Natural Minor Scale: Theory & Ear Training

piano-ology-scales-c-natural-minor-featured

The Natural Minor Scale is widely used in modal music and also provides the key signature for tonal minor music.

Theory

Here, for example, are the notes in the C Natural Minor Scale identified by letter name, scale degree (numbers), and Solfege syllable…

piano-ology-scales-c-natural-minor-notation-letter-names-scale-degrees-solfege
piano-ology-scales-c-natural-minor-keyboard-layout-letter-names-solfege
  1. The scale structure of the Natural Minor Scale is always 1-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7-1, no matter what key you are in.
  2. The Solfege syllables of the Natural Minor Scale are always Do-Re-Me-Fa-So-Le-Te-Do, no matter what key you are in.
  3. The only thing that changes when you change keys are the letter names.

Comparative Scale Study

Compare the Natural Minor Scale to the Major Scale and notice that…

  • Mi becomes Me (both start with the letter M… Me = “Mi flat”).
  • La becomes Le (both start with the letter L… Le = “La flat”).
  • Ti becomes Te (both start with the letter T… Te = “Ti flat”).

Mi is the defining note that makes music sound major and Me is the defining note that makes music sound minor. Play and sing the “bottom three” notes of the Major scale (Do Re Mi) and Minor scale (Do Re Me) side by side. Be sure to sustain each note long enough for the “bright” sound/feeling of Mi and the “dark” sound/feeling of Me to really sink in. Notice how these notes dramatically define the sound, feeling, and character of their respective scales. Do the same comparative listening between LaLe and TiTe.

The name “natural” is purely an artifact of historical musical convention. The common practice is to use the notes in the “Natural Minor” to define the key signature in tonal music.

There us absolutely nothing “un-natural” about other minor scales.

The Natural Minor Scale in Action

insert audio examples

Solfege Ear Training

Reading and singing the Solfege syllables out loud is a very effective way to internalize the unique sound-feeling of each note in a musical scale. It is critically important that you play and sing these studies slowly enough to allow the sound-feelings to make an impression on your mind’s ear.

C Natural Minor Scale: Linear, Ascending…

piano-ology-scales-c-natural-minor-ear-training-linear-ascending

C Natural Minor Scale: Linear, Descending…

piano-ology-scales-c-natural-minor-ear-training-linear-descending

C Natural Minor Scale: Do-X-Do, Ascending…

piano-ology-scales-c-natural-minor-ear-training-do-x-do-ascending

C Natural Minor Scale: Do-X-Do, Descending…

piano-ology-scales-c-natural-minor-ear-training-do-x-do-descending

Many other patterns are possible as well, but at this point your time is better spent going right to the kinds of music that YOU want to play for your study-practice material.

learn more… Melodic Minor Scale: Theory & Ear Training