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The Natural Minor Scale: Notes and positions on the Guitar

In this article we are going to learn what the natural minor scale is, how it is built, its intervals, formula and patterns on the guitar.

In other words… everything you need to know about it!

natural minor scale guitar

Origin: The Relative Minor Scale of the Major Scale

I know it can be a little boring learning a new musical scale but I have good news for you, because you probably already know the natural minor scale.

Why?

Very simple, because the natural minor scale comes from the major scale. In fact, it’s its Aeolian mode.

Don’t you know what that is?

Don’t worry, I will explain it ti you it step by step.

You can start a musical scale on its first degree, which is usually the norm, but you can also start it in its second degree, third, fourth, fifth, sixth …etc. These ways of starting and changeing the focal point of the scale are called musical modes of the major scale (or Greek modes erroneously) and they have their own names.

If you you start at the first degree it is called Ionian, if you change the center to the second degree it is called Dorian, the third is called Phrygian… and if you start at the sixth degree it is called Aeolian.

🎵 What is a natural minor scale

The natural minor scale is the Aeolian mode of the major scale.

And not only that, because we can also say that the natural minor scale is the relative minor of the major scale.

The key to learn the natural minor scale is to understand this relative minor concept so let’s focus on it with an example.

We all know the C major scale, don’t we?

C – D – E – F – G – A – B

And now we are goging to apply the Aeolian mode.

That is to say, we are going to go to its sixth degree, which is A, and create our new scale starting right from there

A – B – C – D – E – F – G

This is our natural A minor scale.

natural minor scale solfege

If you notice, the only thing we have done is to position ourselves in its sixth degree (A) and continue listing the major scale degrees.

In other words, the natural minor scale and the major scale share the same notes.

major and minor scale

Natural minor scale intervals

Now that we know where this scale comes from let’s see what interval pattern has.

W H W W H W W

W: Whole step, half tone o tone.

H: Half step, half tone or semitone.

Therefore, if we take the 12 musical notes and apply this sequence of intervals from A we obtain its natural minor scale:

natural minor scale pattern
  • Between A and B there is a whole step distance.
  • Between B and C there is a half step.
  • Between C and D there is a whole step.
  • Between D and F there is a whole step.
  • Between E and F there is a half step.
  • Between F and G there is a whole step.
  • Between G and A there is a whole step.
  • Natural minor scale formula

    Let’s move on to the next step and see what the formula for constructing a natural minor scale is:

    1 – 2 – ♭3 – 4 – 5 – ♭6 – ♭7

    If we take the above table and expand it we would have the following:

    natural minor scale degrees

    However, it is important to say that of all scale degrees the one that makes this scale minor is its third (this scale has a minor third interval).

    The natural minor scale in all 12 keys

    Before we look at the major scale on the guitar, let me show you this musical scale in all 12 keys so you have them in a nutshell.

    Escala menor natural en las 12 tonalidades

    For the natural notes this would be:

    • C natural minor scale: C – D – E♭ – F – A – B♭ – C♭.
    • D natural minor scale: D – E – F – G – A – B♭ – C.
    • E natural minor scale: E – F# – G – A – B – C – D.
    • F natural minor scale: F – G – A♭ – B♭ – C – D♭ – E♭.
    • G natural minor scale: G – A – B♭ – C – D – E♭ – F.
    • A natural minor scale: A – B – C – D – E – F – G.
    • B natural minor scale: B – C# – D – E – F# – G – A.

    The natural minor scale on guitar

    And now, finally, let’s see the natural minor scale on the guitar.

    natural minor scale guitar

    The 7 natural minor scale shapes for guitar

    To learn to play the natural minor scale on the guitar, we divide the previous scheme into 7 shapes or positions that are easy to learn and that also serve as a fingering exercise or warm-up:

    the natural minor scale positions (aeolian) on guitar

    5 Natural Minor Scale Positions (CAGED)

    Below are the natural minor scale patterns on the guitar based on the CAGED system.

    5 positions of natural minor scale

    Natural minor scale tab

    Now you have all positions of this musical scale but you may wonder how to play the natural minor scale up and down the guitar

    Let’s look at the tab below:

    |-------------------------------------------10-11-13-11-10------------------------------------------|
    |----------------------------------9-11-13-----------------13-11-9----------------------------------|
    ||--------------------------8-10-12----------------------------------12-10-8-------------------------|
    ||------------------8-10-12--------------------------------------------------12-10-8-----------------|
    ||----------8-10-11------------------------------------------------------------------11-10-8---------|
    ||--8-10-11----------------------------------------------------------------------------------11-10-8-|
    a natural minor guitar scale

    In the chart above we can see the first pattern of the C natural minor scale. To practice it we only have to go to the 6th fret and start descending it.

    Practice this exercise as a warm-up for 5 to 10 minutes before playing.

    Here we finish with the post, now you know how many notes are in a major scale and how to play them on the guitar

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