#1
This is just a simple question, I was just wondering about why is is called the "D" minor natural scale? I understand why it is called the "A" minor scale, because I guess the root, which is on the 5th fret of the  E which in fact, is A. I just don't understand why it is the D minor scale since the first D in the scale is 10 on the E or 5 on the A. 
I may even be wrong about the A scale, as I literally know nothing about music theory. So if someone could explain this for me, it would be greatly appreciated. It has nothing to do with me being able to play it, it is just for my confirmation. 

-Thanks!
#2
Most of theory is just using the right words for what you already know.
Not everyone uses the right words in casual talk, so it can be confusing.

Here is some mini-theory to get you started...

chords have roots
chords have chord tones
chords have intervals, inversions, extensions, alterations

scales have tonics
scales have scale degrees
scales have intervals, modes, parallel and relative majors and minors

songs have keys
songs have progressions
songs have intros, verses, choruses, bridges, interludes, turnarounds, endings

You will be well ahead in theory foundation if you can understand the bold parts above. Just knowing about roots, chord tones, tonics, scale degrees, keys, and progressions makes a fine foundation for just about any further theory concepts you are likely to ever encounter.


The tonic of the A natural minor scale is A (6th string 5th fret, open 5th string, all the other A notes on the guitar)
The A natural minor scale notes are A B C D E F G
The scale degrees are 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 and map to the notes of the scale in that order (so D is scale degree 4 of the A natural minor scale)
A is the tonic and the first scale degree 1

The A minor chord "Am" is A C E
A C E are the Am chord tones
The root of Am is A

D natural minor scale:
It's tonic is.... D
The D natural minor scale notes are D E F G A Bb C
Those are also the scale degrees 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (so scale degree 3 of D minor is F)
D is the tonic and also first scale degree 1

The D minor chord "Dm" is D F A
D F A are the Dm chord tones
The root of Dm is D
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Last edited by PlusPaul at Jun 6, 2017,
#4
Thread was moved to forum: Musician Talk
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#5
Quote by King__chubby
This is just a simple question, I was just wondering about why is is called the "D" minor natural scale? I understand why it is called the "A" minor scale, because I guess the root, which is on the 5th fret of the  E which in fact, is A. I just don't understand why it is the D minor scale since the first D in the scale is 10 on the E or 5 on the A. 
I may even be wrong about the A scale, as I literally know nothing about music theory. So if someone could explain this for me, it would be greatly appreciated. It has nothing to do with me being able to play it, it is just for my confirmation. 

-Thanks!
A scale is named according to two (main) things:
1. the "tonic" or keynote ("root" is not really the right word, as PlusPaul explains, although a lot of people call it that).. That's the first and lowest note of the scale when we spell it or write it out - but may not be the firs or lowest note in a piece of music, or in a scale pattern on the fretboard.

2. the nature of the 3rd interval. That means the 3rd note up from the tonic, if he tonic is "1st". For a "D" scale, that note could be F or F#. F is lower, and is called a "minor 3rd" for that reason. (F# is the bigger or "major 3rd" from D).

So a "D minor scale" means one where D is the keynote, and F is the 3rd note up. There are a few different minor scales (and minor modes), and they all have different formulas for the other notes in the scale. The D "natural minor" scale is D E F G A Bb C D.

Those notes occur all over the guitar fretboard, so the D minor scale can be played anywhere. You don't have to have D as the lowest note.

The important thing is to realise that a "scale" (like a "chord" or even a "note") is a sound, a theoretical entity - separate from any musical instrument. It can be sung, or played on an instrument. A pianist can play a D minor scale in various places on the keyboard, just as you can on the fretboard. You just need to know where those 7 notes are.
Last edited by jonriley64 at Jun 7, 2017,
#6
Play this on the 6th string (bass string) ... 5th fret, then 8th fret (i.e. 3 frets higher).  Then try 5th fret, change on same fret to 5th string, and then go back 2 frets (so you're at the 3rd fret on the 5th string),  Eiither way, you're producing the same two pitches.

Instead of starting at the 5th fret, repeat the above, for example  at the 10th fret.  So, you get fret 10 and 13  (10+3), or using both strings, fret 10 and fret 8 on 5th string (10 -2).

The pitches involved have changed, but the "distance" between the 2 pitches involved hasn't, as a result, a particular sound flavourt is heard.

On guitar, adjacent frets on the same string produce pitches that are a semitone apart.  So, 3 frets apart produce 2 pitches that are 3 semitones apart.

Above, the pairs of pitches played were all 3 semitones apart. (the guitar tuning allowed the exact same pitch to be produced on the adjacent string)

The "musical term" for a sound made by two pitches 3 semitones apart is a "minor 3rd".  In scale "formulae" you'll see it written as "b3".   When a sound is made up of two pitches (identical or not), this sound is called an "interval".  Intervals differ ONLY if the number of semitones between the 2 pitches differ.  When this happens, the sound very different, and the interval is named differently (given a different symbol).

For example, play these three intervals (which are all 3 semitones apart), playing each pitch in the interval at the same time (like a mini-"chord" (this is wrong term to use)) 

e: 0  1   2
b: 2  3   4
g: 
d:
a:
e:

The above have the same flavour, just higher or lower sounding.

Compare the next 2 intervals for sound.

e: 0  1   
b: 2  2 
g: 
d:
a:
e:

These are completely different sounding.  The second one is 4 semitones, not 3 ... since 0 has gone up one fret to 1, that must be an increase of 1 semitone from 3 to 4 semitones.

And again, this can be moved all over the place, producing the same interval 4 semitones apart ...  see the pattern is just being slid up the strings, but keeping the exact same shape, hence the same number of semitones between the 2 pitches.

e: 1  2   3
b: 2  3   4
g: 
d:
a:
e:

4 semitones is given a different name ... "major 3rd", and is written as "3" in scale formula.

A scale "formula" is telling you which intervals to form with the starting pitch for the scale.  Ignoring musical terms, and instead using semitone counts, I could give you the following formula to create a "minor pentatonic"  from wherever YOU choose the starting pitch (perhaps because it's easier to play or sing beginning at that pitch):    [0, 3,  5,  7,  10].   

If you choose ANY string, and choose the starting pitch to be the open string, and stay on that string, you will be playing frets 0 (open), 3, 5, 7, 10.  (Of course you could involve more strings and hence stay in roughly same region of guitar, but ignore that for now).

If you choose the starting pitch to be the 3rd fret, you will play frets 3 (start), 6 (start+3), 8 (start+5), 10 (start+7), 13  (start + 10)

Regardless where you start, that set of pitches formed at various intervals (semitones) from the start choice has a particular overall sound flavour.

If I wrote that formula using musical symbols for the intervals, instead of semitone counts, it'd be   [1, b3,  4,  5, b7].

So, you can see the "1" corresponds with 0 semitones (i.e your start note), "b3" with 3 semitones, "4" with 5 semitones (I know, I know ... but that's how it is), "5" with 7 semitones and finally "b7" with 10 semitones.

If I asked you to play G minor pentatonic, then you're job is to locate G  (any G) on the guitar, and then use the pattern   [0, 3,  5,  7,  10] to find all the pitches involved, as we've done above.   That is, the scale name is shorthand for the overall pattern.  We could repeat this pattern from another G, and so on.

Finally, "natural minor" is shorthand for the pattern [0, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10]  ... very similar to the minor pentatonic above, just with 2 additional pitches found at 2 and 8 semitones from the start choice.  
So, if you want to D natural minor, find ANY D on the guitar, and layout that pattern.

e.g. starting on the 5th fret of the 5th string, you get frets 5, 7, 8,10, 12, 13, 15.

If you started on the 10th fret on the E string, you get frets 10, 12, 13 etc.

Written out using interval symbols, the natural minor scale formula is (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7)  

Unfortunately, scales are often just presented as a collection of note names, making it a lot less obvious to what's really going on.  For example, I could ask you to play (D E F G A B C)

So, we have 3 ways of thinking about this:

1:  Note names:  (D E F G A Bb C)
2:  Start name, formula (using semitones):  D, (0, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10)  
3:  Start name, formula (using symbols) :    D,  (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7)

If the start note changes, for example to G, we have

1:  Note names:  (G A Bb C D Eb F)
2:  Start name, formula (using semitones): G, (0, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10)  
3:  Start name, formula (using symbols) :  G,  (1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7)

You tell me which makes it clearer.

(BTW ... using semitones is only a temporary step until you learn the number of semitones represented by each interval symbol, and the physical hand shape (s) for each interval.)

Finally, I've ignored the fact that the same pitch can be played at several different places on a guitar, so haven't tried to layout any of the above patterns across strings.  On piano, the above is trivial.  The semitone counts show how many piano keys (pretend they are all one and the same colour) to move from the start choice.

This stuff is way simpler than most people make out.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jun 9, 2017,
#7
here, have some syllogisms

scales built on a specific note are named after that note
the A minor scale is named after the note A
the A minor scale is built on the note A

the note name of a given fret can be found by counting up from the note of the open string on which the unnamed note is played
5 semitones above the E is the note A
the 5th fret of the E string is an A

scales built on a specific note are named after that note
the D minor scale is named after the note D
the D minor scale is built on the note D

the note name of a given fret can be found by counting up in semitones from the note of the open string on which the unnamed note is played
10 semitones above the E is the note D
the 10th fret of the E string is an D
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#8
also, these scales are firstly either major or minor; as the main descriptor, it should be closest to the noun

-> natural minor scale

OP, are you coming back to explain what you're on about?
#9
Quote by NeoMvsEu
also, these scales are firstly either major or minor; as the main descriptor, it should be closest to the noun

-> natural minor scale

OP, are you coming back to explain what you're on about?


As with many replies to "simple questions",,the OP states they know "very little or nothing about music theory"..and then most of the replies are  theory filled with some incorrect information..which then they may be corrected by another person giving a "theory lesson" in a different Key to correct that post ..and on it goes..so the OP has no idea what the answer is being most of the answers are over their head..so they dont reply.
play well

wolf
#10
It would help if he came back. I'd still like to know why he can understand the A minor scale is called that because it starts on A, but not understand why the D minor scale is called that because it starts on D... and if any of the answers cleared that up.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
#11
Quote by PlusPaul
It would help if he came back. I'd still like to know why he can understand the A minor scale is called that because it starts on A, but not understand why the D minor scale is called that because it starts on D... and if any of the answers cleared that up.

from the OP....."I may even be wrong about the A scale, as I literally know nothing about music theory"  and read my post
play well

wolf