Melodic Harmonic And Natural Minor Tetrachords

author: GNR_Duff_rules date: 05/16/2007 category: bass lessons
rating: 9 / votes: 7 
I suggest you look at my lesson on Major Tetrachords before you read. I will allude to it and expect you to have. Also note that I use fingering blueprints, read them from left to right, bottom to top, as if each space was a any fret you want! There are actually three types of minor scales: natural, harmonic, and melodic. A tetrachord is half a octave scale and therefore four notes(though there are only three spaces between the four) To play each you must start with a minor tetrachord. A minor tetrachord follows the pattern:
Whole step, Half step, Whole step
This can be played in the forms (1234), (1342), and (3412). Each number standing for the finger you use 1 being your index finger and 4 being the pinky. They are shown below (this is a fingering blueprint, not tabs):
(1234)
|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|-2-|-3-|---|-4-|

(1342)
|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|
|---|-2-|---|---|
|-1-|---|-3-|-4-|

(3412)
|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|-2-|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|-4-|
Now comes the part that may make it hard. To make a minor scale you can any of the following tetrachords: Major, Gypsy, & Phrygian. We'll start with the major, a review for those who read Major Tetrachords. Major tetra chords follow the pattern:
Whole step, Whole step, Half step
There are three major tetrachord patterns: (1334), (2412), & (4134)
(2412)
|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|
|-1-|-2-|---|---|
|---|-2-|---|-4-|

(1334)
|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|-3-|---|-3-|-4-|

(4134)
|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|-3-|-4-|
|---|---|---|-4-|
Add this to the minor tetrachord to get a one-octave minor scale. Then there are the gypsy and Phrygian tetrachord. Don't ask where the names come from, because I don't know. The gypsy is weird but the Phrygian is easy:
Gypsy: Half step, Step and a Half, Half step
&
Phrygian: Haft step, Whole step, Whole step
The Gypsy has one easy fingering pattern while the Phrygian has two fingering patterns:
Gypsy:
(3412)
|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|
|-1-|-2-|---|
|---|-3-|-4-|

Phrygian:
(2341)
|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|---|---|
|-2-|-3-|---|-4-|

and
(3413)
|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|-3-|---|
|---|---|-3-|-4-|
Ok let's put those together to get a minor scale! Play a minor tetrachord skip a whole step them play a major, gypsy, or Phrygian and whalah you have a melodic, harmonic, or natural minor scale! Note I will use (3413) for Phrygian, (2412) for major scales and (3412) for minor!
Melodic
|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|-2-|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|-2-|---|-2-|---|-4-|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|-4-|---|---|---|

Harmonic
|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|-1-|-3-|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|-2-|---|-3-|-4-|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|-4-|---|---|---|

Natural
|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|-1-|---|-3-|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|-2-|---|-3-|-4-|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|-4-|---|---|---|
Now I know that maybe confusing so I will put the G natural, melodic, and harmonic minor scales into tabs!
Melodic
G|-------------------------------|
D|-------------4-5---------------|
A|-----1-3-5-7-------------------|
E|-3-5---------------------------|

Harmonic
G|-------------------------------|
D|-------------4-5---------------|
A|-----1-3-5-6-------------------|
E|-3-5---------------------------|

Natural
G|-------------------------------|
D|-------------3-5---------------|
A|-----1-3-5-6-------------------|
E|-3-5---------------------------|
As you can see in tabs there are only small differences between each type. They also all start and end on G. I hope those who read this will get something from it. It maybe confusing, but if you haven't read Major Tetrachords, you should. It will make this easier to understand.
More GNR_Duff_rules lessons:
+ Major Tetrachords Bass Lessons 09/05/2006
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