The Minor SystemThe Minor Scale is the second most important scale (next to the major scale). It is formed from the 6th degree of the Major Scale. It is called the Natural Minor Scale and the Aeolian Mode. If you have read Lesson 14 then you know about this scale already. What you do not know is that it is the basis for two more scales. These scales are the Harmonic Minor Scale and the Melodic Minor Scale.
The Harmonic Minor Scale is the same as the Natural Minor Scale except that it has a raised 7th degree. The Melodic Minor Scale raises the 6th and 7th. Look at the chart below (It uses the A Minor Scales).
As you can see, the scales are slightly different. This means that the chords that work with these scales are also different. Let's take a look at what chords you can play from each degree of the scales.
The nice thing about the minor system is that you can use these chords like your regular progressions. For example, when you use the Natural Minor Scale you can play a I-IV-V progression with A minor, D minor, and E minor. You can also use the Harmonic Minor Scale and play a I-IV-V using A min/maj7, D min7, E7.
In Lesson 3 I had you memorize patterns for the scales and modes. If you know the Aeolian mode, then you know the Natural Minor Scale pattern. The best way to learn the Harmonic Minor Scale, and the Melodic Minor Scale is to know the Aeolian mode, and then raise the notes that change every time you come across them. This is much easier that memorizing a new pattern. You will remember it even better if you write out the pattern yourself. If you still do not know the scale patterns, go to the lesson on modes. It will help you out.