Minor System

The Minor Scale is the second most important scale (next to the major scale). It is formed from the 6th degree of the Major Scale. It is called the Natural Minor Scale and the Aeolian Mode. If you have read Lesson 14 then you know about this scale already. What you do not know is that it is the basis for two more scales. These scales are the Harmonic Minor Scale and the Melodic Minor Scale.
The Harmonic Minor Scale is the same as the Natural Minor Scale except that it has a raised 7th degree. The Melodic Minor Scale raises the 6th and 7th. Look at the chart below (It uses the A Minor Scales).

Scale Degrees

Natural Minor Scale A B C D E F G
Harmonic Minor Scale A B C D E F G#
Melodic Minor Scale A B C D E F# G#
As you can see, the scales are slightly different. This means that the chords that work with these scales are also different. Let's take a look at what chords you can play from each degree of the scales.


Natural Minor Scale A min B dim C maj D min E min F maj G maj
Harmonic Minor Scale A min B dim C aug D min E maj F maj G# dim
Melodic Minor Scale A min B min C aug D maj E maj F# dim G# dim

As you can see, many of the chords change, but there are more that you can use. the chart below shows 7th chords. When looking at the chart below you will see some min/maj7 chords. These chords are 7th chords with a lowered 3rd, which tells you that it is a minor chord, and a regular 7th as opposed to a flat 7th which you use in dominant and minor 7th chords.


maj Major
min Minor
dim Diminished
aug Augmented

7th Chords

Natural Minor Scale A min7 B min7b5 C maj7 D min7 E min7 F maj7 G7
Harmonic Minor Scale A min/maj7 B min7b5 C maj7#5 D min7 E7 F maj7 G# dim7
Melodic Minor Scale A min/maj7 B min7 C maj7#5 D7 E7 F# min7b5 G# min7b5
The nice thing about the minor system is that you can use these chords like your regular progressions. For example, when you use the Natural Minor Scale you can play a I-IV-V progression with A minor, D minor, and E minor. You can also use the Harmonic Minor Scale and play a I-IV-V using A min/maj7, D min7, E7.
In Lesson 3 I had you memorize patterns for the scales and modes. If you know the Aeolian mode, then you know the Natural Minor Scale pattern. The best way to learn the Harmonic Minor Scale, and the Melodic Minor Scale is to know the Aeolian mode, and then raise the notes that change every time you come across them. This is much easier that memorizing a new pattern. You will remember it even better if you write out the pattern yourself. If you still do not know the scale patterns, go to Lesson 3 on modes. It will help you out.