From a Major key, we can rename the vi tone/chord as the i tone/chord, and we have the Natural minor – the relative minor. This is true for any Major key. For this session, we are using C/Am. For Natural minor, once we ‘rename’ [renumber] the A tone as 1, B becomes 2, C becomes 3, etc. This is the derivative side of the street.
We can also arrive at all of these scales by paralleling. We can modify the Major scale to produce any type of scale, regardless of where it might exist [i.e. in a Major key].
A Natural minor Scale in P1
These are the same tones as the C scale, focusing on the tone A as the tonic/base tone. We can view this as a 54 pattern [C, starting from A], or 51 with modifications [A Major with a ♭3, ♭6, & ♭7.].
First, we play the scale [alpha-order], then jam with it for at least 1 minute. Next, we play triads…
A Natural minor Chord Scale in P1
And now the triads from this tonal content. We play the chord scale.
You can use a Bm7b5 for the ii chord to make fingerings easier and more useful.
For Roman numerals, we are staying with the derivative symbol [what we found in the Major, just new numbers now]. If we were to use the parallel track [comparing to Major], the III, VI, & VII are flat-Majors. The scale has a b3, b6, & b7 [comparing to its Major], and these names could be applied to these chords as well → bIII, bVI, bVII.
Remember: Natural minor is the same tone set and key signature as its relative Major. For Am, its relative Major is the key of C Major. The difference is that, rather than C being the I chord, Am is the i (minor one chord). Am is the vi in C, and is the relative minor of C Major (relative, natural, and pure – can refer to the same the same thing).
Can’t Completely Hold Its Own
As a tonality, where the ear wants Am as the absolute final chord, Natural minor doesn’t completely seal this deal. It has a distinct quality to it [“Renaissance-y”], but not a strong final-final in the modern sense.
When we play all of these chords for a minute or two, C Major will be the tone/chord which sounds most complete as a resolution.
One solution is to modify one of the tones in the scale. If we were to “raise the 7th tone” to G♯ [derivative talk], we would have a leading tone [half step down from root] + it would make the five chord → Major. The G♯ is the 3rd of E. This creates E and E7 in this scenario, rather than Em and Em7. When we make this change [“raising the 7” from Natural minor], we have Harmonic minor.