Minor scales and modes positions for guitar

There is many minor scales and modes . Are you sure to make the difference between them ? 

This article will helps you to clear up your minor scales knowledge. Here is the main minor scales and modes to know.

The dorian mode

The dorian mode is the second of the seven musical modes. The other modes are (ionianphrygianlydianmixolydianaeolian and locrian).

The dorian mode is a minor type scale because of its minor third (b3). It is often the first choice to play over minor chords and one of the most important scales to know for a jazz guitar improviser. It is made up of seven notes including a minor third (b3) and minor seventh (b7).

The dorian mode has the same notes as the ionian mode starting on the second degree.

Dorian mode formula

 

(W = whole step ; H = half step)

You can play the dorian mode over the following chords :

min, min7, min6 , min9, min11.

Dorian mode guitar diagram

Dorian mode 2 guitar diagram pattern 2

The phrygian mode

The phrygian mode is the third mode of the major scale.

There is seven modes called ionian, dorian, phrygian, lydianmixolydian, aeolian and locrian.  

The phrygian mode is one of the three minor modes of the major scale. These modes are dorian, phrygian and aeolian (natural minor scale). 

The phrygian mode is a minor type scale because of its b3. It can be played over minor chords but it is rarely used because of its b2 scale tone. 

The phrygian mode has the same notes as the ionian mode. You just have to start on the third of the ionian mode to get the phrygian mode.

Phrygian mode formula

(W = whole step ; H = half step)

You can play the phrygian mode over the following chords :

min, min7, min7b9, 7sus4

Phrygian mode guitar diagrams patterns

Phrygian mode guitar diagrams patterns 2

The aeolian mode

The aeolian mode (also called "natural minor scale") is the sixth mode of the major scale, it is known as a relative minor to the major scale (ionian mode). The seven modes of the major scale are named ionian, dorianphrygian, lydianmixolydian, aeolian and locrian modes.


The aeolian mode has a minor third (b3), a minor seventh (b7) and a minor sixth (b6).

This is the third of the three minor modes of the major scale.

The three minor modes are dorian, phrygian and aeolian. Here is a comparison between these three minor modes :

Aeolian mode formula

(W = whole step ; H = half step)

You can play the aeolian mode over these chords :

min, min7, min9, min11, min7#5

Aeolian mode guitar diagram pattern 2

Aeolian mode guitar diagram pattern

The harmonic minor scale

The harmonic minor scale contains seven notes, these are the same as the minor natural scale (aeolian mode) except the seventh degree that is raised by one semitone. 

Here is the C harmonic minor scale formula

Harmonic minor scale

Theoretically the harmonic minor scale should be played over minMaj7 chords, but it can also be used over minor chords like m6, m7, m9, m11, m6/9.

Playing the harmonic melodic scale over a minor 7 chord creates a tension because of the major seventh present in it. To attenuate this tension you need to resolve you lick on a proper note.


 

Harmonic minor scale guitar positions

Harmonic minor scale guitar positions 2

The melodic minor scale

The melodic minor scale (also called "minor jazz") is a must-know for every jazz guitar players who wants to explore new sonorities to play over minor family chords.

Indeed the melodic minor scale is made up of a minor third (b3), a major sixth (6) and a major seventh (7). 

Melodic minor scale

The melodic minor scale should be played over minMaj7 chords, but it can also be used over minor chords like m6, m7, m9, m11, m6/9.

Playing the minor melodic scale over a minor 7 chord creates a tension because of the major seventh present in it. You need to resolve you lick on a proper note to attenuate this tension.

More scales and modes lessons by clicking here.

 

Melodic minor guitar position diagram 1

Melodic minor guitar position diagram 2

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