MUSIC STUDENT 1 0 1
EpISODE 08 MINOR SCALES AND 
KEY SIGNATURES

HOSTS- Jeremy Burns, Matthew Scott Phillips

 

TYPE- Theory 101

 

DURATION- 36:36

 

BUMPER MUSIC- "Minor Differences" (Area 47 Music)

 

ANNOUNCER- Mike Cunliffe

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DESCRIPTION

This episode is all about the minor scale. We will discuss minor key signatures and how to identify them by using the order of sharps or flats and a few other tricks we picked up along the way. We will discuss the circle of fifths, as it applies to the minor keys.  Finally, we will discuss the three main types of minor scales: natural, harmonic, and melodic.

KEY WORDS SCALE- A pattern of notes, arranged in whole steps and half steps, that span an octave. KEY- A representation of particular scale or group of notes that a piece, or section, of music is based on. KEY SIGNATURE- A set of sharps ( # ) or flats ( b ) at the beginning of the staff that indicates what key a piece of music is in. SHARP ( # )- A natural note is SHARPED when it is raised, in pitch, by a half step. A natural note can also be DOUBLE SHARPED (notated as " x ") when it is raised, in pitch, a whole step but the letter remains the same. FLAT ( b )- A natural note is FLATTED when it is lowered, in pitch, a half step. A natural note can also be DOUBLE FLATTED (notated as " ∫") when it is lowered a whole step, in pitch, but the letter remains the same. TRANSPOSE- To change a key, a chord progression or a scale to one that begins with a different tonic while preserving all of the patterns within the original key, chord progression or scale. PHRASE- A group of notes that convey a musical idea when standing alone. A proper phrase should provide tension and release, imply harmonic direction and come to a point of repose. This gives it a sense of completeness. CADENCE- This is the moment of repose, or resolution, that occurs at the end of a phrase. There are many different types of cadences that vary based on the levels of strength or weakness that occur in their resolutions. EXAMPLES

THE MAJOR SCALE

C MAJOR SCALE PATTERN (keyboard)

C MAJOR SCALE PATTERN (notation)

THE MINOR SCALE

A MINOR SCALE PATTERN (keyboard)

Just like C major, A minor consists of all the white keys on the piano (no sharps or flats). Just like C major (for the major key signatures), A minor will be considered our staring point (0) in the order of sharps and flats.

A MINOR SCALE PATTERN (notation)

Notice there are no sharps or flats in the key signature of the A minor scale (shown below).

IDENTIFYING MINOR KEY SIGNATURES

CIRCLE OF FIFTHS FOR MINOR KEYS

You may recognize this graphic from Ep. 05-Major Scales and Key Signatures. This time, we are going to focus on the inner set of keys, starting with "a" (lower case letters).

THE ORDER OF SHARPS

(on the right side of the circle)

-The A minor key signature, "a" on the circle, has no sharps or flats.

-Go up a 5th from that point. So, count up from A:

(1) A  (2) B  (3) C  (4) D  (5) E

-We landed on the E note.

-Count up the E major scale to the 2nd note:

                   (1) E  (2) F

-Sharpen that note (F becomes F#).

-So the E minor key signature has one sharp (F#).

-Each time you go up a 5th, from your new note, you add one sharp to the 2nd scale note from that new note.

-This will reveal the next note to sharpen, in the order of sharps, and add one more sharp to the new key signature.

HERE'S A BEAUTIFUL THING!

The order of sharps AND the order of flats is the SAME for minor keys as it is for major keys:

 Order of Sharps:   F     C     G     D     A     E     B

 Order of Flats:       B     E     A     D     G     C     F

THE ORDER OF FLATS (on the left side of the circle) -The A minor key signature has no sharps or flats. -Go up a 4th from that point. So, count up from A: (1) A (2) B (3) C (4) D -We landed on the D note. -Count up the D minor scale to the 6th note: (1) D (2) E (3) F (4) G (5) A (6) B -Flatten the note you land on (B becomes Bb) -So the D major key signature has one flat (Bb). -Each time you go up a 4th, from your new note, you add one flat to the 6th scale note from that point. -This will reveal the next note to flatten, in the order of flats, and add one more flat to the new key signature.

RELATIVE RELATIONSHIPS

Notice the 2 key signatures below are the same. There are no sharps or flats.

C MAJOR                    A MINOR

These two keys have a RELATIVE relationship.

So A MINOR is the relative minor key to

C MAJOR

HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MAJOR KEY AND IT'S RELATIVE MINOR

The two key signatures below, G MAJOR and

E MINOR, both have 1 sharp.

G MAJOR                   E MINOR

If the composer names this piece, based on it's key ("Prelude in G" or "Rhapsody in E minor", for example), then problem solved!

If not, you can usually find your answer by examining the first few measures.

Check out the melody below:

1. Find out if a majority of the notes in the first

    few measures are mainly based on the:

       G MAJOR TRIAD (GBD) or the,

       E MINOR TRIAD (EGB)

 

2. Check the DOWNBEAT (beats 1 and 3, in 4/4

    meter). Do the notes that fall on the

    downbeats mainly come from the G MAJOR

    TRIAD or the E MINOR TRIAD?

 

3. Check the CADENCE, the end of the

    PHRASE. What chord progression is implied

    by the melody and it's harmonies?

1. The notes are primarily those of the

     G MAJOR TRIAD (GBD), with the exception

     of the "A" note on BEAT 2 of the 1st

     measure.

 

2. That "A" note is on a weak beat. You will see

     that beats 1 and 3, the stronger beats, are

     occupied by the notes of the G MAJOR

     TRIAD in both measures. The first note in

     measure 1 is a "G". The last note in measure

     2 is a "G".

 

3. At the end of measure 2, otherwise known as

    the CADENCE of the phrase, the "D" note

    resolves to a "G". This implies a V to I

    resolution in the key of G MAJOR.

All of these factors, based merely on examining the music, are leading us to conclude that we are in the key of G MAJOR for the above melody.

HOW TO FIND THE RELATIVE MINOR OF A MAJOR SCALE OR KEY

BY COUNTING DOWN

Count down a MINOR 3rd from the tonic of the MAJOR key at hand. The note you land on will be the tonic of it's RELATIVE MINOR key.

For example, to find the RELATIVE MINOR of

F MAJOR:

 

   -Start on the tonic, or scale degree #1 ("F").

 

   -Count down a MINOR 3rd, or 3 half steps,

     from that "F" note and you will land on "D".

 

   -This note, "D", will be the tonic of the RELATIVE

     MINOR of the major key at hand, F MAJOR.

 

We now know that D MINOR is the

RELATIVE MINOR of the key, F MAJOR.

BY COUNTING UP

Count up a MAJOR 6th from the tonic of the major key at hand. The note you land on will be the tonic of it's RELATIVE MINOR key.

For example, to find the RELATIVE MINOR of

F MAJOR:

 

   -Start on the tonic, or scale degree #1 ("F").

 

   -Count up a MAJOR 6th, or 9 half steps,

     from that "F" note and you will land on "D".

 

   -This note, "D", will be the tonic of the RELATIVE

    MINOR of the major key at hand, F MAJOR.

 

We now know that D MINOR is the

RELATIVE MINOR key of F MAJOR.

Counting UP is a bit more risky than counting DOWN, while trying to find the RELATIVE MINOR of a MAJOR KEY. This is because it involves a greater distance that we must calculate.

HOW TO FIND THE RELATIVE MAJOR OF A MINOR SCALE OR KEY

BY COUNTING UP

Count up a MINOR 3rd from the tonic of the MINOR key at hand. The note you land on will be the tonic of it's RELATIVE MAJOR key.

For example, to find the RELATIVE MAJOR of C MINOR: -Start on the tonic, or scale degree #1 ("C"). -Count up a MINOR 3rd, or 3 half steps, from that "C" note and you will land on "E b". -This note, "E b", will be the tonic of the RELATIVE MAJOR key of the minor key at hand, C MINOR. We now know that E b MAJOR is the RELATIVE MAJOR key of C MINOR.

BY COUNTING DOWN

Count down a MAJOR 6th from the tonic of the major key at hand. The note you land on will be the tonic of it's RELATIVE MINOR.

For example, to find the RELATIVE MAJOR of C MINOR: -Start on the tonic, or scale degree #1 ("C"). -Count down a MAJOR 6th, or 9 half steps, from that "C" note and you will land on "E b". -This note, "E b", will be the tonic of the RELATIVE MAJOR key of the minor key at hand, C MINOR. We now know that E b MAJOR is the RELATIVE MAJOR key of C MINOR.

In the case of finding relative majors, counting DOWN is a bit more risky than counting UP because it involves a greater distance to calculate.

IDENTIFYING MINOR KEY SIGNATURES

OBSERVING THE KEY SIGNATURE

(The figuring used in the following methods is strictly intended for identifying MINOR key signatures)

MAJOR KEY ASSOCIATION

 

-Observe the key signature. This one has 3 sharps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-A MAJOR has 3 sharps.

 

-Start at "A" and count down 3 steps (minor 3rd).

 

-We land on F#, the root of the RELATIVE MINOR.

 

-We now know we are in F# MINOR

LAST FLAT METHOD -Observe the key signature. This one has 3 flats. -The last flat, from left to right, is "A b". -Start at "A b" and count up a MAJOR 3rd, 4 half steps. -We land on "C", the root of the RELATIVE MINOR. -We now know we are in C MINOR.

LAST SHARP METHOD

 

-Observe the key signature. This one has 1 sharp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-The last sharp, from left to right, is "F#".

 

-Start at "F#" and count down a MAJOR 2rd, 2 half

 steps.

 

-We land on "E", the root of the MINOR scale in

  question.

 

-We now know we are in E MINOR.

PARALLEL RELATIONSHIPS

When two keys have the same tonic but one is MAJOR and the other is MINOR, they are said to have a PARALLEL relationship.  For example, below, we have the A MAJOR and the A MINOR key signatures. These keys have a PARALLEL relationship with each other.

A MAJOR                    A MINOR

3 TYPES OF MINOR SCALES

NATURAL MINOR

The major scale with scale steps 3, 6 and 7 flatted, ascending and descending.

HARMONIC MINOR

The major scale with scale steps 3 and 6 flatted and 7 natural, ascending and descending.

MELODIC MINOR

The major scale with scale step 3 flatted and 6 and 7 natural while ascending. Scale steps 3, 6 and 7 are flatted while descending

THINGS TO REMEMBER

- Keys that are said to have a RELATIVE relationship share the same KEY SIGNATURE, though one may be major and one minor.

 

-Keys that are said to have a PARALLEL relationship share the same TONIC, though one may be major and one minor.

 

-The order of sharps (F-C-G-D-A-E-B) and the order of flats (B-E-A-D-G-C-F) remain the same for both major keys and minor keys.

 

-When trying to find a RELATIVE MAJOR of a minor key, count UP 3 half steps and change the letter names of the scale degrees twice.

 

-When trying to find a RELATIVE MINOR of a major key, count DOWN 3 half steps and change the letter names of the scale degrees twice.

 

-There are 3 main types of minor scales: natural, harmonic and melodic.

 

-The melodic minor scale is unique from the others because it is different when descending compared to ascending.

EPISODE MUSIC

 

 "MINOR DIFFERENCES"

 (Area 47 Music)

 Jeremy Burns- bass, guitar

 Miguel Martinez- drums

 

MUSIC STUDENT 101

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