Category: Lessons, Music Theory
Now that we are all experts at major scales, it’s time to throw a new scale into the mix. The minor scale is similar to the major scale, but different. (Yes, a very helpful description, I know.) The main difference between major and minor scales is that the interval from the tonic (first note) to the mediant (third note) is one semitone smaller in a minor scale. That is, the distance from the first note of the scale to the third note of the minor scale is one semitone smaller than that of the major scale.
This is where I will introduce major and minor intervals. If you need a refresher on intervals, see Lesson 28: Introduction to Intervals – type, size, and quality. The interval between the first degree and the third degree in a major scale is a MAJOR THIRD interval. The interval between the first degree and the third degree in a minor scale is a MINOR THIRD interval. The difference between a major third and a minor third is that the minor third is shifted down by a semitone. This means a natural note becomes a flat, a sharp becomes a natural, and a flat becomes a double flat.
Check out the first tetrachord in a major scale (top), and minor scale (bottom).
Some of the other intervals in the major scale can be modified to be minor as well. These are: 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th.
As a final note, there are 3 types of minor scales that we will learn in future lessons: NATURAL MINOR, HARMONIC MINOR, and MELODIC MINOR. In all 3 types of minor scales, the lower tetrachord is the same, only the upper tetrachord differs. (For more information about what a tetrachord is, click here.)