Overcoming E Minor Scale

The sole purpose of this article is to help you understand minor scale in general, and overcome the E minor scale, through the whole guitar neck.

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The sole purpose of this article is to help you understand minor scale in general, and overcome the E minor scale, through the whole guitar neck. We talk about natural minor scale, so the first step would be to determine which notes it holds. We can do that in 3 easy ways: 1)Use the formula W, H, W, W, H, W, W (or 1, , 1, 1, , 1, 1) to extract the right notes from chromatic scale, starting from the note E. 2)Compare it to major scale, so you get the formula 1, 2, 3b, 4, 5, 6b, 7b. Meaning, take E major scale and flat the 3rd, 6th and 7th interval by half step, to get E natural minor scale. 3)Take G major scale, and start it from 6th interval (E note). This works because E minor is a relative key to G major. Either way, you will get the following notes and intervals: 1st E 2nd Gb 3rd G 4th A 5th B 6th C 7th D Now that we've got the notes, we should try to put them on guitar. I will cover whole guitar neck with notes of E minor scale, but in steps, so you won't have much problem with learning them. Trying to learn all notes on the neck at once is ridiculous, anyway. Step 1 Notes on 1st string Note!! You should do these diagrams yourself, by hand, on some paper or something, and DON'T FORGET to put which notes belong to which fret, and try to learn which interval they present, also! To overcome those note positions, try to use exercises like this one: When doing these kind of exercises, speak or sing the notes you play, you will get them quickly this way. Also try skipping some notes in similar runs, try legato... The more you practice on these notes, the sooner you will remember them. Step 2 Notes on 6th string When you do exactly the same thing as before, you get this as result: Exercise same things for 6th string, as you did for 1st. Step 3 Em pentatonic f you take 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th interval of natural minor scale, you get minor pentatonic scale. Notes of Em pentatonic scale are E, G, A, B and D. Starting from E notes on 6th string, you get following diagrams: Practice those well. Both descending and ascending, in as much runs and combinations you can think of. They will become your basis for soloing later on. If we add those notes to the notes we have from before, you already have this: The notes rounded by yellow line are a connection between Em pentatonic and Em (on first string). You would be surprised with how much solo licks you can make only on these notes!! Step 4 Em pentatonic from E note on 5th string If you go from E notes on 5th string, you get Em pentatonics with the following pattern: Dedicate your time in overcoming this and last position of this scale. Without getting this you won't go through next step that easily. Anyway, if we put all those notes we know already together, it looks like this: Rounded in green are the notes that connect Em pentatonic from 6th string with Em pentatonic from 5th string. Connecting your past knowledge with your new one is extremely important in overcoming the scale through whole neck. Rounded notes form 5th pattern (notes of 5th mode) of Em pentatonic scale, meaning you take Em pentatonic scale, and start it from its 5th note (D note). Try improvising and connecting all 3 pentatonic patterns; 1st pattern from 5th string, 5th pattern from 6th string and 1st pattern from 6th string. Step 5 First 6 notes of Em scale through 3 notes per string patterns Before we go any further, you have to learn where all E notes on your fretboard are, and you must know them anytime, anyday, anywhere! Here they are (Yellow are more important than blue notes, because they are simply easier to remember, and hold more soloing options, which you will realize through practice): You will also need to know the pattern for the first 6 notes of Em scale through 3 notes per string: Green is the 7th, which we won't use right now, and blue is an octave, from which you can begin the pattern again, of course. Now, implement that pattern (while thinking in notes, of course) on all the yellow E notes. You will get this: I suggest you to stay at this one for a few days. Practice each pattern separately, and be sure to have memorized them all (in notes) before you continue. Now, don't go learning all over again through the blue notes. Just expand the pattern down to blue note, and start from it all over again. Also try practicing this through 3 octaves. This way you get: This seems like lots of notes! Take some time now to connect this with everything you've learned before. Remember, the notes you should know by now are looking like this: Step 6 Implementing 7ths and notes of 24th fret (if you have it) The only thing now left to do is to add notes on 24th fret and 7ths to your diagrams. Do it through practice, tough. Play those 3 string patterns, but now add 7th before you go to next octave. Also play pentatonic scales and add those missing 7ths to them. It is very good sounding thing when you're playing in minor key, to play sixth, bend it up to 7th and release bend, and then go to 4th to eventually end on 1st, 3rd or 5th. Practicing similar things will get 7th in your fingers, not only in your head. So now, you have learned E natural minor scale through whole guitar neck!! Official Josip Pesut site Visit the site and enjoy playing Josip's 'Licks of the month'! Subscribe to newsletter to get free guitar lessons!

26 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    nightraven
    mechanik wrote: This is why very, VERY few guitarists bother with music theory, it's useless and just gets in the way of actual music. Major and minor 2nd, huh? Both those scales have the same note as the 2nd so why even bother naming them that? Save the weird and confusing theory for classical musicians that want to impress OTHER classical musicians with their superior theory geekiness. Just learn the scales and use them to create music, that is all.
    how do you learn music without theory? you can only go so far by thrashing the strings of the guitar... you can't call music theory 'getting in the way of actual music', just because YOU don't understand it. it does the complete opposite - by learning theory you can expand what you compose - it's why theory has been taught for centuries and why music has been progressing all this time. how would the music world look if all the virtuosos around didn't know anything about music? and the example you tried to give is far from the 'weird and confusing' parts of theory - lmao.
    mechanik Do you really think that? F#/G flat sound the same regardless of how you "write" music...it's the SAME note! The only thing that matters is how you choose to remember the note as F# or G flat, and every GUITAR player I've ever known uses F#.
    if we decided to get rid of all the sharp notes ever we'd end up with scales like G A B C D E Gb G (you should know this - you know all about scales, remember?). you claim that you're afraid of being limited by theory but it just looks like you're not bothered to learn about it because you're awesome already. there's more to composing music than improvising solos on the guitar, and it's not just classical musicians that write scores (inb4 ewww scoressss - i liek tabzzz). and checked etc..
    diefordethklok
    mechanik wrote: This is why very, VERY few guitarists bother with music theory, it's useless and just gets in the way of actual music. Major and minor 2nd, huh? Both those scales have the same note as the 2nd so why even bother naming them that? Save the weird and confusing theory for classical musicians that want to impress OTHER classical musicians with their superior theory geekiness. Just learn the scales and use them to create music, that is all.
    Haha, actual music? Actual music is composed of all of this, and the more you know about it, the better you are. You obviously have been listening to nickelback or something. Let's get some Paul Gilbert in you, ASAP.
    ecaple11
    haha mechanik at least you put up some kind of a fight, but man you must be burning alive. all ive gotta say is this is a great article. thanks
    Briar30
    mechanik wrote: This is why very, VERY few guitarists bother with music theory, it's useless and just gets in the way of actual music. Major and minor 2nd, huh? Both those scales have the same note as the 2nd so why even bother naming them that? Save the weird and confusing theory for classical musicians that want to impress OTHER classical musicians with their superior theory geekiness. Just learn the scales and use them to create music, that is all.
    Hey man, don't worry. Theory will never get in YOUR way. The only thing that will get in your way is your own stupidity and that you can't see anything because your head is so far up your @ss!
    Mithander
    Wow... people... i dont see why there has to be an argument about this... to mechanik: they're saying that music theory is just a set of rules that can help you structure your compositions. they dont need to be completely memorized back to front and know every single detail, (well some of them are...) but it serves as a lose guide line to what is harmonic, and what is aharmonic. to everyone ragging on mechanik: dont insult someone just because they have a different opinion than you. music theory is helpful to some people and superfluous to others. i know plenty of musicians who were playing since childhood and are amazing yet they dont know a lick of theory (for example, asking my buddy to play a sus4 is replied with a huh? and a power chord. but he can out shred and out play me any day.) not knowing theory doesnt necessarily make you crappy at all, infact some of the greatest blues stuff out there happen to have aharmonic notes in them all the time. its how musical genres expand. theory works as an excellent spring board, but only for those who professionally need it or are interested in it. for those that aren't let them play their way. same goes to other other side. now play nice kiddies. -peaceout
    bloska
    mechanik wrote: This is why very, VERY few guitarists bother with music theory, it's useless and just gets in the way of actual music. Major and minor 2nd, huh? Both those scales have the same note as the 2nd so why even bother naming them that? Save the weird and confusing theory for classical musicians that want to impress OTHER classical musicians with their superior theory geekiness. Just learn the scales and use them to create music, that is all.
    I dont even know where to begin...lets see... ok, ill start here!: Theory is not what it name leads it on to be. Musical Theory is the strict set of rules that allows us to identify what does and does not work. It is not a theory, it is the application of music, without sounds (theoretical music) Music theory should NOT be avoided by guitarists, if they want to succeed atleast. While there are a few musicians that think they avoid music theory, what they have really done instead of learning theory in the traditional sense, they have taken the LONG road and decided to experiment with note and chord combinations that are the BASICS of theory. While theory doesnt nessicarily make you a better guitar player, learning theory will make learning music faster in application, and will allow you to compose or improvise (create) music without hitting thoes notes that clash. Learn theory.
    josippesut
    You can either critize this article, or get some benefit out of it. I don't see how learning a new approach of learning things makes someone retarded. I agree about trying to pull out your own systems of learning the scale over whole neck. It might be even more effective than taking someone else's system. Mine is just an example, it surely isn't the only way to learn the notes of E minor scale on guitar.
    Jamma
    Does this really help overcome the e minor scale? It seems to me that it just makes things confusing. Here's a better idea: because everyones' brains work in different ways, just sit down with the diagram of the e minor scale and learn bits of it at your own leisure instead of being spoon fed how to learn it. Just remember the patterns. Is our generation so ****ing retarded now that we have to be even told HOW to learn things?!?!?! This is how I did it, and it took me a couple of days; literally. It may have helped that I have learned quite a lot of iron maiden songs beforehand though, and any note in any iron maiden song seems to be in the e minor scale lol. It is the only scale I know across the neck but I advise learning it; it actually makes learning a lot of songs faster in my opinion, not to mention the benefits for your soloing in e minor/ g major.
    diefordethklok
    mechanik wrote: diefordethklok wrote: mechanik wrote: This is why very, VERY few guitarists bother with music theory, it's useless and just gets in the way of actual music. Major and minor 2nd, huh? Both those scales have the same note as the 2nd so why even bother naming them that? Save the weird and confusing theory for classical musicians that want to impress OTHER classical musicians with their superior theory geekiness. Just learn the scales and use them to create music, that is all. Haha, actual music? Actual music is composed of all of this, and the more you know about it, the better you are. You obviously have been listening to nickelback or something. Let's get some Paul Gilbert in you, ASAP. Right, because shred guitar is all about music huh? Gilbert is technically insane but his actual music is terrible. And the more you know about theory doesnt mean jack shit when it doesnt to making music. You can spend all your days memorizing this stuff and it won't make you a better guitar player.
    That is absolutely one of the funniest things I've heard, in my entire life. Your opinion on Gilbert's playing doesn't matter. He's better than you. And plenty of people enjoy his music. Guess who else uses this? Petrucci, James, Gambale, etc. Any one of them could write circles around your unintelligent and uninspired ass.
    mechanik
    diefordethklok wrote: mechanik wrote: This is why very, VERY few guitarists bother with music theory, it's useless and just gets in the way of actual music. Major and minor 2nd, huh? Both those scales have the same note as the 2nd so why even bother naming them that? Save the weird and confusing theory for classical musicians that want to impress OTHER classical musicians with their superior theory geekiness. Just learn the scales and use them to create music, that is all. Haha, actual music? Actual music is composed of all of this, and the more you know about it, the better you are. You obviously have been listening to nickelback or something. Let's get some Paul Gilbert in you, ASAP.
    Right, because shred guitar is all about music huh? Gilbert is technically insane but his actual music is terrible. And the more you know about theory doesnt mean jack shit when it doesnt to making music. You can spend all your days memorizing this stuff and it won't make you a better guitar player.
    MaXiMuse
    When you said Gb I hooked. If you don`t know the theory well enough I don`t think you could teach it others. Sorry...
    Jastul
    nice, but on a E minor scale you use F# instead of Gb, F# is a major second over tonic (E) and is the 2nd scale degree of the scale while Gb is a diminished third over tonic and is a chromatic note that doesn't naturally occur in the scale (and probably wouldn't work unless you're doing some weird modulation to something else)
    mechanik
    thedarkblues06 wrote: psychokiller99 wrote: diefordethklok wrote: I'm confused about the corrections here... Aren't Gb and F# the same note? I have no idea what anything meant that you guys said, haha. I'd love it if someone might explain it to me in a more understandable manner. outside of a musical context they are the same note, however when notating Em or building the scale from intervals, they are not the same. From Em to F# is a major second. From Em to Gb is a diminished third. Notation wise, it makes more sense to use F# so as to avoid confusion when transcribing a piece. If you don't know what those intervals mean, you will have to look it up.I will say that in their proper musical context, a major 2nd creates a very different sound and feeling than a diminished 3rd. The notes do in fact sound the same, but interval-wise F# makes more sense according to notation than Gb. psycho is right. You could hear two well written musical pieces and hear the F#/Gb in both of them and would think they are separate notes.
    Do you really think that? F#/G flat sound the same regardless of how you "write" music...it's the SAME note! The only thing that matters is how you choose to remember the note as F# or G flat, and every GUITAR player I've ever known uses F#.
    mechanik
    This is why very, VERY few guitarists bother with music theory, it's useless and just gets in the way of actual music. Major and minor 2nd, huh? Both those scales have the same note as the 2nd so why even bother naming them that? Save the weird and confusing theory for classical musicians that want to impress OTHER classical musicians with their superior theory geekiness. Just learn the scales and use them to create music, that is all.
    thedarkblues06
    psychokiller99 wrote: diefordethklok wrote: I'm confused about the corrections here... Aren't Gb and F# the same note? I have no idea what anything meant that you guys said, haha. I'd love it if someone might explain it to me in a more understandable manner. outside of a musical context they are the same note, however when notating Em or building the scale from intervals, they are not the same. From Em to F# is a major second. From Em to Gb is a diminished third. Notation wise, it makes more sense to use F# so as to avoid confusion when transcribing a piece. If you don't know what those intervals mean, you will have to look it up.I will say that in their proper musical context, a major 2nd creates a very different sound and feeling than a diminished 3rd.
    The notes do in fact sound the same, but interval-wise F# makes more sense according to notation than Gb. psycho is right. You could hear two well written musical pieces and hear the F#/Gb in both of them and would think they are separate notes.
    psychokiller99
    diefordethklok wrote: I'm confused about the corrections here... Aren't Gb and F# the same note? I have no idea what anything meant that you guys said, haha. I'd love it if someone might explain it to me in a more understandable manner.
    outside of a musical context they are the same note, however when notating Em or building the scale from intervals, they are not the same. From Em to F# is a major second. From Em to Gb is a diminished third. Notation wise, it makes more sense to use F# so as to avoid confusion when transcribing a piece. If you don't know what those intervals mean, you will have to look it up.I will say that in their proper musical context, a major 2nd creates a very different sound and feeling than a diminished 3rd.
    Cuatroveinte
    Beautiful, for the first time I can understand this. Great way to put all this together...thanks!
    diefordethklok
    I'm confused about the corrections here... Aren't Gb and F# the same note? I have no idea what anything meant that you guys said, haha. I'd love it if someone might explain it to me in a more understandable manner.
    Jondy
    Sheet music is great, but I would shown it with the key signature (for e minor, this of course would be the same as the signature for g major, just on sharp on F), or at least explain why you chose to put the sharps in manually instead. For a beginner I'm sure it's easier to look at the scale this way first, but I think they should also be made aware that this is not how it's going to look when they read a piece of music.
    lechera
    i don't think you should have left out harmonic and melodic forms of the natural minor, they are important too :/
    Andy2k64
    Jastul wrote: nice, but on a E minor scale you use F# instead of Gb, F# is a major second over tonic (E) and is the 2nd scale degree of the scale while Gb is a diminished third over tonic and is a chromatic note that doesn't naturally occur in the scale (and probably wouldn't work unless you're doing some weird modulation to something else)
    lol i have asked loads of people why enharmonic notes exist and now i know this article was really good! i love E minor such a cool sounding scale
    Guitarfreak777
    Jastul is infact correct and that is exactly what I was going to post. Otherwise very nice article, I love all the diagrams.
    PR BLK HWK
    Theory is very important. i played guitar for 2 years and hit a roadblock. after i learned some of the basics i got loads better. anyway, this article is very well written