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Keys, Scales and Their Note Values

by JazzMaverick

4 Feb 2009
Views: 18978

So this lesson is basically covering the basics of four scales:

- Major
- Natural Minor
- Harmonic Minor
- Melodic Minor (Ascending & Descending)

I'll also be explaining a brief introduction into the modes.

The Major Scale


The Major scale as you hopefully know is:
Major, Minor, Minor, Major, Major, Minor, Diminished. Try and remember that.

(England) = Tone, Tone, Semi-tone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semi-tone.
(North/South America) = Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Whole, Half.

I'm going to use Tone and Semi-tone, as I'm used to it.

Tone means an entire note apart, e.g. C to D (two half steps/ semi-tone = a whole note/ tone), Semi-tone means half a step e.g. C to C#.]

Incase that's too confusing, take up your guitar and play fret 8 (6th string), this is C, now move to the 9th fret and this is C#. This means that they're a semi-tone apart (1 fret). Where as, C to D will be frets 8 to 10, so it's two frets apart which is called a Tone/Whole note.



Maj Min Min Maj Maj Min Dim
| I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII |
|-----|------|---------|-------|------|-------|-------|
| A | B | C# | D | E | F# | G# |
| Bb | C | D | Eb | F | G | A |
| B | C# | D# | E | F# | G# | A# |
| C | D | E | F | G | A | B |
| C# | D# | E# (F) | F# | G# | A# | B# (C)|
| D | E | F# | G | A | B | C# |
| Eb | F | G | Ab | Bb | C | D |
| E | F# | G# | A | B | C# | D# |
| F | G | A | Bb | C | D | E |
| F# | G# | A# | B | C# | D# | E# (F)|
| G | A | B | C | D | E | F# |
| Ab | Bb | C | Db | Eb | F | G |
-------------------------------------------------------


If you don't understand why I put some notes in brackets, it's basically because they are the same note. The easiest way to show this is to look at a Piano.




This is basically where you start to learn the modes. For the easiest way to explain that we usually use C because there are no sharps or flats in this key.
As you can see from the table, I've numbered out each note, and each note can be a starting point. This is what we call modes. So to explain the modes we've given each mode a name so it's easier to remember.


I = Major scale = Major
II = Dorian = Minor
III= Phrygian = Minor
IV = Lydian = Major
V = Mixolydian = Major
VI = Aeolian = Minor (The Natural Minor Scale)
VII= Locrian = Diminished


Naturally, each scale will have different names for each mode.

Natural Minor



The Natural Minor is the 6th position in the Major scale, this is also known as the Aeolian mode. Take a look at this other lesson I wrote if you don't understand what I mean... http://www.all-guitar-chords.com/lesson.php?id=104

Tone, Semi-tone, Tone, Tone, Semi-tone, Tone, Tone.

6 7 1 2 3 4 5
Minor, Diminished, Major, Minor, Minor, Major, Major



Min Dim Maj Min Min Maj Maj
| I | II | iii | IV | V | vi | vii |
|------|--------|---------|--------|-------|--------|---------|
| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | A is the natural minor (6th position) of C major.
| Bb | C | Db | Eb | F | Gb | Ab | Bb(A#) is the 6th of C# Major.
| B | C# | D | E | F# | G | A | B is the 6th of D Major.
| C | D | Eb | F | G | Ab | Bb | C is the 6th of Eb Major.
| C# | D# | E | F# | G# | A | B | C# is the 6th of E Major.
| D | E | F | G | A | Bb | C | D is the 6th of F Major.
| Eb | F | Gb | Ab | Bb | Cb | Db | Eb(F#) is the 6th of A Major.
| E | F# | G | A | B | C | D | E is the 6th of G Major.
| F | G | Ab | Bb | C | Db | Eb | F is the 6th of Ab Major.
| F# | G# | A | B | C# | D | E | F# is the 6th of A Major.
| G | A | Bb | C | D | Eb | F | G is the 6th of Bb Major.
| Ab | Bb | B | Db | Eb | Fb | Gb | Ab(G#) is the 6th of B Major.
---------------------------------------------------------------

Harmonic Minor



1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, 7



| I | II | iii | IV | V | vi | VII |
|------|-------|-------|------|-----|------|-------|
| A | B | C | D | E | F | G# |
| Bb | C | Db | Eb | F | Gb | A |
| B | C# | D | E | F# | G# | A# |
| C | D | Eb | F | G | Ab | B |
| C# | D# | E | F# | G# | A | B#(C) |
| D | E | F | G | A | Bb | C# |
| Eb | F | Gb | Ab | Bb | Cb | D |
| E | F# | G | A | B | C | D# |
| F | G | Ab | Bb | C | Db | E |
| F# | G# | A | B | C# | D | E# |
| G | A | Bb | C | D | Eb | F# |
| Ab | Bb | B | Db | Eb | E | G |
----------------------------------------------------

I'm in the making of a more detailed lesson on this scale.

Melodic Minor


Ascending 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, 7


| I | II | iii | IV | V | VI | VII |
|------|-------|-------|------|-----|------|-------|
| A | B | C | D | E | F | G# |
| Bb | C | Db | Eb | F | Gb | A |
| B | C# | D | E | F# | G | A# |
| C | D | Eb | F | G | Ab | B |
| C# | D# | E | F# | G# | A# | B# |
| D | E | F | G | A | B | C# |
| Eb | F | Gb | Ab | Bb | C | D |
| E | F# | G | A | B | C# | D# |
| F | G | Ab | Bb | C | D | E |
| F# | G# | A | B | C# | D# | E# |
| G | A | Bb | C | D | E | F# |
| Ab | Bb | B | Db | Eb | F | G |
----------------------------------------------------

Descending b7, b6, 5, 4, b3, 2, 1

|| || || || || ||
|| || || || || ||
\ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ /
\/ \/ \/ \/ \/ \/
| I | vii | vi | V | IV | iii | II |
|------|-------|------|-----|------|-------|------|
| A | G | F | E | D | C | B |
| Bb | Ab | Gb | F | Eb | Db | C |
| B | A | G | F# | E | D | C# |
| C | Bb | Ab | G | F | Eb | D |
| C# | B | A | G# | F# | E | D# |
| D | C | Bb | A | G | F | E |
| Eb | Db | Cb | Bb | Ab | Gb | F |
| E | D | C | B | A | G | F# |
| F | Eb | Db | C | Bb | Ab | G |
| F# | E | D | C# | B | A | G# |
| G | F | Eb | D | C | Bb | A |
| Ab | Gb | Fb | Eb | Db | Cb | Bb |
---------------------------------------------------

To understand this scale in more detail, check out my other lesson:

http://www.all-guitar-chords.com/lesson.php?id=139



Hopefully this is clear. It's important to know the notes that you're playing ontop of what fret and string you're playing, make sure to memorise the notes so you don't get confused during an improvisation!

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Also, check out my music listed on Sound Cloud (link below) if you like it follow me on facebook! :)

JazzMaverick on Sound Cloud
JazzMaverick Music

__________________________________________________________________________________________



Comments:

01
02.05.2009
  Guitarslinger124

good lesson dude!

02
02.05.2009
  HeavyGuitar

Is natural minor the same as minor?
If so, why natural?

03
02.05.2009
  Guitarslinger124

minor is a general term. there is natural, harmonic and melodic minor scales just to name a few. saying the "natural minor" connotes the sixth mode in a major key.

04
02.05.2009
  HeavyGuitar

Like this?:
Minor = Cola
Natural = Coca cola
Harmonic = Coca cola light
Melodic = Coca cola Zero

Haha...i need to compare things to understand them:P

05
02.05.2009
  Guitarslinger124

it would be more like:
minor = soda
natural = coke cola
harmonic = coke cola lemon
melodic (ascending) = coke cola lime

06
02.05.2009
  Guitarslinger124

hehe ive never done that before...

07
02.05.2009
  Guitarslinger124

****...and thats natural minor, harmonic minor and melodic minor just to clarify

08
02.05.2009
  BodomBeachTerror

natural, harmonic, melodic, are all forms of minor i do believe

so
minor = sandwich
natural = ham sandwich
harmonic = chicken sandwich
melodic = cheese sandwich

i think

09
02.05.2009
  HeavyGuitar

That one was better:D Now i understand it so much better:P

10
02.05.2009
  BodomBeachTerror

im not sure if its correct though, im almost as clueless as you =p

11
02.05.2009
  HeavyGuitar

no way!

12
02.05.2009
  Guitarslinger124

haha...i think youre better off just trying to learn the scales seperately. because they are really totally different from one another. you cant rush through learning theory guys. just take it one step at a time.

13
02.05.2009
  HeavyGuitar

but its like a billion steps...i don't know how to learn it all

14
02.05.2009
  Guitarslinger124

music is a lifelong learning experience man.

15
02.05.2009
  HeavyGuitar

yeah, but like this stuff, just this is to much to handle:P

16
02.05.2009
  RA

focus on the diatonic major scale don't worry about the other four

17
02.06.2009
  JazzMaverick

You should understand that the Natural Minor is the 6th position from the major scale. Once you've understood that properly, you should move on to understanding the rest of the modes. Once you've understood that, then you should start studying other scales, but not until then.

I'm posting this lesson for everyone though, because some are more advanced than others, this lesson is just showing the basic keys in other scales.

18
02.07.2009
  HeavyGuitar

Holy **...i think im starting to understand this **:)
wow...it actually very simple:P

19
02.07.2009
  RelaxedDude

When you think about it, once you have the major scale memorized then you have all the modes memorized as well

You just move the major scale either up or down the fretboard to get your mode

When I realized this I understood it so much more

20
05.08.2009
  Jguitar914

what does a b mean in front of a number????

21
05.08.2009
  keithmark13

b means flat. Its the semitone between each whole tone.
Such as in the key of A for example

A B C#(also known as Db<----thats flat)D E F#(Gb) G#(Ab)
you get it? I believe there is a lesson on it here on the site

22
05.13.2009
  tanman8015

hey, so if i am playing a D, F#, G progression, what key am I in. Ive read up on the key lessons, but i doesn't seem like mine matches up with any of them. thanks for any input.

23
03.21.2010
  michaelcollins

i cant believe its taken me so long to get this,thanks.what should i work on after Ive got it all memorized

24
03.21.2010
  Admiral

michaelcollins? what? you have all of this memorized? as in you are able to use all of it in a good manner? i mean, memorizing is one thing, but knowing how to use a totally different thing.
You can probably spend years working on and perfecting this topic

25
03.21.2010
  JazzMaverick

You should move onto the modes next - everyone starts with the major scale modes (they're the most popular). Afro and I have both written lessons regarding modes, so feel free to take a look at them. :)

You should also try and learn at least one chord every day. It'll benefit in the long run!

26
08.08.2010
  Admiral

Oh, and when is this lesson on harmonic minor finally going to come online? ^^
Would be really nice if you could do something on it, haha. i don't mean to push you! I just want to let you know that it would be appreciated very much.

27
08.08.2010
  JazzMaverick

I'm in the middle of writing two other lessons atm, so the Harmonic lesson will have to wait. I haven't finished the grades in theory and there are 8 grades, so I'd like to do that first.

28
08.08.2010
  MoshZilla1016

Great job, I noticed that the English use tone-semitone and the States use whole half. When I first learned the scale it was from a book that used tone semitone but when I tried to explain it no one knew what I meant. They all used whole half. After all these years now I know why very few use tone semitone. It's kinda the same with notes and quavers. I don't know anyone who uses quavers!

29
08.08.2010
  JazzMaverick

It's only very few to you because you live in America =P Over here we only say Tone and Semitone... But I think it's best to know both.

30
04.29.2011
  gshredder2112

excuse me miss jazzy,but i believe you informed.me before that locrian is half dim.or us that just relative to a chord scale using 7ths?

-gs211#

31
04.29.2011
  JazzMaverick

I'm not trying to confuse you - but Locrian is a half diminished - with the examples I showed you in whatever topic it was. I thought those examples would have made it clear why it was a half diminished.

What I have said in this lesson classes the particular modes into their categories only - each one has a variety but are still classed under similar titles. Locrian is in the diminished family. Same as Dorian being in the minor family,

Ok, so to make this easier -

Dorian is a Minor, right? And so is Phrygian. The reason why they are minor is because they have a flat 3rd and flat 7.
However, Dorian contains: b3, b7
Whilst Phrygian contains: b2, b3, b6, b7

They're both minor but they have an obvious difference.

Now, for Locrian - it is in the diminished family - but it is a half diminished because:

The Locrian Scale is this:

1, b2, b3, 4, b5, b6, b7

Right?

So it's triad is the root, third and fifth. 1, b3, b5.

A diminished scale also has this:

1,2,b3,4,b5,b6,6,7

And IT'S Triad is the exact same because they start the same - but they end differently.

Does that make more sense? They're in the same family but still have a difference.

32
04.29.2011
  gshredder2112

I understand in this lesson ,you state the locrian is diminished but in that thread you say its half diminished,I know i have fought you every step of the way in this explaination of,but you are correct.when you say im confused.Im just tryn to.make for certain itis either dim.or half dim.
btw heres the link to that thread.
http://www.all-guitar-chords.com/topic.php?id=4977

33
04.29.2011
  gshredder2112

but,with further reading into this lesson,
locrian is halfdim because it does not contain a b7th correct?

34
04.29.2011
  JazzMaverick

Locrian does have a b7 dude. :) Diminished has a bb7.

Please take another look at the last comment I just posted (other than this one) and see how I've compared the two.

I can't explain any better than what I just explained in that last comment to be honest. It's just going to have to take time dude, don't force yourself to understand right away, because then understanding things won't be fun - when it should be.

35
04.30.2011
  gshredder2112

Thank you for your time i aprreciate it.I spent all.my time studying the technical aspects of.playing,that i.neglected theory alot.so.all this stuff is kind of like a foreign language to me,but anyway your a good teacher and im the horrible student lo.thanks for putting up with me


-gs2112

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