The Definitive Approach
In Chapter 2, in the explanation of intervals, the example of the C minor scale illustrated some minor intervals and also showed a contrast against C major. FIGURE 4.1 shows the C minor scale.
FIGURE 4.1 The C Minor Scale
By now, you should know that C major has no sharps or flats; that's what makes it such an easy key to work with. Now, if you look at FIGURE 4.1 again, you'll notice that it's different. Sure, it's a different scale, even though it has the same root, C. You learned about the differences in the intervals in this scale in Chapter 2, but now you need to learn the underpinnings of the intervals between the notes so you can understand a formula that enables you to spell any minor scale. Remember that theory is an attempt to find universal parts of music—that is, elements that apply over the entire range of music. Simply knowing that a C minor scale is spelled C–D–E allows you to recognize, spell, and work with only one key. However, if you look at the scale for its intervallic content, you can take that information and apply it anywhere. It's time to break the scale into pieces. FIGURE 4.2 shows the pattern of half and whole steps that are present in the C minor scale.
FIGURE 4.2 The Intervallic Pattern of the Minor Scale
Not surprisingly, there is a different interval pattern here than in the major scale. It is WHWWHWW. You can use that interval pattern as a construction blueprint and spell any scale you want. Now take a step-by-step look at how to create any minor scale.
First, start out with a root note, such as C, as seen in FIGURE 4.3.
FIGURE 4.3 Building a Minor Scale: Step One
Now place the rest of the notes on the staff. Don't be concerned with whether you have the correct intervals or even the right spellings. You just need to have one of each letter name, in order, up to the octave. So simply add a D–E–F–G–A–B to FIGURE 4.4.
FIGURE 4.4 Building a Minor Scale: Step Two
You have the raw notes in; next you need to add the intervals. The formula is WHWWHWW, so add the intervals between the notes of the scale, as seen in FIGURE 4.5.
FIGURE 4.5 Building a Minor Scale: Step Three
You're nearly done. All you have to do is engage the intervals and make sure your scale is spelled correctly. Here's the process:
You need a whole step from C. A whole step away would be D, which you already have.
You need a half step from D. A half step away would be E, so add a flat before the E.
You need a whole step from E. A whole step away would be F, which you already have.
You need a whole step from F. A whole step away is G, which you also already have.
You need a half step from G. A half step away is A, so add a flat before the A.
You need a whole step from A, so place a flat before B.
You need a whole step from B. A whole step away is C.
Now to see your full scale, look at FIGURE 4.6.
FIGURE 4.6 Building a Minor Scale: Step Four
That's it! You now have an ascending scale that uses every letter of the musical alphabet once. Your scale follows the pattern of WHWWHWW, which all minor scales follow.
Now it's your practice time. Start on each note and spell your minor scales. You can use the method just described or go your own way. Just remember that you have to use the WHWWHWW interval pattern, otherwise they won't be minor scales.