|Touch Of Spain uses the A minor melodic scale and the chords that go with it.
It. Like the major scale it uses three chords based on the first, fourth and fifth
degrees of the scale but the one and four chords are minor instead of major.
They are the Im, IVm, V7 chords. This music is a guitar practice piece. It gives
you a Spanish Flamenco sound and once you learn how it works, you can
amaze your audience as you improvise in this style. This is the type of music
that you would want to play on a classical or flameco style guitar but you can
play it on any type of guitar. Scroll down to read the discussions of the A minor
scale forms and chords. Click on the player below, if you wish to hear it again.
Click on the link below for guitar music and tab for "Touch Of Spain"
Scales And Modes
So far we have worked with some of the major scales. The other main type of scale that
we use is the minor scale. Every major scale has a related minor scale. It is based on the
sixth degree of a major scale. The major and minor scales are the only ones that are
officially called keys. There are other scales and modes that we need to look at to play
different types of music. The major and minor pentatonic scales and blues scales are
widely used in blues, rhythm and blues and rock and roll. We will study those in the next
lesson. A note series started on any degree or note of a major scale is called a mode.
The major and minor scales are modes as well as keys. None of the other modes have
the status of keys. All the modes have names. When we discuss jazz improvisation in a
future lesson we will talk about the modes. In this lesson we will deal with the just the
minor keys or scales. A minor key has three different scale forms, natural, harmonic and
melodic. We will look at each in this lesson.
The Natural Minor Scale
The first minor scale type is called the natural minor scale. It uses the same notes as it's
related major. Let's look at three keys. We know the relative minor for a major key is
based on it's sixth note.
For the key of C major the sixth note is a, so it's relative minor is A minor, Notes for A
minor natural are the same as C major. They are a, b, c, d, e, f, g, a.
For the key of G major the sixth note is e, so it's relative minor is E minor. Notes for E
minor natural are the same as G major. They are e, f sharp, g, a, b, c, d, e.
For the key of F major the sixth note is d, so it's relative minor is D minor. Notes for D
minor natural are the same as F major. They are d, e, f, g, a, b flat, c, d
In Free Music Lesson 5, "Musics Great Secret", we discussed right hand keyboard
fingering for major scales starting on natural notes. The good news is, you can use the
same fingering to play all three natural minor scales. All of the black key notes, using that
fingering are played by the longer fingers, not the thumb. Review the major scale
fingerings and than use them to play these minor scales. A minor is all natural and the f
sharp for E minor is played by your index finger. Even though you had to use a different
fingering for F major, to keep your thumb from playing B flat, you don't for it's relative
minor, D minor. With the same fingering as all our other scales, the middle or 3rd finger
plays b flat. Starting with your thumb on the key note, play these three minor scales up
and down the keyboard with your right hand. Just make sure you start and stop on the
note that is the key name.
I'm also going to give you a famous folk song in A minor Natural, "St. James Infirmary".
Many rock, blues and folk musicians have made it a part of their repertoire. I've put the
music and how to play it on keyboards on a separate page. To go there click on the title.
Since I'm using it to teach music principles, Ive only included one verse. It has eight. If
you contact me, tell me what level you are at in music, what you think of this site, how this
site has helped you, and what improvements you think it needs, I will send you all eight
The A Minor Harmonic Scale
The minor harmonic scale is used to form the chords and harmony for the minor scale.
The seventh scale note is sharped both ascending and descending. This sharped note
is not in the key signature. It is always indicated by an accidental. When we form the Im
and IVm, we could use the natural minor scale But if we formed a 7th chord on the 5th
degree of the natural minor scale we would have Vm7 not V7. The third needs to be a
half step higher to give us our V7 chord. When we build the V7 chord on the fifth degree
of the harmonic minor scale, the sharped seventh becomes the third of that chord, giving
us the correct notes. See more discussion of the V7 chord in the minor keys below. You
should play up and down the A minor and E minor harmonic scales to get a feel for them
but they are meant more for forming chords and harmony than playing melody.
Remember it's g sharp for A minor harmonic and d sharp for E minor harmonic.
Like a major key the minor key has the equivalent I, IV and V7 chords. The difference is
that where there are a very many major key songs that stay with the simple I, V7 and the
I, IV, V7 patterns most minor key songs don't. They usually have in addition, chords from
their related major key and other keys as well. The I and IV are Im and IVm because they
are minor. The minor chord is written as a capital letter followed by a small m. For the key
of A minor, the Im chord is Am and the IVm chord is Dm. For the key of E minor the Im
chord is Em and the IVm chord is Am. Starting on the root note and spelling out 1-3-5,
you come out with the correct notes if you form them in the minor scale. You also come
out with the correct notes if you form them in their related major. That is not the case for
the dominant 7th or V7, which we will discuss in the next two paragraphs. I have pictured
the minor chords for A minor and E minor on the keyboard pictures below.
The V7 In Minor Keys
The dominant 7th or V7 for a minor key is the same as the dominant 7th chord for the
major key of the same name. So for Am the dominant 7th is E7, the same as in the key of
A major. The key of A has three sharps but the only one that concerns us right now is
the g because it's the 3rd of our E7 chord. That is why the Am harmonic scale needs a g
sharp. But we don't put it in the key signature, we put it in as an accidental. For the key
of Em, the dominant 7th is B7, the same as in the key of E major. It gets one sharp, f
sharp from the key signature or it's relative major G but it's sharped 3rd, d sharp, comes
from the key of E. This is why the Em harmonic scale has a d sharp as an accidental. I
have pictured the A7, E7 and B7 chords in the right hand panel. They are all in root
position so that you can more easily see the spelling out of the chord. These are the
notes you get if you form them on the fifth degree of the either the major scale or
harmonic minor scale that they belong to.
The A Minor Melodic Scale
The 6th and 7th notes of a melodic minor scale are raised a half step from the natural
minor notes ascending but go back to natural minor notes descending. This is what we
hear in my original song "A Touch Of Spain". It consist of running up and down the A
minor melodic scale, in first position, with the Im, IVm and V7 chords of the A minor
chords thrown in on the 7th and 8th bars of the eight bar sections. You can listen to it
again by clicking on the player near the top of this page. The sixth note is f sharp and
the seventh note is g sharp as you go up the scale. Both the f and g are natural as you
go down the scale. The relative minor always has exactly the same key signature as
major key that it's related to. These sharped notes in the minor melodic are always are
always entered as accidentals. For E minor melodic the sixth note is c sharp and the 7th
note is d sharp ascending and back to natural descending. The f of course is always
sharped as it belongs to E minors relative major key of G. As all the black key notes are
played with your longer fingers, not your thumb or pinkie, you can continue to use the
same fingering for the right hand that we learned earlier. Try running up and down the
minor melodic scales of A minor and E minor. Notice how much more interesting it sounds
compared to running up and down a major scale.
In addition to the major to relative minor relationship, there is another major minor
relationship to consider. We see how the V7 chord is the same for the major and minor
scales of the same letter name. For example the V7 chord, E 7th, for key of A minor is
the same as for the key of A major. Ascending in the melodic minor scale, we close with
the same notes as the major scale of the same letter name. For example, The f sharp
and g sharp of the A minor melodic scale ascending are the same as the notes of the A
major scale. Composers have created compositions that go between major the minor of
the same letter name, such as A minor to A major. Blues makes extensive use of the
minor over the major, as we will see in the next lesson. This relationship is different
from the major to relative minor relationship. We need to study them both.
©2004 - 2005
Using The Lessons
People that come to these pages through search engines enter on different pages. I
would recommend that to get the full benefit of these music lessons, especially if you are
a beginner, you visit every page at least once. This is a totally new approach to learning
music. The focus is on "How Music Works". There is a lot of motivating discussion and
explanation of why you need to learn certain things, with the goal of getting you to
become a real musician as quickly as possible. There's a lot of good pieces here but you
need the whole picture for maximum success. Note: This page is being updated.
There may be some inconsistencies with the rest of the site.