Melodic Harmonic And Natural Minor Tetrachords

This lesson teaches the use of tetra chord to make different types of minor scales. It will teach you how to use the minor, minor, gypsy, and phrygian tetrachords to make verius scales and therefore expland your knowledge of scales.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
8
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.

Trending lessons

9 comments sorted by best / new / date

    mecca9v
    What makes a Melodic minor scale a melodic minor is the fact that when you're going down the scale, you play it as if its a natural minor. So you can leave the melodic as it is, but add the fact that when you're going down the scale, you have to play a natural descending minor
    hxc_triple_og
    (1342) |---|---|---|---| |---|---|---|---| |---|-2-|---|- --| |-1-|---|-3-|-4-| Yeah, I think you did this part wrong. Thats a whole, half, whole and a half; thats the only flaw I saw. Other than that good lesson. I went over it.
    jc_beta
    Nice lesson. Try this as Mecca9v says: |-1-|---|-2-|-3-| |---|-1-|---|-3-| |---|-1-|---|-3 -|-4-| Then at the final 3 (the root) whip it back down like: |-1-|---|-3-| |-1-|---|-3-|-4-| |-1-|---|-3-|-4-| That gives you the Melodic Minor Scale. Cheers!
    jc_beta
    Sorry, that top line should be: |-1-|---|-3-|-4-| Would be tough as a 2-3! Peace.
    Gitter_Wizard
    Thats a nice observation, but there is definitely a better way of describing the types of minor scales. Intresting, however.
    Rawshik
    Great lesson! Very informative, but yes this is correct it seems.
    hxc_triple_og wrote: (1342) |---|---|---|---| |---|---|---|---| |--- |-2-|---|- --| |-1-|---|-3-|-4-| Yeah, I think you did this part wrong. Thats a whole, half, whole and a half; thats the only flaw I saw. Other than that good lesson. I went over it.