​​​​The Natural Minor Scale

Last Updated August 16, 2019

The Natural Minor Scale

 Like the major scale, the natural minor scale consists of a set of notes separated by 7 intervals. The difference in the natural minor is that the 3rd, 6th, and 7th degrees are lowered by half a step each. The intervals for the Minor scale are as follows:

Whole – Half – Whole – Whole – Half – Whole – Whole

Let’s take a look at examples of both the major scale and natural minor scale in the key of G.

G major

G natural minor

As you can see, the 3rd, 6th and 7th has been lowered by half a step, and are highlighted in yellow. 

When the natural minor scale is played in the key of G, the 7 different notes are:

G – A – Bb – C – D – Eb – F

 Playing the G natural minor scale

The sound of the natural minor can be described at ‘sad’ or ‘dark’, and can be used to induce a feeling of sadness and melancholia in songs.

Have a go at playing the scale in the following fingering:

Sound clip – Slow

Sound clip – Fast

The scale has been arranged three notes per string, starting and ending on a ‘G’ note. You should be able to hear a big difference in mood even though we’ve only altered three different degrees.

Like with all the exercises, start slowly and play many repetitions until you can play it comfortably. Then gradually build up speed until you can play it fluidly with ease.

Popular scales in rock music are the E and A natural minor scales. Here are two examples, both using popular and common fingering positions.

This example is in E natural minor.

Sound clip – Slow

Sound clip – Fast

A common place to play the E natural minor scale is in the 7th fret position.

Here is another example this time in A natural minor.

Sound clip – Slow

Sound clip – Fast

Try these examples for yourself.

Also worth mentioning, natural minor scales are most commonly known simply as minor scales. We don’t need to keep saying natural.

As with the lesson on the major scales, it is also usefull to have a full neck diagram

<it’s called scales19 in the images folder>

This diagram shows us the E minor scale. Again the red dots show us that root note. In this case the E notes. The black dots show us the other notes in the scale and the black circles show us where a open string is also part of the scale.

Use this diagram to learn the minor scale in many other positions.

By changing the position of the root note we can also use the diagram to learn the scale in other keys.

Key points to remember!
  • The minor scale is made from a set formula of seven notes.
  • It has a darker, sadder sound than the major scale.
  • Like the major scale is it very common in western music, especially in classical, rock and metal music.