Natural Minor Scales (Guitar Lesson)


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Matt Brown

Natural Minor Scales

Matt teaches the most common natural minor scale patterns.

Taught by Matt Brown in Rock Guitar with Matt Brown seriesLength: 13:24Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (3:28) Natural Minor Scale / Music Theory Music Theory

The Natural Minor scale is one of three different minor scales. It is the only minor scale that is derived directly from the Major scale. It is called the Natural Minor scale because it contains no accidentals other than what is in the given key signature, giving it a "natural" sound. The other two minor scales, the Harmonic and Melodic minor, contain accidentals in addition to their key signatures. (These scales will be presented in later lessons.)

To form a Natural Minor scale, simply start on the sixth scale degree of the Major scale. The derived Natural Minor scale will contain the same notes as the parent major scale. For example, the relative minor scale of C major is A minor. Both of these scales contain the same notes: C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C and A,B,C,D,E,F,G,A respectively.

Although these scales contain the same notes, they should sound completely different when played correctly. When playing any scale, one must hear the notes as a succession of resolutions. Any scale in Western music is structured around a basic triad. These notes that comprise the basic triad are the points of resolution within the scale. Let's look at the A Natural Minor scale to see how this works.

The notes of the basic scale triad are A,C,E (A Minor chord)

The first note of the scale is A, the tonic of the scale triad. The next note is B, a non-chord tone. As a result the B should be played as a passing tone between the chord tones A and C. Consequently the D should be played as a passing tone between C and E. And finally, since they are not chord tones, F and G should be played as passing tones resolving to the tonic, or A.

If you are new to music theory, emulate the way Matt plays the scales in this lesson. Try to internalize the sound of the scale and how it sounds different from other scales that you have learned thus far.

In the first scene of this lesson, Matt demonstrates the remaining Natural Minor scale patterns. Check out the Supplemental Content tab for complete diagrams of these patterns. Also, refer to Lesson 4: Scales to review the 2 most common Natural Minor patterns.
Chapter 2: (9:54) Using the Natural Minor Scale This scene details how the Natural Minor scale can be used while improvising.

Over Diatonic Natural Minor Progressions
The Natural Minor Scale can be used over any chord in a diatonic Natural Minor Progression. First, establish which key you are in. Second, if all the notes within the chord progression are also contained in the Natural Minor scale, then it can be used to improvise over any chord in the progression.

Exercise: Record yourself playing a progression containing the primary triads in A Natural Minor. The primary triads for Natural Minor are i, iv, and VII. In the key of A minor, these chords are Am, Dm, and G. Record this chord progression in a number of different rhythmic styles. Then, play the tape back and improvise using the Natural Minor scale.
In the Context of a Non-diatonic or "Jazzy" Progression
The Natural Minor is a very effective scale to use over minor chords (MI7 or MI9) in a jazz progression. The scale that is most consonant over minor chords in a jazz context is the Dorian scale. However, the Natural Minor scale is still an effective choice.


Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


midlifemidlife replied on May 13th, 2013

Matt, similar to the previous question regarding modes, I have related all of your major scale and minor scale patterns to the modes. For example, the 3 A minor scales you demonstrate I relate to A - Aolean, F - Lydian, and E - Phrygian, but always starting on the root note, which in this case is A. Is it wrong to think of it this way? I spent a lot of time memorizing the 7 modes and find it easier to remember the major and minor scale patterns by relating to the modes.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on May 14th, 2013

If that's helpful to you, I don't think it's wrong to think that way. Just realize that those three patterns can be used to play any of the modes derived from C major. If thinking that way helps you remember the patterns and play the guitar, I think it's a good thing. ;)

will315will315 replied on October 27th, 2008

Why is the Sup-content in this lesson written in notes and tab and in the major scale lesson it is in box patterns? Not Consistent and confusing.

rbradyrbrady replied on August 1st, 2011

I agree that the pattern graphics would be helpful, too; they are the most helpful tool for me with scales.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on August 3rd, 2011

Check out the scale library in the "teaching tools" area of the site. You'll find fretboard diagrams there.

rbradyrbrady replied on August 3rd, 2011

Thanks for the reply, Matt. Yes, I have been using that, but the isolated, generic patterns attached to the lesson like in the major scale lesson were nice.

floorshakerfloorshaker replied on July 23rd, 2010

Hi Matt. At the moment I am enjoying learning my major and minor scales and will be practising them for quite a while. I notice that you don't go into modes in your series. Would you suggest I get into these in Brad's lessons before progressing with yours? I always find planning what to do next the most difficult part of learning. Thanks. Chris

mattbrownmattbrown replied on July 26th, 2010

Hey Chris! If you feel like you're itching to learn about the modes at this point, then I say go for it. Brad definitely has some great info in his set. I also recommend that you check out Kris Norris' lessons on the modes as well. Nick Kellie and Eric Madis have some great material on the modes in their lessons as well. I'm sure I'll cover the modes in this series eventually. I just haven't gotten to them yet.

Rock Guitar with Matt Brown

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Chuck Berry among others pioneered the style of rock and roll in the 1950's. Today, rock and roll remains the most popular genre of music. Over the years the genre has progressed & spawned many sub-genres: soft rock, classic rock, punk rock, and more. Dive into this Phase 2 set of lessons to become a master of rock.



Lesson 1

Proper Practicing

Learn how to get the most out of your time when practicing.

Length: 29:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Introduction to Lead

Matt Brown discusses some of the fundamentals to playing lead.

Length: 15:41 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Figuring Out Notes

Matt shows you the basics of figuring out any note on the guitar.

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

Scales

Learn the basic minor, natural, and major scales. Quite a few techniques & ideas start with scales - they're an essential building block.

Length: 34:15 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Major Scales

In this lesson, Matt takes you through the major scales & helps you to understand how they can be used.

Length: 20:25 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Natural Minor Scales

Matt teaches the most common natural minor scale patterns.

Length: 13:24 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Bending

Learn & master the most popular types of bends.

Length: 27:48 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

Sweep Picking & Rakes

Learn sweep picking and string rakes.

Length: 18:36 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Solo Techniques

Learn various techniques to use when improvising / soloing.

Length: 12:51 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

Tuning Down

Matt explains the most effective way to tune your guitar down.

Length: 7:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

Barre Chords

Learn how to establish finger independence and a few tips and tricks with barre chords.

Length: 37:18 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Rock Licks

In this lesson, Matt Brown introduces a rock lick and shows how several famous players have modified it.

Length: 19:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Rock Sequences

In this lesson Matt teaches some crucial rock sequences. He also explains how these sequences can be integrated in to your playing.

Length: 34:52 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

String Skipping

Matt Brown focuses on string skipping technique. He provides several exercises designed to improve this aspect of your playing.

Length: 33:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Intervals

Lesson 15 in Matt's rock series is all about intervals.

Length: 34:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Rock Lead Guitar

Matt Brown demonstrates lead guitar techniques using Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" as an example.

Length: 29:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 17

Solo Using Diatonic Scales

Matt Brown explains which scales can be used when playing a solo over a diatonic progression in a major key. As an example, he teaches the solo section to Candlebox's song "Far Behind."

Length: 33:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 18

Diatonic Natural Minor

This lesson covers the natural minor scale and diatonic natural minor progressions. Matt uses the solo section to "Stairway to Heaven" as an example.

Length: 24:55 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

Right Hand Technique

In lesson 19 Matt provides instruction on developing right hand skills including string skipping.

Length: 26:38 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Non-Diatonic Progressions

In lesson 20, Matt discusses chord progressions that don't follow a diatonic tonality.

Length: 29:07 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 21

Harmonic Minor

Matt begins to discuss and demonstrate the harmonic minor scale.

Length: 29:46 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 22

Improvising Over Harmonic Minor

In lesson 22, Matt continues his discussion of the harmonic minor tonality.

Length: 14:36 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 23

Sweet Child O' Mine

In lesson 23, Matt takes a look at the solo section for the song "Sweet Child O' Mine."

Length: 19:43 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 24

Today

Matt will be taking a look at the solo section from the live version of the Smashing Pumpkins song "Today".

Length: 7:29 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 25

Back In Black Solo

Matt Brown reviews and discusses the solo section to AC/DC's hit "Back In Black".

Length: 9:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 26

Brother

In lesson 26, Matt covers the solo section from the Alice in Chains song "Brother".

Length: 9:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 27

Matt's Rock Manifesto

Matt Brown discusses lead guitarists, what makes a good solo, and tips for your own lead playing.

Length: 41:06 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 28

Legato Playing Exercises

Matt Brown teaches a number of exercises aimed at improving your legato playing technique.

Length: 37:16 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 29

Right Hand Exercises

Matt Brown demonstrates a few exercises to build skill and speed in your right hand.

Length: 15:06 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 30

String Skipping Etude

Matt Brown teaches Heitor Villa-Lobos' 1st Etude as a lesson in string skipping.

Length: 38:47 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 31

Three Octave Scales

Matt Brown demonstrates how to play three octave versions of the minor pentatonic and the major scales in all 12 keys.

Length: 16:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 32

Diatonic Intervals

Matt Brown demonstrates how to play all seven of the diatonic intervals within the framework of a horizontal major scale.

Length: 23:01 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 33

Diatonic 7th Arpeggios

Matt Brown discuss diatonic arpeggios as a theory lesson as well as demonstrating the technique.

Length: 9:55 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 34

Diatonic 7ths Across the Neck

Matt Brown explains how to play the diatonic seventh chords of the major scale. Similar to lesson 32, this lesson takes a horizontal approach to the fretboard.

Length: 10:46 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 35

Solo Ideas #1

Matt Brown teaches a progression and accompanying solo to demonstrate ideas for creating your own.

Length: 21:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

Solo Ideas #2

Matt Brown takes a look at another chord progression and solo.

Length: 17:29 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 37

Legato Playing Ideas

In lesson 37 of the Rock Series, Matt Brown demonstrates and talks about legato playing ideas.

Length: 21:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 38

Rhythm Concepts

Matt Brown switches gears in lesson 38 to start talking about rhythm concepts for rock playing.

Length: 27:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 39

Compositional Techniques

Matt Brown discusses some often used techniques to build effective rock compositions.

Length: 17:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 40

Creative Chord Voicings

Matt Brown shows off some ways to add some creativity and originality to your rock chord voicings.

Length: 11:59 Difficulty: 1.5 FREE
Lesson 41

Lead Approach

Matt Brown takes another look at his approach to soloing. He demonstrates ideas you can use in your own playing.

Length: 12:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 42

Lead Approach #2

Matt Brown adds practice to his lead approach by giving you another chord progression to solo over.

Length: 7:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 43

Lead Approach #3

Matt Brown has another chord progression and solo exercise to go over in this lesson on lead approach.

Length: 10:25 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 44

String Skipping Revisited

Matt Brown takes another look at string skipping. He breaks down some key areas of Matteo Carcassi's Allegro as an exercise.

Length: 16:29 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only

About Matt Brown View Full Biography Matt Brown began playing the guitar at the age of 11. "It was a rule in my family to learn and play an instrument for at least two years. I had been introduced to a lot of great music at the time by friends and their older siblings. I was really into bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins, so the decision to pick up the guitar came pretty easily."

Matt's musical training has always followed a very structured path. He began studying the guitar with Dayton, Ohio guitar great Danny Voris. I began learning scales, chords, and basic songs like any other guitarist. After breaking his left wrist after playing for only a year, Matt began to study music theory in great detail. I wanted to keep going with my lessons, but I obviously couldn't play at all. Danny basically gave me the equivalent of a freshman year music theory course in the span of two months. These months proved to have a huge impact on Brown's approach to the instrument.

Brown continued his music education at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He completed a degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 2002. While at Capital, he also studied jazz guitar and recording techniques in great detail. "I've never had any desire to perform jazz music. Its lack of relevance to modern culture has always turned me off. However, nothing will improve your chops more than studying this music."

Matt Brown currently resides in Dayton, Ohio. He teaches lessons locally as well as at Capital University's Community Music School. Matt's recent projects include writing and recording with his new, as of yet nameless band as well as the formation of a cover band called The Dirty Cunnies.

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