and fill ins? Thanks for the KNOWLEDGE and God bless you all.

    Reply

    3 Cori Vas

    Question: In a MINOR key, does the same number system rules apply? I.e. M, m, m, M, M, m, dim?

    Reply

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