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Minor Scale Harmony

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In this tutorial we will learn how the minor scale is harmonized. We'll take a diatonic minor scale and build chords on each note of the scale using only notes from that scale. Then we'll label each chord with a specific function relative to the scale.

The diatonic minor is formed by using a specific interval forumla.

1st note, whole step, 2nd note, half step, 3rd note, whole step, 4th note, whole step, 5th note, half step, 6th note, whole step, 7th note, whole step, 8th note (which is one octave higher than the first note).

Let's use this idea to play a C minor scale. We start with the note C on the A string, 3rd fret. Therefore the note C is the 1st note of the scale (the "1st scale degree"). We move up a whole step (or two half steps) to the 5th fret and this will be the 2nd note of the C minor scale (the "2nd scale degree"). This note happens to be a D. Follow the scale formula and we wind up with this:

  • C = 1 (1st scale degree)

  • D = 2 (2nd scale degree)

  • E-flat = 3 (3rd scale degree)

  • F = 4 (4th scale degree)

  • G = 5 (5th scale degree)

  • A-flat = 6 (6th scale degree)

  • B-flat = 7 (7th scale degree)

  • C = 8 (1st scale degree again one octave higher)

    Next, let's assign all the notes numbers, the term "scale degree" and a unique name:

  • C = 1 (1st scale degree) - root note

  • D = 2 (2nd scale degree) - second

  • E-flat = 3 (3rd scale degree) - minor third

  • F = 4 (4th scale degree) - fourth

  • G = 5 (5th scale degree) - fifth

  • A-flat = 6 (6th scale degree) - minor sixth

  • B-flat = 7 (7th scale degree) - minor seventh

  • c = 8 (8th scale degree) - octave of root

    Now we're ready to harmonize the scale.

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    Minor Scale Harmony