Basic Music Theory Lesson 2B: Minor Scale Construction

The minor scale (also called Aeolian)  is a major scale with its 3rd, 6th, and 7th degrees flattened.

As we saw in lesson 2 (major scales part 1), the placement of tones and semi-tones is what gives each type of scale its individual sound.

If we take the C Major scale and flatten the 3rd, 6th, and 7th degrees, we get the following placement of tones and semi-tones.

If you were to start on any note and apply this order of tones and semi-tones ( T, ST, T, T, ST, T, T) you would end up playing a minor scale.

Parallel and Relative Minor Scales

Parallel minor scales start on the same note as their major scale counterparts. In the above example, the C minor scale started on the same note as the C Major scale. Therefore the C minor scale is the parallel minor of C major.

Relative minor scales start from the 6th degree (or 6th note) of the major scale.

For example, A minor is the relative minor of C major.

C major C D E F G A B C
A minor A B C D E F G A

In the last 2 lessons, you have seen that the major scale is also known as Ionian and that the minor scale is also known as Aeolian. In upcoming lessons, we will further explore all of the related scales called modes.

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