Why Minor Is Finer

Besides just the cool darkness of using minor keys, they open up a ton of possibilities that we don’t have in a  major key.

You see, a major is scale is just a major scale with seven chords and that’s all.

Those would be I ii iii IV V vi vii(dim)

But we have a variety of minor scales to choose from to make life exciting.  First off is the natural minor.  This is derived by taking the major scale and starting from the 6th scale degree, ie. playing A to A instead of C to C with all natural notes results in A natural minor.

The resulting chords, if we stack notes in 3rds on each scale degree would be:  i ii(dim) III iv v VI VII .

However when all this stuff was being invented, they decided they didn’t like that minor v chord in there.  They felt it didn’t have as strong a tension-release pull like the major scale has.

They decided to make the chord major.  But just like algebra, what you do to one side you have to do to the other.  So if we change the chord, we have to change the scale.  In Am, the V chord is E.  To make it E major we need a G#, which is then added to the scale.  So we get A B C D E F G# A – That is called harmonic minor.

And changing one note actually changes 3 chords because that note can be a root, 3rd, or 5th.  More changes come if we extend to 7ths and further.

This gives us i ii(dim) III+ iv V VI vii (dim) – Two diminished chords and an augmented!  Juicy!

But there was a problem with the scale too and we’ll discuss the rest of the minor scales next time…

Phil Johnson


~ by Phil Johnson on January 6, 2010.

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