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Music Theory Scales and
E Minor Scale

Music Theory Scales and E Minor Scale is part 29 in a 31 part series on musical notation and basic music theory. E minor is the relative minor scale to the G major scale.

Again, the relative minor scale in any key is taking the major scale and starting on the 6th scale degree or "la" and going up a full octave.
In this case it is E to E. To review the minor scale pattern of WHWWHWW, see A minor scale.

This scale is also called the Natural Minor Scale. Often when someone says a particular song is in some kind of minor key they are referring to this natural minor scale. In addition, it is called the Aeolian scale.


Again, see A minor scale for a full review on the scale modes.

The piano below shows the E natural minor (or aeolian) scale. Notice that just like the key of G major, the only different note from the key of C (or A minor) is the F#. The pattern WHWWHWW forces F# into the scale.

The notes below on the treble staff are E F# G A B C D. I have included guitar tablature as well if you're more comfortable with that.

Music Theory Scales

In Solfege this scale is: Do Re Me Fa Sol Le Te (Do)

Since G major and E natural minor share the same notes, this is why E minor guitar solos fit nicely in the key of G. As a matter of fact, many soloists will solo using the relative minor (or natural minor) scale of the major key the song is in.

Two other music theory scales need to be mentioned. The first is the harmonic minor scale. This scale has an Eastern European or Egyptian sound to it. Below is an E harmonic minor scale. The notes are E F# G A B C D#.

The notes are the same as E natural minor except for the 7th degree which has been raised by a half step (semitone). The reason this scale was created was so that there could be a major V (five chord) in minor so that it could resolve to the I (one chord).

In natural minor the V chord is minor and when this chord goes to the I chord it doesn't have the resolution that a major V chord has when it resolves to the I chord.

Remember, major chords have major 3rds and minor chords have minor 3rds. In this case the 5th note of an E scale is B. Since the chord built on B is a minor scale, the notes would be B, D, F (1, 3, 5). By raising the 7th degree D to a D#, we turn this into a major chord. I will explain more about chords in part 30 The Circle of Fifths.

The Melodic Minor Scale was also created for the same reason as above however, composers didn't like that Egyptian or Eastern European sound that is created between the 6th and 7th degrees of the harmonic minor scale. So, yet a another scale was created.

In the melodic minor scale you play a natural minor scale when you ascend or go up, but you raise the 6th and 7th degrees. It's like the Do Re Mi scale except you lower the the 3rd degree by one half step.

In solfege it would be: Do Re Me Fa Sol La Ti (Do)

When you descend or go down it's the same as the natural minor scale.

In solfege it would be: Do Te Le Sol Fa Me Re (Do)

Below we are seeing two octaves ascending and two octaves descending in E melodic minor.

For a complete list of all notes in all keys of all music theory scales, visit Musical Scales.

Ok, let's look at the Circle of Fifths and build some chords in G Major!

Continue to Part 30, Circle of Fifths and G Major Chords

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