Minor scales

(Photo credit: Ethan Hein)

If you learn scales as separate entire entities, then every kind of scale in every key is one more thing you have to learn. If you learn scales by their constituent parts, there are fewer things to learn and they are shorter and you can learn them faster, the same as it’s more effective to learn single words in a foreign language and then string them together to make meaning rather than memorize sentences by rote.

Our next tech project is the natural minor scale. This should go relatively quickly because (assuming you have worked your way through our previous tech projects) you already can whiz through the 1) minor Power Scales in all keys and 2) Phrygian Power Scale. The natural minor scale is simply the latter stacked on top of the former.

The great thing about minor scales is that they all use the same minor power scale (1 2 b3 4 5) – they just have different “tops.” To wit:


Natural Minor: Phrygian PS

Harmonic Minor: Klezmer PS (we’ll get to this: 1 b2 3 4 5)

Melodic Minor: ascending: major PS; descending: Phrygian PS

Dorian: Minor PS (yes: it’s two minor Power Scales, stacked)

Since minor power scales are so useful and important, make sure you are very fluent/fluid in them. Money in the bank. Time well spent.

Practice the two power scale halves of each natural minor scale separately first – and as always, don’t write them out – do them from memory. Then go beyond memory and pour on the quantity until they deep and indelibly part of your very DNA.

This all takes a while, but it takes just as long to work on them as not to work on them. And the result will be a strong, flexible, and confident technique that will always be with you, as much as your own name and native language.