Up until now, throughout the chord progressions section, we've been
looking at major key chord relationships in
relation to a major
tonic chord (I).
Now let's see how we can use this very same scale to build minor key
relationships, which require a new tonic, a minor tonal centre...
The minor tonic chord
in the chord scale acts both as a function within major key
as the relative tonic
of minor key progressions.
The vi chord therefore becomes i
(lower case numeral for minor chords), but the interval relationship
between each chord in the scale remains intact from that point. So if
becomes i, then the next chord, vii, will become ii, and so on.
This is the new scale we can build based on that new minor tonic...
So all we've done is reposition the scale in relation to the 6 chord
becoming 1. The intervals of the scale continue from that point.
This means the old major tonic chord has now become the III (mediant)
chord of the minor scale.
However, they still keep their names based on their position relative to the tonic
with the exception of the 7th degree, which is called the leading tone
chord in a major key, and the subtonic in the minor key.
If we were to play through that scale, from a tonic of A minor, here's
what we'd get...
this key relationship will allow you to execute what are known as
"relative key changes", allowing you to switch into the minor/major key
scale in the same song.
This relative interval is always 3
semitones apart, which is the equivalent of 3 frets on the
fretboard. You should already know this from learning the interval
between the I and vi chords from previous lessons...
And this relationship also applies to A and D string chord root notes.
if you're building a progression around a major tonic (I), try
resolving to the vi of that progression and you have the option to
continue the song in a more downbeat minor key.
An example would be...
you're building a progression around a minor tonic (i), try resolving
to the III of that progression and you have the option to continue the
song in a more upbeat major key!
So the vi chord of the major key can become the relative minor tonic
of the new minor key progression.
Of course, you can then resolve back into the relative major key any
time you want.
This is all about keeping your options open. More on using relative key
changes effectively in a later lesson.
basic minor key progressions
As with the major key examples I showed you throughout this course,
this scale is by no means the limits of our minor key songwriting,
for more complex minor key progressions we'll build in
Let's use that minor chord scale to build some
simple minor key chord progressions. Remember, a large part of playing
chord progressions is knowing the many different chord forms you can
play. This is covered in the chords section. The chords I show
you below are just typical barre chord or open position examples...
VI - F
VII - G
i - A minor
v - E minor
iv - E
v - D minor
VII - F
As mentioned before, the variations/substitutions you can apply to
positions works in exactly the same way as it did with the major key
scale. For example, as the major key iii chord has now become the minor
key v chord, we can apply the same variations to this v chord as we did
the iii. One variation is to turn it into a major chord (v - V).
More on minor key variation in the coming lessons.