View Full Version : Blues DVD, Intro to Music Theory questions
05-30-2012, 11:50 PM
I've been playing for 3 years and am decent on the fretboard but don't have any grounding in music theory. So I ordered the Blues DVD Learning System and have some questions. I hope you can assist me with them.
Chapter 1: Introduction to Music Theory
Page 32, tutorial 5, lesson1:
The paragraph mentions "... intervals that make the third scale degree a minor third interval from the root note (A). This makes the tonic chord .... a minor triad and is why the scale and key are called 'minor'".
There are four new pieces of terminology in that one paragraph which the previous material does not go into:
1) scale degree (I finally figured out what these are, woohoo)
2) minor third interval
3) minor triad
4) why the scale and key are called minor
The tutorial was going fine until I ran into that paragraph and don't know what to make of it.
I follow that a minor scale follows the pattern WHWWHWW.
I tried working on the A minor scale (does that start with A as the root note or Ab as the root note?) using the formula but don't get how the minor third interval influences the name of the scale. Doesn't every scale that follows the pattern above automatically get classified as a minor scale?
I hope the question isn't all over the place. If it makes sense for me to read some other material first then please let me know. Don't want you burn time answering newbie questions that have already been answered elsewhere :)
05-31-2012, 08:32 AM
Tonic (the first degree fo a scale, root note is the fundamental of a chord): A
A minor natural scale (have harmonic and melodic scales too, but these are other scales):
A (W form A to B) B (H from B to C) C (W from C to D) D (W from D to E) E (H from E to F) F (W from F to G) G (W from G to A).
So the A minor scale is: A B C D E F G A.
Note that the notes are the same as the C Major scale. Theyīre different scales, but with the same notes. Every major scale have a relative minor scale. In this case, A minor is the relative minor of C Major. These two scales have no sharps or flats, and can determine the tone of a specific piece. Thatīs why in the tones of A minor and C major you donīt see any sharp or flat represented at the staff.
And what determines if a scale or tone are major or minor? Simple, its third interval. This interval features the sonority: major or minor, as well as that heard on the chords.
05-31-2012, 08:38 AM
Every scale that follows the pattern will be classified as minor scales.
W H W W H W W
E minor scale:
E F# G A B C D E
E minor is the relative minor of G Major (same notes):
G A B C D E F# G (in this case the pattern is W W H W W W H, major scale).
05-31-2012, 08:56 AM
We have the Ab minor scale too, which stars with Ab (tonic), using the same pattern:
W H W W H W W
Ab Bb Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab
Why Cb and not B? Why Fb and not E?
Because in music theory we never repeat a letter in the same scale. The sound are equal, this notes are classified as enharmonic notes, but for music theory they are different notes.
05-31-2012, 06:20 PM
Ok that explains it. The way to create a minor scale is to use the pattern WHWWHWW and if the interval between the tonic and the third note is three half-notes then the interval is called minor third and we know its a minor scale.
Thanks for the great examples in your response!
05-31-2012, 08:31 PM
How it sounds is just as important as patterns.
Play some major chords: C major chord (C,E,G) or a C7 (C,E,G,Bb).
Now play them without the fifth (E) and compare. Then play without the third (C major) and the seventh (C7) and compare.
When you play them without the fifth, the sound doesn't change significatively, but when you play without the third or seventh (in case of C7), they will sound without its characteristic sonority.
The third (major/minor) and the seventh (major/minor) are very important intervals, because they will determine the quality of chords (major/minor, major seventh/minor seventh).
When we start to play augmented and diminished chords, the fifth plays an important role on how chords will sound. You can use the same reasoning and compare augmented and diminished with major and minor chords.
You will notice that in this case the fifth is also contributing to the quality.
So if you remove it from the chord, the chord will lose its characteristic sonority and quality of diminished or augmented chord.
06-06-2012, 12:57 AM
brenoazzi .... thx for explanations so far.
The issue still stumping me is how to calculate intervals on the minor scale.
The interval between C and E on the C major scale is a major third.
Is this because:
a) C + whole step + whole step = C + 2 whole steps = E = major third?
b) The third note in the C major scale is E (irrespective of the W or H steps) and hence its the major third
When I look at minor scales the diatonic (formula) is different from that of the major scale. Given that the A minor scale is A B C D E F G ... what is the major third?
a) A + whole step + whole step = A + 2 whole steps = C# = major third?
b) The third note in the A minor scale is C (irrespective of W or H) and hence its a major third? So the minor third would be B?
I know I'm wrong but can't figure out where I'm going wrong.
06-06-2012, 10:19 AM
1)The major third (III) is an interval. We count from the Tonic (I) two tones (two whole steps) or four half-tones (half steps), whatever you want.
The minor third (iii) is another interval. Itīs a major third flattened. So the minor third have other sound. As you can see, if the major third is at two tones from the tonic and the minor third is a major third flattened, than the minor third is at one tone and a half tone from the Tonic.
From C to E = 2 tones = C Db D Eb E > Major third = E
C major scale = C D E F G A B C
Major scale formula: W W H W W W H
From C to Eb = 1 tone and a half-tone > Minor third = Eb
C minor scale = C D Eb F G Ab Bb C
Minor scale formula = W H W W H W W
Natural minor scales have minor thirds, minor sixth, and minor seventh intervals. I prefer this way to understand.
2)We donīt have major third in the minor scales. Thatīs why theyīre MINOR.
From A to C# = 2 tones = A Bb B C C# > Major third = C#
From A to C = 1 tone and a half = A Bb B C > Minor third = C
06-06-2012, 11:47 PM
Finally I can move past that paragraph in the Blues DVD / booklet.
You have a real talent for explaining things. Hats off to you ... and as a gesture of thanks I will let this slide and think nothing of it ...
06-07-2012, 06:32 PM
Iīm glad to have helped.
Weīre all on the same journey.
06-08-2012, 02:21 PM
This is a great thread. Thanks both of you for posting about it. We'll try to make this better in a future version.
06-08-2012, 05:34 PM
It was a pleasure. Tks for your support.
01-11-2013, 09:35 PM
Sometimes this stuff gets more complicated than it needs to be, and sort of runs away with its self. Do you ever wonder why so many music theory explanations start with C? Or "hey, lets learn the Cmaj scale!"? Why is that, and what are all these "modes"? What do we mean by "natural minor" anyways?
Start with C. Great. Ok, welcome to music theory 101. The reason we like "Cmaj" so much is because it is a seven note scale that is "natural", meaning, we have no sharps, and no flats: C D E F G A B.
(Simple rule with flats, sharps, and notes. We NEVER mix flats and sharps in any given scale, and we never use the same letter twice when describing a scale).
Back to that Cmaj scale. Ok, there's no sharps or flats, every note is natural. Now, lets count out the steps starting from C to D and so forth, and as you already know we get: W W H W W W H.
Ok, no revelation there, but the idea here is that ANY combination of seven notes that follows the pattern W W H W W W H will form a MAJ scale, even if it has sharps or flats, because its all based on the almighty Cmaj scale which is the "rosetta stone" of scale theory.
So what's with this "natural minor" thing? Ok, well lets go back to that Cmaj scale where are the notes are natural. Starting on C, we play through, and have a maj scale with all natural notes. C is the first note of the Cmaj scale. Because its the first note, C is the "tonic", and the root of the scale. When you say "I'm in the key of C" is means that the guitars, bass player, and keyboardist are all playing notes that want musically to resolve to C. That's the "root" of the scale. When you say "I'm in the key of Cmaj" it lets everyone know that the interval pattern your using is W W H W W W H. Everyone plays together and its all hunky dory.
But what if we start on a different note? "A" is the "relative minor" of "Cmaj". What does that mean? Well, if we take a look at our Cmaj scale "A" is the sixth note in the scale. So lets start with A, and count using the same intervals as Cmaj, but remember, we're starting on the sixth degree. It helps to see the patterns repeat, and laid next to each other:
Cmaj: W W H W W W H W W H W W W H W W H W W W H
A min: W W H W W W H W W H W W W H W W H W W W H W W H
(I've highlighted the two patterns by bolding them, and kept them apart just for the sake of visual clarity. In both cases, you would start the pattern at the first bold letter).
So for A natural minor, you can see we're really using the same "pattern" as Cmaj, but we just started at a different point.
This gives us W H W W H W W. Also, because we're using the same notes as the Cmaj scale, just in a different order, the A "natural" minor scale contains no sharps, and no flats. Because of this, any pattern of notes used to form a seven note scale that follows the interval pattern of W H W W H W W will be a "natural minor scale".
So now "A" is the tonic. Everything will want to resolve to A. Seems odd, but its all about that root note. If you get a chance, try playing the Cmaj scale over a C bass note or Cmaj chord. Come up with a little riff, but stay in the Cmaj scale. Now change the bass note to A or play over an A minor chord. Without having changed your riff, it will sound like you're playing in Amin, especially if you now resolve that riff to A, emphasizing A as the root note.
This is what modes are. Just different scales that are derived from starting the interval count at different points. There is one "mode" for each note of the seven note scale. Because they are derived from the Cmaj scale which has no sharps or flats, each mode will have one key that also contains no sharps or flats. A natural minor, derived from counting the intervals starting on the sixth degree is one such mode. D Dorian is another such mode. It is derived by counting starting at the second interval and also has no sharps or flats.
Hope that all makes sense, I know its a lot to get a handle on, but once you get the idea of how we come up with different scales, it helps in the general understanding of things. Harmonic minor and Melodic minor scales are different beasts in themselves, but the above should get you understanding scales and intervals.
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