This is related to this lesson:


Not so much a question on the chord itself, and it feels like a stupid question, but regarding the chord progression in the example. It's in A minor and a i, iv, V progression:

Am, Dm, Dm, E, and Am

My question is, since it's in Am, which has no # or b notes, what is the G#/Ab doing in there?

Edit: Neapolitan. My bad.
Last edited by Calibos at Sep 6, 2010,
Good you noticed that. The E major is borrowed from the parallel major key (A major). Over this chord you may want to use accidentals in addition to your A minor scale (G# specifically) so it doesn't clash with the E major chord. This scale can be referred to as the harmonic minor scale.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Thanks for clarifying. Though I now have two more questions (excuse my ignorance).

1. Is there a reason why the 5th is borrowed? Is this coincidence or does it work particularly well for a reason? (need to learn about borrowed chords)

2. With the N chord being used, will it allow the Bb to be used within the entire progression, or will it only work over the bii, or should it be ignored and just stick with the A harmonic minor?

Thanks again.
1. The Minor Key contains the weaker Vm-Im cadence compared to the Major Key which has a strong V-I cadence. The reason the Major is stronger is due to the presence of a "leading-tone". The leading-tone is nothing more that the M7 interval moving to the Root, or in the Key of A the G# moving to the A.

The A Natural Minor scale contains a G, not a G#. So the leading-tone is a whoe step below the Root making the cadence weaker.

At some point the Minor Key was 'fixed harmonically' by making the V chord in a Minor Key a (major)V instead of a Vm. This created a stronger V-Im cadence.

So, when you are playing over the Im chord, say Am, just use the A Natural Minor scale. But when the V7 comes up, or E7, use the A Harmonic Minor scale as it will add the leading-tone into your lines for strong resolution back to the Root.

The V-Im is a very popular cadence, once you recognize it you'll see it used all over the place.