Tag Archives: A Aeolian

Musician’s Corner Part VI

I know it has been a few days since the last post. Sometimes life gets busy, but I haven’t forgotten about you. Let’s just say that I was giving you time to absorb everything up to this point.
Today’s scale is A Aeolian. This is a very important scale because this is the scale that opens up our parallel universe of minor keys. The Aeolian scale is known as the relative minor or the parent key. But before we open that can of worms let’s take a look at what it is and where it comes from.

A Aeolian Scale:

Derivation from C major:

Now, a look at the three relationships.

Relationship # 1

The formula for Aeolian:

Relationship #2, scale degree and interval from the root:

The chart showing the derivation of intervals between each scale degree:

Relationship #3, relation to root of the key:

The third of a scale determines the basic major or minor sound, but the other degrees also have an influence over that sound. We have seen flatted thirds before in the Dorian and Phrygian scales, but in those cases there was one chord tone that pulled the ear away from feeling it completely as minor. In Dorian, the major 6th gives a hint of a major feeling. In the case of Phrygian the presence of the flat 2nd pulls the ear in another direction entirely. Even though it has the same 3rd, 6th and 7th as Aeolian, that flat 2nd is enough to change the feeling of the scale.
Aeolian has the requisite 3rd, 6th, and 7th degrees plus the major 2nd degree that yields the natural minor sound our ears are accustomed to hearing. In fact Aeolian is also known as the Natural Minor or Pure Minor scale. When it comes time to take a look at how chords structures are created in minor keys the Aeolian scale is going to be our new parent scale. This is the point where your ability to view the scales as entities in and of themselves simultaneously with their relation to the parent key becomes crucial. Once we start analyzing minor chords we will relate them to their parent minor key and their relative major key. Don’t worry, it will become clearer later on.
So you can see why minor concepts can be more confusing that major concepts. There is only one major scale. When someone tells you to play the major scale you know exactly which notes are intended. But when someone asks you to play a minor scale, there are several choices as well as different names that can get confusing. Just Aeolian can be referred to as Aeolian, relative minor, natural minor, or pure minor. On top of that, there are more types of minor scales that we will cover later.
The next post will cover Locrian mode and will wrap up our discussion of the basic modes. After that we will derive the naturally occurring chords in a major key. Once we have accomplished this we will come back to this Aeolian scale and derive the naturally occurring chords in a minor key. So if you only really grasp one mode that you make it this one!

Read the Chapter VII